A strong marketing program consists of many elements that deliver a consistent message. Ken Cowan, president of Bridge Street Building & Design, Linden, Mich., says that his marketing plan includes an interactive Web site ( www.bridgestreetbuilders.com) with password-protected client area, as well as a marketing packet for prospects, weekly ads in the local paper, a billboard on the main highway, clothing for staff, well-marked vehicles and jobsite signs, and post-project client surveys.

Here, Ruth Lozner, an associate professor of design and marketing at the University of Maryland, reviews Bridge Street's Web site.

“I would urge this company to have its logo redesigned and updated. The beautiful work in the portfolio shows they are versatile enough to create traditional and contemporary solutions, but the logo suggests a specialty in historic or traditional work. I would use a more elegant, modern typeface, while retaining some of the old logo's features. When in doubt, err on the side of simplicity.”

“I would reorder and simplify the menu. Some of the pages can be merged. The calendar is superfluous, as there are no events to publicize. The splash page could announce news or special events when they do occur.”

“‘ Case Histories' should be categorized by project type — additions, kitchens, etc. — so prospects can find examples of the kind of project they want.”

“The password-protected client login section is a terrific use of the Internet's interactive medium. It adds quite a bit of value to the remodeling experience by letting the client and company share project status and decisions. It also builds credibility and trust in the eyes of potential clients.”

“The calendar is superfluous unless there are events to publicize. I would list special events or job openings or news on the splash page.”

“Why are there rows of hot sauce bottles? A caption would help explain their significance.

“The splash page is extremely important. It imparts the first impression of the company, so much time should be spent thinking through the various elements. One conspicuous absence is the company's phone number, e-mail, and address. This could lose a potential client in a split second.”

“The flash animation of the house being built is a good touch, grabbing the viewer's interest.

“Use only beautiful photos of your work. I would prefer that this be a large photo of a completed project, to give an instantaneous sense of the company's work. In a small town, the office photo can trigger recognition in potential clients, but it would be better still if the staff were in front of the building. Crop out extraneous details such as roads: the farther the audience is from the subject, the more emotional distance they feel.”