Sal Alfano
Sharpe + Harrell Photography Sal Alfano

Lately remodelers have been asking about marketing. They want to know what’s working and what’s not. Good questions, but they’re about tactics, and the answers depend on your marketing strategy. And that depends on what you’re selling and who you want to sell it to.

Who's Buying?

Most remodelers don’t really know who their ideal customer is. That’s partly because they typically work for anybody who knocks on the door, whether or not they and their project are a good fit. And it’s partly because they don’t take the time to look at what they know about past customers and the work they did for them.

So the first step in deciding what to do about marketing is to figure out who you should target. That means looking at past clients to develop a profile of your best client. Look first at projects that were both profitable for you and enjoyable for your clients. With enough history, you can evaluate characteristics like neighborhood, income, occupation, social affiliations, hobbies, brand loyalties, and so on to pinpoint common elements.

What Are You Selling?

The more difficult question is the one about what it is you’re selling. If you think the answer is kitchens and baths, you’re in for some tough sledding. In fact, it might be better to ask what it is your customers think they are buying.

And you find out what that is only by listening. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing says that all marketing is about three things: “How [people] think about your business; how and why they talk about your business; and the experience they have with your business.” Every prospect you ever sat across the kitchen table from answered all three questions, but you weren’t listening. Not really.

That doesn’t mean you’re doomed. You still have that list of people whose jobs were profitable and who were happy with you and your work. So you can still ask them. You may be surprised by what they tell you, but by the time they are done talking, there will be no doubt in your mind about exactly what it is they think they bought from you.

And then you can start thinking about tactics. Of course, you should have done all of this long ago. To create work for next week, you needed a marketing strategy last year.

A Chinese proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

Time to plant a seed.