Home improvement businesses face a unique challenge in marketing themselves to potential customers.
Businesses offering services like loft conversions, double glazing, conservatories, landscaping, kitchens and bathrooms face widespread competition, some of it from larger retailers which can offer low prices thanks to greater economies of scale.
At the other end of the market, less reputable businesses can damage the reputation of the home improvement sector through poor workmanship or unethical marketing practices like cold calling.
Marketing channels available to home improvement businesses are often costly and hard to measure, such as local press or phone directory advertising.
Yet the effort in marketing can be worthwhile, with a typically high average spend per successful order. So how can a home improvement business stand out from the crowd, whilst achieving a good return on its marketing investment?
Direct marketing tools and methods can often offer the answer. Because it’s more measurable than other marketing methods, direct marketing is more measurable and it can be targeted more closely to those potential consumers most likely to buy your home improvement services.
Here are some of the ways in which direct marketing can help:
Before any direct marketing campaign you have to carry out some planning. For a home improvement business this can involve analysing your existing customers to see what they have in common. Using tools like Easycheck list profiling software (www.selectabase.co.uk/i-have-a-list/easycheck) you can discover more about your customer’s interests, likes, dislikes and lifestyle just from their postcode. Also look at there they are based and what type of home they live in, to help identify potential markets.
Once you’ve analysed your existing customers you can put them into different groups, or segments, and then prioritise which groups are of most importance to you.
For example, if you are a landscaper, you might want to target properties in local areas that you know have larger sized gardens. Double glazing companies may want to target homeowners in coastal or exposed areas, where their properties are more likely to suffer from the elements. Loft conversion or conservatory companies could target growing families likely to need more living space.
2. Direct Mail
Once you’ve identified your target segment, or segments, you can source lists of more people of the same type.
There are numerous reputable mailing lists available that you can select data from. For example the Consumer Profiles list (www.selectabase.co.uk/lists/consumer/) which allows you to target potential customers by lifestyle, Silver Prospects (www.selectabase.co.uk/ppc/grey-market-silver-prospects-list.aspx) is a specialist list of retired older people, and Recently Moved (www.selectabase.co.uk/recentlymoved/) provides a monthly list of people who’ve just moved into your local area.
Mail these lists with a good quality mailer, personalised to each person, explaining clearly why you are approaching them and the benefits of what you have to offer; price, service, testimonials, knowledge etc. Include a clear call to action and offer a no hassle free quotation.
Mailings can also be used successfully to drive traffic to your website, where people can see more about your business and obtain a quote online.
Unsolicited telemarketing, or cold calling as its also known, has done much to tarnish the reputation of the home improvement industry.
However if you have your own list of leads, enquiries or prospects that you plan to phone, you can do so as long as you check each number first to see if it is registered with the Telephone Preference Service. You can check numbers as you go using an online service like www.selectabase.co.uk/1check/ or you can clean your list each month using software like Easycheck.
Also, it is completely acceptable to follow up a mailing to a rented list with a brief courtesy call asking if the homeowner received the information and if it was of interest. If it’s bought from a reputable source, your list will have been screened against the TPS just before you buy it.
It’s worth spending time briefing the person who makes the call to make sure they have good product knowledge and know how they should represent your business.
In summary, direct marketing methods provide great opportunities for home improvement businesses to identify and target relevant potential customers on an individual basis, without the interference of competitor’s messages that you find with press advertising.
Results can be measured precisely, and the results used to guide future mailings or campaigns. And if direct marketing is carried out in a high quality and reputable way, consumers will see that your home improvement business is going to provide a high quality service.