Credit: Barry Blitt

When sales of your primary product lines are shrinking, it's smart to consider adding a product that meets the changing needs of today's homeowner. Choose the right product and you can build your company brand, expand your customer base, and stay profitable as the broader market recovers.


  • Affordable. Look for a product that can be used by most of the homes in your market and that offers a price that won't require financing but might go on a credit card.
  • Based on need. Homeowners who once moved up or away every seven years are staying put. That expands the demand for functional upgrades such as remodeled bath/tub liners, remodeled kitchen/cabinet refacing, or energy retrofits — ways to make life more tolerable at the old address.
  • Energetic. Energy is the second biggest cost of homeownership and the most susceptive to smart management. Every homeowner with a monthly power bill is a prospect for insulation, air sealing, and radiant barrier installation.
  • SPEED TO SUCCEEDA new line that is “eased in” is probably doomed to fail. You must generate leads aggressively from the outset if your new line is to be a profitable initiative and not just a distraction.

    A mailing or a phone call to past customers should be the first step in marketing your new line. In addition, consider a dedicated advertising campaign. A new product in an emerging category (such as reflective insulation) takes some explaining — more than you can do in a corner of your window ad.

    In evaluating a new product, pay attention to the marketing program and the sales and installation training the manufacturer provides. If the manufacturer offers the tools to generate leads early and the training to close at a high rate and install the job properly, chances are good that the new line will be a way forward in a down economy.

    —John Stevens is a partner in Peterson/Stevens, an advertising agency specializing in brand-building and lead generation for the home improvement industry. 800.270.0911;