REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR spoke with Ron Sherman, president of Ron Sherman Productions, in Little Rock, Ark., which has been involved in making home improvement commercials and directing advertising for home improvement companies for 25 years.

Replacement Contractor: How are the biggest home improvement companies positioned for Web marketing compared with retailers?

Ron Sherman: The top 30% of home improvement companies are where they need to be. For the rest, it's not like they're lagging behind retailers, it's that their goals are different. A home improvement company's top priority is generating leads. Retailers want to engage consumers via social media to maintain and monitor the brand.

RC: What do you find is most effective when it comes to online marketing?

RS: Video seems to enhance everything you do. Since Google favors YouTube [in search engine rankings], getting positive video reviews is the next thing we'll be working on. A lot of companies now videotape testimonials. With one Pennsylvania company, we've optimized the video so the results show up on the first page of organic search.

RC: Based on what you see, are companies that advertise leaving leads on the table because of bad conversion methods?

RS: That's been a pet peeve of mine for years. What happens is that prospects call up and ask ridiculous questions. Rather than have someone trying to answer those, use a script that goes something like this: “Thank you for calling. May I have your area code? Can I have your phone number? May I have your last name? What town are you in?” So the person answering the phone is in control for the first 30 seconds of that call.

RC: What if someone calls requesting price information?

RS: You have to turn them. For instance, recently a walk-in tub company was getting hundreds of calls. But they blew a ton of leads because people requested a price. The company wouldn't give them a price, and the conversation more or less stopped right there. My suggestion is, instead of debating, explain to the prospect that you have a 10-point walk-through that needs to happen before you can quote a price. A good script and a strong phone person can move that conversation from price to an appointment. Put a soft edge on answering the phone.

RC: Home improvement companies always prefer to spend money on lead generation rather than branding. Yet some of the most successful companies are big on brand-building. Why is that?