It didn't take Dave Deschaine, owner of David J. Deschaine, in Portland, Maine, very long to teach himself to shoot, edit, and prepare a voiceover for video. The fact that he enjoys making videos about home improvement and remodeling is evident if you go to his company's YouTube channel, where a four-minute clip showing how to install a window has received more than 58,000 views during the year and a half that it's been up.

Deschaine has more than 55 videos on YouTube, some he shot himself and some prepared from his home improvement TV show, Remodeling Maine With Dave Deschaine (see "We get a lot of hits on our website from YouTube," Deschaine says. "It's exciting."

Like Deschaine, Cape Cod, Mass., contractor Tom Capizzi is using video to introduce himself and Capizzi Home Improvement to new clients. When a homeowner signs a contract with Capizzi Home Improvement, he or she quickly receives a confirmation e-mail that links to a video in which the company owner explains who he is and why his company is different. The idea of company owners introducing themselves to prospects via the Internet, using video, is quickly catching on.

Mastering New Media

But that's just one possibility video holds for home improvement contractors. Those unafraid to experiment with new media and intrigued by the marketing, and especially the brand-building, potential of video, are finding an array of new uses for the medium to promote their businesses.

This year, for instance, Southwest Exteriors, a window and siding company in San Antonio, began posting scope-of-work videos on YouTube. The idea, general manager Scott Barr says, is to familiarize project managers and crew leaders with all the issues involved in a job before they get to the house.

The company's salesperson, accompanied by the client, walks the property with a Flip video camera, discussing and filming potential problems or any areas that may need extra attention in installing the job. (For an example go to here).

The resulting video, edited down to about five minutes, is posted on YouTube and becomes part of the job package. Prospects still considering whether or not to sign with Southwest Exteriors are e-mailed a proposal, a written scope-of-work, and a link to the video.

In a world of rapidly changing technology, "it's the mindset you have to have," Barr says. "You have to leverage technology as a competitive advantage." If you're not thinking along those lines, he adds, "you're not going to learn something new because it's not a priority."