What are the three biggest mistakes you can make in home improvement marketing? Experts cite:

  • Brand abandonment: Speaker and consultant Dennis Schaefer recalls the time when sales at the company he owned, Creative Wood, weren’t growing as fast as projected. The company was known for high-end decks that appealed to owners of expensive homes. “But we got greedy,” Schaefer says, and launched print and TV ads for low-cost DIY deck packages and cookie-cutter decks that brought in sales but muddied the marketing waters. “We realized within 60 days what it was doing [to our business] and stopped.” The lesson: “Dueling brands will only confuse the buying public.”
  • Love ’em & leave ’em: Brian Kaskavalciyan, owner of GFour Marketing Group, in Miami, says that many home improvement companies put all their energy into generating the fresh lead, ignoring past customers in the process. This is the No. 1 mistake, he says. “They’ll spend $1,000 to get that new customer. But if you were willing to spend just a few dollars — plus time and effort — to stay in touch, that previous client will be back to give you more money, or to recommend someone who will.”

Seeing is believing: Even when you’re watching the numbers, it’s easy not to believe them. Larry Closs, owner of New Bath, a fast-growing bath-liner operation in Louisiana, ran TV ads that drove business for a while. Then he saw TV leads diminish. But he kept the ads running for four more months. “It’s a common mistake,” Closs says, “and I still do it all the time.” The remedy: be vigilant for new lead sources all the time, so the “great fear” of having to replace a lead source goes away.