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Small Town Remodeler Gets Big Results On Radio

Radio Is An Inexpensive Way To Make You A Big Fish In A Small Pond.

Radio Is An Inexpensive Way To Make You A Big Fish In A Small Pond.

Small-Town Stations Allow You To Get More Bang For Your Buck… It’s All About Identity & Execution.

“I’d Move To A Small Town And Absolutely OWN IT.”

That’s the answer I give contractors who ask me the hypothetical “what would you do if you were just starting out in your own remodeling company?”

Written by Rich Harshaw

Note: This article is part of Monopolize Your Marketplace’s ongoing contractor marketing “Client Success” series. All of the information is real and current; please respect the privacy of the companies mentioned; they don’t want to be overwhelmed with questions and comments.

The downside to owning a small-town remodeling company is the limited number of prospects compared to a big city. But with those smaller numbers also comes fewer competitors… and more importantly: CHEAP MEDIA BUYS.

Think about it—you can make just as much money PER JOB in a little town as you can in a big city. If you sell windows, for example, and your average job is $6,000 with $3,000 of gross profit, you’ll clear $60,000 a month in gross profit if you sell 20 jobs. And let’s assume you allocate 10% of sales (20% of gross profit) to marketing and advertising—that gives you a monthly budget of $12,000.

If you are sitting in the middle of Dallas (where I live), that $12,000 will buy you a very small schedule on a very small station—and those listeners will be scattered for literally hundreds of miles around the area. And oh by the way, that would burn your ENTIRE budget. In a small town, on the other hand, you can OWN a top-ranked radio station for a couple thousand bucks a month. You could allocate a reasonable ONE-THIRD of your budget to radio… and make really nice buys on two good stations.

That’s a major advantage.

And that’s exactly what several of my smaller-town clients do. I’ll profile one of my small town clients, Nordine Remodeling, next week. Right now, though, I want to share an example from Bail Home Services of Goshen, Indiana.

Goshen is a town of about 32,000 located 25 miles southeast of South Bend and 120 miles east of Chicago. I’ve never been there, but Tracey Bail, the owner of Bail Home Services strikes me as exactly the kind of salt-of-the-earth guy who would come from middle-America Goshen. He’s approachable; he’s friendly; he’s honest to a fault. He’s been a remodeler for 35 years and has the kind of rock-solid reputation that you’d expect from a lifelong remodeler from Goshen. After all, you don’t get THAT many chances to mess up in a small town!

When I met Tracey, he was already extremely successful in his business, but was looking for that extra boost that Monopolize Your Marketplace can so often provide a company like his. We helped him identify and articulate his identity, then integrate it into his home improvement website. We then turned our attention to radio, and were able to help him negotiate a schedule on a local station that was a GREAT fit for his target market for under $2,000 a month.

Two of my rules of thumb for radio advertising are have multiple spots running at the same time… and limit each spot to one main point. I took a look at Bail’s identity and isolated three concepts to work with on the first round of ads: 1) They treat their people (workers) right, 2) They have tons of references available, and 3) They have a huge showroom that makes remodeling easier because you don’t have to drive all over town to look at stuff.

When writing radio ads (any ads, for that matter), it’s important to use specifics, speak in a casual, relatable tone, and ultimately, to paint a mental picture on the mental canvas of the listener. See what you think:

Spot 1: Treat You Right

Commentary: This spot turns some contractors off because they feel like revealing that we pay our people well will scare off prospects who conclude that the prices must be high. But the reality is that people don’t mind paying more if they understand WHY it’s worth it. In the ad, we describe the kind of company that everyone WISHES they worked for—a company where people are valued above all else. We give plenty of specific examples, and help the reader feel good about wanting to call this company.

Spot 2: References

Commentary: I’m a big believer in making references readily available—even on your website without requiring the user to fill out a form to see them. The amount of TRUST this engenders is tremendous. We use a high level of specificity again—381 projects, 94 bathrooms, 196 kitchens, etc. The specificity makes the claims more believable. We offer to let the listener have as many references as they want—from 3 to 381. It’s very disarming—and extremely confidence boosting.

Spot 3: Showroom

Commentary: In this spot, we introduce a problem people have with remodeling that they may not even realize is a problem when they begin the remodeling process. We explain the problem with image-rich verbiage (waste, wear yourself out, waste lunch breaks and gas, torture yourself), then give a specific solution, complete with details about the showroom.

After these spots had run a couple of months, we changed it up and ran these:

Spot 4: Surprise

Spot 5: Groovy Kitchen

After only a few months, things were going fantastic. Calls were coming in, jobs were being signed, and Tracey was happy. Then circumstances beyond our control intervened: The station went out of business! We shopped around for other stations, but found the remaining stations to either be not a good geographic fit (i.e. they serviced too many areas outside Bail’s service area), or not a good demographic fit. So we went off the air for almost a year. During that time, Tracey reported that calls CONTINUED to come in, despite no spots running. Now, a year later, we are ramping it back up on some new stations that are a good fit, and have written several new ads to kick off the campaign. We’ll be using the same voice talent, and this time, we hope to keep it going for a long, long time.

Can YOU be successful on radio? You bet! It just takes careful station selection, a good message, and a little bit of persistence. If you’d like some advice or input for your company, please email me at

© 2014 – 2016, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.

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