business tips 04


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Check out pricier neighborhoods and look for new construction. All builders/architects have their sign out in front of new buildings or major remodels. Take note and call them. You may even want to walk around inside and ask the workers who is doing what on the site. People often walk around job sites. Dress professionally. If someone asks what you're doing there, hand out a card and tell them what you do.

- Talk to developers building speculation homes. The developers may ask why they should spend extra on a spec home. Tell them that their house value and curb appeal will both increase. Suggest developers offer plaster as an extra option to their homebuyers. For instance, a custom plastered powder room or bedroom. The client can then meet with you to pick a color. If this costs the developer $5,000, then he can increase the price of the house by $10,000. Building and selling a house is like selling a car; you can offer leather or vinyl. With your help, developers can give their buyers a greater choice.

- Do presentations at local home and garden décor shows. If you get even one job, it will be worth your time.

- After a successful large job, call your local newspaper (Lifestyles or Décor section) and design magazines. Find out the name and contact information of the assignment editor and appropriate journalists. Pitch them the story of plaster or your business, offering quotes from yourself and happy customers, and pics. Customers love to have their homes featured. Media folks are always looking for good stories. Business sections may also be interested in covering plaster as a growing business; papers always want to get the 'scoop' on hot trends. Even if you are turned down initially, it's worth regularly checking in with your media contacts to offer new angles or interesting jobs just completed. PR is the the easy and free. It's definitely one of the best sources of promotions you can have.

- Visit other miscellaneous high-end vendors, such as jewelry stores, hair salons, clothing boutiques, wine stores and cigar shops. Imagine where your likely clients shop. You can offer these businesses a deal on referrals, do a wall for them, or both. You want potential clients to see your work and want it for themselves.

- Contact contractors who specialize in alternative building methods, such as rastra block, ICF or e-crete. Pitch them the idea of an alternative/traditional finish plaster.

- Send brochures or emails to prosperous lawyers, medical offices, and big companies with nice conference rooms. You should include testimonials from happy customers.

- Most importantly when contacting people; be persistent but polite. If the decorator does not get back to you, call again in two weeks until they have a meeting with you. Your enthusiasm for the product should be contagious.

- Set up a booth at your local farmers market and or arts fair.

- When displaying your stuff, make sure both your presentation and you look professional. Dress sharp, groom well. No one wants to buy $50,000 worth of luxurious wall finishes from someone who can't be bothered to iron their own clothes. Sorry, it has to be said.

- Advertising is important but needs to be tailored to what works in your region. You can advertise on your car, advertise in local décor magazines, and make sure you are easy to find in the yellow pages. Experiment with newspaper ads; but a story done on your work will go farther than an ad. Word of mouth is great, but it takes time to build and won't get you jobs right away.  Doing free walls for high-end businesses can get you great recognition (as long as your name is next to it). Otherwise, don't be overly generous since it will be your materials and time. In most cases, if you call this freebee job a month after it's done, and ask who did it, chances are they won't know. That doesn't help.

-How to do a print ad - This can make a fortube. The only downside is that it's expensive. It's almost only worth doing if this goes in a nice local magazine if you have one in the area. Newspapers will work or whatever you have. You can even try billboards if you got the guts. Local magazines will ask for about $4,000 for a full page for 1-2 months. They'll ask for a 50% deposit. If you don't have it, ask them to wait at least a month after the ad comes out. They'll usually do this for you. Magazines have nothing to loose. It costs them nickels to put your ad in. Their return on you is a thousand fold, so don't be shy. They're lucky to have any business from you at all.

When doing a print ad, be direct and use bright contrasting colors. Nobody cares what you write. When flipping through a magazine, it's the colors of the ad which will get attention. Try going through a magazine and see for yourself. DO NOT use a dark background with light font. It's the worst mistake you can make in print. It's a small thing, but surprisingly important in reader psychology. This applies to everything you market. Don't have a black background with white or gold font. It's harder to read. You want an ad that grabs attention and is to the point. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need months of repetition, you just need 1 hard marketing hit that stays for at least a month. Here's an almost perfect suuccessful ad that went in a glossy magazine. It took 2 hours to put it together:


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