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In a booming housing market, most contractors have to turn jobs down. But what about in off-markets and the off-season? Rather than sitting around the office waiting for the phone to ring, contractors should employ cost-effective marketing to generate leads, line up work and stay busy year-round.

The first step is to keep in touch with existing customer to remind them of your existence and expertise.

“If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else surely will,” notes Ben Lindberg, a partner in the Lion Tree Group marketing agency in Madison, Wisconsin, and a blogger on the agency’s website. Taking time now to develop a plan for reaching out to past customers, he explains, will pay dividends well into the future.

Here are five of Lindberg’s strategies for bringing in new business:

Mine your customer database. Make customers feel valued by pitching them special offers to make it worth their while to continue working with you. Email them regularly with news of current projects, additional areas of expertise, and rewards for referring you to their friends and associates. And don’t forget to follow up with them at regular intervals. Note: It is important that your customers have authorized you to send them emails — and equally important that your emails provide an easy way to opt out of future messages.

Advertise your work. Never leave a job site without asking if you can plant your company sign in plain sight of passers-by; revisit the job site from time to time to make sure it’s properly positioned. Take it upon yourself to do the planting as opposed to leaving it up to your crew. It’s your company, not theirs.

Refresh your brand. A simple redesign of your image and logo — on business cards, letterhead, trucks, website — will let the public know that you’re not only still alive but growing and thriving.

Promote your expertise. Blogs, contributed articles to local papers and trade publications or websites, and appearances at home products shows, training sessions and civic events will help spread the word of your skills, knowledge and expertise — as well as provide excellent opportunities to meet potential new customers face to face.

Leverage strategic partnerships. Partnering with local suppliers, home furnishing companies, real estate agencies and financial planners will extend your reach into new sectors of the population and economy. Don’t forget that your association benefits them too.

The cumulative effect of Lindberg’s strategies might well be the difference between staring at a cold phone and juggling calls and appointments with new clients.