According to a 2014 study by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing, the home improvement industry is expected to see double-digit growth through the end of the year.

This is another welcome sign that as the economy continues to grow consumers are becoming more comfortable with the renovating and remodeling purchases they have been putting off. While this growth presents a great opportunity to reach new consumers, it also means more competition for individual businesses.

Today’s consumers see thousands of advertisements each day, so a consistent marketing strategy is crucial to successfully setting yourself apart from your competitors. With over 35 years of experience in the direct marketing industry, my company, Money Mailer, has helped local business reach local consumers through hyper-local direct mail and digital media campaigns.

For this article I want to explain a few ways retailers can separate themselves from their competitors.


Direct Mail Advertising

Direct mail campaigns let your business reach local homeowners who have or will have home improvement needs. To be effective, the offers you send to consumers must be clear, self-explanatory and have a high-perceived value.

In addition to being eye catching, ads should entice consumers to read further, raise a desire for your product or service, and motivate them to take a specific action. Proper format and content are key elements for increasing the return of investment (ROI) and reaching the ultimate goal of having your target audience use your products and services.

To cater to consumers’ fast-paced lifestyles and limited spare time, your ads should be simple, direct, and to the point. By limiting the amount of copy and font types in your mailer, you can avoid over complicating and overcrowding your ad.

A captivating headline and concise sentences will keep consumers focused on the offer and help lead them toward the action you want them to take. As a best practice, ads should feature no more than three font types, including a large bold font to distinguish the offer, while allowing the company name and key phrases to stand out from the rest of the information.

It’s important to exercise restraint when designing your mailer. A cluttered ad can cause consumers to associate your great offers with the clichéd visual features of “junk mail.”

When it comes to colors, begin by choosing one or two main ones based on your product, corporate image and your target audience. Warm colors are energizing, cool colors are refreshing and bright colors can help emphasize excitement. The simple addition of color will enhance the appeal of the coupon and make it stand out from the endless number of black and white ads consumers receive.

While a well-designed ad may appeal to consumers and raise brand awareness, an enticing offer and a specific call to action are what will ultimately give them a reason to use your products and services. Rather than using a certain percentage off, consumers are more likely to be interested when the offer features a specific dollar amount in savings or includes the word “free,” such as giving away a bottle of floor cleaner with purchase.

It’s also important to include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency and give consumers a reason to act now. The expiration date along with any other restrictions should be simple and clearly displayed to avoid confusion.

An effective direct mail advertisement gets consumers to respond to your offer through the methods you provide. Including QR codes and personalized URLs to drive consumers to your websites are additional ways to customize your ad and increase customer interaction.

Combining these direct mail tips with an online and mobile marketing campaign will allow your business to have direct and personal communication with local consumers in the mail, on their mobile phones and online.


Mobile and Online Integration

As consumers increasingly use smartphones to interact with businesses and make buying decisions, mobile marketing campaigns have become a strategic way to reach consumers whether they’re at home or on the go.

Engaging consumers with mobile and online offers makes it convenient for them to find your latest deals, your nearest location and to stay up-to-date with your business.

Sending text message (SMS) offers with special discounts and coupons are another way to connect with loyal customers in real time and give them access to instant savings. These messages should contain less than 160 characters and typically feature coupon codes or offers, as well as instructions for redeeming them.

Mobile couponing delivers a strong ROI because it reaches customers who have asked to receive offers and delivers those offers directly to them on their phone. At the same time, having a presence on a mobile app allows businesses to reach consumers who are ready to take immediate action and access special offers when they make a purchase.

In today’s knowledge-driven economy consumers rely on the Internet as a trustworthy source to seek information about brands and services. Social networking sites are a great way to increase interactions with your target audience while building a strategic presence online. Publishing a consistent flow of relevant content can be an effective way to enhance your online presence while engaging your target audience.

In addition to publishing positive information about your brand, blogging is another way to draw in more traffic while supporting your reputation and lead generation efforts. By regularly posting useful content with easy-to-personalize messaging, your followers will be more apt to engage with and share your content.

It’s important to keep in mind that depending on the particular product the messaging in your marketing mix may need to be educational rather than promotional and provide a clear value to the target audience.

More often than not, a consumers’ first reaction to an ad is going to be “What’s in it for me?” To catch their attention and drive a response, your message should focus on the benefits they will enjoy by making a purchase from you. Additionally, properly tracking your ROI and utilizing that information to determine what works best for your business and target audience will lead to more effective marketing material for current and future efforts.

While creating an effective campaign takes time, with perseverance and effort, the payoff can be huge. With patience, these efforts can improve your marketing strategy and help your company gain a competitive advantage in the market while providing your customers with added value.


Chris Rimlinger is the senior vice president of marketing for Money Mailer, a leader in the U.S. direct marketing industry that has been certified as a World-Class Franchise by the Franchise Research Institute and was Entrepreneur magazine’s No. 1 advertising services franchise for 2012. She has over 20 years of marketing and sales experience, primarily in the consumer packaged goods industry, including nine years at Pepsi-Co, where she held several sales and marketing roles for its the Gatorade Brand. Contact her at (800) 624-5371 or