Generate Leads with Community Outreach

Using unique and interesting marketing tactics in your surrounding neighborhoods can create new leads and drive business.

By Morgan Zenner

For years, contractors have found ways to make their presence known in neighborhoods with yard signs and logoed trucks. However, there are more direct ways to say hello to the neighbors and create goodwill with potential clients. Generally speaking, if you’re already working in an area, there’s a good chance the homeowners nearby could use your services.

Grocery lists stick
“Everyone grocery shops,” is a revelation that Larry Dorfman, MCR, CKBR and president of Indianapolis-based Dorfman Design Builders, had when he conceived a grocery-themed goody bag. “I wanted to give something that people wouldn’t immediately throw away,” Dorfman said. Staring at his shopping list sitting nearby, Dorfman decided he would create one with his company name. “Anything you can find in a grocery store is on the list,” Dorfman says. The grocery pad screams convenience and has a mass appeal to homeowners. Dorfman took the idea a step further and placed the grocery pad inside a logoed bag, with a logoed pen, coupon from a local grocery store and a friendly note.  “The note introduces us to the neighbors and tells them to call if there are any issues in the community while work is underway,” Dorfman said.

It’s been five years since implementation, and Dorfman is pleased with results. He distributes 10 or 20 bags to the homes in the immediate area of the project, and receives, on average, five really solid leads per year for future projects.

Door hangers get official
Tony Rink, CR and vice president of Renovators Ltd., based in Waukesha, Wis., said he’s been practicing job site lead mining since the early ’90s. “We tend to work in very tight-knit neighborhoods with lots of stay-at-home moms who notice things going on around the neighborhood and who talk to each other,” Rink said.

He would receive occasional calls from job signage and brochure containers but wanted to come up with an alternative way to garner leads for new business. He decided a traditional flyer would only turn into another piece of junk mail that nobody reads. Asking around, Rink found that people tend to pay more attention to mailers that look official — for example, a notice from the city or post office. With that concept in mind, Rink created a door hanger that looked similar to official notices. “The tag is a bold, red color and it says ‘ATTENTION’ in large red letters,” Rink said. The copy then explains why his company is in the neighborhood and asks neighbors to call if there are any problems associated with the project or his employees.

“The idea is that people will read this and know that we care about them as a neighbor and are responsible for what we do,” Rink said. The door hanger also has the Renovators Ltd. logo, tag line and contact information.  Since implementing the door hangers in 1996, he receives more far more praises than complaints from neighbors.

Knocking on doors
Some contractors are reluctant to settle on just contemporary marketing methods because often those methods lack personal connection.  Sam Portis, president of Atlanta-based,Portis Building & Interiors Inc., said that his tight-knit community enjoys the old-fashioned face-to-face introductions. When he starts a project, Portis or his project manager knocks on the doors of five or six houses in the surrounding area to introduce themselves and leave them a business card. “They are thankful to have met me, and happy that they have peace of mind, that if there is any trouble that they can call me directly,” Portis said.

He said face-to-face contact also makes him more accessible to potential clients around town, if they happen to run into one other. “I’ve run into neighbors at church functions, and they are more apt to strike up a conversation with me if I’ve spoken with them at their homes previously,” Portis says.

He also explained that he uses other marketing tactics, and believes that his incoming leads are a product of all of his efforts combined, but that the personal connection helps him close more leads.

Know what works for you

You know your client base, and your market better than anyone else. Your proximity to those potential clients near your current client is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.               

Morgan-Zenner“If you’re already working in an area, there’s a good chance the homeowners nearby could use your services. Your proximity to those potential clients near your current client is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.”

Morgan Zenner is the marketing and communications coordinator for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. For more information, visit www.NARI.org.

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