Mike Sloggatt: I advertised in the ‘70s in the penny-saver publications, and they were more trouble than they were worth. The type of client you got from them was just looking for price. Maybe in the early ‘70s, when I was really hungry, I'd do a roof that I really didn't want to do for a good price. But I got out of that quickly.
Annette Mercado: One thing we realized early on is that you have to know where your clientele is coming from — what they're reading, watching and listening to — in order to advertise to them. If I'm trying to sell a $50,000-plus kitchen, I can't go into the penny saver. Now, if I was trying to repair a door or something like that, that's a different story.
All the mass marketing that comes in the mail — those things are targeted to people who are looking to save money, not necessarily get the best quality product or service. But what we're trying to sell is quality — quality craftsmanship and products — at a great price. If you advertise in the correct places for the customers you're looking for, you'll see it. We actually put out an ad campaign this year, and we're up 75 percent as of now.
Michael Williams: And where did you place the new ads, Annette?
Annette Mercado: It's about advertising to the right people through the right channels. I write down everywhere calls come from so I can go back and look at the source. If I do advertisements that don't generate a response, I stop it. It's not worth the money. Now, that's not saying I won't try it again. But when we actually figured out which stations our clients are listening to, which magazines they're looking at, and just targeted those areas, I mean ... our business ... we're doing great right now. Over the past four years, we've grown our business because of a targeted advertising campaign.
Michael Williams: Are there niche approaches you've taken that have seen the biggest impact? Is it by doing the radio shows or ...?
Annette Mercado: We try and make our commercials funny so that listeners remember them. Before, we would have commercials where they used the radio station people reading the copy. Then we switched to 60 second commercials that told a story. We produced and pre-recorded these ourselves. And it's very targeted. We keep track of what station they hear us on.
Joshua Weir: I have a question regarding that: What's the demographic, the size of the community that you're advertising in?
Annette Mercado: Well, we're in Bakersfield, which is basically in the middle of California. We also reach out to outlying areas, so our market includes about a million people.
Michael Williams: Dan or Josh, do you have anything to add regarding advertising and how you guys go about it, if you do it at all?
Joshua Weir: I'm putting my resources back into my photographs. If they don't get to see me, hear me and shake my hand, and I don't get to look into their eyes with integrity, I'm at the mercy of what they stumble across. I want [what they do see] to be my website and any images of my work that they might see.
If someone approaches us, or if it's a project that we actually want to do, we'll send a flyer [to potential clients] each week with a photograph on it, and we'll talk about one of our five core values. And we keep that going. And when we finish with a project, we'll include it in this design manifesto [portfolio of project highlights] that showcases a few projects — it's basically a small press book.
Dan Rush: It all comes back to word of mouth on our end. I'm trying to build up a custom shop. I'm getting older — I'm not really sure how many more installs I have left in me — so I am kind of looking forward to developing a portfolio like Josh was talking about. I'm probably going about it the wrong way —I 'm sending my daughter to college for a photography degree, so hopefully that works out.
Michael Williams: Maybe she'll throw you some free photography and design work.
Dan Rush: [Laughing] Yeah, college isn't free!
Annette Mercado: I agree that photography makes a big difference. We upgrade our camera constantly. Facebook is awesome for letting people see your photos. We put the project on Facebook, and often our customers will tag themselves in the photos. Then it goes all over their page and more and more pictures get out there. People remember the picture. If you've taken a good picture, they remember it. If you take a crappy picture, they'll remember that, too.