by Nick Gromicko

An effective ad is actually not designed to tell the world about your greatness.  An ad isn’t about you; it’s about your prospective customers.  Your ad should deliver a compelling message that causes the reader to call you.  Don’t un-sell your services with the wrong kind of ad.

The winner is the chef who takes the same ingredients as everyone else and produces the best result.
Edward de Bono

Here are some common mistakes typically found in print ads that contractors have made (or have paid an advertising rep to make for them):

  • a poor construction company logo created by the contractor or an enthusiastic amateur;
  • the company name hogs precious ad space (name recognition without sales = bankruptcy);
  • an unappealing color scheme;
  • a mix of several different fonts;
  • a silly pun in the ad copy (as if consumers demand witty contractors);
  • a picture of your service fleet (which will give the automatic visual impression that you sell work vans instead of construction services);
  • technical buzzwords (which the average person will not understand or care about);
  • manufacturers’ logos (you’re paying to promote yourself, not someone else);
  • the phrase “Discount Prices” (consumers who want quality will call someone else);
  • the phrase “Best Prices” (doesn’t everyone claim this?);
  • the phrase “No Job Too Small” (which will send your big-ticket clients looking for someone who can handle their project);
  • a weak premise, such as “Here’s a great deal!”;
  • the lack of an attention-grabbing, compelling headline;
  • no solutions proposed for common issues;
  • no list of features or benefits of your services;
  • no sense of urgency (why not just say “Please call us sometime”?);
  • no call to action; and
  • the phrase “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (as if you’re bragging that you won’t make the customer unhappy).

Reminder:  It costs as much to run a good ad as a bad one.

TIP: Read this article on Logos and Taglines for Contractors.

Newspaper Ads

Do tell the rep that you want the “standby” rate.  The newspaper will run your ad when and where they want to, depending on whether they need to fill empty space on a page.

Don’t let the rep sell you on a “re-run” contract until you run your ad first for a week to test its response.

Dissect Your Competitors’ Ads

After WWII, the Japanese bought several U.S.-made cars and tore them apart.  Each part was scrutinized.  They learned to build high-quality cars from paying attention to what their competitors were doing.  Contractors can learn a lot by emulating what the Japanese did.  The more you know about your competitors, the better you’ll be able to compete with them.

When a Competitor Goes Under

Try to acquire that competitor’s old phone number and domain name to have calls and website searches forward to you.

Off-Peak Marketing

It’s easier to get the attention of prospects when no one else is bombarding them.  There are fewer customers to be had at certain times of the year, but also fewer contractors competing for them.

TIP: Be straight up and admit to prospects that “It’s the slow time of the year for us and that’s why I’m able to offer…

Join our discussion about print ad mistakes that contractors make.

Contact us if you would like us to create a successful ad campaign for your contracting company.


Contractor Marketing