What Kind of Advertising for a Startup

I revised my timberry.com website a couple of months ago and one of the additions was the ask me page where I offering to answer questions people ask. This question came to me from that page and I think it might be a useful answer for this blog.


I just started a small business in [a US medium-sized town] home improvement contractor. My question too you is what kind of advertising do you prefer when just getting started


First answer, specific to a home improvement contractor: I think you should immediately buy John Jantsch’ book Duct Tape Marketing and read it cover to cover. That’s one of the best ever books on marketing for small business in general, and John uses home improvement contracting for a lot of his examples. It’s as if one of the best minds in marketing had answered your specific question with a brilliant book tailored to you. And that might lead you to his more recent book, the Referral Engine, which will also apply very well to home remodeling.

Second answer, more general, for all small business startups: the question isn’t what kind of advertising, but rather, what kind of marketing strategy. John Jantsch defines marketing as getting people to know, like, and trust you. What works best for you depends entirely on the specifics of you and your business and your target customer. It might be advertising and advertising alone, but I doubt it. I think it’s probably a mix of website marketing, social media, yellow page marketing, and mainly referrals. You need to think first about your business focus, your key target customers, what your message is, and from there, one to best get those key target people to know, like, and trust you.

I did a column a couple of months ago outlining how to do a marketing plan. That might help too.


  • Dwayne says:

    Thanks Tim
    I have been wanting to read the Duct Tape Marketing book for a while now, but, I have not got around to it. Thanks for reminding me.

  • Chuck Green says:

    Solid advice Tim.

    For what it’s worth, it also occurs to me that some folks are confining their marketing to a system such as Angies List. I’ve used a couple of contractors recently who really work their listing. They take jobs, ask the client to rate them on the service, and keep close tabs on any complaints. It’s a win-win. They build a good rating and clients have a real way of getting work done to their satisfaction. One of the contractors I have used had 50-some good, detailed ratings. It was no surprise that they did a good job for me too.

    I agree that you don’t want to be dependent on a single prospect stream, but, if you’re starting out and need a jump-start, this seems like one way to demonstrate the quality of your work on a limited budget.

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