Advertising Success Stories

Cabinetmakers describe advertising strategies that have worked for them. May 22, 2007

I've got a small 2 man shop in rural Atlantic Canada. After advertising in the newspaper, yellow pages, and radio over the past years, I've just bought a new cargo and put graphics on it. What do you find works the best for small businesses in rural areas? Cash guys are rampant in the area, and with the cost of doing business legally, it's hard to get ahead of them.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor T:
I agree that the big boys play hardball, but you must also think about the following. I run a 1.5 man shop (1200sqft) that does about 250k per year. I have very few expenses due to a rental property on my land which basically covers all my expenses. The way I advertise? Big! When people look at a small ad, they see a small, unprofessional business. But a large ad shows them that you are serious about your business. I have had great results from advertising in magazines.

Over the years I have found the cabinetmakers/finishers focus too much on overhead (tools, machines, shops that are too large for what they need). Granted, all these things are important, but you can have the most beautiful shop with the latest equipment. If you don't have any money left for advertising, you're going to go broke! I personally spend about 10k -15k a year and that is in half page ads and brochures. You might also want to try contacting your community paper and asking them if they offer a package. My community paper offers a full page feature on your business if you advertise for 6 consecutive months. There are also plenty of great books on advertising.

From contributor R:
I have found I get by far the biggest bang for the buck from my subscription to a construction data publication in my area that gives me a list of everyone that has taken out a building permit once a week. It costs next to nothing - approximately $350.00 per year plus the mailouts that I pick and choose to send. It yields very good results for our 3 man shop. I am on Vancouver Island, Canada. We do mainly high-end residential.

From contributor T:
Referrals have been, by far, the best for us, but it takes a few years to get there. We've tried them all over the years. TV has been the best, radio second, and newspaper very last. The newspaper could have been used for TP with the same result. We'll see if WW has a sense of humor.

From contributor I:
Sorry, can't comment on rural areas, but interior designers are always my best. When doing custom work, the customer really has to be sold on your shop first, the job second. When you have another professional tell the customer that you are very good and they agree to meet with you, the job is 75% yours. All you have to do then is sell the job. Local furniture stores are also a good place to get references for custom work. Agree with them about a referral fee since they are trying to sell as well.