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BizReport : Research archives : October 30, 2008

Housing slump forces home improvement SMBs online

Once upon a time home improvement contractors, such as painters, carpet layers and landscapers, were turning away customers and had little time for websites or online ad campaigns that would only serve to swell their waiting lists. How times are changing.

by Helen Leggatt

kelsey group logo.jpgThe Internet is fast becoming a necessity for SMBs in the home improvement industry, particularly in the midst of the current global housing slump. According to a recent report from The Kelsey Group, "As the market continues to slow and projects become scarcer, the firm expects Web site adoption by home and trade service SMBs to grow from the current 33% to 60% by 2010". Such an uptake would see a healthy injection of marketing dollars into the local ad market.

Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet to research companies, so an online presence is imperative whether times are tough or not, it's now an integral part of the marketing toolkit.

Home improvement SMBs shouldn't ignore consumer review sites, communities and content sites such as DIY Network, Angies List and ServiceMagic as consumers seek to minimize necessary spending on assets that are decreasing in value.

Local advertising opportunities should also be employed, particularly local search, with new and measurable opportunities via, for example, Google Maps. With many home improvement companies already using traditional Yellow Pages listings to advertise, many may start to shift budgets to the directory's online and mobile offerings.

"Now that the market's dried up -- it's basically dropped in half, from Q1 2007 vs. Q1 2008 --now those people are going to say, 'Gee, how do I find work?'" said Matt Booth, SVP and program director for interactive and local media at Kelsey. "That means a whole lot of those ad budgets are going to go to interactive spend."

Tags: Angies List, consumer reviews, Google Maps, home improvement, housing market, local advertising, local search, Yellow Pages

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