Home mortgage rates are rising toward 8%.  There is real concern about supply and demand in the housing market.   People may turn to nesting and remodel where they are—if they have the money in a time of high inflation.

Uncertainty is growing.  Home improvement retailers and service companies must face the challenge ahead.  How do you grow in this marketplace?  What can you do to not just survive, but thrive? 

Here are five things to think about that can make a difference:

1. Know your customer.

Sounds like a cliché, right?  Classic marketing jargon.   That’s not what I mean here.  Everyone is reliant on digital marketing as a cornerstone of their advertising.  We are focused on the metrics that show engagement, but do we know what they mean?  You can’t simply trust the algorithm and do more of what works.  Everyone else will do that, too.  Get to the core of what’s working and learn why it’s working for your customers. Your competitors are using the same media, targeting the same segments, and following the same results. This all leads into a massive traffic jam in front of the customer.   Don’t drive right into it. 

2. Own the purchase cycle.

Another cliché?   Nope.   If you really work to understand why and who are responding successfully to your marketing, you can then go upstream in the purchase cycle.  The good news for home improvement is that it is not an impulse purchase.  In a challenging market, it’s not enough to just ask for the sale.  Get in line—everyone is doing that in the same media to the same customers.   Be a source of inspiration, knowledge, and discussion.  Be helpful.  Be their advocate.  By the time they are ready to make a purchase, you’ve already built a relationship with them and will stand out. 

3. Get creative.

You’re not going to spend your way out of this challenge.  You aren’t going to save your way out, either.  Both can become a death spiral.   It’s time to get creative.  You’ll need to learn how to use duct tape, a hammer, and a screwdriver. Are there ways to seem bigger than you are without doing the same things that everyone else is doing?  Absolutely.  If you know your customer in a personal way, and you know the purchase cycle, there are a hundred ways to do it.   Placing more digital ads and hoping for the best isn’t the answer.   There is a way, and you will stand out in fresh, creative ways.

4. Do the wave.

If you’re in a stadium with 50,000 people and you randomly choose 1,000 of them to stand, you’d never see them.  When they all stand up at the same time and in the same section—it’s striking.  Your budget is going to get tight. It’s inevitable. Utilize layers and do “the wave” in your media plan tied to key messages or themes.  This will make every dollar work harder and build momentum better than spreading it like peanut butter. 

5. Support your customers.

Blah, blah, blah.  More jargon.  Again, there’s more to it.   It is much more cost effective to retain or reactivate your customers than it is to find a new one. People do multiple projects over time.  They also refer family and friends.  Now is the time to double down and invest in your retention and reactivation strategies—and support and empower your raving fans.  That is cheaper and more effective that flying toward the digital traffic jam in front of an “ideal” prospect.

Don’t panic.  You can get through this.  You can win and be very successful.   Now is the time to shake the complacency and find new ways to make it happen.