W.B. Builders, Deluxe Improve Through Marketing Lab

W.B. Builders improved its efforts to connect with prospects and clients and boosted its revenue by 20 percent over the past year as it participated in a marketing lab offered by Deluxe.

Residential remodeling contractor W.B. Builders and eight other companies across the country have spent the past year boosting their marketing efforts through a new program launched by Deluxe Corporation-and Deluxe has used the experience as an opportunity to improve its offerings for small businesses.

Nine companies were chosen last summer to participate in Shoreview-based Deluxe's marketing lab for small businesses, Project Rev. Each of them was paired with a Deluxe marketing adviser and a business counselor from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). In addition to consulting services that they provided, each company also received up to $5,000 in marketing services from Deluxe.

Scot Waggoner, CEO of Edina-based W.B. Builders, said Friday that he used the program as a chance to do a better job reaching out to clients and prospects-and he figured out how to do that with the help of his two advisers.

At the Remodelers Showcase in October, Waggoner distributed brochures to the 500 people who stopped by the two homes he had on display. He also collected contact information from them-something he hadn't done in previous years-rather than letting these prime prospects walk away without any way to reach them later on.

“After the showcase, we really took it to the nines as far as throwing a client appreciation party,” he said. “Through our marketing, we've realized that most of our clients do come through word of mouth.”

To get the word out to the type of clients he most wanted to attract, Waggoner began advertising in two magazines geared toward his target market-the southwestern part of the metro area-and began doing design work in-house, rather than contracting it out, in order to maintain closer ties with those clients.

The results? W.B. Builders has boosted its revenue by close to 20 percent over the past year. For the few years prior to that, sales totaled about $1.2 million, down from $1.5 million in 2007. Waggoner says he's on track to meet a previously announced goal to grow sales by 20 percent for each of the next couple of years too.

Julie Gordon, senior manager for strategic markets at Deluxe and the marketing adviser assigned to work with W.B. Builders, said that the experience was just as helpful to her company as it was to Waggoner's. Some of what he wanted marketing-wise pushed the boundaries of what Deluxe offered, so Deluxe expanded its capabilities in order to meet Waggoner's needs. For example, Scott wanted a digitized version of W.B. Builders' logo for its Web site and a brochure that had an unusual shape-neither of which Deluxe had ever offered.

“We said, 'we'll do it,'” Gordon explained, adding that “we are innovating around some of those challenges” that were identified by Project Rev participants.

Terri Shapiro, executive director of brand and media relations at Deluxe, said that the experiences of the inaugural Project Rev group were somewhat of an eye-opener.

“In working with the small business owners, especially with the marketing advisors, it made us so much more acutely aware of how pressed for time they are,” she said. “One of the biggest challenges they faced, even when they know what to do from a marketing standpoint, was finding the time. . . . Our future is in marketing services to small business. It reminded us how turn-key we need to make it for small business, how simple.”

Deluxe will begin accepting nominations for a second Project Rev group this fall-and the company hopes to begin working with the next group of winning companies at the beginning of the 2012 calendar year.

“The overall experience and what I got out of it was awesome,” Waggoner said, adding that he'd love to do the project again. “The relationship amounted to more than you could imagine.”

Deluxe provides personalized printed products; business services, including logo design, payroll, Web design and hosting; business networking; and other Web-based services to help small businesses grow. It is among Minnesota's 30-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.34 billion in 2009.