The Evolution of Design-Build Marketing [with Infographic]

Design-Build Marketing Timeline

As long as landscapers have been landscaping and hardscapers have been hardscaping, we have also been, in our own ways, marketing. Demands and styles ebb and flow, and we adapt our marketing techniques to (hopefully) match. Over the last score of years, however, the introduction into the “age of technology” has vastly warped design-build marketing. Businesses, regardless of industry, can barely function on simple word-of-mouth anymore. To show our design-build pros just how far we’ve come in the last decade-and-a-half, and our predictions of the next few years, we’ve developed an “evolution of design-build marketing” timeline. Have a look:

Evolution of Design-Build Marketing


Traditional Marketing

In the very early 2000s, some, but not a ton, of technological marketing had ventured into the design-build industry. This is why traditional paper marketing techniques were still very popular for many pros. These include classic favorites like:

  • Door hangers

  • Flyers posted on telephone poles and bulletin boards

  • Lawn signs

  • Direct mail

  • Newspaper ads

  • Yellow Pages ads

Home Shows

Another winning market at this time was the home and garden show. Since homeowners at this time depended upon inspiration from elaborate displays and personal experiences, home show participation, from design-build pros and homeowners alike, swelled. It was more than worth it to spend the time and money on entrance fees and elegant outdoor living rooms when it meant going home at the end of a weekend with multitudes of leads.


TV and radio advertising got its say in design-build marketing during this time, as well. Quick spots on local radio stations were still popular for advertising a list of services and a short “You can trust us” pitch. The success of radio advertising started to flow over into the realm of television here, as well. The commercials at this time were, more often than not, the sort of mom-and-pop self-filmed type. These proved successful, as they appealed to the older demographic who, forced into this new age, were still skeptical of the technology takeover.

Early Websites

Toward the end of this five-year stretch, we start to see the very tentative beginnings of website usage. As internet growth becomes more and more undeniable, design-build pros at this time had no choice but to, at the very least, get themselves a basic website.


Email Marketing

As the World Wide Web grows rapidly in popularity, incorporation of all things internet is more than necessary for design-build marketers — starting with email marketing. It's early enough in the email timeline that homeowners are only starting to be wary of spam email, making it fairly easy for design-build pros to get their name out to potential clients via email advertisements.

Search Engine Ads

During this five-year span, we start to see the rise of the search engine and, with it, search engine marketing. In the effort to keep up with this new tool, many design-build businesses began early search engine marketing with ads on home pages of search engines like Yahoo!.


Another phenomenon that emerges with the rise of the internet is the hype of the blog. Even though blogging emerged a few years earlier, it didn’t start to take off until the mid-late early 2000s, with over 50 million blogs existing by 2006 (Source). Many design-build pros took advantage of this rising popularity as not only a way to advertise their businesses, but as a method for proving authority on their niche industry.


Facebook Ads

Despite the fact that Facebook launched in 2004, it didn’t make sense for the average business owner to advertise with the social media monster until nearly a decade later. In 2012 is when design-builders start to see real customers and leads emerge from Facebook ads. In the same year, new clients and leads increase with company blogs even more than the previous five years (Source).

Drop in Yellow Pages

The rapid increase of unsolicited Yellow Pages books results in the average homeowner’s distrust of Yellow Pages. And with some cities going so far as to ban unsolicited Yellow Pages, many design-build pros begin making the smart choice to no longer invest in this traditional classic, and start putting their investments toward more digital marketing techniques…


…like SEO. The early 20-teens is when we see the beginnings of search engine optimization for this industry. With the launch of Google+, design-build professionals start to see the advantages of ensuring their presence at the top of search results.


Social Media Marketing

Throughout the last few years, we’ve seen a massive increase in the incorporation of new social media into marketing strategies, like Instagram and Pinterest. Since the design-build industry is one that is constructed very much upon the aesthetic, it only makes sense that visually-heavy social media platforms work particularly well for members of this profession. Social media outlets specific to home improvement, like Houzz, very quickly appeal to homeowners.

Drop in Home Show Participation

With the rise of design-build in varying media outlets, home show participation has dropped. As homeowners are more and more often getting their inspiration from social media and HGTV, design-build pros are seeing more sense investing in digital marketing tactics over expensive home show displays.

Video Content

In 2017, video content represents 74% of web traffic (Source). Naturally, design-build professionals see this as a great marketing opportunity, incorporating video content into web design, social media, etc.


Rise in Digital, Drop in Traditional

By the year 2020, most predictions of the direction of design-build marketing point to the continued rise of digital marketing strategies and a steep drop of traditional ones (Source). We’ll see consistent increases in the incorporation of digital marketing aspects like:

  • Video content (predicted to represent 80% of web traffic (Source))

  • Social media marketing (especially for those outlets specific to home and garden, like

  • Elegant web design

  • SEO

What Should You Learn from This Timeline?

Of course, there are some key takeaways about the decrease of traditional and the increase of digital marketing. But, there is a more conceptual conclusion to draw from the timeline, which, long-term, is more important than old school vs. new school. It is that design-builders are members of an ever-evolving marketing community. In order to maintain business while your target demographic is constantly changing demands, you can’t identify with any “school.” No matter what you “know” works, your marketing tactics must adapt to new desires of your audience, or else what you used to know will cost you customers. Have an open-minded perspective about your design-build company’s marketing strategies, and you should be able to keep up with fast-paced modern demands.

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