During the meeting, he also reinforced something that I've realized for the last year: Contractors, Construction Professionals and generally people that work with their hands in their own business really, really understand web marketing and advertising. The reason is that they don't bog down their message with fancy, flowery, and quite frankly, BS-style language that completely hides the primary message of an advertisement, marketing piece or website. It's cut and dry, to the point and easy to relate to.
This is in stark contrast to how many in the marketing, advertising and web community build their materials. While content is certainly king on the web, the primary reason for it is that search engines need material to latch onto, in order to understand what a website is really about. If (all other things being equal such as links, etc.) you don't add the keyword 'pizza' to your website that promotes your pizza restaurant at least several times, the next pizza store owner will do it, and Google will likely find that location before yours. But sometimes it can go too far, and your visitors will come to your site and get bored with the mission statement, list of clients, about us, etc. etc. Lost in all this is that they are coming to the site to order a damn pizza! :-)
But the contractors we have been fortunate enough to work with know differently. They know that a person that comes to their website is looking for one, maybe two specific things...and it makes perfect sense to create a message that is clear and to the point, directing them to the right location, and creating a good call to action that entices people to contact them. They don't need it fancy, they need it to be direct and compelling.
Another thing I noticed is that contractors generally like to use very bold, stark, contrasting colors. Bright yellows or reds contrasted with black lettering is something they know that is going to be picked by a viewer the moment he or she encounters the message. While the imagery can change, the primary message is wrapped in these big, bold colors for all to see. While it may be simpler than a fancy flash slideshow or a image background, the point is that the visitor is captivated the moment the advertisement, graphic or web piece is viewed. Bonus: It's easy to create, and is cost effective.
I remember my Grandfather Thomas Avenia (may he rest in peace), a bicycle store owner for 60 years of his life, used to have a simple sign in front of his store - "BICYCLES". When you drove past that sign, you knew that there was a store nearby that dealt with bicycles. You might not know if he sold them or repaired them or both, but that large, bold sign told the primary message with one, single word. And it worked! it may be a bit of a stereotype, but truly I believe that people work with their hands truly have a knack for creating this compelling but easy-to-understand message, because somehow they know that they only have 2-3 seconds to get the attention of their audience, and they make it count.
As you are building your message, advertisement or web copy, remember the words of my old boss Alan Shulman from Samsondale Furniture of West Haverstraw (may he also rest in peace): "You have seven words to tell your story. If you can't do it, don't bother."