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DIY: A Cautionary Tale

As a self-professed DIYer, I can say with certainty that most general marketing messages don't really resonate with me. Not everyone is looking for an all-in, complete solution from a home product brand. That's why audience segmentation is a key component to any home product marketing strategy. Maybe my own custom journey as a DIYer will help you to better connect with this important target segment.


I’m a writer, but that hasn’t always been the case. Typically, you must have been a lot of other things before you can become a writer. For me, I took a lot of odd jobs while freelancing and building my portfolio before I could solely write for a living. I’ve waited on a lot of tables and served countless cups of coffee, but the most interesting position I’ve held was as a fulltime handyman for an exterior premium installation company (think windows, doors, siding, gutters, etc.).

As a handyman, I was assigned a large service area—driving around in a huge pickup truck with massive racks of tools to tackle any problem I might encounter. After a couple of years swinging a hammer and climbing up scarily high ladders, working on anything outside of a house became second nature. And the company I worked for allowed me to take my work truck home with full use of the tools. With the skills I developed, and the access to uncommon tools, I became confident enough to buy my first home—a little fixer-upper built in 1884.


I would love to tell you that as an above-average DIYer, my first home was a joy to work on. Instead, the horror stories are plentiful and humorous. Think Tom Hanks in The Money Pit, but with a shotgun shack instead of a mansion. There were, in no particular order of horrendousness:

  • The hand-hewn studs – erratically spaced and so hardened over time that they broke dozens of saw blades and made nails and screws collapse like paper.
  • The electrical system – a Frankenstein patchwork of knob and tube, aluminum wiring, and modern systems—depending on the wall.
  • The plaster walls – an unraveling sweater to be avoided at all costs.
  • The landscaping – a drainage nightmare surrounded by six massive, 100-year-old trees that wouldn’t let any grass grow.
  • The eccentric plumbing – the straw that broke the camel’s back!

While working in the yard one day, I unearthed the original well (side note: the house backed up to an old cemetery that pre-dated the house, so a well dug in the same ground was a disturbing thought). What might have been an interesting find turned out to be a nightmare! I discovered that my sewage line had broken at some point before I even bought the house, and that, instead of going into the city sewers, waste was gathering in an improvised septic system in my backyard. I spent a week solving the problem—digging up (and breaking) ancient clay pipes, cutting through innumerable tree roots and moving tons of dirt by hand. Until, finally, I gave up.


While standing in a sink hole, it came to me in a swirl of methane that I was literally and figuratively in over my head. I had done the hard labor, but it was time to call in the experts.

There wasn’t any way I was going to let the situation repeat itself, so I called a plumber to hook everything up and supervise the rest of the work. I decided to cash in my pride and sweat equity and shell out for some expertise. And that was the best decision I could ever have made.


Doing DIY jobs yourself definitely saves money and gives you a great sense of accomplishment; but, at a certain point, there are diminishing returns. I had to decide if the time and effort was really saving me anything in the long run. It wasn’t anymore. After that enlightening experience,

I now pick and choose what to do myself. Paint the kitchen—sure, I can do that. Haul a new refrigerator up a flight of stone steps—no, thank you. Retaining wall—check. New HVAC—No way! Time to crack open a beer, pick up the phone, and call the experts.


As I began to utilize the expertise of different dealers, manufacturers and distributors, I found the best companies have a lot in common—they are all understanding and flexible.

I think DIYers take pride in their autonomy, so they don’t want to feel like a professional installation or service is coming in to “save the day.” DIYers want to feel that they are partnering with real people to help realize a vision.

Also, the companies that I end up giving repeat business to have a natural and easily accessible presence online—I can tell quickly if I’m just being sold products, or if I’m really interacting with experts who understand my pain points and are creative with solutions. This initial relationship building makes me feel like I can incorporate a professional install seamlessly into my project while still being able to take ownership.

At the end of the day, if a professional can come in and elevate a project while eliminating problems, a DIYer like me will be always come back for help with that next project on our list.


Knowing all the ins and outs of your target audience is imperative. From audience segmentation to persona workshops to customer experience (CX) mapping, Power’s Strategy & Analytics team can help you gain deeper, more informative understanding of your key audiences. Contact us to get a conversation started.


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