Marketing a Carpentry Contractor has become more difficult these days.
Back 20 years ago when I started in the business we could get a yellow page ad and get a call every week or two. That was in Burlington Ontario and if you try that these days it is akin to signing on as an indentured servant.
So few people use the yellow pages these days that you may as well heat your house with the money you would pay them under their contracted print advertising. I know general contractors that were getting leads in years past from the phone book--but those dwindled in the last few years. For all intensive purposes the Yellow Pages are Dead.
I am sure you get hundreds of call from directory companies and SEO companies guaranteeing #1 listings in google. If they promise it, they are talking paid advertising in the margin... Adwords. And you can buy Adwords on your own. You don't need their middleman services. Basically, Google is the new yellow pages. The people that used to use yellow pages now go to their computer because it is easier than finding their phone book.
Starting a website for a Carpentry Contractor?--now that is an ambitious strategy. If you are planning to do this you need to have a marketing campaign to go along with it. Top level categories are dominated by players that have had websites for a decade now, directories, and sites that have actual content. Creating content is difficult unless you are an english major and a decent photographer. The average new website in 2010 will see 30 visits a month by the end of the year... that won't give you consistent leads.
Directories often play on ignorance to gain your confidence. "We get MILLIONS of hits every month"... the question you need to ask is how many Unique Visitors do you get every month? How many of those are contractors looking for leads or setting up their account, and how many are actual customers looking for a contractor. Divide the number of unique visitors by the number of services they are marketing for and the number of contractors listed within those services and then make an informed decision. Some niche marketers like GardenStructure.com will have your pages getting 30-300 visits a day... which makes sense. 1o visits a month just doesn't make sense. You would be better doing a few hundred direct mailings of something glossy.
Lead Generation Services that send the lead out to multiple companies are a scourge that should not be supported EVER. This victimizes you and every other builder using the service. You will devote your time and money towards being low bid... and increases the amount of time you will spend doing estimates. You pay for the privilege of working the lead... and so do your competitors. Keep perspective. It's not just $20 for a deck lead... the other guys paid $20 too... and there may have been 20 of them, and everyone wasted their time. It is not good for our industry. It just makes more overworked and poorer tradesmen.
Networking is important. Your friends and family and every client you work for can give valuable word of mouth referrals. Make friends with every client and they will help you for decades to come. (and keep in touch) Strategic alliances with companies that actually deliver non-competitive leads, and solid direct marketing should be part of your strategy in the 21st Century.