It's not an exaggeration to call Elite Homes' marketing plan comprehensive. The company has made a commitment to marketing and has worked its plan to adegree matched by few custom builders.

By the end of 2006, it was obvious the Louisville, Ky., housing market was starting to hit the brakes, and so "we embarked on the most ambitious advertising program our company has ever done," says president Joe Pusateri. That bold move enabled Elite Homes to increase 2007 volume over 2006 by 2 percent while the Louisville housing market experienced an 18.1 percent drop.

The company's plan requires that an ad run weekly with one of the local media, including the city's major newspaper, the local Homes Magazine, and a relocation guide. Elite Homes participated in the annual "Tour of New Homes," built a house for the 2007 Homearama, and had three booths in the Developers Fair. It also purchased billboard ads on each of the city's two major interstates, garnering 3.5 million views per month.

New media was part of the plan, as well. The company hired Virtual Solutions to produce a video that features testimonials from past customers. The video plays on the home page of the company's Web site,

Elite Homes also built a house for ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition in November 2007 that was aired after the first of the year. Though this was a huge effort in terms of organization and execution, it gave the company priceless exposure and made Joe Pusateri and his staff instantly recognizable in Louisville.

And if all this weren't enough, the company built a 3,500-square-foot design center in the first floor of its building. The one-stop shop allows clients to see, touch, and choose all the products for their newcustom home.

The company budgeted $650,000 for its marketing effort in 2007. Instead of asking trades and vendors for cost concessions during a troubled market, Pusateri and his staff asked every company it did more than $50,000 in business with during the prior year to invest in Elite Homes' future. They showed charts of the company's projected growth and shared the new marketing plan. Every company agreed to participate in the cost of advertising or to donate services to the design center. That defrayed about $325,000 of the cost of the marketing plan. And because the 2007 plan was so successful, all the trades and vendors re-upped for 2008.

Elite Homes Inc., Louisville, Ky.; Type of business: custom builder; Years in business: 32; Employees: 33; 2007 volume: $20.6 million; 2007 starts: 60