Blue-collar workers, particularly those in the construction trades, are more likely to smoke and have less success in quitting when compared with white-collar workers. Little is known about health communication strategies that might influence this priority population. This article describes our formative work to develop targeted messages to increase participation in an existing smoking cessation program among construction workers. Using an iterative and sequential mixed-methods approach, we explored the culture, health attitudes and smoking behaviors of unionized construction workers. We used focus group and survey data to inform message development, and applied audience segmentation methods to identify potential subgroups. Among 144 current smokers, 65% reported wanting to quit smoking in the next 6 months and only 15% had heard of a union-sponsored smoking cessation program, despite widespread advertising. We tested 12 message concepts and 26 images with the target audience to evaluate perceived relevance and effectiveness. Participants responded most favorably to messages and images that emphasized family and work, although responses varied by audience segments based on age and parental status. This study is an important step towards integrating the culture of a high-risk group into targeted messages to increase participation in smoking cessation activities.