Spring NAHB Board Meetings

nahb meetingTemperatures failing to reach 60° are not what I expected at the NAHB Spring Board meetings in Washington during the first week in June. With the committee meeting rooms being kept at the same temperature, we all stayed awake! As usual, I concentrated on the meetings of the NAHB Remodelers subcommittees; and, as usual, picked up useful pieces of information.

Consumers Value Green

The first was a report given by John Ritterpusch of the NAHB Green Remodeling committee describing a consumer survey they just completed. In this survey they tried to determine what characteristics of “green” do consumers value and to which terms they best relate. The following 3 benefits of green came out on top, in this order:

  1. Energy efficiency
  2. Durability
  3. Health aspects of Indoor Air Quality

Comparing common terms used to describe benefits or characteristics of a green home can provide guidance for contractors as they talk with their clients and can help in marketing materials.

  • “Comfortable” was preferred over “livable.”
  • “High quality construction” is preferable to “advanced construction.”
  • “Universal design” beats “aging in place.”

Your Designations on Houzz

houzz logoSecond is a little tidbit for those who have NAHB educational designations and a presence on Houzz. In a few weeks you will be able to put your membership and designations up on your Houzz profile. These badges will link to a description of the designations and the benefits they can provide the consumer.

OSHA on Confined Spaces

The third is a heads-up in regard to OSHA’s final rule issued on May 4 in regard to working in confined spaces. Unless you are under a state-specific rule, they will begin enforcing it on August 25. Appertaining to remodelers this rule does include crawl spaces and attics, provided they contain hazardous conditions. As for hazards, one can expect the obvious—lack of oxygen supply, explosives, etc.—but the wording also includes “or any other significant safety hazards.” These can include things like a whole house fan, some kind of electrical hazard, or even a tripping hazard. If the space falls under the rule, then the job will have to go through the full permitting process applicable to confined spaces. Read more detailed information.

Posted in All Posts, Building Industry Information, Design Trends, General Info, Marketing | Leave a comment

NCHBA Board Meeting and Legislative Day

NCHBAThe North Carolina Home Builder Association (NCHBA) had its Second Quarter Board Meeting and Legislative Day on June 16 and 17. For the past 15 years I have participated in this event and, over time, have come to understand the importance of involvement at this level.

A Time to Share Local Concerns and Gain New Information

At the Board meeting I represent the Hickory-Catawba Valley Home Builders Association as a State Director so that our association always has an outlet to express local concerns. On the other side, I’m also there to bring valuable information from around the state back home. This information comes from participation in the various committee meetings, but also just as much from conversations during lunch or at a networking reception. Since the participants in these meetings come from both large, urban associations, as well as small rural ones, you get the full perspective.

At the NCHBA Membership Committee meeting we gathered information, such as on the value of the NCHBA Member Rebate program which essentially puts cash back into the pockets of Builder members. That program alone would more than pay the annual association dues for pretty much any builder and, in some cases, a lot more! It was also interesting to participate in the discussion of how to attract new and younger members to the associations and association events.

This year I was also given the privilege of serving on the Nominating Committee that interviews and selects the slate of candidates for the NCHBA officer positions in 2016. After the afternoon of interviews, I was truly impressed with the quality of people willing to take a tremendous amount of time away from their own businesses and serve in this capacity. It was also really nice to see some of our clients among that group!

Our Legislators Work Hard Around the Clock

Legislative Day takes place in two parts—a reception at the N.C. Museum of History on Tuesday evening and then visits to our legislators’ offices on Wednesday morning. Over the years I have come to see our state legislators as a hard-working bunch while they are in Raleigh. During session they’ll often head back to their offices to attend meetings or finish up work after the evening reception closes at 8 p.m. Then during the day, much of their time is taken up meeting with constituents (or with lobbyists) and hearing their perspective on the issues that they will either be putting into law—or blocking.

Mitchell SetzerThe way our government works, none of the bills that they craft and vote on are uncomplicated. Being the work of committees composed of people with diverse, and often opposing, interests; the bills are usually complex and very convoluted. It’s amazing that our senators and representatives ever have any clue about what they are dealing with. Unfortunately, a lot of the bills, which on the surface look great, have buried within them the potential of unintended and damaging consequences. That’s why Rep. Mitchell Setzer (pictured)—jokingly but also serious—says that we as citizens of the state are safer when the legislature isn’t in session!

Behind the scenes, our legislative staff at the NCHBA sorts through all of the bills as they are introduced and checks to see if they contain provisions that would be harmful. Part of NCHBA’s mission is to preserve affordable housing in North Carolina. Many bills introduced over the years, through unnecessary regulation, have pressured the cost of housing upward, beyond the ability of normal hard-working people to buy a home. And when people can’t buy homes, the jobs of those who build those homes are lost. Throughout the year the NCHBA staff works with the legislators to encourage them to keep housing safe and affordable. When association members come for Legislative Day from around the state, it reminds senators and representatives that it is real, live people from their own districts that care about what happens to their livelihood through the legislation enacted in Raleigh.

Make a Difference in the Building Industry

And why do I care about this? I care about our clients. Many of them are small businesses that don’t need extra impediments to their success. Far too few people get involved, and that could lead to the impression that builders and remodelers really don’t care what happens. I want to be one of those who stands up and makes a positive difference!



Posted in All Posts, Building Industry Information, General Info | Leave a comment

Mobile-Friendly versus Responsive Websites

Recently, Google announced it is changing its algorithm to target non-mobile-friendly websites. As a follow-up, we are showing you the different options available, so you will be aware of the new change and consider what is best for your website.







T.W. Ellis is a client who had a website redesign shortly before approaching us to become one of our Managed Marketing clients. The best choice for their website was a stand alone mobile site to get them into the mobile world faster and without needing to rework their newly designed site. The stand alone site is structured to deliver a unique experience specifically designed for mobile devices. To see the difference, visit T.W. Ellis’ website on your computer and also on your phone.

Tibma Design Build has been our client for many years and their website was in need of an update. It made more sense to create a responsive site for them. Not only do design styles change but coding languages, functionality, and browsers change often as well. Responsive sites are usually considered the best because they work well on small, medium, and large monitors, and are likely to work with whatever changes are in the near future. Watch how Tibma’s website rearranges depending on your window size. Open Tibma’s website, then take your cursor to the bottom corner of the browser window, click and move to resize the box. This demonstrates how the website looks on various screens—desktop, laptop, tablet, cellphone.

Learn more about mobile friendly options and use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test on your own website, check out Mobile-Friendly Websites. Will Yours Pass the Test?

Contact us at RT Marketing. Together we can put thought into your situation and what will work best for you.

Posted in Branding, Digital Marketing, General Info, Google, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, SEO, Technology | Leave a comment

What Will Your Customers Remember Most?

There is a currently popular notion—touted by many marketing companies—that “print is dead.” These companies will often advise you to jump ship and only use electronic media for getting your message across to your clients. Obviously, they aren’t taking into consideration the possibility that people may remember better what they read in print about your remodeling company than what they read electronically. Could that actually be the case?

Consider a recent article by Naomi S. Baron in the Washington Post. It made me sit up and take notice! It was entitled “The case against e-readers: Why reading paper books is better for your mind.” Prof. Baron is a professor of linguistics and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University. She conducted extensive research regarding the preferences of university students for reading a hard copy book vs. reading electronically. The study involved hundreds of students in the United States, Germany, Japan and Slovakia. Among the several points Prof. Baron makes are the following:

“Much of what students liked about reading print involved their minds,” she writes. “They said ‘it’s easier to focus,’ ‘my spatial memory works best,’ and ‘feel like the content sticks in my head more easily.’ Some also acknowledged they took more time with printed text and read more carefully—not really a surprise, since digital screens encourage scrolling and hasten us along to grab the next Web site or tweet.” … “Over 92 percent of those I surveyed said they concentrate best when reading a hard copy.”

Additionally, Prof. Baron’s research indicates that people enjoy reading both print and digital—even millennials enjoy reading both! “What fascinates me,” she writes, “is how many people—from teenagers to millennials to those of a certain age—prefer print when reading both for pleasure and for school or work.”

At RT Marketing, we will continue to encourage remodelers to use a mix of electronic and print in their marketing efforts.

Our experience over many years has proven this provides the greatest impact. For example, our monthly eNewsletters and quarterly print newsletters can work in tandem for you, reaching your customers from different locations with a single, powerful, customized message about your brand. Your message will be electronic and mobile-friendly so your customers can enjoy it on their phones while at work, and then it will also be a beautiful hard copy they can concentrate on more intently after dinner. Contact us when you want a marketing company that doesn’t just go with the current popular notions.

Posted in Branding, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Print Marketing, Technology | Leave a comment

Direct Mail: The Walking Dead

Like a Zombie, it Keeps Coming Back—and Still Delivers

If I told you that 65 percent of consumers made a purchase as a direct result of this marketing medium—what would you think? What if I told you that this platform is direct mail? That’s right, direct mail. The one thing you’re probably not doing.

In the days of mad tweeting, blogging, Facebooking—it’s hard to believe that what’s still considered a “dinosaur” in the marketing world by some—is basically gold sitting in your customer’s mailbox.

According to a survey conducted by Target Marketing Magazine, direct mail is the one channel that delivered the strongest ROI for customer acquisition for B2C marketers, and scored the highest for customer contact and retention.

In fact, J.C. Penney recently announced it would bring back its print catalog after being dormant for five years. According to a recent article on NPR, a spokesperson for the retail giant says the catalog is making a comeback because of its popularity with customers, and its ability to drive traffic to its online site and its stores.

So why not add direct mail to your online engagement strategy? With email inboxes full, and traditional mail volumes down, you have an even greater chance of getting your message noticed by your prospects and customers.

According to a report from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), response rates for direct mail to an existing customer average 3.4 percent, stating that while direct mail costs are higher, the cost per lead and cost per sale across direct mail, email, and paid search are about equal.

Simply put—people still genuinely like to receive and read mail.

By integrating direct mail into your omnichannel efforts, you can get more eyes on your company’s brand, and then drive home your message with a follow-up email campaign. It’s a one-two-punch.

According to the study by the Harvard Business Review, when both channels are used together, the response rate is 25 percent, an uptick of 1 percent had it been a solo direct mail project.

And the same goes on an international scale. A recent study by Royal Mail’s research agency, Quadrangle, reports larger increases in customer engagement through the use of both mediums together. The report states a 13 percent uplift on driving consumers to a website; a 22 percent uplift on a purchase; and a 34 percent uplift on using a coupon.

Without a doubt, while both mediums are effective on their own, using them together as part of an overall integrated campaign can significantly boost customer loyalty and ultimately, drive more sales.

The Future of Direct Mail

According to consulting firm, Winterberry Group, direct mail spending is said to have surpassed $44 billion in 2014. And it stands to grow even more this year, especially with the rise of new and innovative technologies.

These up-and-coming technologies allow marketers to add more of the wow factor to their direct mail campaigns, and actually extend its shelf life. For example, most marketers combine their direct mail efforts with mobile phone technology such as QR codes or SnapTag (a barcode similar to QR codes) to direct consumers to landing pages with relevant information.

Some take it a step further with the use of augmented reality (AR), which allows marketers to tie in a direct mail piece with video or computer-generated 3D graphics to improve engagement through a more personalized and compelling digital experience—think virtual shopping trip or game.

Another technology—near field communication (NFC), the wireless touch-to-transfer technology—will help direct mail remain a relevant marketing vehicle in the years to come.

It would enable marketers to deliver content through an NFC chip, so when a user touches a smartphone to marketing collateral—there’s an instant connection.

Direct mail will continue to be a workhorse for generating leads, traffic, and sales, while your other media will help drive interest and awareness.

Getting Started

So, whether you currently use direct mail (or are considering it), contact us to learn how our tools can help you get the most out of your campaigns. A successful direct mail effort starts with a clean and up-to-date mailing list, personalizing your mail, and knowing exactly who to target with valuable demographic information.

To get a jump-start on your direct mail efforts, call RT Marketing today 828.328.8956

–Guest Article Courtesy of Author, Abby Telleria. Published by Melissa Data.

Posted in Branding, Design Trends, General Info, Graphic Design, Marketing, Print Marketing | Leave a comment

Mobile-Friendly Websites. Will Yours Pass the Test?

Although the whispers started a couple of years ago, in early 2015 Google announced a new algorithm to target non-mobile-friendly websites. Since mobile web surfing has outpaced desktop surfing in recent years, they felt it was time to stand up for the little guy (or actually, the little screen). Google states that non-mobile-friendly websites may be strongly impacted in mobile search results; however, they haven’t yet specified desktop results. I’m guessing that can’t be far behind.

How do you know if your website is mobile friendly?
First of all, if you have a mobile device, check it out. Yes, this is a no-brainer, but believe it or not, a lot of people never look at their own websites after they launch. Is your text too small to read without zooming? Does your site use Flash? Is your portfolio swipe-friendly or was it built with mouse-over functionality? This is a long and non-scientific way of testing your site, but I want you to consider all that mobile-friendliness entails. Now, go type your website into Google’s handy Mobile-Friendly Test to get all this info much easier.

What if my site is not mobile friendly?
To go mobile-friendly, you have two options, but it’s likely your situation that will dictate which one you choose. There are pros and cons to both, but not having a solution to address the mobile phenomenon is all cons. Keep reading for a little more info on each of these solutions and then decide what fits your need.

Responsive Website
Responsive sites are usually considered the best because they work well on small, medium, and large monitors, and are likely to work with whatever changes are in the near future. They require less maintenance because you’re only updating one site, using only one URL (better for search ranking), and are quickly becoming the new standard. However, if you have a larger website and are lacking in funds, going responsive isn’t always an option. Many earlier sites were built in a way that makes them expensive or even impossible to make responsive without a complete rebuild, and they can be a bit more restrictive from the design aspect.

Stand-Alone Mobile Websites
If your site is not that old or you simply don’t have the budget to go with a rebuild, consider a mobile stand-alone site. Although there are a few disadvantages, a stand-alone site can get you into the mobile world faster and less expensively. Plus, they can be restructured to deliver a unique experience specifically designed for mobile. A stand-alone mobile site will require you or your web company to maintain two sites, but unless you make a lot of changes every month, this may not be a significant drawback.

Funds or Function
Before going with the least expensive option, you should consider this: If your website has not had an overhaul in several years, it probably needs updating for a number of reasons. Not only do design styles change but coding languages, functionality, and browsers change often as well. User-experience is an important part of any website. With so many competitors, don’t give visitors a reason to leave just because your site is slow, hard to read, or just outdated.

As you can see, having a mobile friendly website is important and choosing the right type can be a little tricky. You need to put some thought into your situation and what will work best for you, or you can always contact us at RT Marketing.

Posted in Building Industry Information, General Info, Google, Marketing, SEO | Leave a comment

Benefits of Blog Posts

Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Porch. Houzz. Linked-in.  How is a business supposed to keep up?  By posting blog entries!

Blog entries provide several substantial benefits – especially for small business.  One of the most useful benefits is how your blog becomes the hub for other Social Media platforms.  Links with these platforms drive traffic back to your website, as well as increase SEO.

Blog posts also offer a personal connection with your clients, vendors and prospects.  Providing relevant material to any of these groups will build trust in your expertise on the subject matter as well as increase awareness of your brand. Establishing your company as an industry leader and as a source to solve consumers’ problems has long-term benefits as well as short-term returns.

Unlike some of the other social media platforms — here today, gone tomorrow — blog posts are sustaining.  How well are you really able to get your point across in 140 characters?  Blog entries can be as short or as long as you need them to adequately inform your readers.  They stick around until you physically remove them from your site.

What have you posted lately?  Tired of trying to come up with relevant posts that will fit the multiple platforms of social media? Blog entries can serve as the foundation of shorter posts on your FB page or in your tweets, with links back to the full article AND to your website.  Visitors will begin to increase their awareness of your brand and trust in your expertise.   So, what are you waiting for?  Blog, blog, blog!


Need help with blog entries?  Contact RT for our custom blog writing services.

Posted in Branding, General Info, Marketing, SEO | Leave a comment

Highlights from the 2015 Design & Construction Week (IBS and KBIS)



The show is massive. Fact: one person can’t take it all in. Recognizing that fact, we developed a “divide and conquer” strategy.

As she usually does at these shows, Patricia Lynn spent most of her time on the show floor and in seminars, involving herself in press booth tours and lectures where she could discover the latest trends in the industry that would be of interest to homeowners. One must-attend event for Patricia was the tour of and reception at The New American Home where the leading suppliers, designers, and builders of this trend-setting house were recognized and had the opportunity to speak. One of the interesting facts from this house is that it achieved Emerald status under the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) and rated a HERS score of -13!  We involve ourselves in this front-line research so that our clients have the benefit of materials being used in their marketing that aren’t available from other sources.

Although our Sales Manager, Mark Stephenson, has attended many a Builder’s Show and Kitchen & Bath Show in the past, this is his first time attending, not as a remodeler but as a representative of RT Marketing. In this capacity, he was using the Show to understand best how he can communicate with remodelers across the country—in a way that makes sense to them— a stark reality: if they let RT Marketing manage their own company marketing programs they will be better off.

I get a lot out of the show through attending NAHB Remodelers sub-committee meetings and striking up conversations at the Remodelers Central. During these times I find out the latest of what’s happening for remodelers around the country—what’s affecting their business and how they are trying to improve their businesses in order to succeed. While doing this I enjoy the friendship of some whom I consider to be the best around.

One Remodelers Central highlight was a reception, sponsored by NAHB Remodelers and Qualified Remodeler magazine for Tim Ellis, recognizing him as the 2014 NAHB Remodeler of the Year. We are particularly proud of him for achieving this recognition, and are very happy to have him as a client. Throughout the year we’ll be working with his company to make sure he gets maximum marketing benefit from this recognition.

Here are some intriguing tidbits I picked up during the show:


  • See what homeowners are spending on remodeling in your local area: nahb.org/localremodels
  • Consumer information on remodeling: nahb.org/remodel


  • The fifth edition of McGraw Hill’s Smart Market Report is coming this spring. It will be having a greater emphasis on healthy homes. It will also include research on 50+ Green.
  • Home Innovation Research Labs is conducting consumer surveys on green-related terms that resonate.  “Green” doesn’t. “High Performance” does. And they are looking for others to use.
  • The NGBS has  completed 45,000 green certifications to date, with 50,000 additional multi-family units in the pipeline. This is considerably ahead of LEEDS for residential builders and remodelers.


  • The NAHB Remodelers Public Affairs group just launched a Facebook page. Click on this link and “like” the page. Discussions on this page will keep you up-to-date on business, design and economic trends in the remodeling market. This page will be oriented to both the industry and the general public. Also feel free to share it!
  • The new NAHB website is still under construction. The original target date was IBS. Now they are saying it will be ready by June.


  • David Crowe in his Economic Report said that in 2014 they were anticipating 7 million existing home sales that didn’t take place. This indicates something positive for remodeling. It also shows that in 2015 there is a lot of growth left.
  • The Remodeling Marketing Index (RMI) has been over 50 for 2 years now.
  • NAHB anticipates a 3% increase in remodeling activity in 2015, which brings it close to the level of the early 2000s. New home sales are still about half of what they were earlier.

Trade Show

  • An agreement has just been signed that will co-locate IBS and KBIS for the next 4 years. 2016 will be in Vegas. This will be followed by 2 years in Orlando. After that it will go back to Vegas.
  • During the first year in Orlando (2017) there will be a remodeled home in addition to The New American Home.

Legislative & Regulatory

  • Watch out for further emphasis on solar technology. The White House is really pushing it.
  • New 2015 DOE regulations on water heaters will affect home builders and remodelers. All new equipment will be at least taller and wider that older units. If the unit is 55 gallons or more, the requirements are even more significant. If it’s a gas-fired product, fully condensing combustion technology is required. Electric water heaters will need to integrate heat pumps to meet the new requirements. These units will be noisier than existing units and will require a 10’ x 10’ room (or ducting) to operate properly.
  • OSHA. An injury must be reported within 24 hours. A death within 8 hours. $72,000 fine for failing to report.
  • OSHA’s Confined Spaces—Final Rule is pending to be issued in March 2015.
  • The EPA has proposed a change to the recertification process for the lead paint rule that would eliminate the hands-on training requirement and make the way for online training. See more at NAHB.org/leadpaint

Robert Kraay, President

Leave a comment

See You at IBS & KBIS

Robert, Mark and Patricia are heading to Las Vegas next week for the second annual Design and Construction Week (DCW). This year DCW will include the International Builders Show, the Kitchen and Bath Show, the Window Coverings Expo, and the Surface Event. A trade show of this magnitude brings together remodelers, designers, builders, and manufacturers from all over the world to learn, connect, energize and do business. It’s an exciting place to be and we’re each looking forward to attending. Hope to see you there!

As a member of several NAHB Remodelers committees (Membership & Communication, Legislative & Regulatory, and Green Remodeling) Robert is very much involved in the National NAHBR meetings. Together with some of the most successful remodelers in the country, he participates in discussions on the challenges they face and on what they are doing to stay ahead of the curve in their businesses. He also learns about upcoming legislation that will impact the business of remodeling in the coming years. Keeping abreast of the industry this way, Robert can provide expert guidance to our clients and for our RT Marketing team in terms of developing exceptional marketing plans. Hanging out in the Remodelers Central, Robert also enjoys meeting remodelers from all over the country, hearing their aspirations for their businesses, and finding out what’s working–and what isn’t–for their companies.

Our sales manager, Mark Stephenson, is no stranger to IBS and to KBIS! For years he attended the seminars and spent hours on the exhibit floor, researching the best business methods and building techniques for his own remodeling company. In his new role with RT Marketing, he will connect on a peer-to-peer level with remodelers and builders who are engaged in the process of building profitable companies. Just as he turned to RT Marketing years ago to market his company at a professional level, he’ll look for ways where our professional marketing services can also contribute to the success of these companies.

Patricia, our trends writer, will be heading to the design seminars and the exhibits to learn everything she can about what is currently trending in home design and remodeling. She appreciates the opportunity to get the latest scoop from highly respected designers who have specialized for years in particular sectors of the market. Manufacturers will divulge the results of their lengthy consumer studies and how they are meeting the demand with their newest product offerings, from cabinetry to flooring. Patricia loves to see and experience firsthand the new appliances with advanced technology. Attendees often have the chance to vote on their favorite prototypes, which helps manufacturers determine which products to actually put into production! The internet can be a resource for this kind of information, but if you aren’t careful you can also be misled. Patricia has noticed that a great number of online articles on trends are simply regurgitating ideas from years past. So, for writing articles, Patricia prefers to gather information at the yearly trade shows.

Leave a comment

The #1 Way to Promote Your Design/Build Remodel Company

Despite all of the hype about Social Media and electronic means of communication, face-to-face contact is still the #1 way to promote your business. Face-to-face allows better relationship building by strengthening trust with your client and all those intangible benefits of personally knowing with whom you are working. You will experience more growth in areas where you are able to increase awareness with personal contact. Several ways to reach out are personal sales calls, exhibiting at local home shows, sponsoring and attending local events through your local Chamber or HBA. Another great touch is to hold an Open House after completing an exceptional project. Invite past clients, current clients and prospective clients to come see your expertise first-hand—don’t always rely on photos to do your work justice.

In today’s marketplace you cannot rely on one primary means of building awareness in your local market. Other options include printed newsletters and postcard blitzes. RT offers a newsletter program that provides your target market with a quality printed newsletter about the latest trends related to remodeling once every season. Postcard blitzes allow you to build awareness in neighborhoods you are currently working. When you begin a project, you send a postcard to surrounding neighbors announcing who you are and why you are there. Then a second postcard will be sent out to build excitement about the nearly completed project. Finally a third postcard will go out announcing the completion of the job and a call to action. Following up with an Open House will really help close the deal!

RT is following our own advice and adding Sales Associates positions in 2015. Our new Sales Associates positions are the means by which we plan to increase our awareness in local markets across the nation. These associates will be the face of RT Marketing in their respective areas. It will increase our awareness among potential clients and strengthen our awareness with existing clients through more direct contact. Perhaps you will see one of these new associates in your own neighborhood or association meeting. Be watching!

Leave a comment