Celebrating 25 Years with a Look Into Our History

In the mid-1980s the printing industry was revolutionized by the introduction of the Apple Macintosh personal computer and Aldus PageMaker software. These systems allowed the output of digital pages as film on high-resolution imagesetters, and they also offered the means of making color separations on the desktop.

At that very time RT Marketing inc.’s founder, Dr. Robert Kraay, arrived at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC, as an associate professor teaching courses in journalism, public relations, communication and photography. Robert purchased a Macintosh personal computer and taught himself to use it. He quickly brought LRU’s journalism students up-to-speed as he introduced them to desktop publishing.

The possibilities for desktop publishing were very exciting! In 1989, Robert decided to start his own desktop publishing company, setting up shop in his living room. One of his very first products was developed together with his friend, Jim Edwards, a remodeler who wanted to print and mail newsletters to his modest list of clients, but could not afford the per piece price.

Robert designed a template for a four-page, two-color, customizable newsletter called Remodeling Tips that could be mailed out by multiple non-competing contractors across the country, thereby reaching the quantities that would reduce the per piece price. He also wrote general interest articles that would appear in each subscriber’s version of the newsletter, while all the subscribers would supply a custom article that would appear only in their individual versions.

Robert and Jim marketed their innovative idea in their booth at the Remodeling Show and the International Builders Show (IBS). Some of the very first remodelers who caught the vision of how Remodeling Tips could benefit their company are still happy and successful clients of RT Marketing inc. One of those clients, Mark Stephenson of HUB Design/Build, began using Remodeling Tips in 1997, and today is the new Sales Manager for RT Marketing!

In the mid-1990s, as the internet again revolutionized the business world, Robert was once more at the forefront of technology. His company—at that time known as RT Incorporated—began providing state-of-the art websites for clients who knew us through the newsletter and from the trade shows.

In 2000, Robert was hired as Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Hickory-Catawba Valley, a position he thoroughly enjoyed. The six years as EO greatly increased his knowledge and understanding of the building industry, and helped him build many enduring relationships.

During this time, Robert, late in the evenings after work, also continued to manage the growing company that not only produced Remodeling Tips, but also found itself offering a wide variety of print and electronic marketing products. It finally came to the point where he had to choose between one or the other. He decided to go full-steam-ahead with his company, working to transform it into the full-service marketing firm it is today.

Specializing in the building industry, RT Marketing offers a wide range of services—everything from becoming a client’s ‘in-house’ full marketing department to producing your monthly eNewsletter.

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How does your business look different from others? Look at a cow

1800′s
Once upon a time in the open ranges of Texas lived many cowboys. These cowboys were well known for their livestock–some even had a few prize winning cattle. One very hot day, all the local ranchers’ cows were thirsty and they went to get a drink at the nearby pond. This pond happened to connect several farms’ grazing areas. Soon after the different herds arrived, not a single cowboy could tell whose cow was whose. Let me tell you, these old western guys didn’t mess around when it came to a conflict of interest. As the arguments started to arise and men lined up for a show down, the ruthless Butch ‘The Bull’ Hancock had an idea. Bull Hancock spoke up, “There’s a way we can settle this here dispute without bloodshed.” The others weren’t very interested, but no one wanted to cross the stone cold Bull Hancock, so they listened. “We will take the same number of cattle back to our farms and mark them to tell the difference next time this happens.” Some one called out, “How are we going to make a permanent mark on the cows?” Hancock replied, “They’ve got a tough hide; let’s use a hot iron to brand our own symbol on them. We’ll need to get together to make sure our symbols aren’t the same, but this should work.”

200+ years later
The idea of cattle branding dates back much further than the 1800s, but the US branding method was adopted around that time as the Mexican cattle industry moved north into Texas. This practice is still used today, as well as other evolving identification methods. From this idea of cow ownership identity comes company branding, which basically has the same concept in mind: setting apart and marking your product, or service, to differentiate it from the rest.

Can your clients tell what work is yours and what is someone else’s? We recognize brands in the grocery store and relate to them through quality, cost, or feelings. Is your logo weak, or is it being read as superior compared to others? Is your name standing out for your target market to see and be enticed?

One of the services that RT Marketing inc. provides to our customers is company brand design. We strive to make your company look its very best and truly reflect what sets you apart in the industry. This process may begin with updating your logo or developing a new one. More importantly, it requires establishing a powerful, consistent message throughout your marketing effort, from printed materials to web presence, and social outlets.

Does your company need some brand consistency, a facelift, or redesign? Contact us and see how we can help strongly brand your business to attract the clients you desire.

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RT Marketing Visits Love Valley

Builders and remodelers have amazing creativity. Many of them dream big dreams about the unique projects they would love to build someday, when they have the time and money. Andy Barker, co-owner of JA Construction Company in Charlotte, NC, was one such builder.

Andy had always dreamed of living in a western-style town. In 1954, at the age of 29, he left his lucrative general contracting business and moved with his wife and two small children into a one-room shack on 200 acres of wild country land he had purchased near Statesville, NC. He used the crew from his construction company to build the western-style town of Love Valley, which was incorporated in 1963.

Today the town of Love Valley hosts many public events throughout the year, including holiday parades, poker rides, a chili cook off, draft horse pull contests, and rodeos. These activities, and the 75 miles of beautiful riding trails surrounding Love Valley, attract thousands of visitors who bring their horses and campers each year from all over North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Horses are often tethered to every foot of the hitching rail, but cars are not allowed on main street.

The RT Marketing team had a wonderful time when we visited Love Valley last Sunday. After a leisurely horse-drawn wagon ride, and some time spent browsing through an old-fashioned general mercantile and a gift shop, we topped off the day with a delicious meal at The Silver Spur saloon. Barbecue, anyone?

Learn more about Love Valley:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0ao1l84cpo&feature=youtube

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5 Steps to Building a Better Brand: A Firm Foundation

As RT Marketing inc prepares to celebrate a milestone of 25 years in business, we also have recently applied the “5 Steps to building a Better Brand.” Let’s climb this ladder together and see what changes we’ve made over the last few months and how we can work together with you to improve your company.

Rung 1: Start with a Firm Foundation

A foundation, as you know, supports everything you build for a project. Just like a structure needs a solid foundation, your company needs a cornerstone that will supply the base and strength necessary to succeed. Although this primarily applies to branding in marketing efforts, we also believe it applies to basic building of a business. So, in November we added a new designer to our team, Heather Greene. Heather has been a great addition to the Creative Department and we now are wondering how we ever managed without her. Not only did our creative side need more foundational support, so did our Admin Department. In March we brought in an Office Manager to help with client services, scheduling and other internal matters. We are delighted to have Kecia and Heather in this capacity in our Hickory office.

Heather Greene joined the RT Marketing creative team November 2013 as Junior Graphic Designer. Heather’s passion for great design and communication are what fueled her to complete a degree program in Advertising and Graphic Design. She strives to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in design and social media while helping maintain a timeless look and voice for your company. In her free time, Heather enjoys being with her family, especially her new nephew, Colton. With the warmer months approaching you will mostly likely find her at a baseball game (Go Braves!) or taking a weekend vacation to the beach!

Kecia Roseman joined RT Marketing in March 2014 as Office Manager. She is the first person you will talk to when you call us and probably the first person to respond back to your emails. She is our own “Project Manger”—guiding the staff in maintaining client satisfaction, meeting deadlines and keeping communication open with our clients. Outside of the office, Kecia is busy raising a house full of teenagers. When there is time, you will find her enjoying a good book—the real printed, paper, with-a-spine kind!

How is your foundation? Do you have a professionally developed logo and tagline? This is the basis of Rung 1 on the “5 Steps to building a Better Brand”. Email us or call today and we’ll send you our “5 Steps to building a Better Brand” booklet.

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Kecia’s Impressions as New Office Manager

This is my third month with RT Marketing. I have learned so much these last weeks. Perhaps you have thought the same way I did when I first started, that RT Marketing basically produces newsletters. I was so wrong! Not only does this company produce high quality newsletters, but we also develop and maintain exceptional websites, using our SEO expertise to dramatically increase the likelihood of our clients being found through Google® searches. Beyond websites, we are also into Social Media, helping and guiding our clients to establish relationships through these networks.

It doesn’t stop there. We help develop logos and other marketing collateral for our clients that will make their presence stronger in their preferred target area and attract more of the high-end clients they desire. We build marketing campaigns that help to grow a company’s brand, help create a consistent message across the board, and ultimately help increase business.

I have also had the privilege to learn more about the RT team. Each member is fully dedicated to providing excellent service that benefits the client by focusing on the individuality of that client. No two jobs are ever the same! And no two members here perform the same function…so we have a highly collaborative, well-rounded team that functions as a full-service marketing department for our clients.

Our members are as unique as each position they hold. I learned a little more about each recently when I had the pleasure of meeting their families while we all attended a local baseball game. Some on our team are just starting to think “family,” while others are actively raising the next generation, and then others are empty nesters enjoying young grandchildren. This widespread span of life experience, knowledge and training makes our team effectively varied.

I know I will be learning more and more as time progresses. What about you? Isn’t it time for you to learn a little more about our team, about our services or both? Look for upcoming posts introducing our team members.  Check out our services online or contact us to learn more!

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That Extra Dimension

Trade Shows.  Do I go or don’t I?  To go is certainly more expensive than hopping onto the internet. But there is a vast difference between looking at something and experiencing it. For example, how many of you who are remodelers sell projects totally online without at least once meeting your clients face-to-face?  The face-to-face experience has the capability of pushing the relationship to the next level.  Trade shows offer that opportunity for us to connect with our own clients and potential clients. And that’s why we go.

Robert with Steve Monroe

At the 21st Century Building Expo and Conference there were opportunities to reconnect with many of you in a way that we just don’t find the time to do in the hustle of day-to-day business. It was a special opportunity to meet with you who were taking Steve Monroe’s workshop on “Making the Sale,” which RT Marketing had the opportunity to sponsor. I still want to continue those conversations we started after the class.  You guys get it!  And I know we can help you take it to the next level.

Then at the booth during both shows, I think of the opportunities I had to listen to the challenges you’ve faced this past year:

  • getting your business up and running
  • feeling you’re in a rut
  • concerned about technology leaving you behind
  • afraid that others have the edge on you in their marketing campaigns
  • frustrated because you don’t really understand—or even like—marketing, but you know you have to do it to keep your business alive
  • worried about the future of your company as you approach retirement.

Robert with Andy Haste

These, and many more, are part of running a business.  And we want to be there to help you in that part of your business where we have the interest, training, experience, and resources.

Then, at the Remodeling Show it was such a pleasure to see our friends in the national leadership of NAHBR, to have Tracie Garret from North Carolina and Andy Haste from Indiana stop by the booth.

 

Crab Cake from Joe’s

It was a special pleasure when Dave McBride from Michigan invited us to dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

Banana Cream Pie from Joe’s

As you can see from the photos, it is no shack! It’s an exceptional eating experience in Chicago. At times like this—as you all well know—the business relationship takes on a new, and personal dimension. Thanks so much, Dave, Jan, George, and Kim. That’s when work gets to be both fun and rewarding!

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2013 NAHB Fall Board Meeting: Report for Remodelers

First of all, I want to thank Doug Sutton for arranging this year’s Remodelers’ Night Out dinner at the Phantom Canyon Brewery in downtown Colorado Springs. This year’s dinner was well-attended. Each year, we all look forward to this event, which is a fundraiser for scholarships that introduce local remodeler council leaders to the NAHB Remodelers (NAHBR) at the Spring Board Meeting. It also gives us the opportunity of getting together with friends in the remodeling industry from across the country. And, with great appreciation for the work she has done for the NAHBR over the years, we honored Therese Crahan, who is retiring.

As a trustee of NAHBR, I once again concentrated on the various remodeling subcommittees. And here are four noteworthy points that I took away from those meetings.

1. Most significant was a report in the Legislative Committee on new efforts by OSHA in regard to Respirable Crystalline Silica. You may wonder what that is. When you’ve experienced it up until now, you’ve probably thought of it as simply dust. But this particle is found in many commonly used building products including mortar, concrete, stucco, plaster, brick/blocks, rocks/stones, drywall joint compound, and fiber-cement siding, among others. When it’s released into the air and then breathed in, there can be a risk of developing some serious diseases. So, now OSHA is proposing reducing the permitted amount of ingestion from 250 micrograms to 50 micrograms exposure over an 8 hour day. Some of the implications of this are prohibiting dry sweeping and requiring earth moving equipment to have an air-conditioned cab with no possible entry for dust and no dirt brought in by the operator. Figure out how that’s going to be achieved? The possible impact of this rule is expected to exceed one billion dollars per year for the building industry. Learn more

2. Another item is that NAHB’s political analysts all expect the energy tax credit incentives to expire at the end of the year. The chance of them being extended is very low. You might want to encourage your clients to move quickly on projects where they could take advantage of the incentives we currently have.

3. In the Green Remodeling Committee there was a lot of discussion among the remodelers present about what may be a consumer backlash against the word “green” and an avoidance of those remodelers who advertise themselves as being “green” remodelers. According to the remodelers taking part in the discussion, the word “green” has been overused and it seems to perceived by consumers as something that adds expense to a project. One of the members of the committee said, “We’re past using the words ‘green’, ‘sustainability’, and ‘efficiency’. We now need a new emphasis.” One of the words the committee was gravitating toward is “high performance.” Some members said that description seems to be working better with consumers.

4. Talking about green, remodelers should be aware that the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard has a stand-alone section for certifying green remodels, which is now available.

So, there you have it. Please free to contact me at 828.328.8956 if you want to discuss any of this in more detail.

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New Research Highlights the Unique Role of Physical Mail

I received a hand-written thank-you card in the mail a couple weeks ago. It was so completely unexpected that it really got my attention. The administrator of Atlanta Fest personally wrote the note to thank me for volunteering at the festival this year. Right now the card is sitting on my desk where I am reminded continually of his consideration. In past years, the AF staff sent out a mass “Thank you” email that I read and immediately deleted.

In my role as a marketing professional, I realize that the thank-you card from AF is a powerful illustration of one of the newest trends in marketing communication: the increasing significance of sending and receiving physical mail. This trend appears to be a reaction to today’s profusion of mindless texts and tweets that create no lasting emotional connections.

JWT Intelligence, in a follow-up to their latest trend report, “The Future of Correspondence,” recently had a Q&A with Evan Baehr, co-founder of the hybrid-mail service “Outbox“. Below are some apropos comments from Baehr:

“What we find so interesting about the mailbox is that 96 percent of people check their mail every single day, and it’s a communication channel that through habituation people are expecting both personal content, solicited commercial content like a magazine and unsolicited commercial content as well.”  …

“With postal mail, you’re happy to open random things from brands you’ve never even heard of at rates that are dramatically higher than what you see over email. So the key thing for postal mail versus digital channels is discovery. The open rate is essentially 100 percent on catalogs, because you at least look at the thing if you’re sorting through it to dump in your bin.”  …

“It’s very interesting to watch how catalogs are usually perused—they’re held with the left thumb and they’re perused basically backwards. Women do really interesting things with artifacts, like ripping out pages, putting those in folders, dog-earing the corners of pages, writing on them to say “for Christmas gift list,” things like that. The tablet, even with the iPad, has not created a suitable alternative experience to lead people to give up that wonderful medium that is paper, which is this incredible malleable, richly visual, interactive piece of material that in a lot of ways the iPad can’t really compete with.”

Here at RT Marketing inc., our clients’ testimonies continue to prove that our print newsletter has maintained its effectiveness, despite all the nay-sayers of the past several years who have been claiming that print is dead and advising everyone to switch completely to electronic. It is gratifying to note the number of studies that are beginning to confirm what we have said all along: there is a very important place for physical mail in a home building and remodeling company’s marketing mix.

Yes, eNewsletters and social media platforms like Facebook and Houzz provide a fantastic way to inexpensively pass on project photos and information about your company to your clients, build rapport, and drive traffic to your website. We aggressively support these venues through our proprietary Trends eNewsletter and social media packages.

However, building professionals should not totally give up the advantages of placing into their clients’ hands high-quality printed newsletters or postcards with beautiful, glossy project photos! That would be an opportunity lost.

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KBIS in NOLA for 2013

Since I’ve never before visited New Orleans, I was quite excited when KBIS decided to locate there this year. As a city well-known for the arts, NOLA is a logical place for a trade show that focuses on beautiful design trends in the home. There was a lot to inspire remodelers and kitchen & bath designers at the show. Of course, I spent a lot of time on the exhibit floor and also in seminars. But then I also enjoyed riding the trolleys,  visiting two local plantations, and eating my share of gumbo and jambalaya.

KBIS hosted a Design Studio, but it was quite different from the one I experienced at IBS. The KBIS Design Studio was a small presentation area on the exhibit floor that focused entirely on eight design professionals as they demonstrated some new technology.  The concept, called the QueX Experiential Showroom, helps designers create an interactive showroom that enhances and personalizes their client’s experience. Pictured is Cheryl Kees Clendenon’s presentation of a GenX bath.

Here are few of the product trends I discovered: 1. Creative use of metal and glass 2. Large scale wall cladding in textured wood and ceramics 3. Continued evolution of the touch-free faucet

“Fusion”, the combination of wood and metal in a table leg — by Osborne Wood Products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand-forged iron vanity bases –by Urban IronCraft

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Luminati” lighted support brackets –by Federal Brace

 

 

 

 

 

Shower door tempered glass pulls, in a variety of designs –by Glasatti

 

 

 

 

 

Large format ceramic panels, created to look like precious stones –by Fiandre Architectural Surfaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carved wood wall panels –by Art for Everyday Architectural Woodcarvings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Deep Nocturne” new black solid surface that is darker and more scratch-resistant. –by Corian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch free intelligent faucets. Turn on and off, regulate water flow and temperature setting, all without touching the faucet. –by Cinaton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for The Best-Kept Secret of IBS 2013

 

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