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!

Robert:
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.

Mark:
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:
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.

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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!

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Print is NOT Dead

When it comes to the success of your company, there is one thing that must be considered and properly utilized no matter if you are just starting out, or have been 30+ years in the industry–brand awareness. Brand awareness may be developed through your website, logo, job site signs, brochures, billboards, and social media…just to name a few. In today’s marketplace you cannot rely on one primary means of building awareness in your local market. Several avenues help to ensure that you are reaching a broad audience in various forms. When clients approach us at RT Marketing regarding how to effectively reach new and current clients, we suggest several steps. First, determine your target market. Second, make sure your message is clear and consistent throughout your company. Third, choose a few ways to reach your customers. We can walk you through each of these steps, making sure your choices reflect the highest quality in the industry while providing the best option for your local market.

Better Built Inc of Palm Springs, California is a great example of this practice. After a recent merger  of two companies, they needed to consolidate their brand and reach clients in a consistent and meaningful way. Better Built is a construction firm specializing in renovations, additions, and custom home building throughout the Coachella Valley. It was fairly easy for Better Built to determine their target market and brand identity. Palm Springs is well known for its mid-century modern style. The challenge would be reflecting this style in a way that is both professional and fun, stylish yet timeless.

While Better Built was reworking their website to reflect their brand, they understood the need for other materials. They approached RT Marketing for a postcard to send to their clients. We suggested a postcard blitz series for maximum effectiveness. Postcard blitzes allow you to build awareness in neighborhoods where you are currently working. When you begin a project, a postcard is sent to surrounding neighbors announcing who you are and why you are there. Better Built gave us creative freedom to design a card that would reflect their brand, grab readers’ attention, and have a clear message.  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!

This style was fun for creating a postcard series, but beyond the colors and decorative elements, we were able to provide a professional product that includes a compelling message. At RT Marketing, we offer a wide variety of options for reaching your preferred clients. Contact us today and set up a consultation to discover what will put you above competitors and take your company to the next level.

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Thank You for 20 Years, Patricia!

This year our Creative Director, Patricia Lynn, celebrates 20 years at RT Marketing! Since 1994 she has applied herself—her eye for exceptional design and her understanding of how to craft a marketing message in fresh and engaging ways—to practically all the creative material we have produced for our clients. As we now expand into providing Managed Marketing solutions for more of our clients, Patricia’s creativity will be used to its full potential as she coordinates the diverse elements of each marketing campaign through the effective use of imagery and copy.

Patricia naturally fits into her capacity here at RT Marketing through both training and experience. After earning her degree in Interior Design from the University of Iowa, she worked for several years as a commercial interior designer of medical facilities. She brought her passion for keeping up with all the latest developments for the home, together with her design experience, into her job here. For 20 years now she’s been fanning the flames! Every year she attends the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) with a journalist’s perspective, attending the seminars on design trends and interviewing manufacturer’s reps on the latest products that will be hitting the market in the coming year. She then applies what she learns about design trends to the articles she writes for our newsletter clients. Or she applies her knowledge of shifts happening in the design world—from color to style—to the layout of a brochure, the look of a website, or to the composition of a logo. Patricia’s expertise assists the RT Marketing Team in giving our clients an edge in the building industry to stand out among their competitors through the marketing materials and campaigns that we provide.

When Patricia isn’t writing about the latest building trends, brainstorming new material, or developing the creative aspects of our clients’ design projects, you can find her enjoying quality time with her granddaughter, Kate, actively serving in her church, volunteering, traveling to see family, hiking in the mountains, or reading a good book.

Patricia is an integral member of our team who adds a unique perspective to what our team as a whole is able to offer. We thank Patricia for her 20 years of service and her genuine concern for providing the best to our clients.

Did you know?
1. Patricia was on the island of Kauai, HI on 9/11/2001 and the airport was closed down.
2. She’s gradually been won over to where she now experiences withdrawal when she’s away from her computer.

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Reach for the STARS

You have something wonderful to offer the world through your business. Your skills in the building industry are not a small matter! As we get to know you as our clients, we see unique characteristics that your customers can greatly benefit from. It is truly our desire at RT Marketing to let those qualities shine brightly through your advertising. When we look at your company, we see your heart and passion. It is our passion to share what sets you apart from your competitors. There is nothing more rewarding to us than your success, and that is exactly what our recent STARS Award represents.

The North Carolina Home Builders Association presented 50 prestigious awards during the annual STARS Awards Gala on September 10, 2014 at 21st Century Building Expo and Conference. The STARS Awards program honors the achievements of builders, associates, realtors, media and advertising professionals, and many others from the Southeast region who make major contributions to the residential home building industry. We are proud to announce our 2014 STARS Award for Best Internet Marketing, Advertising or Branding Project for an Associate.

The project we submitted was a campaign for a company whose target market goal was an older community that would bring high-end clients. We developed a contest with a multifaceted approach to reach into this community. By teaming up with two well-established business in the target area we used social media, email marketing, website, and printed media to attract the locals by offering a hefty prize. As a result, our client’s company developed brand recognition in their desired market, received 10 unique referrals, increased social media traffic by 38%, and added 28 homeowners to their monthly eNewsletter!

The STARS Awards are one way we can reaffirm that our efforts are on track when it comes to platforms, current trends, timelessness, and effective strategies for industry related marketing. We are so excited about this award, not necessarily for our sake, but that we were able to assist our client in reaching his goals toward success.

How are your marketing efforts working? We WANT you to be profitable! Whether you need guidance with your entire marketing budget or just one aspect like print or web advertising, we are here for YOU. We understand your dreams and we want to be an extension ladder to get you to the goal. Get in contact with us today and let’s make your next project STARS Award worthy.

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Happy Anniversary Robb!

This month we are highlighting one of our longest employed team members–Robb Bolick. Robb has been with RT for eight years in a few different capacities.  His latest role is Project Manager. As we are expanding into a new market of providing annual marketing services, Robb will draw from his experience to direct our team in the wide array of new services these contracts will bring.

This is a year of milestones for Robb and his family. He and his wife, Karen, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Karen received her elementary school teaching degree with honors, and is now teaching 4th grade. His son, Jarod, has reached driving age and will soon be sitting behind the wheel driving Robb around!  Robb’s daughter, Krista, is officially 13 going on 30.

Although Robb enjoys the Hickory area, he enjoys having sand between his toes and soaking up the sun more. He is our resident Beach Bum. Whenever we discuss food for staff meetings, Robb suggests pizza or donuts. “I haven’t had a donut yet I don’t like!” he’ll say.

Robb is an integral member of our team and his background adds a unique perspective to what our team as a whole is able to offer. We thank Robb for his number of years of service and his genuine concern for providing the best to our clients.

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Reflecting on Success While Looking to the Future

At the last NCHBA Board meeting it was exciting to hear Executive Vice President, Mike Carpenter, announce, “The 21st Century Building Conference & Expo is back!” The show definitely was vibrant and the exhibit hall was full! The courses were well attended, and the attendees we spoke with felt they were getting the education they needed to build their businesses. We at RT Marketing feel a certain pride in the success of the show, because NCHBA asked us to develop the design for the theme that became the face of the show this year. We also had the privilege of producing the show’s web presence and printed materials.

It was wonderful to see everyone who visited our booth. There’s nothing like renewing acquaintances face to face. It’s exciting to discuss and strategize about helping your businesses grow in an emerging market. A highlight was the number of you who stopped by because a course instructor recommended it. Experts do recognize the practical difference that quality and industry-focused marketing can make for contractors who are serious about developing their businesses. Thank you, Erik Anderson and Steve Monroe, for the vote of confidence.

Marketing, though an essential part of your business, may not be your primary interest, and/or strength. Your training and expertise is strongest in the construction aspects of your business. The marketing knowledge you need to keep the business going is gained by guess or by gosh, or by burning the midnight oil. We at RT Marketing have developed a solution for that. It’s simple: outsource your marketing. In the same way that you get an accountant to do your taxes because you can’t (or don’t want to) keep up with all the complexities of tax law—let an industry-leader like us handle your company marketing.

Take advantage of our industry focus and 25 years of experience and expertise. Leave it to us to keep up with the nuances of the changing landscape of Social Media and to understand what Google’s been doing with SEO. We study your demographics and determine the best approach to your target market. Be confident because we know the language and complexities of your business–we have been concentrating on businesses just like yours for a very long time. You can trust that we know how to approach homeowners and potential home buyers. We’ve already seen what’s working, and what isn’t.

Your business will have a better chance to prosper if you’re not wasting unnecessary time and money making marketing mistakes again, and again, and again! Contracting with RT Marketing won’t cost a dime more than what you should be spending on marketing anyway. We will just be spending the resources more wisely.

We spoke to a number of you about this concept at the show. Whether we spoke to you or not—as you prepare your business plans for next year, let us be a part of your planning process. This may be one of the smartest things you do for success in 2015!

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How RT Marketing Is Like a Design/Build Company

During my twenty years as a writer for RT Marketing, I’ve spent many hours researching and writing articles for our clients on the subject of “Why Choose a Design/Build Company?” In the process, I’ve discovered that our full-service marketing company has a lot in common with Design/Build companies. And these things that we have in common can offer distinct advantages to our clients.

Several years ago, Linda Case wrote a book entitled “Design/build for remodelers, custom builders, and architects.” From her book, I’d like to parlay the following six advantages of Design/Build to help answer the question “Why Choose RT Marketing?”

1. Cost-effective
Since 1989, RT Marketing has specialized entirely in the building industry. We’ve gained the expertise to conceive and produce every facet of your annual marketing campaign within a realistic, specified budget.

2. Professional
We don’t need to spend a lot of time getting to know the industry before we can offer true professional advice. Our acumen helps streamline the process, saving you money. We know which marketing efforts are suitable and function well within the building industry, and we know how to obtain competitive prices.

3. One-Stop Shop
Our team can manage every aspect of your annual marketing campaign from start to finish. We listen carefully to your requests from the outset, then return with suggestions, and ultimately present you with a cohesive plan for the entire year.

4. One Point of Accountability
Our team becomes your one accountable expert who will keep your marketing efforts free of different interpretations as it moves from the design to the production phase. We’ll make sure that your branding is always consistent, making a much stronger statement about who you are as a company.

5. Time Savings
With RT Marketing handling all aspects of your annual marketing campaign, more can be accomplished within a shorter period of time. We have the synergy of our team working together on your campaign, sharing ideas and resources.

6. Strong Working Relationship
We establish a working relationship with you from the outset. We spend time learning what is important to you before we make any suggestions. Your comfort level increases as the year goes by and you’re getting to know each member of our team.

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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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