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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Best-Kept Secret of IBS 2013

I think one of the best-kept secrets of the 2013 International Builder’s Show (IBS) was the Design Studio. This was a place where designers, architects and land planners could meet and network with builders and manufacturers, as well as attend sessions focused on design. You could tell from the way the room was furnished (clear plastic bar stools, tall blue candlesticks, etc.) that this place was intended to inspire fresh ideas. I recommend you spend some time in Design Studio next year and see for yourself.

Design Studio offered Design Trends Day on Wednesday—a wonderful all day workshop that focused on new trends, products and strategies in the residential building industry. Some of the topics offered were multigenerational living, lighting, kitchen design, color trends, and consumer preferences. Design Studio also offered a tour of the exhibit floor, hosted by a leading architect or designer.

As in past years, I also toured the The New American Home 2013, attended some design trends seminars, and spent a lot of time walking the exhibit floor. Some of my picks for exciting booths at the show this year include:

1. EcoSmart Fire (www.ecosmartfire.com)
I first came across one of EcoSmart Fire’s attractive free-standing pieces at The New American Home 2013, and then later I found their booth. EcoSmart Fire offers a wide variety of eco-friendly, vent-free fireplace solutions that are fueled by bioethanol. This renewable liquid fuel is produced from agricultural by-products and burns with no smoke or sparks.

 

 

 

2. Kohler (www.kohler.com)
Against a bright red background, Kohler showed off the very cool Moxie showerhead with removable wireless speaker. It can be paired with the Bluetooth device of your choice, such as an iPhone or Droid, to enjoy your favorite tunes while in the shower. The magnetic speaker docks securely into place, but can be popped back out again to use separately in your kitchen or outdoor living room—wherever a waterproof speaker might come in handy.

 

 

3. Formica (www.formica.com)
Talking about bright color: to celebrate 100 years in 2013, Formica introduced its delightful Laminate Anniversary Collection. Several new patterns, with delicious color names like Tangelo, Citrus, and Blueberry, are sure to attract Gen Y buyers. The younger set want their kitchen countertops to look very different from what they grew up with, which was typically granite.

 

 

4. KanaStone by Kanaflex (www.kanaflexcorp.com)
KanaStone’s booth beautifully displayed their new flexible stone paneling installed in a kitchen. I couldn’t find much about the material on their website, but their brochure describes KanaStone as a natural stone composite panel that is strong, yet lightweight and flexible—unusual qualities for a stone product. It’s obtained by slicing natural stone, such as marble or granite, and combining it with a lining panel developed by Kanaflex (a company known in the plumbing industry for hoses.) The panels can be used for interior and exterior wall cladding, flooring, cabinets and countertops.

 

5. Resysta (www.resysta.com)
This is another great product that I saw first at The New American Home 2013. Consisting mainly of rice husks, it was developed as a renewable, 100% recyclable material that has the look, feel, and workability of wood, and is also weather and water resistant. It can be used for outdoor decks and exterior wall cladding, as well as for floors and walls in bathrooms and showers, and more. According to the manufacturer, Resysta does not absorb water, so it neither splinters, cracks or swells. It can be glued, sanded, milled, drilled, sawed and colored.

Click here for 6 Major Takeaways from the International Builder’s Show

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6 Major Takeaways: 2013 International Builders’ Show

The 2013 IBS was an upbeat show — great for networking and keeping current with the building industry. Here are my six major take-aways:

1. After several years of seeming doldrums, I saw general enthusiasm and optimism all around at the 2013 IBS. As a National Director, I was asked to visit a couple exhibitors and thank them for being at the Show. In both of the booths the exhibitors were enthusiastic about the traffic they were experiencing.

2. A big announcement came out that next year (February 4-9, 2014) the IBS will be co-located with the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS). It’s being billed as “Design and Construction Week,” and they are anticipating as many as 2,000 vendors at this “mega event.” It appears they are trying to get the size of the event back up to what it was several years ago. Co-location should provide considerable savings for attendees, as well as exhibitors. On the other hand, it will certainly limit the number of exhibits and classes that one can visit, with two big shows packed into three days. We also heard that the Surfaces show will be in Las Vegas at the same time on the other end of the Strip at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Remember, you heard it here first!

3. Always a highlight, the Remodelers Central was a wonderful place to take a break, meet with remodelers from around the country, and participate in roundtables to discuss challenges faced in their businesses. The NAHBR staff— Therese Crahan, Nissa Hiatt, and Sheronda Carr—all made everyone who came feel so welcome. It was great to see Bill Shaw, a remodeler from Houston, TX, take over the reigns as Chair of the NAHB Remodelers. It was also fantastic to share some time with our good friend (and social media buddy) Michael Menn, an architect and Design/Build remodeler from Chicago.

4. Leading one of the roundtables and participating in a second one, I found it interesting how often the topic of marketing and branding came up. At one point, in response to the question of whether or not a remodeler should seek outside professional help with their marketing, I had the opportunity to turn the question around. I pointed out how that many of a remodeler’s prospective clients, with some time and effort, could probably do their own remodeling projects. So, what arguments does a remodeler use to convince those prospects to use their professional services instead? For one, the professional invests in training and certifications, so they know how to do the job right. The professional comes to the trade shows for ideas not available to the average DIYer. The professional invests in the right tools. The professional has experience and he has access to a network of others whenever his knowledge runs short. Spoken from a benefits point of view, the professional will get the job  done right the first time. He has a broader perspective than the DIYer. He’ll provide the best value, and often, even save money in the long run. Just as this is true for a remodeling contractor, it also applies to professional marketing. And I am happy that we can not only provide this professionalism for our clients, but we also provide it with a thorough knowledge of the building industry and of their business in particular.

5. With President Rick Judson now at the helm, the big topic at the Board meeting of the NAHB was whether or not to pass an increase in the dues structure. Over the past few years, as building industry businesses have faced major challenges, the association has experienced a dramatic decline in membership (and dues income). Despite dramatic staff and program cuts, the budget wasn’t balancing. The Board decided that now is the time that we must stay strong as an association and not reduce the effectiveness and business-strengthening tools provided for the members. With the current administration in Washington, NAHB is expecting a veritable new wave of regulation coming — and have already started to experience it — that will make the business of building homes more difficult and more expensive. If the association is not operating at its full strength, the cost and negative impact of excessive regulation on our members and the industry will greatly outweigh the few dollars extra spent on dues.

6. Of course, the Show and Convention wasn’t all work. Patricia had a chance to hang out with Elvis, and we had a good time at the SPIKE party featuring the rock group Cheap Trick. There are benefits to recruiting new association members, in addition to having the satisfaction of knowing that you are strengthening your industry and ensuring the future viability of your business!

Click here for 2012 Remodeling Show in Retrospect

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2012 Remodeling Show in Retrospect

Ready for the show to open!

In October I had the opportunity to attend the Remodeling Show in Baltimore, both as an exhibitor and an attendee. At the booth I had great conversations with remodeling contractors from around the country. I was also able to attend a few seminars on marketing topics.

One presentation I attended was on “Demographic Focused Marketing” by Joaquin Erazo, Jr., Senior VP of Marketing with Case Design/Remodeling. Much of the lecture described how a company benefits from profiling in detail the customer they are targeting. The means for doing this are now better than ever with tools available over the internet. Once that customer is profiled, then the entire marketing campaign needs to be focused on reaching those particular customers. He explained how an approach like this can actually save money, because you don’t need to waste resources reaching people other than your ideal target.

Another good point Erazo made related to the creative/design aspect of the marketing campaign. On the screen he displayed a typical marketing postcard featuring a beautiful kitchen. Then he asked the audience of remodeling contractors, first of all: how many of them have talented craftsmen working for them, and then: how many produce high-quality work, and finally: how many achieve outstanding results. On each of these points the entire group raised their hands. He then asked, “So, if this were your marketing postcard, what is there about it that would make a potential client choose you over anyone else in this room?” With that point made, he suggested that the marketer analyze what is uniquely different and strong about your company and create the text and visual imagery around that, even if it doesn’t include a photo of a finished project. That way, you focus the viewer’s attention on what is unique about your company, thus drawing them to you.

I especially resonated with this last suggestion because over the years our designers have often presented unique, eye-catching proposals only to have our clients choose the “safe” direction of looking like everyone else.  Joaquin’s point was that the risk to be taken is what will make the campaign effective.

Sample RT eNewsletter

Back at the booth we met contractors enthused about the quality of our eNewsletter product for the price, or the print newsletter as a way to reach a prospective audience with education about the unique aspects of their services. They saw these as perfect vehicles to apply the targeting principle that Joaquin was advocating.

Sample RT Print Newsletters

Another gratifying experience was with a remodeling contractor who has been in business for 13 years, and has done well. He was excited to realize that we could take the weight off his shoulders in an area where he doesn’t have training and experience. We can, in effect, partner with his business to build his brand in his local area and conduct effective marketing campaigns for him, leaving him to concentrate on the parts of his business where he is strong. And he realized that through the more targeted and effective use of his marketing dollars, it wouldn’t cost any more than what he has been paying.

A highlight of the show for me was when I got into a discussion with Larry Miller, a salesman from Sunspace Sunrooms, in the booth across the aisle from us. I gave him a copy of our booklet, “Five Steps for Building a Better Brand”. After glancing at it, he did a double-take. He asked, “Where did you get this?” I said, “It’s a booklet we produced last year and have been handing it out at our trade shows.” He said, “I picked up a copy last year and now it’s like my “Bible” for marketing.  I keep it at my desk and go through it with all my dealers, because they need to be building their brands. It’s a great resource!” Well, of course, that made our day!

If you would like a copy of our famous booklet, click here and request “5 Steps” in the Comments box!

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RT Marketing inc. Won Three 2012 STARS Awards!

We were blown away this year when we learned of our three NCHBA STARS Awards presented at the 2012 21st Century Building Conference and Expo. Robert, who attended the dinner and awards ceremony, said he was kept very busy—he would no sooner return to his seat than his name was called again! Naturally, the RT Marketing inc. staff is very proud of the awards and appreciative of our clients who selected us for these  exceptional projects.

1. Special Project
Branding Campaign for Glaze Design/Build
Our client, Gene Glaze, has been specializing in upscale residential design/build remodeling for many years. However, he felt his company name (Glaze Construction) and his logo did not sufficiently indicate the type of work he did. Based on surveys of past Glaze Construction customers and market research, RT Marketing inc. developed a cohesive brand identity for the company that included: logo, tag line, corporate colors and fonts, business cards, stationery, envelopes, website, truck signage, job site signs, and an ad for the 2012 Hickory/Catawba Valley HBA Parade of Homes magazine.

2. Best Color Ad full page or under
Our client, Jesse Smith, wished for the readers of Luxury Homes Quarterly to learn about the high standard of his professional qualifications as a builder and then contact him. For the full page ad, we placed the J Allen Smith Design/Build logo in the most prominent upper left position on a white field, where it will attract the most attention. His contact information is right next to that, in the upper right, where it is easy to find. We designed this ad using a simple, clean architectural style that fits in well with the style of the Luxury Homes Quarterly and bolsters our client’s image.

3. Best Black and White Ad
Our client, Dave McBride, told us that he is now completing remodeling projects for the grandchildren of many of his first customers. We decided to emphasize this fact in his ad, because it indicates the longevity of his business and the high level of satisfaction among his past customers—two very important selling points for him. RT Marketing inc. interviewed Robert Schirmer and a photo shoot of him was arranged in his home that McBride built. Schirmer is one of McBride’s original customers, as well as a prominent citizen and well-loved personality in the Petoskey area.

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Preparing Photos and Artwork for Printing or Web

We design and produce a wide variety of marketing pieces — some that are print, some that are electronic. Quite often you want to send us your company logo or photography of your own work to be included on your print newsletter, eNewsletter or website. This is one area that often causes confusion, since you are uncertain which file type or file size to send. This blog should answer many of your questions.

When preparing a photo, scanned image or any type of artwork for publication, there are several factors involved. First consider if your artwork will be printed, used in an email or website, or all of them? The answer to this question will allow you to prepare the files properly and get the best results.

This post will discuss the primary factors of file type, resolution and color settings when prepping for print.

File Types for Printing
Simply stated, TIFF, PSD and EPS file types are usually best for printing, while JPEG, GIF and PNG should be reserved for online usage.
File types for printing and electronic usage

  • TIFF (or TIF) files are the preferred file type for printed artwork because they keep images as close to their original state as digitally possible and allow professional photographers and designers to store information, including print settings, within the photo file.
  • PSD files, Adobe Photoshop Documents, are good for printing and particularly useful in maintaining editing capabilities such as layers, transparency, color information, and resolution.
  • EPS and AI (Adobe Illustrator) files are great for computer illustrations. Often logos are saved as “vector” images in EPS or AI format. Vector images can be re-sized without any loss of quality.
  • JPEG (or JPG) files are not great for printing because they remove some of the pixel information to save space, but subtle changes in color are lost and sharpness suffers. Many digital cameras use JPEG as the standard file type, however, so it may be unavoidable.
    Also remember that your artwork must be created in one of these filetypes originally. Changing a JPEG to a TIFF will not restore the lost information.
  • GIF and PNG filetypes are specifically designed for the web.

Resolution for Printing
Low Res Pixelated ImageArtwork to be printed in a magazine, brochure or other high-quality color document should be no less than 300 dots per inch (dpi). If your images are coming from a professional photographer, make sure they provide you with files that are this resolution or more at its final printing size. In other words, if your image will be printed at 8″ X 10″, it needs to be 300+ dpi at that size. On the other hand, if you are printing the same image at 4″ X 5″ then you could get away with your 8″ X 10″ at only 150 dpi. Also a 4″ X 5″ at 600 dpi can be printed at 8″ X 10″ adequately.

If you are scanning or creating your own digital files using a program such as Photoshop, make sure your file setting is 300 dpi or greater.

Color Settings for Printing
Most documents printed in color will use 4-color process, especially ones that include photographs because this process can produce natural looking colors. If you intend on printing a one or two color piece, without any photos you might consider solid or spot color but otherwise anticipate 4-color process.
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black separations4-color process, as you would expect, uses four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or CMYK) in different dot patterns to create the illusion of nearly every color in the spectrum.

When preparing your artwork for 4-color printing, make sure the color setting is CMYK unless the print company has instructed you otherwise.

Let’s Sum It Up
Think about the file type, resolution and color options when preparing files for print but realize you will probably follow the same rules most of the time. In general, artwork for color documents should be 300 dpi, in TIFFs format and CMYK color.

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Grab New Business Opportunities

Successful builders today are keeping up with trends and changing their strategies in order to attract new customers. Some remodelers, who in the past specialized in large additions, now are finding these types of projects to be few and far between in today’s tighter economy. I often suggest that our clients not limit their scope of work to what they have always done, but rather branch out and grab some of the new opportunities available.

What are some of those opportunities?

1. Livable Homes

The US Census Bureau reported in 2010 that the number of people age 65 and over has reached an all-time high of 40.3 million. Many people are looking for ways to make their existing homes more accessible. NAHB offers Aging-in-Place certification, while NARI offers Universal Design Professional certification. If you have not yet taken classes to get certified, now is the time to do so. If you have received your certification, start marketing it heavily.  With the proper training and credentials, you can present yourself as the expert.

Gen-Boomer Kitchen
Photo: C. 2011 James F. Wilson/Courtesy Builder magazine.

Keep in mind that Boomers avoid thinking of themselves as “aging”, so a better term to use  when talking to Boomers might be “livability”. You will be helping them make their homes more convenient — more livable –  for their elderly parents who may be coming to live with them or for their grandchildren when they come visit.

I often write articles in the RT newsletters about livable homes and Universal Design. The accompanying photos of beautiful projects demonstrate to newsletter readers that accessible design doesn’t have to be institutional in appearance. One of our subscribers has frequently thanked me for those articles, since they have been instrumental in helping his remodeling company move into the burgeoning accessible design market.

2. New Generations and New Ethnic Groups

If you have always done remodeling work for English-speaking professionals in their mid-50s, perhaps you should consider expanding and reaching out into some additional demographics. It may take some adjustment in your marketing efforts, but there is work to be found if you learn how to present yourself. Homeowners in their 30s and 40s think about their needs from a different perspective than the generation before them. Sometimes it’s because of their experiences growing up, or it may be because of the social/economic environment they now find themselves in.

Gen-Y Interior
Photo: C. 2011 James F. Wilson/Courtesy Builder magazine.

Hispanic homeowners usually come from a different culture than your Anglo customers, so their desires for their homes are going to differ as well. You may need to add a Spanish-speaking sales person to your staff in order to connect. You can learn a lot about how to approach these potential customers and others by attending seminars at IBS and KBIS.  For example, Maxine Lauer, CEO of Sphere Trending, gave a fascinating presentation at KBIS 2012 in which she identified consumer habits in four specific age groups. 

3. New Popular Projects

Even though consumers are building fewer large additions to their homes than ten years ago, that doesn’t mean they aren’t  remodeling. There are some very popular remodeling projects going on right now, but perhaps your customers aren’t aware that you are interested and qualified to complete those.

Gen-X In-law Apartment
Photo: C. 2011 James F. Wilson/Courtesy Builder magazine.

One of the most popular projects currently is creating an outdoor living space. In a way, these outdoor rooms are similar to an addition in that they increase livable space for the homeowner, but for a less costly expenditure. Another favorite project is transforming part of the home into a separate living suite that can be used to house an au pair, or perhaps an adult child who returned home after college. The  American Institute of Architects (AIA) gives quarterly reports on consumer trends through their Home Design Trends Survey.

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