Small Town Advertising – How do you do it?


By Kathy Rudkin

shutterstock_132470147Many people wish they lived in the reclusive existence portrayed in a Norman Rockwell town. You know the type – the ones he usually depicted in his paintings showing the quaint historical town with people relaxing at the sidewalk cafes with their faithful dogs beside them. Or the scene of the beautiful serene river where the children are playing and families are having an afternoon picnic, free from the hustle and bustle of city living. Sound familiar? The Texas Hill Country… obviously a great place to live and the reason many of us chose to move here. However, this same small town quaintness can also poise a challenge when it comes to making a living and promoting your business.

Marketing in a small town can be similar to throwing Jell-O on a wall… how do you do it and make it stick? How do you grow your business with limited resources, limited mediums within a limited market?

As we all know, the Hill Country has a different way of life as well as conducting business; therefore, many “traditional” methods of advertising – just don’t work here. Getting to know your community and how the market works will give you an edge in knowing how to reach them.

Many years ago, I ran across an advertising poem that made a profound impact on me. It is as accurate today as it was the day I read it:

Why Is It?

A man wakes up after sleeping

under an advertised blanket,

on an advertised mattress,

pulls off advertised pajamas,

bathes in an advertised shower,

shaves with an advertised razor,

brushes his teeth with advertised toothpaste,

washes with advertised soap,

puts on advertised clothes,

drinks a cup of advertised coffee,

drives to work in an advertised car,

and then, refuses to advertise,

believing it doesn’t pay.

Later when business is poor,

he advertises it for sale.

Why is this?

(author unknown)

 Owning an advertising agency, I frequently see clients who are desperate and on their last effort to make their businesses work. I am often amazed at what they have – or more likely have not – done to insure the success of their businesses.

In the last 16 years, we have work many different types of clients and have been exposed to many industries. Not only do we handle national clients with large budgets, but also the “mom and pop” type businesses that comes in for help on a local flyer. Regardless of the size, the key marketing essentials that work for a million dollar account are the same basic essentials that work for the local company with limited funds. The key is to prioritize, stop wasting dollars, stay consistent and get a plan. Many times in our effort to save money, we actually spend more in the long run.

  1. Logo: In a small community, this is probably your best-spent advertising dollars. You want to appear “legitimate” and therefore creating a professional logo is crucial. Many times, I am astonished to see what people consider a “logo.” Refrain for having the 10th grader down the street, who can use a rudimental graphic program, build your most important aspect of your business – your branding. Really think about how your logo is going to be used, who you target market is, and what message you are trying to convey. This tells who you are and what you do. Don’t make people guess what you do. The logo should tell it.

Your result should be vibrant, vital and purpose-driven logo that reflects your company. Once determined – stick with it. This is your brand and a representation of your company. From this point forward, all your materials should be consistent in look, feel and color. When people see it, they immediately recognize it and know what you do. It becomes part of the community.

  1. Branding: Once your logo & color scheme is determined, your next step will be branding – letterhead, business cards, signs, specialty packaging such bags, tags & other in-store items. Again, consistency! Handing out business cards that you have printed off your home computer and crookedly cut – don’t portray an image of professionalism. Business cards are one of the least expensive items you can produce. For under a $100, you can have professional cards that represent and tell what your business does –many times it is your first and only impression to your customer.

In a small town, quality signage is critical as well as one of the most important aspects of bringing awareness to your business. How often have we driven by and noticed the hand painted sign by the business owners themselves and immediately base a poor opinion about their business, just by the sign. If you don’t have budget to hire a graphic artist or an advertising agency to help you with this project, most sign companies do have design departments that can walk you through this phase of marketing and get you positioned in the community right off the bat.

  1. Advertising: How do I get my message out? In small community, there are ways to reach your market.
    1. Websites: This immediately establishes creditability and can be its own marketing tool. In today’s market, we are Internet driven. For example… you make an appointment with a doctor, you go online… want to see a concert, you go on line…looking for tile, you go online. We are a generation driven by, as well legitimize businesses, based on the look and feel of their websites. Again, put some of your advertising dollars into this. The cheapest avenue is not necessarily the best avenue. They are many companies out there toting themselves as “web development companies.” Look at their website! If their website is poor, than it is a waste of money. Research who you use, get references, look at their portfolios, visit with customers who have used them and bid it out. Be sure to tell your web developer of future growth and your future wish list. This ensures that your design can grow with you. A good website should last your 2 to 3 years before needing a fresh look.
    1. Newspaper: There are many ways to reach out in small markets. Newspaper and direct mail being a large percent of your annual budgeting. We are surrounded by small communities in this area, which have loyal readers and reasonable rates for display ads. Local newspapers, typically have a loyal reader that takes the paper for several reasons; 1.) to see what going on in their local government, 2.) find local activities and local businesses to use, and 3.) to see who made the paper that they know. The goal in newspaper is to stand out. Don’t crowd your ad with everything in your store trying to get the most bang for your buck. This is a common mistake and will blend you right in with the rest of the paper, basically throwing away your advertising dollars.  Don’t be afraid of white space and clever headlines. Add spot color to pop off the page. Spend a little more to get a larger ad. Position it in the right area – request where you would like your ad to fall in the paper.  And last, but not least, don’t limit yourself.  Expand your advertising dollars to other regional areas – go into other town newspapers as well.
    1. Direct Mail: What better way to get your product out then to hand pick your user and tailor your message specifically to them – having plenty of real estate to do it. Did you know that you can produce a 6 x 11 postcard and inexpensively as you can a 4 x 5?

There are many secrets to direct mail that can make a significant difference in getting noticed. First, get an eye-catching message. Think it through. Don’t waste money, get a professional involved. If no one responds to your direct mail, then you didn’t save money.

You will only have a split second to catch someone’s attention and only the clever, colorful and best-designed pieces make the cut.  Go large – a 6 x 11 postcard towers over the standard #10 envelope and mails under 20¢ bulk rate. Print on a 100# cover instead of a coated card stock – you will save hundreds of dollars by simply choosing your paper correctly. And most of all, hire a mailing house for your list, labeling and your postage.

Your list is the most important part of your direct mail. You need to narrow down who your market really is and sharpen that down to a primary target market and a secondary market. You also do not have to do all the mailing in one mail out. For budget purposes, buy your entire list to save money on the minimal list cost, but mail in increments as your finances allow. This also allows you to tract what is working. If you own a business that you can give a discount or an incentive, this is always helpful in the tracking and future planning of campaigns. Be sure that you have realistic expectations. A successful direct mail piece should generate a response rate of 2-4%.

Many people try to save money by doing their own labels and mailing themselves. This could not be further for the truth. You are paying first-call postage as well as your valuable time spent doing it. A mailing house in the long run will save you money. Mailing houses are set up to mail in large quantities. They have systems that ink jet the address right on the card as well as the postal bar code. This will significantly drop your postage costs by simply adding the bar code. In fact, it drops is so much that it will typically pay for the cost of the mailing service. Also, most mail houses have established bulk rate permit numbers that they will let you use. This will also be a substantial savings going bulk. They do require you to pay the postage at the time of mailing to use their permit number. Keep in mind; if you are promoting an event, bulk rate mailing takes longer to be received so you will need to adequately back out the date you need them to arrive in homes.

Your business can grow substantially through consistent advertising, having a marketing plan as well as community involvement and word of mouth. Your goal is to prove that you are resource and not just someone providing another unnecessary service. Walt Disney said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Advertising is doing.

In the next few months, we will be addressing many other avenues for marketing in a small community such as: PR, radio and TV, billboards, specialty items, events, other local resources as well as community involvement.

Those of us who enjoy the peace and serenity of living in a small town atmosphere still need to address and realize that our chosen lifestyle demands success and long-term growth in our business… our livelihood.

How To Make Your Blog Grow?


BlogGrowThere are millions and millions of blogs out there. And if you are just starting then you have a built in competition to face. However, the good news is that there is place for everyone. People are always looking for new content and fresh perspective, all you need to have is passion and persistence. Few pointers to help you guide on to the right path are as follows:

1. Blog regularly. Even if only one person (probably your Mom!) is reading right now, but consider it as building portfolio so that by the time your audience is built, they would have a good reason to hangout a little longer and check out your other posts.

2. Be Accountable. Research the content before posting and be approachable should anyone have a question or concern. Be in control of your blog.

3. Be enthusiastic. A positive attitude and passion bounces off the screen and forms a connection with the readers. If you like what you write, people will enjoy reading it more.

4. Make a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And truer words were never spoken. Decide your objective for your blog and plan the direction you wish to take it in. Whenever you have a writer’s block this would help you get your ‘enthusiasm’ back.

5. Have an editorial calender. Mark the dates you wish you post on your blog. This would give you a visual time frame of how and when you need to start working on your next post.

6. Have an outline of your post ready before you start typing. Just like how you did back in school or college. Sometimes even just having a title and the conclusion helps you get started on the post.

7. Try and write the post at least a day in advance. It would help you avoid careless grammar mistakes and take the pressure off the last minute posting.

Although there are no guarantees but if you stay consistent and truly have the power of expression, sooner or later you will find your loyal readership and connect with the like-minded people.

I hope you would find this post helpful. If you need some help to set up your blog or other social media accounts, do not hesitate to contact us. Also, you can click here to check out the other services we offer.

Until next time,

The RP Crew

How to make people dislike you at work?


Navigating one’s social behavior at work can be tricky at times. Often we think we are functioning in an utmost professional manner but your actions are not interpreted the same way. A few personality attributes which might not work in anyone’s favor are as mentioned below:

DislikeYouWe hope you found this post helpful. If you need any assistance in other areas of your business, do check out all the services we offer here.

Thank you for reading,

RP Team

Looking Back: Interns & Field Trips


Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

We agree with old Albert, and we are passionate about finding ways to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge in the young people in our community. We are grateful for opportunities to teach, to pass along our wisdom and our love for the work we do, and we always end up learning along the way.

In the summer of 2011, we had the honor of hosting four young, talented students in a summer internship program, called Illuminate. It’s hard to believe it has been over a full year since they were here working alongside us. It was a joy to have them, to teach them and to watch them learn and grow over the summer. We love our work and we enjoyed having the opportunity to share our passions and talents with these students.

Kathy Rudkin, the brains behind this whole operation known as Rudkin Productions, was quoted in the Boerne Star, saying “The internship program allows local students, who have shown remarkable talent in the field of advertising or broadcasting, to hone in on their skills and work with an actual client while having access to an array of professionals in the industry.”

The mission of the internship program was two-fold: to give back to the community and introduce new talent to the advertising industry. The Hill Country Pregnancy Care Center (HCPCC) was chosen from an array of local non-profits to receive the benefits of the program. Our four superstar interns were on the project from day one, from the initial client meeting through the complete and finished campaign. Our team here at RP developed the campaign and put it in the hands of these talented students to make it come to life. From revamping the HCPCC website, brochures and other print materials to expanding fundraising efforts and creating a promotional video – the group covered it all. They conducted interviews, researched other pregnancy centers, wrote copy, shot video, edited and designed. The foursome became a part of the Rudkin crew from the beginning and were given full access to to the whole creative staff. It was a summer full of learning, engaging and growing. We were so happy to be able to host these young people as they spent the summer working alongside us. For more information on the internship program and the work done for HCPCC, click here.

Here are a few pictures of Hilary Commer, Ryan Travis, Emma Rudkin and Maddie Inglish, AKA our four superstar interns:

Fast forward to the spring of 2012, when we had another opportunity to take a break from our fast-paced days and spend some time engaging in the young students in our community. We had been approached by Boerne Middle School South teacher, Sandie Ford, about hosting a field trip for the students in her two Exploring Careers classes. We were thrilled to be able to give these students a glimpse into our industry. For two days in a row, we watched as a big yellow school bus pulled up to our building and poured out a handful of smiling middle school students, happy to be out of the classroom during school hours and on a field trip. Kathy lead the students through a tour of the agency and adjacent print shop, while giving project examples and answering questions from the attentive students.

The students learned the different roles played at the agency and spoke with account executives, graphic designers and the print shop’s pressman, Rick. Creative Director, Alan Belcher, walked the group though a Photoshop project from start to finish. Other topics discussed were digital marketing, website production, design, printing and account coordination.

It was such a fun opportunity for us to give back to the students of our community. We hope to see some of those students come back in a couple of years as interns!

Here are a few pictures from the field trips:

Reflecting on these experiences makes us grateful for the opportunity to invest in young people. We can all remember teachers, educational programs, mentors, internships, etc., that sparked a flame in our minds and kept us motivated to get where we are now. We are grateful for those people and experiences, and hope to have provided that for the students that have come through our doors. Looking forward to more!

Have a great week,

The RP Crew

Coffee Break Reads: Industry Articles


Happy Thursday, folks! Hope everyone is healthy and happy.

This week, we thought we would give you a break from our blabbin’ and share some words of other wise folks. Devastating, we know. Anyway – we’ve read some great industry articles lately and thought we would pass them along to all you in need of a good cup of a joe and a five-minute break from reality (that covers just about all of us, right?) Enjoy!

“7 Steps to Better Time Management on Social Media” by PRDaily. This one is a MUST-READ for all you social media managers out there.

“5 Critical Lessons Your Design Professors Never Taught You” by Graphic Design Blender. This one a good read for all you design nerds out there. And yes, we can call you nerds, because we are right there with you.

“Content Generation Strategies for Small Businesses” by Open Forum. If you own or work at a small business, read this article.

“A Post to Convince Dot Com Doubters” by Rudkin Productions. Has anyone ever heard of this company? We hear they’re the best around, are all good looking and have an insanely fabulous blog (and very humble too). Okay, okay, you caught us…we had to sneak this one in, couldn’t help ourselves.

“12 Reasons PR Pros Can’t Ignore the Mobile Boom” by PR Daily. Why everyone is going mobile, and why you probably should too.

“The Most Influential Women in Advertising” by AdAge. We can’t get enough of this. What an awesome way to honor the hard workin’ women in our industry. You go, girls!

Seriously, take some time to read some of these articles, especially if you’re in the industry.  And if you’re tired of reading, here’s a funny little cartoon to usher you into the weekend.

Have a good one,

The RP Crew