Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Halloween Party Invitations

BOO! Just a reminder that Ranch House Invitations is a great source for your custom and catalog party invitations. If you're having a Halloween party this year, let us give you a bid on custom invitations. If you're not quite into the custom invitation pricing but still want a personalized, cool party invitation, visit our partner site - Tiny Prints - where you can choose from lots of great Halloween cards!

Our Tiny Prints store includes great choices for kids halloween cards and grown up Halloween party . Click on the link below and let your creative ideas flow!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lautner Farms Fall Catalog

For many club calf breeders in the south, it's always a treat to get your Lautner Farms Fall Catalog in the mail. This catalog is jam-packed with pictures of the state fair winners sired by Lautner bulls, and gets the Texas and Oklahoma breeders pumped up about beginning their fall AI breeding season.

This year, after RHD had designed the past 9 catalogs for Lautner Farms, they decided to bring their advertising and their catalog production in house to be done by the talented ladies at the Lautner office.

This puts RHD on a different side of the design equation because now instead of designing the catalog myself, I have to wait just like everyone else to see the finished product. So when I got the final catalog e-mailed to me over the weekend, I eagerly sat and viewed the entire catalog on my Blackberry while I was at a cattle sale. And I'll just say, it takes FOREVER to download a huge catalog like that on a blackberry. And it's not that easy to look at. But, I was bound and determined to see it, so it was definitely worth the wait.

We posted the catalog on http://www.lautnerfarms.com/ today. Since doing Phil's work for nearly 5 years, I have gotten to know these sires backwards and forwards. I almost feel like a lot of these bulls are part of my family since I have watched their progress since whenever they were the "New for 200X" sires displayed at Denver.

This made me think about the first catalog I did for LF, which was spring 2005. I had never been so nervous to do a catalog in my life, but thanks to lots of phone calls between myself, Matt and Phil, we put out a very top notch catalog for that time period. I look back at that catalog and think wow -- hasn't catalog design changed a lot since then. I did that catalog in Pagemaker, and now that software program doesn't even exist anymore. The "New" bulls at that time were Cherry Bomb, Friday Nite Lights, Home Brew and others. Who Made Who was the lead-off bull in the catalog. Heat Wave 1 was still being advertised as "aka Wave on Wave". Ali was called the "NEW" calving ease knockout. The whole catalog was 22 pages.

Our most recent catalog for Phil was the 2009 Sire book -- which was 48 pages- and filled up nearly every piece of available white space in that catalog with winners, bulls, high sellers and information. Who Made Who had moved from page 1 to page 22 and there are 5 Heat Wave Clones pictured. Lautner bulls sired the Champion Steers at Denver, Louisville and Kansas City.

So as we publish the Fall 2009 LF catalog online, I just wanted to say congratulations to the talented team at LF for doing this elaborate publication in-house. I imagine a project of this site was a success due to teamwork from everyone at LF -- Phil, Mary, Katie, Chance, Stan and more. Congratulations! I know y'all are proud of your work, and you definitely should be.

So I invite everyone to visit http://www.lautnerfarms.com/ and see the Fall 2009 Sire Directory. And again, congratulations to everyone, especially Katie Johnson, at Lautner Farms on designing their own catalog! Great job!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Trading Spaces" RHD Style! - September Ad Design Favorites

I've always been a fan of the old show Trading Spaces and more recently I've started watching the show "Split Ends" where two hair stylists swap beauty shops for a week. So while watching Split Ends recently I thought, wouldn't that be cool if we could do that between ad agencies. While this isn't possible, I thought of a way to kind of give us a fun educational experience at RHD and do a mini-trading spaces kind of deal.

So each month we have been voting amongst our own staff of our favorite ads we did the previous month at RHD. Each staff member got to pick their favorite ad to be featured on the RHD home page for the month.

Well now we have a new idea! Instead of us picking our own favorites each month, we're going to ask an "outsider" to look at all of the ads we create each month and pick THEIR favorite! What a great way to get outside feedback and also have a little contest between staff members about who's projects get voted as the best.

Our first "judge" for this idea was Julie McMahon French of McMahon French Promotional Strategy in Beaverton, Michigan. Julie is a pioneer in innovative livestock advertising and has handled many advertising accounts of leading cattle ranches and horse operations. Some of her notable clients include Belle Point Angus, Great Shorthorn Revival, 6666 Ranch, 7L Ranches, and many more. Prior to creating McMahon French Promotional Strategy she operated Creative Exchange, an advertising agency based out of the Fort Worth Stockyards. What a dream job!!! She and her husband Steve (pictured here) also own and operate Little Cedar Cattle Company, a registered Shorthorn operation.

Here are Julie's favorites and her comments!

SJ Cattle Creations - Excellent use of color and horizontal space (sometimes hard because we get so used to 8.5 x 11). Cool all the way around.

Sidwell Hay and Cattle - The pasture photo and the way it was framed got my attention, I really like the way the info is segmented. Lots to read, but easy to get through it.

Gehrke 2 pages - Green & orange is refreshing and a stopper, I like the skewed photo key lines, different but not too wacky as to take away from the photos (a real pet peeve for me).

Lindner / Show Rite (5 page) - Amazing organization and utilization of what seems like jillions of photos, I wasn't really sure what that rope was doing...but I like it. I just kept looking at it! There are a lot of elements but you kept them all in check to keep my focus on the product.

Scarmardo Cattle Company - You know I love black and white....and always really appreciate the excellent use of it!

So, we hope you enjoyed looking at some of these recent ads created by RHD that appeared in September publications. Julie's comments showed us that regardless of if you're doing a 1/2 page black and white -- or a 5 page 4-color campaign -- good design is important in all aspects and when executed properly can help you get the most exposure --- regardless of your advertising budget.

Thank you Julie! Watch for next month's favorites and guest judge coming in a few weeks!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September Special

As a special thanks to all of our loyal blog readers, we are happy to offer this special coupon, accessible only to readers of this blog. If you've been considering booking a new project with us, here's a 10% off coupon for you. This coupon must be used before September 30 and applies only to new projects. If you'd like to use this coupon, mention it to Tricia when you book your new project. You can email her at tricia@ranchhousedesigns.com or call our office anytime at 979-532-9141.
Watch for our special featured project in October, where each month we'll be spotlighting a different type of promotional project with special discounts for our blog readers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Not everyone gets Labor Day off!

The staff at RHD took a Labor Day holiday today, but not EVERYONE gets the luxury of having this holiday.....
This lovely little hard-working lady is Miss Piper Gayle Hoskins of Beeville, Texas. She is one of the many cute cousins we have from our friends and relatives in the Locke family. Piper's mom, Elizabeth Hoskins, put her little darling to work on this holiday :) Between the cuties of Lauryn Locke, Austin DeBerry, Parker DeBerry, and Jessica DeBerry, we love all these little angels!
Liz always shares her photos with us of Piper at the holidays and this one is so cute, we had to share!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

August Update Winners

It's time again for the August web site update report! In August, we did exactly 200 web site updates, which is an average of 10 updates per day. Average turnaround time for August was a 2 hour turnaround, and 90% of the updates were done on the very same day that the clients requested them.

This month's top updaters were:

Champion Updater for August: Washington County Fair
Reserve Champion Updater for August: Aegerter Marketing Service

These clients maintained weekly updates throughout August:

  • American Brahman Breeders Association
  • American International Charolais Association
  • Beefmaster Breeders United
  • Matt Lautner
  • O.H. Kruse
  • Strolberg-Eckloff
  • Sullivan Cattle - Maternal Legends
  • Swanson Shorthorns
  • TMAC Show Steers
  • Virginia Club Calf Producers
As always we encourage our clients to send in your update as often as possible to keep your web site continually updated. We're excited about September to see how many updates we can do that month! We're shooting for 300!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Special people to us

For some reason today I was curious to run a quickbooks report to see who are our longest-running clients at RHD. We've been in business for 10 years (2 years as Two Girls Web Design, and now 8 years as Ranch House Designs.). The people on this list have been with us from the beginning, some of these even with us the entire 10 years. So, we'd like to take a little time to give special shout outs to these very special people to us....in no certain order.

V8 Ranch - My family ranch. This has always been our "guinea pig" and actually how we did our first web site. My mom has always been into technology and she had a web page through an old company called Ag Direct. We wanted to expand our site, but didn't want to invest that much money into a new technology (remember it was 1999) and so we taught ourselves how to do web sites. And, as they say.....the rest is history!

American Brahman Breeders Association - This was our first "paying" client. The ABBA's communications director had resigned and they needed someone to temporarily update the web site while they were looking for a new communications director. We did little things like update the calendar and news page. This was our first major beef breed association client, and now we proudly do the web sites for the national breed associations for Brahman, Charolais, and Beefmaster.

WHR Shorthorns - Cassie and I first did Mr. Rasor's web site after visiting with him in Denver one year when me, Cassie, Dad, and Matt Williams went with the V8 Shorthorns showstring. Last year, we re-did the WHR site and it's still one of everyone's favorites. We get lots of calls of people saying they love that site.

Brian Martin - We first made a connection with Brian because of his hometown friendship with Cassie in Hereford, Texas. Through the year's we've done Brian's web site, and various ad projects for him. Our last project was him was his sire representation for the Copper Penny bull he displayed in Denver this year.

Purple Reign -The Mullinix family is another one that my family holds in very high regard. My dad became friends with them while he was judging on the east coast. We booked our project with Jamie and Randy while Dad and I judged showmanship at the Hoosier Beef Congress in 1999. We judged one ring and the Mullinix's judged the other.
Top Sires became our client when we met Mike at the Michigan Beef Expo back in the good ol' days at Michigan State. Cassie and I were helping put on the show with Kathleen Hawkins and we greeted Mike to help him with his trade show booth. A few pieces of pizza and cheese bread at Leo's Lodge sealed the deal and we've been doing Mike's web site ever since.

Cherie Carrabba -A little known fact is that I got my start in graphic design with Cherie's help. I worked there part time in college, and started out doing the most mundance tasks of all - scanning photos. I would come to Crockett on some nights and weekends to work, and I interned at The Showbox between college and grad school, where I actually got to design my very first full page 4c ad -- an ad for Wessington Springs Club Calf. I firmly believe that this experience with Cherie is what gave me the foundation in graphic design. By starting at the bottom, I was able to learn the ins and outs, and though I rarely scan photos anymore - I learned the basic principles of graphic design that I still use today. Through the year's we've done the web sites for The Showbox, Enchanted Pines, and Keep Um Sound.

Aegerter Marketing Service - Jeff and Darla are fellow Shorthorn breeders and were one of the first sale management sites we did. This is also one of our most visited web sites, where lots of Shorthorn people go to see sale catalogs of upcoming sales and private treaty listings. Of course they are some of our longest-running clients because they are progressive minded marketing specialists and they are always on the cutting edge of things.

So, again, maybe I'm in a vintage mood today, but we just want to say a big THANK YOU to these very special people to RHD. You've helped make us the leading livestock agency of our kind!