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May 8, 2006 7:30 AM CDT

MasonrySystems.org - The Future of the Masonry Industry

By

During the Annual Meeting, a special presentation was given by Ann Wolter, a representative of the Masonry Executives Council. She started out by saying that she was going to introduce the audience to one of the most exciting marketing initiatives in the history of the masonry industry. Bold words for an opener, but she couldn't have been more true.

"When our customers are making a decision about which building system to choose, they are looking for both information and inspiration," said Wolter. "They want to see design solutions and product information, architectural details that work, accurate cost data, and objective building advice. In other words, they need MasonrySystems.org to guide them in every phase of the design and construction process."

To that end, over the last year, the Masonry Executives Council - with tremendous help from Whole Wheat Creative, an advertising and marketing firm in Houston - has created a next-generation marketing campaign to give designers and other customers exactly what they've asked for and to put masonry back at the forefront.

Whole Wheat Creative has an extensive portfolio of award-winning broadcast and print advertising, direct mail, websites and Internet marketing programs completed for the Southwestern Brick Institute and the Heartland Brick Council.

"We believe Whole Wheat Creative is uniquely positioned to build on what we've started at MasonrySystems.org and to create an exciting, practical and compelling tool for designers and decision-makers," Wolter said.

The result of this collaboration is the most sophisticated, comprehensive, yet easy-to-use website that the industry has seen to date.

The site has three main sections: "Inspiration," which will showcase the best in masonry design and construction; "Information," which will offer data, articles, presentations and videos about every aspect of masonry; and "Interaction," which will encourage participation through bulletin boards that offer the opportunity to post messages, questions and announcements. MasonrySystems.org will be a veritable one-stop shop for anything and everything masonry.

The site goes beyond your average website, though. Some of the sophisticated features include a "dock," which allows visitors to drag items of interest to a special, personal holding area that they can return to and view time and time again. For instance, if an architect sees an interesting architectural detail or masonry structure, he or she can simply drag that item to their dock for safekeeping - drag-and-drop ease, with no extra steps or high-tech knowledge necessary.

Another special feature are the balloons that will appear to better assist visitors in navigating the website. If architects find a building of interest in the Inspiration category and drop that building into their docks, a balloon may appear letting them know that the building's details can be found in the Information section, leading them to the exact location. Also, if designers post questions in the Interaction section and other visitors post responses, the next time the designers return to the site, a balloon will pop up letting them know that someone has posted an answer to their question.

Finally, visitors can toggle back and forth between the three sections without losing their place. If an architect is looking at a building in the Inspiration section and toggles to the Information section to find details, he or she can toggle back to the Inspiration section to the same exact building. This site is the epitome for ease of use.

To compliment this amazing site, the team has also completed a three-year marketing plan that includes advertising in architectural, masonry and educational trade magazines, as well as extensive Internet marketing and search engine optimization. Everyone will get the word on this wonderful site and find the information and ease of use to be an undeniable asset.

"We believe MasonrySystems.org can be the rallying force for the entire masonry industry," Wolter said. "The website will become the gateway to all the industry resources and information our customers need to design and build a high-performance masonry structure. It can help all of us do together what none of us can do as efficiently in our own organizations - namely, to aggressively promote the use of all masonry building systems."

This initiative requires the support of everyone in the industry. Now is the time to help support the future of the masonry industry. Contact your local chapter, your state organizations or MCAA now and help put masonry at the forefront again.


About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.

 

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