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Business

What John Rizzuti Didn’t Know Helped Him

The managing director of Rizzuti/Austin Marketing Group proves that sometimes thinking “outside the box” means admitting you don’t know much about the box in the first place.
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photgraphy by Joshua Martin

Holding your own in this economy is tough, and growing your business is even tougher. So how, in this perilous and specialized age, do you go about landing a prized piece of business in an industry that’s outside your historic zone of expertise?

For John Rizzuti, managing director of Rizzuti/Austin Marketing Group—whose agency had focused mainly on the technology sector since 1983—the answer was simple. “I knew what I didn’t know,” he says, “and I used that to my best advantage.”

 Dallas’ Rizzuti/Austin needed such a strategy pursuing new business from Struxtur Inc., a San Francisco-based flooring company. While Rizzuti/Austin is strong with tech clients such as Dallas’ Comware and San Diego-based Qualcomm, “we really haven’t done that much consumer advertising,” says Rizzuti, 60.

“Ordinarily, we’d have put together a buttoned-up presentation that focused on successful case histories from our experience,” the veteran ad man explains. “But this was consumer work for a company that wants to establish its new Bella Cera line of hardwood floors. So we sold ourselves and our skill set, told them that we were there to learn—and landed the assignment.” 

That assignment—giving Bella Cera the tools to go head-to-head with more established brands like category leader Armstrong World Industries—“started with a zero-based plan,” Rizzuti goes on. “We broke it down into parts: the marketing strategy, the creative work, and the activity at retail—signage, promotions, and retail relations.” 

Rizzuti and Lisa Austin—his partner and daughter—place the value of the Dallas portion of the Bella Cera business at “as much as $1 million” for print, radio, Internet, and in-store promotion.

“If what we do works here, we’ll repeat it in Struxtur’s other markets all over the Southwest—markets where they’re not supporting the brand with advertising,” Rizzuti adds. “There’s no doubt in my mind that … the company’s owner wants to take the brand nationwide, and we expect to be with her.”

Proving, perhaps, that sometimes the best way to “think outside the box” is admitting you don’t know much about the box in the first place. 

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