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MH Image Lessons

October 28th, 2012 No comments

The political campaign season is soon to wide down, but let's not miss some amazing image lessons we all should learn that could advance manufactured housing, our business or career. These lessons are literally worth tens or hundreds of billions to our industry, if we absorb and apply them.

While some of this may seem to be a political commentary at first blush, please look at the following dispassionately as it is useful recent analogy to see the priceless lessons to our industry. That the take away comes from this election campaign season is only a convenient analogy for us to use as a high profile example.

For months, the Obama Campaign tarred and feathered Mitt Romney through attack ads and stump speaches. They tried to paint Romney as a vulture capitalist who killed companies, was heartless, allowed a wife of a fired worker to die as a result, shipped jobs overseas with abandon, cared only for the rich, didn't care for the common person, etc, etc. Did it hurt Romney in the polls?

Yes, indeed it did.

In fact, it hurt so much that Republicans 40 days ago where beginning to panic. President Obama's lead in the polls was significant and growing in some key battleground states. Republicans were calling on Mitt to shake up his campaign staff. Mitt said the staff was doing just fine, a reply that caused some to panic even more. Maybe Mitt knew what he wanted to do, regardless, he stayed the course.

We know what happened, but let's recount it for the value of the lesson.

When the first debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney took place, Romney was trailing in the voter preference polls going in. By at the end of the 90 minute debate, Romney was widely seen as winning that encounter. The momentum started to shift almost immediately in Romney's favor.

At the debate, when Mitt corrected the president on this or that campaign line that Obama used on the stump, the president began to back away. Mitt held his head high, Obama hung his head. Drudge showed the following image to capture the sense of the debate.

Image.

That side-by-side photo captured the sense of that night's event.

Even with Democratic partisans saying that a more aggressive Joe Biden and Barack Obama won the next three debates, the momentum has continued in favor of the Romney-Ryan ticket. Why?

The Straw Man Principle

Let's hypothesize that someone opposes you, for whatever reason. We will call the opposition Mr. O and call you Mr. R.

Let's presume that you – Mr. R – are better looking, have a more successful track record and is a competitor.

Let's further suppose that Mr. O doesn't think he can beat you in a fair discussion or comparison. What might Mr. O do? (For the record, we are not advocating this, this is explaining a process, which we don't have to like or agree with to recognize it.)

Mr. O can set up a Straw Man, and try to get others to believe that Mr. R is that Straw Man.

  • Dictionary.com says a “straw man” is:
  • A sham argument set up to be defeated.

So Mr. O, being a shrewd dude, decides to find/use anything he can on Mr. R that just doesn't look or sound good.

Then, Mr. O starts telling others as often as possible that less than favorable narrative about Mr. R.

While this may be immoral, for the purposes of someone that justifies the end by any means, Mr. O doesn't care if his portrayal of Mr R is accurate or not. All that matters to Mr O is that Mr. R becomes diminished.

Now, let's return to the political stage of the presidential debate, before circling to the lesson for manufactured housing marketing and image.

Barack Obama suddenly had to confront not a straw man, but the real Mitt Romney. Romney didn't look like a guy who would rush us back to the bad old policies of George Bush. He looked like a successful business man, a man who turned around an Olympics, as Governor balanced budgets and created a surplus working with Democrats. In a word, Mitt looked presidential.

What that did was explode the straw man arguments being used against Mitt. Thus Romney could lay out his facts, comparing his record with Barack Obama's. The sheer shock and surprise value of that to millions would give Romney an edge over Barack, especially with swing voters.

Folks, here is where we leave the campaign and turn to Manufactured Housing for our lesson.

Looking at the Lesson Learned

Industry professionals know and realize that manufactured housing is an amazing product. We know that we can produce an entry level home for less, as well mid level or a 'residential style home' that rivals or exceeds what a typical site builder can do.

Pros know we offer a quality, we greener, great value home. But that is not the image that we have…why not?

In a phrase, negative media and negative perceptions. There is a 'straw man' about manufactured housing that exists.

It is up to us who market and sell to explode those myths. We have to oppose the straw men against us with the facts! This isn't theory, this is the proven experience of years of doing it myself as well as by a few others.

On my Pinterest board for manufactured housing, one of the images I use is this one below.

We as a professional, business owner/executive or collectively as an industry either define ourselves, or others will define us.

Yes, folks, this photo above is a HUD Code Manufactured Home! A photo like this above – properly used – explodes the myth of the slick sided, metal on metal 'mobile home' or 'trailer house.'

We will talk about 'proper use' that makes this work for us in another column.

In the Obama vs. Romney campaign, each seeks to define the other, each seeks to define themselves.

In our Industry, we have sadly and routinely allowed others to define us. One of the common ones is the myth about durability, or tornadoes and high winds. We do not, as a rule, do a robust job of defining ourselves.

Can we change that reality? Yes, we can. Which is why we have started a Pinterest board, or MHLivingNews.com, with its photo gallery and posted this real life video on how tough a manufactured home is in the face of high winds.

You can link to those pages and use them as part of YOUR marketing and sales tool chest.

Lesson Learned. We must define ourselves, we must explode the myths of the “straw man.” More on this in future columns. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the

other new stories and 'Purely Political' cartoons at MHLivingNews.com too.

l-a--tony-kovachL. A. "Tony" Kovach

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