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Amway and Autos – Lessons in Branding, UnBranding and ReBranding for Manufactured Housing

October 13th, 2013 No comments

Perhaps the best time to write a column on branding, unbranding and rebranding is prior to the Fall Leadership forum of the National Community Council (NCC) at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). Their workshop on that topic will be one of the items yours truly plans to take in with keen interest, as it is something we deal with routinely in our marketing, sales training, website building and consulting.

The Business Dictionary defines branding like this:

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

Let's begin with a fundamental principle to rapidly drive home the point for today's topic.

The value of branding a product or service is dependent in part on the perception and demand of the product or service in question.

For example, autos are in demand. Branding your car company or dealership makes sense, because Ask reports that in 2011, 12,778,885 cars, trucks, SUV and other automotive types were sold in the U.S. alone. Branding your product and/or service to grow your piece of the automotive pie in such a huge market makes perfect sense.

The Free Dictionary defines rebrand as follows:

rebrand [riːˈbrænd] – (Business / Marketing) (tr) to change or update the image of (an organization or product).

As an example, if your company's brand in automotive is suffering, you'd want to consider rebranding.

Let's imagine for a moment that an import auto company like Yugo wanted to change their image, rebranding combined with improved quality controls, marketing, service and sales training could have made the kind of sense that could have saved that automaker from 'crashing and burning' in the U.S. car market.

Almost no one in our industry (besides us and some of our select clients) grasp and use the powerful concept of parallel paths and unbranding, along with when it makes sense to use this principle.

Macmillan defines unbranding as:

Unbranded goods are not marked with a name of the company that makes them.

light-bult-with-trapped-man-credit-flickrcc-swarno-kamal-posted-cutting-edge-blog-manufactured-home-pro-news-mhpronews-.png

What if your dealership, community – or the industry at large – has an image issue? Does rebranding make the most sense? Or would a possible combination of unbranding and/or rebranding make more sense?

Before you answer, consider this fact. Manufactured housing has tumbled from having 21% of the new home starts in the last 20 years to some 8-12% in more recent years.

So rebranding in a shrinking market is like deciding to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Wouldn't you rather go after the large housing marketing place, by whatever strategies are necessary to get you there profitably?

Lessons from Amway and Unbranding

As an example to drive home the point, think about Amway. How many people do you know that have run out to sign up to sell or buy vitamins, home cleaning products etc. from a multi-level marketing (MLM) distributor or company?

The image of MLM in general isn't that hot and hasn't been for many years! So what does a savvy MLM distributor or company do? Answer: they teach their marketing minded distributors to avoid the company name and the marketing method in their initial contact.

In no small measure due to their dual campaign of unbranding and branding, Amway became a multi-billion dollar empire for its founders and made millions for key 'direct distributors.'

At MHC-MD.com and in part via our LATonyKovach.com – websites, marketing, training and coaching platforms – we have garnered dozens of recommendations and hundreds of endorsements by using a proper combination of branding, unbranding and rebranding, along with other proven strategies.

Which of these – branding, unbranding and re-branding – does your operation need? The answer to that question can be worth millions to you and billions to our industry. ##

PS: Check our many Exclusive and Red Hot Featured Articles for October and see the other new stories at MHLivingNews.com too.

L. A. "Tony" KovachL. A. 'Tony' Kovach
ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com | MHProNews.com |
Business and Public Marketing & Ads: B2B | B2C
Websites, Contract Marketing & Sales Training, Consulting, Speaking:

MHC-MD.com | LATonyKovach.com | Office 863-213-4090 

Connect on LinkedIN:
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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

MHLivingNews.com=Re-Discovering and Spotlighting the MHLifeStyle

MHProNews.comMHMSM.com = Industry News, Tips and Views Pros can Use

Services:B2BandB2CAds, Proven MH Marketing & Sales Systems, Websites other Industry Solutions.

Office –815-270-0500

latonyk@gmail.com or tony@mhmsm.com

LATonyKovach.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach= connect with me on Linkedin.

http://pinterest.com/latonyk/manufactured-home-lifestyle/

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Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford

If Word of Mouth Is Still King Are you Maximizing it?

June 8th, 2012 No comments

Let me take you back to the not so distant past before the Internet and when the telephone and other technologies were still on the distant horizon. How did people sell their wares? Word of mouth from satisfied customers. Fast forward some years and businesses used the newspaper, radio, then television and then BAM the Internet took over with its billions of websites. Did these work? Absolutely, because it was the only or best method available to them at the time.

Even though technology seems to have taken the majority of the stage today, do you think word of mouth is a “bygone days” approach to growing your business? If you think 'yes,' think again. Word of mouth from loyal and optimistic customers is still a very effective way to spread the message today of what you offer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that business to business advertising or business to consumer ads are not a good investment. Of course they are. Why? Because advertising is the only way to reach your market’s full potential of new customers cost effectively, with convenience and repetition. We all know that message repetition is a key to effective media exposure.

What I am saying here is that the best way to improve the overall effectiveness of your advertising investment is by creating “mass word of mouth”.

What is “mass word of mouth?” An example may help.

Let’s say you are a Community owner and you want to fill vacancies at you location. First, if you have significant vacancies or lack sufficient retail sales, you should be engaging MHMSM.com proven Solutions Department. But I digress, so let me return to the point.

Let’s say you have 100 residents that have lived at your location and they are happy to be there and feel like living there has been a wise decision. Let’s also presume you have vacancies you want to fill or unsold homes. Further, one or more of the following may apply:

– You want to sell your location but know that you will get less for it if you have a lot of vacancies.

– You want the location to look successful not just for yourself but for the other residents as well.

– You just want to stop losing all of the potential revenue from vacant sites.

Customer statistics over the years have indicated that for every satisfied customer you have they will tell 3 to 10 other people about their experience. Imagine for a minute if every one of your residents told just 3 people about the great lifestyle they have living in your property. So if you have 100 residents and they each tell 3people – well I’m sure you can do the math – that’s 300 potential ways to fill your vacancies. Vacancy problem solved.

Yes, you need to have a website. Yes, you need to have a well maintained location and satisfied owners or renters, But in the end just having these will not guarantee your vacancies will be filled as you watch thousands of potential dollars fall through the cracks every month.

There are five things you should be doing if you want the tremendous impact of word of mouth exposure.

  • Your residents need to have a good lifestyle and feel happy that they live where they do.
  • You have to encourage word of mouth advertising.
  • You have to reinforce for your residents the wisdom of their housing choice with your company.
  • You need to give your residents ideas on how to help them solve some of their housing issues, needs or problems.
  • Your staff needs to be effectively trained in customer service, sales and management skills to aid this word of mouth process.

For communities or retailers, our free new resource at MHLivingNews.com can help with many of these issues. It will reinforce the lifestyle choice they've made in manufactured housing. It will debunk some of the outdated myths that are tossed at 'mobile homes' by an unwitting media or others. Happier residents or customers, will yield over time more referrals.

We have a wide variety of services available that can help you solve many of your current challenges. We call it simply, Solutions. It says it all. All you have to do is let us know your challenge, and we can tell you the ways that we have helped other companies like yours solve them; profitably.

Then, you can join the 'word of mouth' that we get, like the testimonials found at that link. Want more, just call me.##

 

Posted for
Tim Connor
Business Development
MHProNews.com
MHMSM.com
And the new MHLivingNews.com
704-895-1230

tim@mhmsm.com