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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Stovall’

Changes and Manufactured Housing

June 29th, 2011 No comments

“And all the changes keep on changin
and the good old days, you know they’re gone.
And only wise men, and some newborn fools
say that they know what’s going on.”

~ Harry Chapin, Changes

“Then you better start swimming
or you’ll sink like a stone.
For the times, they are a-changin'”

~ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-changin’

Let’s face it, folks. The manufactured housing business as you once knew it is relic of the past. A memory, often cherished, but meaningless in today’s world.

The rapid pace of change in our industry and economy, and even our place in the world has left many of us stunned and disbelieving.

But change doesn’t stop because we can’t keep up with it. Those who fail to adapt to change will be swept away.

About the only thing we can guarantee is that the speed at which change comes at us will only tend to accelerate.

In turbulent times, when the earth seems to shift under your feet and you can’t seem to find an anchor to hold on to, you ned a source of information and interaction that can help you keep up with the changes going on around you.

Your state association is one example. State associations are doing their best to keep up and keep you informed. Make sure your membership is up-to-date and remember that for your association to best serve you, you need to be an active member.

Another great way to keep up is through MHMSM.com. At MHMSM.com, some of the most respected voices in the industry can be accessed as nowhere else. As an interactive media, MHMSM.com gives you the opportunity to actively participate in the debate.

As old doors close, new ones open. Will you be there to see what is behind those new doors?

To quote Bob Dylan again,

“Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”

Selling with a Blog, Part II

June 26th, 2011 No comments

Selling with a BlogLast Thursday, I posted a video from WordPress.tv, Selling with a Blog that featured Howard Howell’s presentation at WordCamp Seattle 2011. In it, Howard gives his reasons why he thinks using a blog to sell whatever it is you sell is a good idea.

I agree with Howard that using a blog to sell whatever is a great idea, but just how do you apply it to selling homes off a retail lot or in a land lease community?

Basically, the same way you’d use it to sell pizza, cars, site-built homes, widgets or anything else you can think of.

The most basic rules of selling haven’t changed. But the method of getting prospects into your location to begin the selling process has. Some time-honored methods, such as newspaper advertising, Yellow pages ads and such just aren’t working in most markets anymore and their continued decline is assured.

While smart businesses continue to use legacy marketing methods for as long as their return exceeds their cost, now is the time to begin looking at the ways marketing to prospects will be done now and in the future.

Old-style websites were static and were updated rarely, if at all. That type of website is still useful for organization static data, such as image galleries, product information, floorplans, feature lists, etc.

But without a dynamic, relationship-building component, it won’t be nearly as effective as it could be.

And that relationship-building component, while composed of several items, finds its anchor in a dynamic, ever-changing website known as a blog. I’ve defined what a blog is several times before, but for the benefit of those who’ve missed it. I’ll define it again:

A blog (short for weblog) is a series of web posts (articles) arranged in reverse chronological order. That’s it – it’s that simple.

But in that definition is the secret of a blog’s success as a lead generation tool.

The simple fact that you need to keep your blog updated on a regular basis gives you that many more opportunities to strike a chord with a segment of your readers. And the more of those chords you strike with potential customers, the better your chances of making a sale.

So what do you write about? I’ve covered this in previous posts, but it bears repeating. If you’re blogging for a community, write about everything that happens in and around that community.

Profile residents who do something special, feature residents hobbies or their efforts to improve their homesites, review area restaurants, community events, etc. Use your imagination and you’ll never run out of ideas.

Be sure to link your blog to you Twitter and Facebook accounts, place some videos on YouTube and use them in your blog posts, place ads for available homes or homesites on Craigslist with a link back to your website.

And this goes for retailers as well – every home in your community or on your lot should be photographed and posted to your blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. When you sell a home, photograph the happy new owners with or in their new home.

Get releases from everyone in those photographs and use them.

Never miss an opportunity to tell your own story over and over again until it becomes an expectation. You’re the best at what you do, right? If you are, let the world know. If you’re not, find something else to do.

Updating Browser Software for Your Own Security

June 19th, 2011 No comments

Updates, updates, updates. If you’re like me, your computer is forever nagging you to update this or that program and it always seems to popup at an inopportune time.

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer, IE

One thing that came up at WordPress Columbus yesterday is that with the coming version3.2 or WordPress, support for Internet Explorer (IE) v6 will be dropped. Dropping support for IE 7 is in the works for a future upgrade.

Why? At this point, IE 6 and to a lesser degree IE 7 are older browsers that give web developers problems and lack features common to more modern browsers. There comes a point where supporting legacy applications is no longer viable.

Sometimes updates get skipped. That wouldn’t be that bad a thing except that some updates are designed to plug security holes in previous versions and ignoring them leaves you open to attack.

This can be an issue with any type or program, but web browses can present security as well as other issues if left un-upgraded.

One example of this would be Internet Explore (IE) 6. Microsoft has logged several security holes in IE 6, yet IE 6 users still comprise 47% of IE users on my site today.

Well, here’s a tool that will help you determine if you are using the latest version of your favorite browser and, if you are not, provides a link for you to download and install the latest version.

Browse Happy. Online. Worry Free. Upgrade Your Browser Today.

Just click here to go to the Browse Happy website and find out the status of your copy of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.

Then you can breathe a bit easier when you are surfing the web.

Also, newer versions of browser software often have exciting new features and can run much faster than older versions. So there are many reasons to upgrade your web browser software.

Do it now!

A Manufactured Housing Image-Building Campaign Can Start Locally and Now!

June 12th, 2011 3 comments

Running Out of Time?In his article A National Industry Image Campaign Discussion Starter, Editor and Publisher L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach initiated a discussion on a nationwide campaign. That post has drawn numerous comments, all with valid points, issues and opinions. All-in-all, a great start to a conversation that hopefully will bear fruit in the form of a real campaign.

There seems to be a real tidal wave of opinion in the industry that the way out of the current sales depression is to draw new customers to the product by elevating the public perception of the lifestyle associated with manufactured housing and the quality of the homes themselves. There are other factors, but I believe that the industry’s product image is a key element.

In an earlier post in this blog, What if people thought Manufactured Housing was the greatest thing since sliced bread?, I threw out a couple of ideas to get this campaign going on a local basis RIGHT NOW!

Using the outlets provided by modern technology, a grassroots industry image campaign could be started in your local market today. Who would do it? YOU! And I submit that if you aren’t willing to start in your own backyard, don’t expect others to pick up the slack for you.

Putting the Pieces Together

“We want to go where the customers are.
Since some 80% of home purchases begin with
research done online, that is the perfect place to start.”

A national campaign may or may not ever get off the ground. But a hundred local campaigns could begin changing the public’s perception of the manufactured housing industry whether or not the national campaign ever sees the light of day.

What are the tools for this local campaign?

  • Your blog
  • Your Facebook Fan page
  • Your Twitter account
  • YouTube
  • Your email subscriber list

This doesn’t mean you should abandon traditional marketing methods that are working for you. But if you have traditional methods that are bombing, put them out of their misery and spend the energy on things that do work.

Oh, that national campaign – even if it gets going, it will be a while before the organizational elements are put into place and materials are produced. Do you really have the time to wait?

Newspaper and Yellow Page ads will not change how the public perceives manufactured housing. At least, they haven’t so far. But the interactive media mentioned above can, especially if you can get your satisfied customers involved.

Head on over to What if people thought Manufactured Housing was the greatest thing since sliced bread? and re-read the Blog It! list.

Start getting lifestyle images and videos of your best homes, residents and community activities, whether you are a community, retailer or installer. We’re all in this together. Get the subjects permission to use the material. Then, USE IT!

Nothing sells a lifestyle better than those living and enjoying it.

5 Reasons Why MH Retailers and Communities Should Be Using WordPress

June 4th, 2011 No comments

WordPress LogoWhether you call your business a Manufactured Home Community, a Land Lease Community or a Mobile Home Park, or call your sales lot a Manufactured Housing Retail Store or Mobile Home Dealership, or anything else for that matter, there are five (5) very good reasons you should be using WordPress as the keystone of your online marketing strategy.

1. Simple installation and setup

No one needs an online marketing solution that is difficult (expensive) to install, update and maintain. If you do it yourself, it is that much more of your time that gets eaten up – and, of course time is money. If you use a professional to do it, that hourly billing on a difficult platform will eat you up.

In my opinion, WordPress is the simplest solution for the needs of clients like manufactured housing communities and retailers. It is much more cost-effective than comparable solutions for use as a Content Management System (CMS) and is just plain easier to administer.

2. Ease of Use

Most CMSs don’t require you to learn HTML or PHP code to use them. That is their beauty. Anyone who can create a letter in MS Word, OpenOffice or any other word processor can create or update a web page using a CMS.

What makes WordPress stand above the rest is the simple, clean interface used to create or update a page or post. The community responsible for the maintenance of the WordPress application has spent hundreds of thousand of hours developing the platform.

Because of the community development model, there is no direct profit motive to blind the development team to flaws that need correction. Likewise, there is a tremendous pool of talent constantly working to improve the product.

3. Out-of-the-Box Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is the very nature of WordPress’s roots that cause it to be a superior SEO tool right “out-of-the-box.” With all it’s inherent benefits, plugin developers have added their own contributions to WordPress’s SEO abilities creating the world’s premier CMS when it comes to building your Search Engine Ranking.

4. Flexibility (there’s a plugin for that)

Just there are WordPress plugins to help with SEO, there are WordPress plugins that extend the platform to do a myriad of things unimagined by the original developers at WordPress’s conception.

You’ve see the Apple ads – “There’s an app for that” – with WordPress it’s “there’s a plugin for that.”

There are so many plugins for WordPress that you’d be hard-pressed to find something it can’t do.

Most plugins are simple enough for most users to install and configure and are certainly within the skill set of any WordPress developer.

5. Saves you money while it makes you money

The best things about WordPress is that it is Open Source, which means you can you use it freely without any cost or licensing fees. The same holds for many themes (templates) and plugins.

If you require a special plugin or theme, they can usually be acquired at a reasonable cost. And the sheer ubiquitousness for WordPress ensures that if your web developer quits the business, gets hit by a bus or moves back to South Africa, you will find it fairly easy to find someone to take up the job.

So let’s go over the benefits of WordPress one more time:

  • Simple
  • Easy
  • Powerful
  • Flexible
  • Open Source

I’ve been in the web development and marketing business for fifteen years and that checklist is something I waited to have in one product for a long time.

To paraphrase former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, “WordPress and you… perfect together.”