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In the SM Era, Do I still need a Website?

May 2nd, 2013 No comments

We are in a Social Media (SM) era. Facebook has over a billion users, and continues to add to their numbers. LinkedIn has hit 200 hundred million members world-wide. You can have your own YouTube Channel. With these, Twitter and so many other SM sites – all available free – do you still need a website?

The answer may be right in front of you. You are on our MHProNews.com website, we need one even though we use all of the SM named and more. But for some businesses, it may be possible to skip having a website, and still stay effective.

Hypothetical Example of a No Website Business

popular logos posted on MHProNewsIf you are the owner of a 15 site manufactured home community that is full and has a waiting list, you can easily make the case that the use of a cross section of SM sites is all you would need for someone to find you on a Google, Bing or Yahoo search.

But let's say the manufactured home community is 75 sites, not 15. You have 10 vacant "pads" and have been losing occupancy. You have 2 homes for sale and a vacant rental unit. Could you still make it by using SM alone? Or could you make it with a page on MHVillage.com, plus these SM sites?

In such a scenario, the odds are excellent that you need your own website.

But we would recommend that you have the SM sites and MHVillage.com as "Google bait" to boost the SEO appeal of your site, to advance the visibility and to act as a focal point to connect all your SM resources.

What kind of website?

Stating the obvious, every company, and each location for a company, is different.

There are many types of web platforms available starting from the so-called "freebie" you can get with your Internet service provider, to the high 5, 6 or even 7 figure web-tech investments made by those in the factory built housing arena. There are operations who spend more making a single studio quality video than someone else will spend on their entire internet marketing presence.

Through our WebTech service division, we are routinely building, servicing and doing proposals for companies online. While 1 size does not fit all – for example, an e-commerce site with tight security is different than what a typical retailer, community or service provider usually needs – still a common recommendation we make is to use a CMS platform.

CMS

CMS is short for Content Management System. I built my first website back in the 1990s, using hand coded HTML. While we and our team's web designer still do some hand-coding, the far better approach for most is a dynamic CMS system!

Take a look at MHC-MD.com or the LouisvilleShow.com websites as two examples or modern CMS platforms.

mhc-md.comThese can be customized to fit almost any business. Once built, they are easy to maintain. Some clients want us to do their updates, but for the majority, you can be taught in an hour or so how to do the basic updates, thus keeping your website maintenance costs low!

My associates or I could change the slider images out on the Louisville or MHC-MD.com websites rapidly, and make the site look dramatically different. In fact, when we start the warm up to the Louisville Show for 2014, you can count on the fact that we will do a number of updates to the site.

With your SM pointing to a CMS style website, you can dramatically improve your SEO.

What's your Budget for websites?

As noted before, you can in theory get 'free' resources or those that are very low up front costs. But often the look is dated, and since studies show that people surfing online decide in 5-10 seconds if they will stay on your site once they land there, it is important to make that first 5-10 seconds a visually good experience!

So to do a quality CMS platform that looks modern and can be maintained by the client, you are normally looking at a range of options, examples:

  • in the low 4 figures range (over $1000 to under $4000).
  • But for some big operations, and depending on the security, ecommerce of other kinds of solutions needed, you can jump to 5 figures (over $10,000) or more.
  • I've talked to operations in our industry that are spending $100,000 to $500,000 a year on IT/Webtech.
  • We do coaching classes with those on budgets under $1000, to help you 'do it yourself' without being all on your own with no one to turn to.

If you:

  • don't have a website,
  • don't know how to make your social media pay,
  • or you want to do an update on your current website,

a number of companies – ours included – will give you a free initial consultation.

To wrap this up, the bottom line is that some today can indeed make it with no website, but for the vast majority, having an website that is integrated with your social media and e-marketing is a must. ##

Editor's note: Social media icons graphic courtesy of Forbes.

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

other new stories 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

www.MHC-MD.com

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

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

Social Networking ripples can cause much bigger effects for manufactured housing

October 21st, 2010 1 comment

I live in Danville, Kentucky – a town of about 15,000 that has been named “one of America’s Best Small Towns.” As charming as our little town is, every so often a trip to the “big city” is in order. What this has to do with manufactured, or any factory-built housing will become apparent. This past Sunday was my wife’s birthday. We decided to go for dinner at Sutton’s Italian Restaurant in Lexington, KY. Sutton’s is a client of mine (we did their website) and this was their new location. I really like to keep up with what my client’s are doing as having knowledge of their operations helps me do a better job of marketing for them.

We ordered some wine, recommended by owner Gordon Lewis, a locally produced Merlot from Jean Farris Wineries. Notice how the locally-sourced product was the one recommended. It was a very good wine, the best Merlot I have ever had – and I’m NOT a big Merlot fan normally.

So far, so good. It’s the next succession of events that I wanted to point out. We ordered an appetizer. One of our favorites in Italian restaurants is calamari with marinara sauce, so we decided to go for that. Well, the calamari was super! It mixed in was a special treat. Banana peppers (peperoncini) which had been sliced into rings like the calamari and fried along with them. Exceptional.

So I took out my iPhone and photographed our half-finished plate and posted it on Facebook. Within minutes, a friend who didn’t know of the restaurant’s new location asked me where they were.

He’ll be checking out the new location shortly with his entire family. Now, my question is… how much benefit will Sutton’s receive from a picture, a caption and about a minute that it took me to post it to Facebook? Five people will eat there as a direct result. How many more read the post, now know the new location and will find their way there over the next few weeks?

And what’s it worth if they like it, return and tell their friends?

Even if the restaurant has no idea where those customers originated, they benefit from that small bit of social networking. It happens that Sutton’s has a Facebook page of their own, so those reading my post can easily find them on Facebook. And or course, their Facebook page has a link to their website.

So round and round it goes, a small ripple in the pond of information creates a much larger result. Sutton’s pays their employees who then spend the money in the local economy and the additive value of a dollar spent adds to Lexington’s GDP.

More ripples in our various ponds are what will get the economy moving again on a local, national and global basis. It’s not hard. Go make a ripple today, even a small one. It will will multiply as the circle widens.

And don’t forget to post every new thing your business does on your website, your blog, your Facebook page, your LinkedIn status and tweet it on Twitter to boot. Have a new home on your lot or in your community? Install a new home? Performed some community service? Hire a new sales person, customer service rep or installer. Each of those is a small stone causing a small ripple that grows and grows and…

Marketing Manufactured Housing online makes it easier, but not effortless

October 9th, 2010 1 comment

Online marketing has made the job of identifying, contacting and staying in touch with leads a simple and easier process. Unfortunately, it has led some to believe in a “do it once, benefit forever” marketing mentality.

While some of your efforts in online marketing can be classified as “evergreen” (non-changing information giving you benefit for years to come), the day-to-day effort of building customer and prospect relationships requires some diligence.

Just as gathering a big pile of lumber, nails and other components on your factory floor requires more effort to turn it into a house, the building blocks of an online marketing campaign require ongoing effort to turn it into a working strategy.

Components of an online marketing campaign:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social Networking
  • Static Content
  • Dynamic (Fresh) Content
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Analytics
  • Press Releases
  • News Feeds
  • Marketing
  • Web Design
  • Craigslist
  • Online Listings Sites

We’ll work our way through this list in later posts, but this time I’d like to draw our attention to the first item – the website.

I know from experience that some of you still don’t have a website. But there’s a better than even chance that if you don’t yet have one, you are probably not bothering to read this blog …or this ezine for that matter.

I’ve drawn this analogy before, but your website is like the foundation of one of our homes. It isn’t optional. Without it, your marketing efforts, both online and offline are structurally defective and it danger of collapse.

If your website hasn’t been updated, it is much like the home that was set and forgotten. Deferred maintenance is now taking it’s toll and it won’t be long before parts of it are endangered from internal rot and invasion by enemies from without.

The technology to make updating your website an easier and less costly task are readily available. Your web design team should know how to make it possible for you to update parts of your website yourself. If they don’t, we do. So give up the dependency of that old school adversarial relationship and give us a call.

By the way, we just scratched at items 4 & 5 on the list as well.

By all indications, 2011 could be a very good year for manufactured housing if we are willing to do what it takes. In an Industry Voices post last week, Thayer Long of MHI aid out some objectives for 2011. Giving them the support they need to see those objectives through could be the start of something big.

But don’t neglect the basics. Make sure your marketing foundation (your website) is up to the job at hand. If it’s not feeding you leads and providing a way of keeping in friendly contact with those leads from the very beginning of the sales process through to the post-sale customer service, sit down with a professional and bring it up to par.

2011 is just around the corner. Where will you be?

Need to make changes to your website content?

September 1st, 2010 No comments

I love it when simple products do a job extraordinarily well. In a recent blog post, Refreshing Your Manufactured Housing website – why?, we covered some of the reasons why now may be the time to update your online information. If you haven’t read it, of have forgotten it, read it again.

In the July issue of MHMSM.com, Maria Cucchiara of All Seasons Communications wrote Six Reasons to Update Your Current MH Website, which explained why an updated website is a necessity. Again, read it or re-read it – there is wisdom in Maria’s words.

All well and good. All commercial websites need to be refreshed every few years or their effectiveness starts to fade. And that is a job for a web design professional. If that’s where you find yourself, call us.

But what about those little changes that need to be made from time to time? You know the ones… a changed price or phone number. Adding a feature to a bullet list. Adding or deleting a dated sentence…

If your’s is a small to medium operation, you may not want to call your web developer every time one of those pops up. If you hired an amateur – or a part-time developer – you may have to wait a long time to get the change made – if ever. They may have simply disappeared or gone out of business.

What if there was a way to make it easy for anyone in your office who can create a simple Word doc to make those little updates for you? Think that could save you some time and money? You bet it could!

If we had built your website, you probably wouldn’t be facing this problem right now because it would be built on a platform that allows you to make simple updates.

But even if your website was built using static pages, the ability to edit sections of your site can be added even now.

And if you can use Microsoft Word®, you can use the simple WYSIWYG interface that can be installed on your website using the files you use now, and keeping the “look and feel” of your current site – the design.

There is more information on this on the Update Your Own Website page at OrangeCat.net. If you are in the position where you or an employee need to make some updates to your website, this may be the answer.

And we’ve been doing this since 1996, so we’ve never vanished on any client.