Who, What and Where:
Bob Stovall - I am the owner of Orange Cat Productions LLC, an online marketing and web consultant firm with 14 years of experience. I started marketing online in 1991 using available bulletin board services (BBSs). A lot has changed over the years. The opportunities presented by marketing your products and services online have never been better.
I have been investing in manufactured housing for several years, and hold a Manufactured Home Installer Manager certification in the State of Kentucky.
I'm also happy to say that I'm the webmaster here at www.MHMarketingSalesMangement.com - aka www.MHMSM.com. To go from launch just 4 months ago to being the largest industry trade journal is quite a ride.
Background (Educational/Professional before entering the factory-built housing arena):
I previously ran a small photography business in which most of my revenue came from aerial photography performed for Real Estate companies, home and farm owners, manufacturers and a local NASCAR race track. Photography clients began asking for digital retouching and then for websites and my business emphasis shifted from photography to web work.
I have freelanced for ad agencies in New York and Northern New Jersey and worked with clients such as AT&T Wireless, Lucent Technologies, B&G Foods, Phillips Communications, Rolling Rock Breweries and many more. I have clients in the manufactured housing and real estate worlds, as well as marketing my own manufactured home investments.
By the way, it was through one of my manufactured housing clients that I met Tony Kovach about 4 years ago. We did a number of projects together since then. I really like the energy that comes with working with him. Tony must have liked my work, because he said I was the first and only person he called when he decided to do the www.MHMSM.com trade journal. We have mutual respect and that makes the process flow very nicely.
When and How: (When and how you got into the Manufactured/Modular Housing industry)
My first exposure to manufactured housing was after I moved to Danville, Kentucky and began investing in Real Estate. After buying and managing several single-family houses, an opportunity presented itself to purchase a manufactured home in a nearby community. After having a very positive experience with that one, I moved on to buying and selling several more. I received my Manufactured Home Installer Manager certification, and work with a successful and dynamic MH community owner. I have since bought and sold several land/home packages. All of that lead to more clients in the industry and of course from there to doing this trade journal that you are reading today. Funny how one thing leads to another!
What do you consider the largest challenges to the industry today?
I think the biggest challenges facing the industry today is financing of homes and changing the public perception that manufactured homes are somehow less "permanent" than site-built. I'll touch more on the public perception and how we can face that challenge in a moment.
What do you consider the biggest challenges to your organization/firm today?
Everyone's been affected to some degree by this recession. Some firms and business people make budget cuts in marketing, at the very time they need to grow their business and position themselves for the future. One of the Zone Manager's for the www.MHMarketingSalesMangement.com trade journal correctly quotes Henry Ford:
"A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time."
The reality is that every problem is an opportunity in disguise. Those who approach challenges that way always, always move ahead farther and faster than those who see the half empty side of the glass.
What is/are the significant initiatives your firm plans/has undertaken to grow your business?
For Orange Cat Productions, we stepped up our marketing efforts as the recession has gone through it's down cycle and it does pay off. As my competitors have become less visible, I have become more so. The wisdom of marketing harder and smarter during hard times is bearing fruit. To put it differently, I practice what I preach. Some realize that wise internet strategies, like 'Socialnomics' and 'Dominating your Local Market' are keys to growth. Also related, our clients realize that email marketing strategies are one of the most cost effective ways to grow a business during a down market. I did a blog post that outlined that incredible ROI from email marketing, it is worth mentioning here.
In my role as webmaster for www.MHMarketingSalesMangement.com industry trade journal, it's a bright picture. While Tony and I were confident in the promise of the www.MHMSM.com trade journal, it has taken off much faster than we thought would happen. I think people get an opportunity to feel that they are a part of something here that has meaning and direction. Industry pros can write and comment, we have that broad editorial policy. Associations, business executives, rank and file… the response has been very positive overall. Most of our readers enjoy the many new features, the fresh and positive perspective and of course, web publications are the future. We will be using a 'community builder' feature soon, so that individuals can gather a discuss topics any time they wish with their peers.
Last and certainly not least is our Virtual Louisville Housing Show©, The early feedback reveals a lot of positive energy for this as a means to boost retail, wholesale and to impact the image changes the industry needs to grow. The beauty of this concept is it doesn't stop with just selling a home or product to a retailer or producer. The energy builders and suppliers put in will yield more retail demand through proven approaches Tony and I already use successfully. Invest in your business with the Virtual Louisville Housing Show© and you are changing the public perception in the process. That creates more demand for manufactured homes, and the cycle for growth is established.
What do you think the broader industry can do to improve the climate for Manufactured/Modular Housing today?
The industry has a great product - make absolutely sure that the buying public never has a chance to forget that fact. Tout the advantages of manufactured housing and increase the visibility of "America's Quality Affordable Housing Choice" in the marketplace. Do that over and over, and you'll see good results. ##