Sadly, the mistakes being made in marketing and communications about manufactured housing are legion. The good news? That’s opportunity in disguise, says L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach. The video below – and the firm’s results – reflect concepts that the factory-built housing industry’s professionals, marketers, and investors should ponder.
“As the Motörhead song “Sympathy for the Devil” plays, the 2019 Acura RDX is showcased against a colorfully lit backdrop. … It is introduced as the future of Acura as it leaves a cloud of dust behind,” said iSpot.
Some years ago, Ken Rishel – an associate of one George F. (F?) Allen – publicly mused to the effect that manufactured housing ought to avoid becoming a commodity.
In fairness and to Rishel’s credit, for years, he’s made a brand for himself and his wife Donna in MHVille. Some of his concepts have played better with manufactured housing audiences than others. That said, with shipments falling, there’s seemingly no imminent risk of manufactured homes flying off proverbial shelves, as a desired ‘commodity’ does. The discussion is akin to how many angels can dance on the head of the pin.
What’s been demonstrated by not only the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), but also by their purported masters in the Omaha-Knoxville metros, is this. They don’t seem to know – or haven’t shared even with their own teams yet – any proven method of selling en masse a most necessary – and desirable – product. It’s a product that has tens of millions of potential customers. During an affordable housing crisis, manufactured homes should be flying off the metaphorical shelves of manufactured home street retail or community-based sales centers.
The proof that the powers that be are failing? Their own relatively meek sales levels. Or the still historically low sales levels of the industry at large. Or ponder the string of marketing and product launches that Clayton has had since Berkshire bought them in 2003 that landed with a thud (think, for instance the iHouse and iHouse 2.0 – do you ever think about what happened there?).
Or ponder the number of manufactured home ‘street’ retail centers Clayton Homes has closed since 2010 (some 100+), and the list could go on.
But that kind of analysis would be based upon the as yet unproven premise that either Omaha-Knoxville and their tool in Arlington are looking for serious growth any time soon. There is posturing to that effect, but where is the proof of that? It certainly isn’t in the production and shipment data.
Or consider the in-depth review of MHI SVP and General Counsel, Rick Robinson, JD, provides ample cause for industry professionals to doubt their sincerity and/or capabilities for advancing the manufactured home industry into anything other than more consolidations.
After all, the industry’s been at historically low levels for over a decade.
Where’s the industry’s marketing imagination? Where the marketing élan or chutzpah?
This car commercial is far more imaginative and hipper than perhaps anything that Knoxville-Arlington have done. Is that why a lesser-known luxury car brand outsells the entire manufactured housing industry in unit volume combined?
CarSalesBase said that in 2018:
“Acura imports the RLX from Japan, while its other models for the US market are locally produced in Honda’s factories in East Liberty, OH (RDX), Marysville, OH (TLX, NSX), Greensburg, IN (ILX), and Lincoln, AL (MDX),” per that source.
Acura’s video campaign has clearly been party of the increase in their unit sales. By contrast, MHI and Knoxville have presided over a year-over-year decreases in numerous markets.
Knoxville, Arlington, Where’s the Beef?
By contrast, Acura is rising year-over-year (YoY), at the same period of time that manufactured homes are sinking YoY.
The need for new industry leadership is becoming ever more apparent. “If MHI was doing their job properly, and the industry were growing robustly and ethically, odds are we’d still be their members. Or if the fine folks in Knoxville where across the board successful, and where behaving in keeping with the high moral values they project, we’d be happy to support or cheer their efforts. But isn’t the mounting evidence to the contrary? How long will the MHVille powers-that-be duck the necessary public debate over performance and results? Where I come from, smart people don’t follow so-called leaders unless they are leading others to someplace worth going to,” said Tony Kovach.
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.
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