Sunday, April 27, 2014

The BGO Rattling House & Home

I have written about BGOs in this bloglogue in the past… BGO translates to Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.

House and home is a market that is posting a market BGO right before our eyes… and the market gurus from Wall Street to Madison Avenue to Washington are not seeing it.

Over the last few days, the Wall Street Journal posted a couple of stories that shed spotlights on the stage.

One of the stories that ran mid-week last week showcased the big decline in home sales and new home starts.

Like good MBA-accounting journalists, the article was littered with stats comparing sales, mortgage rates and real estate listing stats to support the overall observation that… well… housing is diving quickly back into a slump.

No question that the writers talked about the low-growth recessionary recovery.  They cited the new bank regulations and the long process of loan qualification.

They even wrote about the industrial transition with builders and developers.

Ahhh… but they did not cite the BGO!

The article over the weekend titled, “Rentals Reach For The Skies” came a bit closer to showcasing the BGO… but it too reminded me of the kid that comes close to knocking down that Cinco de Mayo clown filled with candy, but just cannot hit it and reap the reward.

The second article noted that there are 74 rental high-rises being built this year across the U.S. and another 81 on the books for next year.

It talks about the young singles and couples paying the premium rents to live intown and near where they work.

One evening last week, I sat at a coffee table with Atlanta community leadership and talked about all the new live-work-play centers that are all the rage here in Atlanta.

We talked a lot about our wonderment of just how long the live-work-play rage will be a rage.

So what's the BGO... the Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious?

Simple.  The Millennials are making their mark right in the midst of us… right in the midst of our here and now.

I’ve rattled in this blog a lot about the Millennials, their sheer size and how they are going to be the market drivers for the next 20-30 years.

They cannot be overlooked, excused or dumb-downed.

We are in the midst of the Millennial tsunami as Brian, Maria, Jasmine and Ethan depart from campus-town and the helicopter-parent nest to stake a home claim of their own.

But the Millennials are facing a record-setting low of down payment savings and record- setting pain-in-the-butt process of securing a mortgage loan.

Rentals are rising as the new American city-scape embrace this tsunami.

Community politico clients are always astounded by the stats that the make-up of their townscape is much more single and rental than they ever imagined that it could be.

House and home manufacturing and retail clients continue to dismiss that the mom-dad-kids-apple-pie-homebody is fading fast.

I am the first to showcase quick service restaurants and their franchisees.  A vast array of those teams see the Millennial tsunami and are out their capitalizing on it.

The biggest glitch that the QSR groups are making is an assumption that the Millennials are going to follow a family life-stage transition just like their Boomer parents… marry, move out to the ‘burbs and have kids.

If you don't see this happening ... go check the Burger King brand. 

Back to housing.

Home-owners who bought their pads in the 90s and early 2000s are in for a shock when they learn that the homes have way too many walls with outdated countertops, bathrooms and extended outdoor living space.

Real estate agents are in the midst of a shock as they cling to their out-dated commission-agent-driven business model.

And house and home retailers need to either re-adjust or be ready for the arrival of a new competitive mix.

House and home is hip… but it’s not what we see on the pages of Elle Décor or Architectural Digest.  

That set of pubs has become a dwindling cliché of New York designers, fashion publishers and high-end boutique retailers that refuse to recognize that life does exist past the Hudson.

To capture what’s really happening, tune in or better yet, pick up an HGTV Magazine. Spend some time on Pinterest and look at the pictures. Go shop at Pier 1 Imports and Target.  Go to the local “retro-rehab” furniture store.

The current issues of BOTH Southern Living and Country Living Magazines highlight the new retro-50s headset of the Millennial homemakers – and that’s both the male and female ones!

The housing market is in the midst of radical change.

Rental is the new norm – and probably will here for longer than a "transitional lifestyle" time.

Less is more and more is way too far out of what’s in the checkbook each month.

High touch comfort and multi-use furniture (note… I did not say space – that’s assumed to be there already by the Millennials) is the hip and trendy.

Pre-owned brings in history and neighborhood roots.

Kitchens are center stage and not operational sidekicks.

Color adds personality with window fabrics, area rugs, accent pillows and wall art… even modular flooring that works great in those newly built “post-industrial” lofts.

I am sure that some readers of this bloglogue have a take-away that I might have all the answers… 

…But in this situation I don’t.

What I do know is that we need to get out from behind the desks and sit down with Millennials and hear their stories about what they and their friends are doing.

Hey… I am the first to admit that the Millennial ADHD does not make it easy.

But folks, the Millennials are now in the driver's seat of the future. 

That Wall Street Journal article talks about the new high-rise apartment just built in Minneapolis and how its so very not what one would expect. 

They talk about how when you get up to the penthouse that posts a rental amount of $9,000 per month you can see the Mississippi River as it meanders southward.

After reading this… go to the newest high-rise apartment tower or live-work-play town center or new “retro” loft complex and take in the vista of the new market horizon and see what you might see.

All I know for sure is that the BGO hitting us right now is the Millennial Generation forming its nests – even if they have to rent it for the next decade or so!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tech Geeks Writing A Dumbass Article In The WSJ

My hope in writing this is that many of our clients and business partners actually take a moment and read this blog. 

This might be one of the most important ones that I post this year.

I’m a strong advocate of the Wall Street Journal. 

And, that’s the printed newspaper version, and not the online editions nor website.  There are still a small number of us that still read the real print editions.

Despite my loyalty to the WSJ, this morning’s edition is actually the springboard for this blog – and it centers around an article that, quite frankly, is a junk story that I would more likely see in the local, Atlanta rag that goes by the name the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The authors of the WSJ article go by the names of Khadeeia Safdar and Angus Loten. 

My bet is that they are tech nerds that have an inner desire to be newscasters.

The title of the article is, “Search For Help With Web Ads, But Not Finding Much.”

No question, the headline did catch my attention. 

Reason being that there are a lot… a lot… of web consulting firms out there in many of the cities I work spanning the globe from Seattle to Toronto to NYC to ATL. And there are many, many smart marketers that are using the art and engineering of the web to achieve some great sales.

When I got into the article, I was further surprised.

The article is not about large corporations, but instead about small business owners and how those featured have voiced frustrations about their using online and web advertising as a part of their marketing mix.

The authors are out to make those firms that claim to do web advertising to be slime, money-takers.

My surprise is that the “Marketplace” sectional editors actually allowed this article to be printed.

Below the article’s picture of a small business owner, the quip reads, “Business owner Dave Bennett says he didn’t get customers after spending $1,800 in an online-ad campaign.”

Before I even begin to read the actual facts about the case, two things struck me.

One… the man is standing next to what appears to be a very sophisticated shower stall.

Two… $1,800 might be a large sum of money to this man, but $1,800 is really not a large marketing budget – especially as I learn, it was for four months of marketing!

When I delved further into the article, turns out that Dave Bennett runs a company called Wasatch Chill Zone.  It’s a whole body cyrotherapy firm.  Based in Utah. 

He was paying for listings in online business directories and search engine mechanics (SEOs). 


This story is appearing on the same page with news about Home Depot, GM and Google. 

There’s another story about a psychotherapist spending $2,200 on a campaign to market his service in New York City and another case about a firm called Ageless Karate in Las Vegas spending $1,000 to land students for classes. 

With roots in NYC, I find it surprising that the psychotherapist isn’t aware that $2,200 in NYC barely gets you one poster up from one week on a subway stop over in the Bronx.   But then again, we are talking about a psychotherapist.

And a firm called “Ageless in Karate” in Las Vegas … my bet is that the owner is a cousin of the whole body cyrotherapy firm over the border in Utah.

The reason why I encourage my clients and partners to read this blog… and to even go online and read the article is to gain an understanding that there’s usually a whole lot more to a story than what is captured in the tidbits of a headline or the viewpoints of “peer” commentary.

Yesterday afternoon as I was driving back home, there was a guy dressed up as a clown waving a poster to get people in the afternoon rush hour to come rent an apartment in a complex that needs a bunch of renovation help.

There are a lot of really dumb folks out there doing some very dumb advertising and marketing who spend small amounts of money and expect large groups of people lining up at the door.

Shame on the WSJ for printing the article.  The authors need to go back to their techie programming venues. The editors allowing need to get fired.

A couple important points…

#1… Advertising alone does not a sale make.

#2… Simply wearing a nametag when you walk into a room does produce long lines of people that are ready to jump into bed with you
#2a…. Taking a date to a cheap fast food restaurant also does not persuade them in all likelihood to go have passionate sex either

#3… Fat people do not look good wearing bikinis or swimmer thongs… a simple listing on a search site or a simple click banner ad will not produce purchasers of large ticket, highly targeted product lines

#4…. If I say the word television, and the conventional thinking set is “get on those shows that have the highest ratings” to generate that high volume of reach, then how can you sleep at night if you then say, “target one-on-one through that highly targeted use of online ads?”

#5… How many sale closings are you getting from your Yellow Page ad listing?  My bet is that these small business owners featured in the WSJ article actually spend more than triple the dollar amount highlighted in what they spent on the Internet on Yellow Page ads. 

Please… Please… do not abandon the use of online marketing as we cruise quickly into the year 2015.

And if you ever receive a resume from a person that matches with the two geeks or their editors from the WSJ, trash it.