In September of 1908, Henry Ford released the first production Model-T automobile. Previous to the release of this car, horse-drawn carriage was the preferred mode of transportation. From 1908 into the late 1920’s, carriage and buggy companies worked furiously to improve their product in order to compete with the expanding automobile industry. Luxury seating and amenities were added, aerodynamics were improved and even a better buggy whip (used to whip the horses) was created. One by one, despite their best efforts and in spite of many legitimate improvements, buggy and carriage companies found themselves shutting their doors. By the early 1930s, nearly all of them were out of business. The few that remained were shadows of their former selves, doing only a fraction of the business they had enjoyed years earlier.
Our HBA Housing News monthly magazine is the best product of its kind in the U.S. In August the National Association of Home Builders Executive Officers Council gave Housing News the 2008 Association Excellence Award in the category of “Best Communication to Members – Magazines Published.” But the important question isn’t whether we have the best product of its kind. The question is whether the “kind” remains the best way to communicate with HBA members in 2009 and beyond.
Consider the simple fact that any significant news published in Housing News has long since been released on the HBA website (or elsewhere) before this printed document shows up in your mailbox. HBA members who advertise in Housing News rightly expect greater accountability and less competitive clutter than may have been acceptable in years past. And they expect to pay for actual return-on-investment value – not ever-increasing printing and postage costs. These expectations are very reasonable given how readily they are met in most places advertising dollars are spent.
Still, there is something to be said for holding a well-crafted, visually interesting printed product in your hand. HBA members want their news content delivered in real-time and digitally accessible, but they also want something that will look good on a coffee table.
In an effort to increase value, accountability and service to HBA members, the October issue of Housing News (which arrived last week in mailboxes and can be accessed online by clicking here) is the last monthly Housing News magazine the HBA will publish. The HBA board of directors has voted to replace this product with a combination of two new products: Housing News Weekly e-newsletter and the Housing News Quarterly printed version.
The goal is to provide HBA members and advertisers with the best of both worlds. The weekly e-newsletter (which will arrive in the e-mail inbox of every HBA member beginning Monday morning, October 12) will provide more hard-hitting industry-specific news, real-time content, greater advertising accountability, measurable return on investment, less ad clutter, and greater frequency. The quarterly mailer will be a gorgeous product that really puts our association and its members’ best foot forward. It will tell our most compelling stories in a visually satisfying medium. And it will provide limited advertising and advertorial opportunities for those members who benefit more from the printed and mailed product.
When the marketplace is transitioning to the automobile, it makes little sense to double down on manufacturing buggy whips. This transition is one way your HBA is on the leading edge of association growth and development. I am eager for the HBA to serve you better with these and other new products as we all work to position ourselves for the exciting new opportunities that lie ahead.
Chief Executive Officer
HBA of Greater Springfield