Exclusive Interview with AdNation News: TV and Radio Personality Danny Lipford Discusses Trends in the Home Industry for 2013

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In an exclusive interview with AdNation News, media personality Danny Lipford discusses trends in the home building and remodeling industries.

The economy has driven a growth in the "do-it-yourself" segment.

Lipford has been a presence on syndicated television for 15 years, and when asked about its advantages as an advertising medium, he noted that "The numbers that it reaches surprises a lot of people." He explains, "Many cable shows are limited in being able to reach a broader audience; many times it will be in the 200 to 300 thousand household range." "Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford," which does not have a New York City affiliate, nonetheless exceeds 500,000 households each week, "which translates into over a million (television) viewers per week," he says.

All of Lipford's local affiliates are broadcast stations, he notes. "Today's Homeowner" can also be seen by DirecTV subscribers on Channel 367, World Harvest Television, a Christian network which is based in South Bend, Indiana.

Danny Lipford Media sells advertising on its television, radio, and web platforms. Asked why television is an appealing medium, Lipford explains, "Particularly in the home improvement market, you are able to visually support a product and the solution that it brings to the home." He adds, "When you are trying to make a product come alive, it can be done better on television than any other way."

Television: Back Toward the Origins?

Asked how television marketing has evolved over the past 15 years, Lipford comments, "In many ways, it has returned back to the origins of television." He compares the prominence of product placement today with Milton Berle, who as host of what was known for most of its history as "Texaco Star Theater" smoked cigarettes and talked about his advertisers during the program.

"If you look at that early part of television, it was 'this hour brought to you by,' and it completely was integrated," Lipford says. "Then, it seemed as if television moved away from that, toward more of the 'separation of church and state,"" he comments. Product placements are once again prominent, but "it is done in a little more of a tasteful, organic fashion than it was in early television."

Integrity in Product Placements: A Slippery Slope

"Being in the position I am in, I do not have to work with anyone I do not want to work with," Lipford says. "I direct my salespeople to go to companies (whom) I am already knowledgeable of, and I believe in their products," he adds. "We turn down advertisers sometimes when I am not comfortable to go out on a limb, and say 'this is the best solution.'"

Lipford has turned down opportunities to be an informercial pitchman. In every single contract with a partner, a clause is included that "my appearances outside the show will not be compromised by any agreement we have," he explains. "There may be situations where I am on some of the national shows, and I will be using some of my competitor's products, if it is needed for the balanced editorial message I am expected to deliver there."

Lipford believes that it is a slippery slope when morning shows host guests in "what appears to be a newsworthy format, but you are seeing products that are clearly tied to that individual." The question is raised, "Is this really clean editorial, or is it being biased by a relationship?"

Lipford explains that when he brings up products of those companies he works or has worked with on air, "I have touched and felt and used their products, and that makes it easy to be confident editorially." He comments, "This is a good solution to that problem."

The Advantages of Radio

Danny Lipford has also hosted a syndicated radio show of the same name since 2009. He believes that radio's appeal to an advertiser lies in its instantaneous nature, the fact that it is live. "It is 52 new shows (per year)," he says. "You can talk about exactly what is happening right then," he comments.
"If an advertiser has an announcement, and a need for an intense push for a particular week or month-long period, that can be achieved with the radio show much easier," Lipford says. Conversely, "the television show is taped more in advance," he adds.

Consumer Trend Toward Improvement

There has been a consumer shift among homeowners, from a focus on maintaining their home to a focus upon improving them, Lipford says. Many are saying, "If I am going to work on my home, I would rather be improving it than strictly maintaining it," he explains, noting that the consumer can receive "a lot of gratification" from improving his home.

The economy has driven a growth in the "do-it-yourself" segment, Lipford says. "When times were better, people would say 'Call the flooring guys,'" he comments. "Now, they're exploring ways to do-it-yourself," he notes. "Manufacturers are responding with products that are making it a little bit easier to do it on your own," he explains.

Lipford cites the example of the lock manufacturer Schlage, who "has a number of different locks that they have introduced that really have made it very simple for an individual to install a lock on the front door." With Schlage, "You can subscribe to a service online, for $10 per month, and it allows you to control your lock with your smartphone no matter where you are in the world." A starting point for a system like this is now $300, whereas in "years' past, it has been thousands of dollars," he comments. "Then, you can add components to it, as you want them, need them, and can afford them," he explains, noting that for about $100 a video camera can be added to monitor the home. (Schlage is a current partner of Danny Lipford Media).

Quieter and Allergy-Free Homes

One trend that continues is "toward energy-efficient, quieter, and easier to maintain homes," Lipford says. Another is toward "the acceptance of synthetic materials," he adds. For example, "PVC (polyvinyl chloride) mouldings will hold up pretty much forever, and they look so much like a good quality wood," he explains.

Synthetic decking materials have also evolved. "It is so hard to tell them apart now," Lipford says, noting that this is "their selling point."

Lipford notes than Broan, an 80-year old American company, has "created fans that are virtually silent" in response to consumer demand for quieter homes. Things like bathroom exhaust fans have traditionally been loud, he says. "In their bathroom models, as well as the kitchen ventilation, they have made them more efficient, and they use a lot less electricity," he explains. (Broan has been a partner of Danny Lipford Media in the past, but is not currently).

With about 30 percent of Americans suffering from some type of allergy, indoor air quality is a major concern for many homeowners. Lipford explains that the filter is the "first line of defense" against allergens. "In years' past, a filter is a filter is a filter," he comments. "The ability to improve that is driving these manufacturers to market these advanced filters," he notes.

"You see many companies, particularly 3M, stepping out with some really advanced filters...at a price point of 13 to 15 dollars apiece," Lipford explains. Honeywell has produced "a new generation of indoor air cleaners, models that sit on a table and...intensify the filtration of the air of a particular room," he notes. (3M was a partner of Lipford's recent Winter Giveaway).

Aggressive marketing can also encourage the do-it-yourselfers to "do projects that maybe they would not have taken on before, particuarly in the flooring industry," Lipford says. When it comes to flooring, "through my media platforms...I am hearing the word empowered a lot from consumers," he explains.

The Impact on Real Estate

Much more important than in the past to the homebuyer is energy efficiency, Lipford notes. "One of the most practical things people look for is 'How energy-efficient is this home,'" he says, noting that "past power bills and the history of the home's utility usage is something that is more requested now than it has ever been before," he explains.

"With a $1,500 (monthly mortgage) payment on a house, you do not want to be saddled with a $900 (monthly) power bill, when you can buy another home with comfortable appeal," Lipford says. "That has not been a decision-maker for people in the past, but now, real estate agents marketing their homes are marketing those that are more efficient," he adds. "It is not just a matter of more attic insulation...but how efficient is the heating and cooling insulation," he explains.

Right now, housing starts (new construction) in the U.S. are at a five-year high, and inventory is "lower than it has been in quite some time," Lipford says. "With the interest rates being at historic lows, people can afford houses now, younger people and a wider group of people than ever before," he explains.

-Jon Heifetz
Reporter, AdNation News


"Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford," a syndicated television program carried by 200 stations and reaching about 80 percent of the U.S., is now in its 15th season, Lipford says. His weekly audience is about 1.2 million, with an even gender split, and about 90 percent of his viewers own a home, he notes.

Lipford's own roots are in construction, having owned a construction business for 34 years, he says. "What separates me from a lot of the guys on television is that I have done every single thing I talk about, for many many years," he comments.

Lipford has made over 150 television appearances outside of his own media, including "Rachael Ray," "Live with Regis & Kelly," CNN's "Your Bottom Line," and "The Early Show on CBS." He also appears on "The Weather Channel" as a home improvement expert and has contributed to "Better Homes & Gardens."

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Mary Ann Cavlin
AdNation News
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