Can Local Retail Compete with Amazon?

The information from the report is stunning. According to data compiled by Forrester Research…Amazon.com generated about 60% of total U.S. online sales growth in 2015 far outpacing the Amazon Logo competition.

The report found that the retail giant tallied $23 billion more in U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015 than 2014. Twenty-Three billion...dollars more in sales in just one year.  And that's not all...Forrester forecasts that U.S. e-commerce sales will grow to more than $530 billion by 2020, with more than 206 million shoppers spending money online. 

Is it any wonder that mall anchor stores and big box stores are closing so quickly. We have entered into a new economic reality and one that sends shivers down to spine of every small business retailer in the nation. Or, should it?

You see the report also offers some hope. The report goes on to say more than three-quarters of consumers (78%) say shopping on mobile devices is still hindered by things like slow download times and screen size. Your brick and mortar does not have that issue...right? And your optimized retail website allows people to access YOU with a call or email...from the home screen...right?

Chrissy JensenAnd, the report has several other suggestions on how to stay relevant in this new retail economy: "Retailers should offer unique merchandise and seek out new ways to monetize the business."

Now, if you want a lesson in how to offer unique how to monetize your business to a broader audience go see my friend Chrissy (photo) at Domestica located in Des Moines East Village. In my mind she does this better than just about anybody. Honest...   

 

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The Friday Wrap - Insight on Business the News Hour

Each Friday we offer up the Friday Wrap a review of our long-form broadcast interviews just in IOB_podcastv2 case you missed one.  The Business News Hour, a product of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications, is the only hour-long, M-F business news broadcast in the Midwest.  If you want to listen in, live, you can catch the broadcast at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 or in HD at FM 103.3 HD2.

Here is a review of our guests this past week. You can click on the player or on the highlighted name of our guest to listen.

Over the past several months two local shopping malls, Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines and Valley West Mall in West Des Moines have requested that bus service be removed from their property. Here from DART is Amanda Wanke. We asked about that and more.

She joins us each Monday with her list of top networking events in the Des Moines Metro and Laura Kinnard has a bunch to share...

A month ago the INS Family of companies launched their new name and brand Aureon. At the time we talked about it with Ron Keller the President/CEO of Aureon. We caught up with Ned Flynn to check on the progress.

Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Jen Childress is the founder of JenSpiration a health and fitness studio and she makes house calls.

Our guest is one of the Tero International trainers, Trish Baumhover. She shares some thoughts about how sales people can really connect with customers and close a sale that makes both the buyer and seller pleased with the transaction. And, the best news this is all trainable.

Well over 400 people were in Des Moines for the Third Annual Global Insurance Symposium. To talk about the impact of insurance on Central Iowa we have Jay Byers of the Greater Des Moines Partnership break it down for us...

With us is international designer Annie Sloan who is the head-liner for the 6th Annual Spring Junk Jubilee. She is spending several days at the Iowa State Fair Grounds teaching and sharing chalk paint secrets.

We visit with Joy and Kevin Peterson from Peterson Holistic Services that celebrated their open house at their Windsor Heights location.  Holistic services are becoming more mainstream. We ask about that and more.

Our guest is Mike Fellers a friend of the Broadcast who counts on public transportation to get from one place to another. However the recent decision by Valley West Mall has put Mike and others who may be disabled in a bind. It's always somebody else...until it's somebody you know.

Thanks for reading and listening!  Catch the broadcast Weekdays at 5:05PM


Iowa Broadcast News Association and Thank You

Many of you know that Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is the "Fuel that IOB_RGBPowers" Insight on Business the News Hour. Three years ago we hoped the broadcast would become a daily creditable source of business news.  The program is pretty straight forward: Each day we cover the business news headlines of the nation, region and the Greater Des Moines Metro. We offer up a Wall Street Report and go behind the numbers and share why the markets did what they did. And, we present long-form business interviews with established business leaders to startups.  Each weekday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2 all housed at The Des Moines Radio Group.

Last week the Business News Hour was honored with three awards from the Iowa Broadcast News Association in the large market category:

  • Second Place for Best Feature - "Puppy Mills in Iowa"
  • Honorable Mention - Public Affairs - "Housing/Transportation in Des Moines"
  • Second Place for Best Large Market Newscast in Iowa

It's one thing to be recognized by friends, family and the general public and we are grateful.
When our broadcast news peers also take note and then offer their congratulations...well, that's really special and all of us who take on this effort are grateful.  Here are the people that help make the Business News Hour happen each afternoon:

  • Producers - Tyler Hackenmiller - Dustin Halderson - Jerry Lee
  • Voice Work - Jimmy Olson
  • Program Director - Mark McDowell
  • Des Moines Radio Group - Jeff Delvoux - Mary Sayre
  • Laura Kinnard - Our Social Media/Networking Contributor
  • Sheryl Tessier - Our "Friday Fun" Contributor - Hey, it's Friday
  • Original Music - James Goodlett - Jam Good Productions

A special thank you to the regular sponsors of the Business News Hour that make all of this possible. They believed, early, there was a place for non-toxic talk radio in the Midwest. We are grateful for their vision.

Thank you all!


Future Entrepreneurs - Simpson Collage

This week I was honored to be asked to judge the Simpson College 2016 Iron Journalist Pitch. I Simpson Iron Journalist 2016 was joined by Heather Hassebroek (Bublins) and Kaylee Williams (Volunteer Local). We were there to listen to business startup ideas created by four journalism students, Brock Borgenson (top left), Brittany Robb (top right), James Tillison (bottom left) and Kylee Hereid (bottom right).  The judges were encouraged to offer tips and ask questions of each contestant.

I know, "What? Journalism Students pitching for-profit business ideas?!?" That had me too so I was truly intrigued as to why Professor and Chair of Multimedia  Brian Steffen would mix "The Fourth Estate" with business creation. He said, "Journalism is rapidly changing and I want my students to think as entrepreneurs and to learn how to craft messages that will match consumer interest. Many of these students may find success in creating content that is not part of major news organizations but content consumed by people interested in specific niche areas." Good enough for me....

Here is a brief overview of each pitch:

  • Brock Borgenson - I'm not in his target market of but found his idea of marketing the sport of "Gaming" interesting. His idea was to create a portal where people, and there are millions, can come and learn more about professional and amateur "Gamers" through video, written tips, a magazine and walk-through events.  
  • Kylee Hereid - Her pitch was about weddings and creating a place where brides and grooms, in Iowa, could go to find and connect with everything from clothing to cakes. I loved the idea of keeping it "local" to Iowa and thereby helping folks in rural parts of the state get connected with goods and services. She would also, in the future, franchise to other states. This edition was I Do - Iowa. Nice. 
  • Brittany Robb - This was an interesting twist covering virtual reality news. In fact the site is called VRNews. The goal was to share VR technology news with others from business to research schools. She says, and I have to agree, this technology will be the next "hot thing".
  • James Tillison - This pitch became personal. James received his Eagle Scout at the age of 15. His pitch was hyper-local to the Mid-Iowa Council of The Boy Scouts of America. He envisioned a platform that would instruct, encourage and expand the knowledge of the 2,000+ Boy Scouts in Central Iowa. As he was presenting my mind floated back to my Boy Scout days and the impact those had on my life.   

We asked questions, tallied up the score and in the end the winner of the 2016 Simpson College Iron Journalist Challenge was Brock Borgeson of Naperville, Illinois.

Good stuff and thank you again for asking me to be part of the adventure. It was worth every minute. 

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Bad Public Relations is Bad Branding

If the numbers are any indication shopping malls in the United States are becoming extinct. Overwhelmed According to Green Street Advisers, a real estate and REIT analytic firm 15% of US malls will fail and be converted into non-retail space in the next ten years. In 15 - 20 years retail consultants say that as many as half of the current malls in this country will fail...unless your anchor is a very upscale store.

With that kind of future one would think malls would be trying to find a way to offer a kind and welcoming face to the public. One would think.

Last year Merle Hay Mall became the first to demand that the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) move their bus stop off their property. DART says they tried to negotiate something with mall owners but, in the end failed. (They tell me they are still open for negotiation.)

Valley West LogoThen last week management at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines sent a letter to DART telling them they would have to move their bus stop off mall property. In a Des Moines Register piece this past weekend mall management, I suspect Paul Stender, says the current bus stop has "overwhelmed the retail center with buses and riders". DART has told me they continue to reach out to Valley West Mall to compromise.

Internal statistics from DART suggest that 75% of the riders to Valley West Mall are employees or shoppers and 25% are seeking to transfer to a different bus.

But, the mall is "overwhelmed".

Here, in all its glory is exactly the wrong way to brand...anything.  Get into a very public pissing match with an agency that serves, often, handicapped individuals, poor folks who can't afford a car and employees who are stuck at a retail minimum wage jobs.

Nice going...and now, on Facebook, there is an ever growing number of people who are offering to ease the crowding at Valley West Mall through a boycott.

Let's return to the first paragraph. Malls are in enough trouble and, for the life of me, I can't understand why they would wish to hurry their demise. One of my favorite stores is Von Maur. How favorite? When I pull out my Petersen Harned & Von Maur credit card I got back in 1982 employees tend to oooh and ahhh and say, "My, you have been with us for a very long time". I suspect, if I want to continue shopping there, it may have to be on-line. On-line shopping....the other reason malls are floundering.

Thanks for reading.

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The Business News Hour - Friday Wrap

Our ad agency is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour. It's the only IOB_podcastv2 TuneIndaily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest. (No, really...we checked.) It airs Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and (if you are really cool) in HD at 103.3 HD2. While we don't record and save the news and markets (that could get old....) we do save the long-form business interviews.

Also, we've been informed by the Iowa Broadcast News Association that the Business News Hour is now the Award Winning Business News Hour. We'll be picking up that honor this weekend in Waterloo at their Annual Convention. Thank you all..

Our long-form business interviews from this past week are below. You can click on the name of our guest or on the player to catch the interview.

He is the master of events. Meet our friend Beau Fodor who has, for years, put his special touch on event after event. From small gatherings to Iowa's Gay Wedding Planner to the man behind the Bollywood Ball. His company, Panache Points continues to adapt and grow.

 She's back...and each Monday Laura Kinnard joins us to share her top networking opportunities that are available here in the Des Moines Metro and we end up with a quick Social Media Tip...for business. This time we talk about content...what to share.

It's an interesting family business that's been around for generations. Mike Wells joins us to talk about the beginnings of Wells Blue Bunny, where the name came from and what's this re-branding they've been involved with? We also talk about the Iowa Business Council and what that means for Iowa and Iowa businesses.

Last month Thomas Kutz an attorney with the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines attended South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. We were interested in why he attended, what his impression of the event was and what people there thought about Iowa. We talk music, business and impressions.

For over 70 years Woodard Hearing has been assisting people correct their hearing loss. Sure the technology has changed but, according to owner Diana Kautzky, the careful care of their patients has not. Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Woodard Hearing and their special event coming up soon. 

We love startups and today we learn about Servons from co-founder Steve Schott. Servons helps non-profits not only track volunteer hours but also serves as a way to reward and keep volunteers engaged. How does it all work?

The program is called Embrace Aging and it is a series of educational conversations on healthy aging in Iowa. The upcoming session is called Managing Chronic Diseases. The event is scheduled for 26 April at Drake University, Olmsted Center. With us is Dr. Yogesh Shah a geriatric specialist from Des Moines University and Kent Zimmerman from the Calvin Community of Des Moines. A deep conversation about health issues and outcomes.

Over the past several months two local shopping malls, Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines and Valley West Mall in West Des Moines have requested that bus service be removed from their property. Is it safety, congestion or something else that is driving these decisions?  In a written response from Kris Walter of the Merle Hay Mall we are told it was because Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) was misusing the drop-off area and causing congestion. We asked DART about that and more. With us is Amanda Wanke the Communications Officer for DART.

Thanks for reading & listening! Catch you tonight at 5:05 for the Business News Hour!

 


Branding: Professional Not Stuffy

I'm astonished at how informal and non-professional we've become. This trend, I believe, has a Man Snob negative impact on the business brand.

The way in which we answer phone calls, leave voice mails, return (or choose not to return) phone calls, set up our out going voice mail message, emails...it is, for the most part...awful. And, being awful and non-professional has a direct impact on your brand. Best news, it's easy to fix.  Here are a couple of tips:

  • Phone Branding - What and how you speak has a direct bearing on your business brand. That's not to say you have to be formal but you do need to be professional. Smiling when talking actually works. And if the phone call is not so friendly making sure each party is aware there is actual listening going on is important. Oh and voice mail? Return those calls, change your outgoing voice mail message (daily we recommend) and don't tell me my call is "very important" because it's highly likely...you won't call back. It's all branding;
  • Email Branding - I have several clients who always, always address each email with a proper greeting. "Hello Michael", "Good Morning Michael" or sometimes just "Michael". And, know what, that extra two seconds says so much about their professional attitude and abilities. We always answer those emails using the same language; 
  • Names & Branding - If you have a customer or client that has a name that CAN be shortened but you know it is not...poor form to then call Susan "Sue" or Patrick "Pat" or James "Jim" or (yes it happens) Michael "Mike". It tells the other person you are not paying attention or, worse, you think you are becoming "buddies". No, you are not;
  • Dress for Success - I'm astounded at how some business people dress. It doesn't matter if you are running for congress or making a marketing meeting show up as if you're going on a job interview. In public I can always spot the successful business person and the successful brand often by just looking at their...shoes.

None of those examples will cost you more money. They will, however, polish your brand image and, in the end, that matters to your customer, employee and client.

Perhaps you've got other examples...fire away!

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Worst Ad of the Week?

It's been some time since we've done a "Worst Ad of the Week" mostly because we don't like Vitamins and Corntaking shots at other businesses. It's just not kind and, more than likely, many of the ads we see were not created by a professional but by somebody that "thought" they knew advertising and marketing because, after all, "I've seen plenty of commercials on television!".

But we could not let this one go by.

We seem to have a fascination with our bodily functions here.  Go ahead click on the image and spend a moment thinking about it...

I guess that is one marketing message that we'd never thought of. "Buy our vitamins or else see them in your poop!"

But you will be pleased to know that CardioTabs are available at your local HyVee...so is corn.

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The Business News Hour - Friday Wrap

Our ad agency is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour. It's the only daily, IOB_podcastv2hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest. (No, really...we checked.) It airs Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and (if you are really cool) in HD at 103.3 HD2. While we don't record and save the news and markets (that could get old....) we do save the long-form business interviews. 

ICYMI here's our guests and what we covered this week. You can click on the name or on the player to listen to the podcast. Easy....no?

No matter if it's a house you own or d duplex you know the headaches of being a landlord. Enter Renters Warehouse of Des Moines. We chat with owner, Brad Neal about what services his company offers, what they do before, during and after the renter is part of your world. An interesting opportunity for many of you who own but hate to manage.

There is no lack of opportunity in Iowa and the association that has been on the front lines for business opportunity here is the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. Here to talk about that and the upcoming conference, "Taking Care of Business" and the Leadership Institute are Emily Schettler and Jessie Stewart.  Listen in! 

Here is a fascinating conversation about our global economy and how, if you have not mastered intercultural skills, you may be falling short. Joining us from Tero International is our friend Deborah Rinner. Join us as we talk about common errors and how you, and your business, can better learn how to become a multi-cultural expert...for business and your personal life. 

Always seeking opportunity Peter Sherinian is in our Small Business Spotlight. A manager for Hensely's Big & Tall Outfitters Peter also has his hand in the Quill Pen and Nib in Valley Junction. Learn more about both of these unique retail outlets in the Des Moines Metro.

When Kristen Hall from KH Mediation joined us several weeks ago she touched on collaborative divorce a way to tamp down the frustration and anger while going through the process. Perhaps this is something you need to hear or pass on to people you know.  Have a listen! 

He's spent nearly three decades in the hospitality industry and currently serves as the Director of Sales at the Holiday Inn and Suites based on Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines. We talk with Troy Thompson about the changes in the industry, what he does to help meeting planners and more. Listen in: 

His passion is movies and when he's not working he's going to movies and then writing reviews on McMovie Review a blog about his thoughts on movies and entertainment. We talk with Eric McComb about movie trends and more: 

Our guest is Chris Verlengia from Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield the backbone of The Grand Blue Mile that comes back on 26 April. We talk about the Wellmark brand, the reason they sponsor the event and how the company gives back to the community. 

In addition to our special guests each Monday we feature our Networking/Social Media Contributor Laura Kinnard with networking picks and social media tips for business and each Friday we end with our Friday Fun Contributor Sheryl Tessier from Eat, Play, Love Des Moines and her top picks of "Stuff to DO in the Metro".

Thanks for reading and catch you tonight at 5:05 for the Business News Hour...

 

 

 

 

 


New Horizons

I'm often struck at how fast we are moving forward. How, it seems, that each day something Speeding
new and fresh and exciting creates opportunity where not long ago there was none...or at least they were different

Step in the "Way-Back Machine" and consider what it was like ten years ago:

The sharing economy did not exist. Today we have companies like Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and others that have created a shift in how we market and sell services.

Television entertainment focused on cable, satellite or over the air transmission. Today consumers are cutting the cord at record numbers and watching on Netflix, Hulu and a host of other options.

Marijuana has emerged as not only a cash crop for Colorado but also coming is California and a host of other states and it's not only medical cannabis. This change has boosted another industry. Colorado is the number one state in the nation in promotional products. No, really.

And there is more..

Cars that navigate the roads on their own, electric vehicles that don't look like a battery (think Tesla), the rise of sustainability in products and services, podcasting where your business can create its own radio station, metrics that measure the success or failure of just about anything, relationship marketing through a host of social media tools...and that's just scratching the surface.

None of it was here just ten years ago.

So, what is next? We can speculate but the question you must ask yourself is this, "What have I done to better capture the realities of the new economy and match them with the consumer?"

What are your plans?

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