Please People - Go Mobile for Business

Last week I was traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (fit THAT on a business card!) and down one of the concourses I found something called Minute Suites.They Minute Suites are private suites that travelers can rent by the hour so you can catch up on much needed sleep, have a meeting, do some work...you get it. Really nice idea and something that international travelers have seen for some time.

I wanted to learn more and, because I was traveling, I used my phone to dial up their website.

This is where the story gets difficult. Above you'll catch a screen shot of their website that popped up on my phone. Notice that it's not mobile friendly. To even attempt to read anything about the company you've got to "pinch and stretch" the screen.  

I took a moment and shot off a quick Tweet to @MinuteSuites complementing the idea and suggesting they might want to go mobile...because, and here is the irony...they are trying to reach travelers who are working their mobile devices but the company is making it difficult for consumers to engage.

Minute Suites TwitterI did get a reply and here it is: 

Kudos for the fast social media turn but what the heck is the Mind Body App? I don't want to know I just want to connect...mobile.

My message is not to be mean...but your lesson, if you are still with me is this: You MUST know your consumer base and how they connect with your product/service and then do everything you can to boost their ability to engage you.

It matters...

Thanks for reading and, as always, dive in if you've got a comment.

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Too Old for Social Media?

It happens all the time. Most recently I was at The Island Coffee Haus on Anna Maria Island (If Vacation 2016 crop useyou have not been, you must go!). I was working on The Business News Hour and using their Wi-Fi. I thought I'd shout out on Twitter and asked the owner what their handle was. She told me they didn't have one, yet, but they had Facebook and just started using Instagram. "We really need to get on Twitter but I don't know how."

I said, "Hey, no problem. If you want I can set it up for you and then link it to your Instagram account."  She said, "You know about social media?? I'm impressed that you keep up on that stuff."

It's the gray hair...

I mentioned that social media is just one of the tools we use for ourselves and our business, "It's what we do." I don't think she believed me...  

Hey, I offered.

Age bias and social media?  Sure. Because the platforms are new folks think the only people who can master the media are young people under 23.  Not so.  How about some updated social media tips?

  • Don't Marry Them - I'm talking about Facebook and Twitter because they are two very different platforms and methods. Tweets are here and gone in a matter of minutes while Facebook Posts linger and the audience isn't the same nor is how you communicate.
  • Blog Often - Beyond the engagement of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram there is the blog. This is an amazing tool to offer people the back-story of your business. Remember blog 3 times a week each week and keep it under 400 words.  Great for SEO by the way.
  • Hashtag Use - If you want to boost engagement check the #Hashtag for your particular industry and use it as well. #Coffee #BusinessLaw #Radio #IaWx (or whatever state) for weather. Find your industry and take part in the conversation. On our Business Broadcast Instagram account we use #CelebrateWorkers and post random shots of people doing their jobs...fun.
  • Communicate - Ask questions, post surveys, ask for input. Remember social media isn't a one-way conversation or your private media outlet for sales.  They call is "social" for a reason.
  • Plan Your Effort - Have a plan for what you are going to share and talk about.
  • Video - Just use it!

Have more? Share!

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Branding By Phone

Between the advertising agency and the daily business news broadcast we answer lots of calls Man Cell Phone
from clients and potential on air guests.  Because we change our outgoing voice mail daily people know that we're paying attention to the messages we receive. (You are doing that...yes?)  
All good...right?

Well, sort of. You see, so many people "think" that everybody has a cell phone for business that they (the caller) feels like they don't have to leave a return phone number with the message. Uhm...no. Some of us still have land-lines and if you want us to call you back...you get the idea.

So, why bring this up?  Because if it's not corporate branding it is personal branding. Take the time and help brand yourself...better.

One more thing.  When giving your phone number in the message slow down a little. You may know your number but we don't. And when you rattle off 13 numbers in less than two seconds we just might miss a digit or two...and we'd hate to have you think we're ignoring you.

Hey, it's the little things...right? 

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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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