The "Book" and its "Cover"

He was a little stand-offish this guy in the dark suit with the bright red Dave Sanderson August 2014 tie and matching pocket square.

During a recent Midwest Speakers Bureau Showcase, something where professional speakers are given (in this case) twelve minutes to impact a room full of professional meeting planners...he didn't interact much with the other speakers in the room.

Dave Sanderson was getting ready to speak.  He was focused on his craft. He didn't want to be distracted. However, my first thought was that he, perhaps, thought better of himself than his fellow speakers  I was wrong.

Following his speech we sat down together and I opened up the conversation by saying, "Are those (shoes) Allen Edmonds?"  Dave looked at me smiled and said, "Yes, the best huh?"  We had a nice conversation about being well dressed, the value in buying high quality products and staying focused.

You know that old saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."? I truly enjoyed the time we spent together. I learned another lesson along with staying...focused.  Oh, his story?  Ever hear about "The Miracle on the Hudson"?  Dave was part of that adventure.  Go ahead...have a look.

(Photo Credit: Dave holding a photo of Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger holding the child Dave helped save - Diane Crone - West Des Moines. You can click to enlarge.)

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and host of the daily business news broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.

Old School?

It's 7AM on Sunday and I'm in the office writting "GREAT to Meet YOU!" Thank You Notesnotes to roughly one-hundred people I met last Friday during the 16th Annual Midwest Speakers Bureau Speakers Showcase and Iowa Meetings Expo.

Yep, I could have sent an email but that's not my brand besides, I'd rather not be deleted with a push of a button.

Sure, it's pretty old school but there is something about sitting down and writing words on a piece of paper that links us...better than LinkedIn:

  • Time - It's valuable and taking time to write to your customers/clients and new friends is an investment in branding;
  • Personal - Sure you can personalize your email but why not take the extra step and communicate something special;
  • Memorable - So few people write words on paper anymore that it's highly likely this "note" will at least get noticed and, perhaps, sit on a desk for a day or so.

Shameless self promotion?  No, taking the time to write also allows us a chance to reflect on exactly what we are doing...adding value to a brief meeting that, when action is taken, benefits the writer and the reader.

So, what do you think?

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and host of the daily business news broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.

This is Killing New Business...Dead.

Honestly, I want to help so here is something that will help your business grow while improving your brand.  (And, it's free!) FREE (2)

You know that automated answering system you have on your telephone? The one that asks me to "Enter the extension of the person you are trying to reach" or "Using the key-pad, type in the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach".

You know...That System?

It's killing your brand and your business, especially new business.

What if I don't know who the sales manager or salesperson is? Or worse yet the first name is Cathy and not Kathy?  Your answer: "Oh, just punch zero!"

Really?

And then what?  Get a voice mail like, "You've reached our general voice mail system, please leave your message at the tone."

You care that much about business...new business...to direct me to your "General Voice Mail System"?  Nice touch.

Why is your time more important than the customer who has a question or wants to buy something?

Have a good answer?

I didn't think so. 

Two things:

  • Hire Your Brand Expert - Get a real person to answer the phones and direct traffic. Then train them in your brand effort. This is an investment in your brand and your business.
  • Your Voice Mail - Change it...daily. Let people KNOW that you actually check the voice mail and that if they leave you a message you'll call them back.

Two simple, free pieces of advice that will have a major impact on your brand and your business.  Hey, it's what we do.

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and the host of Insight on Business the News Hour.

 

 

Contact Us...Really?

I've just spent thirty minutes on two different non-profit websites Contact Us attempting to connect with somebody...anybody.  No, we're not selling anything we're wanting to offer some airtime on our business radio broadcast. For...free. However there is zero contact information...zero.

Let's see if we can help:

Websites, in this century, are not only billboards about your business or your non-profit business they are communication tools that help you interact among members, consumers, future members, future consumers. Increasingly people search on-line first before making an investment in nearly...anything.  But, don't take my word for it. PriceWaterhouseCoopers finds that 80% of global consumers research products online before buying in stores, and that 73% of U.S. consumers do.  And that study is three years old!

Don't hide your contact information.  Some quick tips:

  • Contact Us Page - Make sure you have one and that it gives the visitor some sense that you'll actually respond;
  • Phone Number - Some folks still use one. List it and return the call; 
  • Info@Us - Avoid using "Info" or "Contact" as "names in the contact email.  It takes seconds to put a real person's name there.  People want to communicate with people not..."Info";
  • Be Welcoming - You do want consumers to interact with you...right? Make your "Contact us Page" welcoming and open for dialogue. 
  • Photos - If you have an Executive Director, you know the person that is the paid face and voice of your non-profit, use his/her photo if possible and at the beginning of the bio have that link to the email address;
  • Respond - I know, it's a pain to communicate with customers and if you ignore them long enough...they will ignore your business/non-profit.  Why risk the alienation?;
  • LinkedIn - You may have heard about it.  If you have somebody that is the face and voice of your business or non-profit why not use this method as an additional way to connect with consumers?

Seven things that will help you better communicate with folks that want to know more about you...your company...your non-profit.  Do you have others?

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!

The Truth About Earned Media and Business

This is going to seem rather harsh.  But it's honest and time tested. Byron W.Moore  Shutterstock.com 

There are two realities for those of you who are endlessly writing press releases and offering up news items for the broadcast media hoping that they will notice you and offer your business some air time:

  • They Don't Have Time
  • It's Not Going to Happen

I know, that's pretty blunt but it's reality.  Reality unless you live in a small community with a single broadcast outlet or have a brother that works as the News Director in a larger city.

If you live in a community of any size the only way in which you'll see the broadcast trucks converge on your small business is if something dreadful happens in your lobby.  "If it bleeds...it leads."

In addition, if you work for one of the top employers in your community or if your business holds sway with regard to potential advertising you've got a much better shot.  

Now, don't blame the broadcast media. They are limited on time, talent and interest.  Often, even when the media shows up to do a business story on a small business, the final cut may not be the correct message or at least not the message that you were hoping for.

It's reality.

So, now what?

Nobody can tell your story better than you.  As my friend Dan McCue wrote recently, "Few will tell our story for us. Fewer will get the story right. That is why we blog."

There are endless ways in which you can do a better job telling your story.  Blogging is one, video is another, connection points in your community is yet another. Offering to become the "expert in your field" is yet another.  But, it all takes more work than picking up the phone or writing a press release.

We think if you are serious about your story...tell it and control it.  Let the broadcasters chase sensational while you chase business. (Photo Credit: Byron W.Moore / Shutterstock.com)

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We've Got Work To Do...

Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing 40 leaders from the world of Woman work to do
tourism in Central Iowa. The program was 5 in Twenty-Four "Five things any business can do in 24 hours to maximize its brand."  These are all low cost to no cost proven methods of marketing.  And, yes, they work.

When I got to the part regarding social media and asked how many in the audience had incorporated a blog into their marketing strategy seven hands went up. Seven out of forty.

There is work to be done and here are four solid reasons why blogging should be one of your marketing tools:

  • Blogging Gives You "Voice": Sure you have a website but what is your "back-story"?  What nuggets can you share with visitors poking around on the Internet that will drive traffic back to you?  We think...plenty.
  • Blogging Offers Another "Touch Point": Again, you should want to maximixe the ways in which you reach out to consumers. A well crafted blog does just that.
  • Blogging - A Quick Alternative: We get it. Changing your website two or three times a week is a pain.  However, creating a blog that tells the story only you can tell is quick, easy and interactive.
  • Blogging Improves Your Skills: You have a story to tell and by sitting down and sharing those stories you will improve your story-telling skills.  And, remember, people react to...stories.

Thank you, Central Iowa Tourism Region for your warm reception!

If your business, for profit or non-profit, isn't incorporating a blog into your marketing efforts you could be missing out on...opportunity.  What do you think?

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Consumers Ignoring Your Marketing Message?

The published study from Pure360 in the United Kingdom titled, Man Noise"Confessions of a Shopping Nation" tells us that three-quarters of UK consumers actively ignore all types of marketing messages and 59% feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of marketing information.

Those are pretty big numbers.  But, it gets worse.  The study also found the vast majority of consumers, 64%, said that social media and the Internet in general have very little influence on their purchasing decisions.

What's going on?

Noise.

Noise because most companies have really no idea on how to connect with consumers.  We see it everyday. Each Tweet or each Facebook Post has a "sales message" attached to it. There is very little creativity in the message.  Zero ability to understand organic marketing. It's all...noise.

At the end of the day it is no surprise, to us, that consumers are tuning you out.  They don't want to be force fed...noise.  They want a brand they can trust, real people they can communicate with. They want a product or service that isn't shouting but...helping.

How do you do that?  Three suggestions:

  • Stop Selling - Start Engaging:  If over 20% of your social media posts are about selling something you are creating noise.  Stop it...today. Tell the back-story of your business. Share interesting images, video and stay light;
  • Share Information:  If consumers are seeking information about a wide range of products and services become a voice of assistance and not a carnival barker.  Move your blog to one of helping folks better understand your area of expertise;
  • Do It Well: Just because you know everything about "Self-Weasel-Winding Torque Inducers" does not mean that you know how to market them.  Get some help for crying out loud. Marketing/Advertising companies do this every day. 

There are dozens of ways to connect with consumers but noise is not one of them.

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Perfect Customer

I was buying some things for the office and, not exactly sure of the Happy Customerspecifics of what I wanted, I let the owner guide be to the right items. That adventure got us talking about "The Perfect Customer".

"You know", he said, "We had a meeting not long ago where we started writing down the qualities of the perfect customer. Now, don't get me wrong, we would sell our products to anybody that comes in. However, the perfect customer appreciates the relationship we build and our product knowledge over price. If somebody were to say to us, 'I can get that for a dollar cheaper over at the big box store.' We would match the price but if it is always about price vs. value and building a solid relationship.  Well, we'd rather spend our time with those perfect customers."

I get it.  If you live by price...you die by price.  There is always somebody that can beat or match your cost. However, when you focus on product knowledge and work at building relationships with your customers you'll keep them for a very long time.

That's the real value in The Perfect Customer...

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!

You...Polished?

I'm talking shoes and personal branding. Polished Shoes

I get it.  If you work in a cube or in tech or you're a professor or you are independently wealthy you can get away with looking unpolished...maybe. However when you're working on your personal brand and you're wanting to rise to the top of your game; spending a little time making sure you've got a polished footing helps.

And, this extends beyond the job interview.  Because once you have the job you want to continue to move up...right?

Amy Glass is a trainer and coach at Brody Communications Ltd. of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and an expert on presentation skillsbusiness etiquette, professional presence and interpersonal communication. She said in a recent interview with Peter Vogt of Monster, "Your image matters because it shows your attentiveness to detail and gives recruiters an idea of how you'll represent their company to clients, both internally and externally," Glass concludes. "The visual message you send makes a big difference in how you're perceived..."

That last line is all about personal branding and, in our mind, personal branding starts with polished shoes.  

It's the little things...

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!

Teeny Tiny?

It's a design thing.  Child Magnifying Glass

Over time we've collected thousands of business cards. Thousands. Recently we've noticed a trend that may impact how people make a connection with you or your business.

Teeny Tiny Fonts and Other Issues

While the name of the company is prominent, good luck being able to read the email address, phone number...etc.

Connection...that is the point of a business card.  Right?

Some simple things to remember:

  • Not Everybody has 20/20 Vision:  When your potential client/customer must use a magnifying glass to see your contact information. Not good;
  • Artwork: We get it because we too are into creating stunning designs. However just because it's cool looking let's not over-shadow the contact information;
  • Clarity: I'm looking at a business card, right now, that has three (3) Twitter addresses. Three...really?
  • Stock: We get it, you are trying to save money. However your business card is such an important touch point. Try to have them printed at a printer, on heavy card-stock and try to refrain from printing them in your office.  Trust us, it's an investment;
  • Does It Work:  If you have a QR Code on your business card, make sure it works and points to something useful, descriptive and informative.

Hey, we're just trying to help.

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!