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December 2006
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February 2007

Stow The Shotguns!!

Shotguns In Agricultural Marketing...Use a Rifle!

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

A quick thought today about how folks who are trying to reach mid to large size farmers might want to think about their advertising and marketing plans.

This week I am wandering the isles of the Iowa Power Farming Show held annually here in Des Moines.  It is the very best farm show in the Midwest with hundreds of displays and thousands of visitors.  And, it is something in those numbers that caught my eye.

I met lots of "farmers" who really work in town or have other business interests than farming.  Forest, a new friend, owns several bike shops (Go BIKE WORLD where my wife, a cross country biking lover, goes.) and another works at Principal Financial and yet another drives truck.  They all consider themselves "farmers" to a sense.  But would my short-liner friends at Kinze or Landoll or Brillion or Feterl really want to market to these guys?  Nope...but they do.

You see, here in Iowa there are about 25,000 farmers who really drive the market.  (Iowa has a population of 3 million and what the USDA calls "farms" of 68,000.)  These 25,000 folks are "full time" farmers who have as a sole income farming and have gross sales of over 1 million.  Remember, USDA says anybody who has sales over $1,000 is a farmer!  My point here is EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS WHO THESE 25,000 FARMERS ARE!!!!!!!!!  Yet as short-line manufacturers they spend thousands of dollars each month advertising in a "shotgun" approach.  Why?  The ads look nice? 

This is a deep and interesting topic that needs more room than I can post here...but it is worth thinking about.  Agriculture is changing, perhaps more quickly, than any other segment of our country.  Let's change our advertising and marketing to maximize our return on investment. 

More to come...see you at the show!


Lying Can Hurt Your Business

Shadowcn_9083 In the Shadow is the Thief....

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

This is the post nobody should have to write.  I mean...nobody lies to their customers...do they?  Ahhh but yes they do.  I think this goes on more than we know.  Oh...it's not the BIG lie.  It's the little "nickle and dime" lie that is almost more irritating than anything.  Here is my brief story about a service provider lie...ready?

Zx2_1 Before winter I took my car (I've written about BIG RED before...that flashy 1999 Ford Escort ZX2 that screams SEXY as I lumber around town) to have the oil changed.  I try to keep that up on a regular basis and it was going to get cold soon so it was time.

Images I pull up to the same place that has been changing the oil in my vehicles for over two years.  It is a Texaco Express Lube on Merle Hey Road here in Des Moines.  The very nice young man, after they changed the oil, came out to me and said, with a stern face, "Sir, we did the routine check of the antifreeze and found that you are only protected to twenty degrees (20 degrees).  We can flush the system and install new antifreeze for about $75.  Shall we proceed?"   I thought that was a little weird because my son-in-law just flushed the system and installed new antifreeze or so he told me.  I said to the young man, "Twenty degrees above zero?  I think I'll pass this time."  The young man, not to be put off so easily said, "Yes sir, twenty degrees above zero, not good protection.  We've got some cold days coming and you wouldn't want to damage your vehicle."   I dismissed this and went about my way.

Called Chase and he confirmed he had the system flushed and so I took it to another drive in service station...not many left.  They checked it and said it was good to MINUS 20 Degrees!!!  Yesterday it was -1 and guess what?  Big red is runnin' well.

Our company works in the world of advertising and marketing...and we put the best possible face on the products or services produced by our clients.  But, lie about it?  Nope.  It's a shame that "Buyer Beware" is such a reality.  Be careful out there.


Marketing: One on One

Handshake Stay "On Task" With Power

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Later on this week I'm going to be involved in a little "one-on-one" marketing.  We've all done it...a little schmoozing...a little back slapping...too little direct conversation.

Good20capitol_1 I'm headed to the state capitol here in Des Moines (Greatest City in the World...and I've got a t-shirt that says so!).  The mission is to visit with legislators on behalf of a client.  The post today outlines some thoughts about how to engage politicians or really anybody who you want to influence.  I believe that politicians and others really do want your input...so:

Thought #1:     Be involved "all the time" and not just when government is trying to take something away or adding something  you don't like.  Get to know WHO your elected representatives are and visit with them about not only your "issue" but also about them.  Believe it or not...elected people are...people.  They have families, jobs, interests.

Thought #2:     Negotiate.  Life is NOT all black and white and nobody gets all they want every time.  (Think dictators...they get what they want all the time.)  Politics is about negotiation.

Thought #3:     Be Clear and Quick:  Know what the issue is, explain the issue clearly don't expect the person you are dealing with to know as much about it as you do. Remember they have thousands of people to represent...  And, do it in no more than two minutes.  State your points, answer questions and ask for action.

Finally:             Be nice.  I've seen folks, right after the handshake, go into "Kill Mode"!  Dumb....really dumb.  Even if you disagree explain your position thoughtfully.  Leave the screaming to the wackos.

Opps...one other thing:  Check what is "hot" at your state house by checking the legislative website.  Here in Iowa we've got a great site with lots of info on Bills, who is who, committees, lobbyists, etc.  Check it out!

Stuff matters...get involved, stay involved and win some for your company, client or interest.


Sunday Morning Thoughts

Img_0199_t_1 Random Thoughts on Sunday Morning

by Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Sunday Morning just seems like a good time to write about the stuff that goes by during the week and/or a look at what we might expect this week.  Grab the coffee and let's visit about short, sweet Sunday thoughts...

Homwmyst1b First up is a "shout out" to a friend who had a dream and made it happen.  I LOVE these kinds of folks...  Vicki Lipira of St. Joseph, MO loves mysteries both reading and writing.  She wanted to have her own business and publish stories for writers in a subscription based magazine.  Tah Dah...Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine!  All the best Vicki!

Islam_woman_1 From the, "What the HECK File":  This past week the princess of Saudi Arabia, Princess Lolwah Al-Faisal was asked if she were "...Queen for a day" what she would do to promote greater interfaith understanding.  She said, "First thing, I'd let women drive."  Is it any wonder we don't "get it" when it comes to Islam.

Ride_with_hitler_1 Missing from the president's State of the Union speech this past week was any mention of having American's sacrifice anything with regard to the War on Terror.  FDR is spinning.

Wells20fargo20equip2 Hey...the 52nd Annual Iowa Power Farming Show hits Des Moines this week.  Three big days to check out the equipment, visit with producers and see what is new.  Two of our clients will be there...Calcium Products an input company from NW Iowa and FOTON/Mayer Farm Implement showing off compact tractors made in China.  Should be fun...see you there!

Cohdra_100_0571 Bottled Water Guilt!  Yep, our friends at the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ have launched into a boycott of bottled water saying that water is God's gift and bottling it for economic reasons is wrong.  OK......  Here's a better angle...let's figure out how to clean up the water we are currently given.  Make sense?

Flags51 Iowa's flags have been ordered by Governor Culver to fly at half-staff this Tuesday in observance of the recent death of Command Sgt. Major Marilyn Gabbard.  His first executive order will also apply to any future deaths of Iowa troops who fall in combat.  One reader noted that the flags are already at half-mast but that order by President Bush to honor former President Ford is over on Monday.

Not a great way to end the BLOG...but know our prayers are with these families...no matter where.


The Blog A Hot Marketing Tool

Pouty_2 Another Troubled Day...

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

I didn't blog yesterday.  I was confused and troubled.  It started when I read my mentors blog.  Mike Sansone gets more press than Chet Culver (our new governor here in Iowa) so when he writes about something in his blog...people listen.  (Actually they read...)  Yesterday he wrote that he tells folks that they should not blog if they believe blogging is the new "Hot Marketing Tool".  I know that because I read it THIRTY TIMES!  You can read it too...go ahead, leave now and read it.

Back?  OK...so I didn't blog yesterday and frankly I didn't sleep much last night.  Until I figured out he is only partly right.  As you read he goes on to say, "Using a blog for a soapbox or marketing monologue...could drive current customers away."  Key word:  Monologue.

I tell current and potential clients that they MUST blog because it is a "hot marketing tool" but I also tell them they MUST share and that every blog can not be a sales message.  Be conversational, be creative but not so creative that folks can't figure out the message.  Ask questions.  Share ideas.  Go on...sell a little.  Engage the reader and his/her interests.

Mike also said, "Boo on Ghost Writing".  OK...again I sort of agree.  Some folks who should be blogging simply can't because they never learned to communicate well or just can't write or they get writers block, etc.  That does not mean they should not be helped with ideas and/or starter lines.  We often supply clients with a page of "thought starters" to help them begin their journey.  Nothing wrong with that...

Macncheese So, I feel better now.  I have blogged...shared a thought...and maybe helped some folks.  Gotta get some sleep.


"Sizzle" At The Show!

Picture_872 Show Displays-Critical to Image

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

We're honored to be the advertising agency to some great companies who, over time, we've convinced to expand their marketing and public relations efforts by spending the necessary dollars to attract people to their product or service.

Country Vet Pet Foods, a new player in the regional companion pet food industry, took our advice and allowed us to create for them a stunning new display that was a hit at the recent Pheasants Forever - Pheasant Fest held here in Des Moines.  Take a minute and click on the photo and look at the display...you'll find it bright, inviting, LARGE and open.  All  keys to a successful marketing adventure during closed or open trade shows.

So, what else?  We pre-show marketed them to regional dealers and users, we pre-announced their attendance on two live talk radio shows that hit their demographic before and during the event and we pre-introduced them to end users by running a thirty-second video on six plasma screens at the entrance to the facility.  The result?

Picture_896 The photo tells the story.  Not only did the Country Vet booth get lots and lots of traffic the company staffed the booth with plenty of people to insure personal contact with visitors.

Bottom line...don't skimp on your image...expand your image and expand your business.  We can help...give us a call.


This Week's Radio Show

Hwy61_image_2 Hwy. 6 - "Your Road to the Country"

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

For those of you who live and work in the Des Moines market here is your invite to join us for our weekly radio show, Highway 6 - "Your Road to the Country".  (Click on the link...to check out the topics for this week.)

Also, somebody asked me in an e-mail the other day where in the world we come up with these, "Bird Brained Advertising/Marketing Ideas".  Since you asked....

Copy_of_kunta_050

Thanks for dropping by!


Marketing the Elephant in the Living Room

200520hyvee20view20from20southwest Easy to Build...Hard to Fill

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Iowa is not a "big" state.  There are about three million lucky souls who live in the 55,000 square miles between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and the borders of Minnesota and Missouri.  (I do this geography lesson because so many folks have NO IDEA where in the heck Iowa is.)  You would think that in the nearly two years since the Iowa Events Center opened its doors on the new Wells Fargo Arena and Hy-Vee Hall most every person in the state would have made their way here.  Apparently not so and marketing this facility and what goes on here must be a nightmare.

Two weeks ago I, along with about 800 others, attended the inauguration of the new Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver.  The event was held at the Wells Fargo Arena...home to the Iowa Stars Stars_hockey (AHL franchise of the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers) and lots and lots of other concerts, shows, etc.  The single most heard statement during that event was,  "My, what a lovely (great, fantastic, awesome, wonderful) place this is!"  To which I followed up with the question, "So, first time here?"  You can guess that the majority response was..."Yes!".

One would think that with its large marketing abilities and budget coupled with the huge amounts of money spent by promoters (including the Iowa Stars) to advertise various events, shows and attractions that nearly all of the 3 million of us Iowans would have set foot in the facility these past 18 months.  But...not so. 

So, why this BLOG?  It just goes to show clients and advertisers how difficult and costly it is to attract attention and get a product or service noticed and then used.  I have no idea what budget Laurie Kemmit, the Director of Advertising and Sponsorship, has but I suspect we're well into six figures.  Now...as a business, manufacturer or service provider consider your advertising and marketing budget.  Is it large enough to really make an impact?  And, if you are attempting to "go national" or "go regional is the budget realistic?  Basic questions...no?

Thanks to the Downtown Community Alliance for the Stars Photo!


"I'M ON IT!"

100_5806_phone_off_hook "Hello, I called...where are you?"

by Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Three to four times a week I get this message in my voice or e-mail:  "Thanks for the quick response..."  It's becoming more evident people are shocked that we actually call them back or respond to their e-mail inquiry.  And, yes...we even call back folks who are trying to sell us something.  It is called being polite and it takes seconds.

I marvel at the amount of permanent damage business and individuals suffer because they let communication slide.  If you are the business owner or the principal managing partner you really have NO IDEA how some of your employees are shredding your public relations image.  And, it all can be handled and healed so quickly. 

"I'm on it!"  Three little words that bring comfort to a customer or client.  OK...want two words that let folks know you received their message or inquiry?  How about, "Got it." or  "Let's talk."  Too much to say or write?   OK...try these single word answers:  "Yes." and/or "No".

Think about it and act...it only takes a couple of seconds and you'll see your PR level increase.  Simple huh?  With so many tools to keep us connected why does it seem the disconnect gets wider? 


Real Quick...HONEST!

Frank Take Off the Mask!!!

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Last week I did a seminar on several items for client NTPDA and I interjected a piece I saw on Mike Sansone's blog.  I URGE our readers who have websites to read this.  Fire "Info", "Sales" and "Contact" today!Thanks Mike for some great material.