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January 2007
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March 2007

It's The Birth of a New Baby!

Ntpdaflyerlogo_1 We're pretty pumped about this...our longtime client The National Tractor Parts Dealer Association today began their new business blog that is part of their existing website.  This new form of communication will allow the association to be able to communicate with existing member dealers, associate members, perspective members and the general public about the association, the members and their work in the used and new tractor part industry.

With members across the United States and in several countries this new communication device should help everybody along the marketing line.  In addition farmers, hobby farmers, tractor restoration people and a host of interested people should be able to find new and used tractor parts so much more simply.

Thanks to Phyllis and Kim and the entire Board of Directors of NTPDA for being pioneers in business!  Well done...now, let's communicate!  Go ahead...take a look!

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


Leading or Following?

Leaders Over the past four weeks I've been involved in some pretty lengthly meetings as a group of us in Des Moines attempt to set up an 18 month Leadership Training Program which focuses on individuals in our community who range in age from 25 - 40.  The process brings up some interesting questions in the arena of advertising and marketing.

Long ago...and sometimes it seems in another world...I served for a number of years in a leadership training organization known as The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.  I was fortunate enough to become president of the 14,000 member Iowa Junior Chamber and then spent two years in service to the national organization.  Those 12+ years helped mold many skill sets and I continue to be grateful.

Jaycees_2 Ten years after I left that organization (it's an age based group) the Junior Chamber of Commerce became a mere shadow of what it was.  The group, that had a standing invite to the White House, trained hundreds of thousands of young people world wide, had a fantastic office complex in Tulsa, maintained it's own "White House", held conventions in the major cities of the country and who saw leaders move on to remarkable positions is today headquartered near a strip mall in Tulsa.  What happened?

While the organization always promoted individual development classes, the "pitch" was always about "community development programs".  However, many of the younger people had moved from a focus on "the community" to a focus on "themselves".  The Jaycees continued to push altruistic "community" and failed to see the new rush to "me".

Thankfully the group that has been meeting over the past month realized they needed to focus on establishing a program that has at it's core individual development with a secondary approach to community.  The younger people on the panel made sure we heard them.

How about your business?  Are you inviting your customers to the table to talk about your products or service?  Do you engage in conversation with your target audience?  Are your advertising materials changing to keep up with the ever fickle market?

Jaycees Oh..the Jaycees?  They are coming back after they resurrected their focus on individual development...and that's a good thing for the future of so many people.


Playing "Hide & Seek"?

Hide_seek Yesterday I had a perspective client call and ask about "being found".  His concern was that perspective customers might have trouble finding his business and understanding his message.  This is not unusual.

If you've got some of the same concerns...read on.  We think you'll find at least one or two ideas that you can use...today.

When you, like most business owners, are knee deep in the day to day rush of keeping things together get a moment to take a breath you might, as this perspective client did, wonder if you are doing enough to make your product or service public enough.  Here's some help:

Marketing is a Full Time Job:  I'll not labor long here...just make sure you have a plan that is based on solid research and a person who can carry it out.  I've seen this job given to "Sales Managers", "Office Managers" and "My Daughter who likes graphic design."  We're talking about so much more...and it needs attention to detail and follow through.

What have you done lately?  To your existing website?  If it works you get 15 points...out of 100.  Not much huh?  That is because it no longer is "enough" to simply have a website and hope folks find you.  You need to help them on their journey.  Here are three quick things you can do today to make a difference:

  • If you've not adjusted the wording or phrasing or content on your site...do so today.  Search engines no longer are impressed by a static site that just "sits there".
  • Does your site...out of the gun...let folks know what the heck you do?  I was on one last night that seemed as if it were more of a "We Are Great Guys" than telling me exactly what the product was.  Be clear..do that today.
  • Should you Blog?  Sure...  Should your Blog be part of your site?  Sure...  But more important stay relevant and on task with this adventure.

Finally...Remember Advertising:  Let people know "how" to find you.  Make "the message" very simple and very clear.  If a potential customer has to look, listen or watch your ad and then must sit there and try to figure out what you are saying...  Not good.  Your creative might have gotten in the way of your message.

That's it...and for free!  What are your "Hide and Seek" issues?


Lessons from Toyota - Yet Again

2007_tundra_09 Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in Des Moines, Iowa.  Our Blog is intended to relate relevant marketing and advertising issues to our existing and potential clients. 

So, do we really need another pickup truck on the market?  Toyota thinks so and as they march on to become the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, soon to overtake General Motors, they have their sights on the Heartland.

Long ago Toyota cemented their dominant role on the east and west coasts with "green" cars like the Prius.  Their timing was perfect.  And, while some folks in the Midwest might purchase a "green" car...this is truck country.  So...welcome the Toyota Tundra the vehicle that will carry Toyota over the top.

Business Week Online has a great story about the fear Toyota has in taking over the number one position and it's worth a read.  However, what we found interesting was the story on the Tundra and the $300 million that Toyota is spending to convince us to buy other than Ford, Chevy, Dodge or GMC.  If the past is any predictor of the future...it's going to work.  Why, because they are doing all the right things at a time when Detroit is in a major funk.

Here's the NUGGET for your business:  It doesn't matter how many folks are "in the game" as long as you're not afraid to:

  • Spend the money necessary to get the attention
  • Stop and THINK about your customer...first
  • Capture timing by doing the unexpected

Toyota knows it can not become the largest until they capture the hearts and minds of the Heartland...and no matter how great their cars are they knew they needed bank on the truck.  Smart marketing...what a strategy!

What do you know that will push your company over the top?


Sunday Morning Blog Thoughts

Img_0199_t_5 Got the coffee on?  Great, pour a cup and let's visit on a snowy Sunday Morning.  This post is about a variety of issues that made their way into the world of marketing and advertising.

For those of you who were listening in on the rural lifestyle radio show this morning...thanks.  Here's the promised link to the blog where you can link in to several of the topics we discussed.  OK..let's go...

University_wis What's with Wisconsin?  The "Flying W" story is getting more bizarre daily.  Last year several high schools across the country received letters demanding they stop using the "flying W" as their team logo.  Seems the University of Wisconsin owns the letter...and the mark.  Talk about LOUSY public relations!  Now the the university is really putting on the heat...lawyers and all.  A university official this week declined to talk about it because she said it was, "...being blown out of proportion."  Tell that to little schools like Waukee, Iowa.  It's just...can we all say it?  Silly!  Try this...Google "Flying W" under images and see what comes up.  Almost...nothing to do with U of W.  Silly....really silly.

Bindery_one We've done some printing business with Bindery One for a couple of years.  They are family run print, data center,bindery and bulk mailing center here in Des Moines...it was nice to see them get recognition for their work in the magazine Printing Impressions.  For those of you who think customer service is not important...consider that Renatta answers her e-mail late into the evening to make sure her customers are taken care of and often just sends out an e-mail to say.."Hi".  Nice touch and Congrats to some great folks!

Hal_jasa When it comes down to interesting marketing ideas we have to give a tip of the hat to Hal Jasa of Des Moines.  Hal is a chef without a restaurant.  He recently opened up Underground Inc. a business that provides fantastic meals at the site determined by... Hal!  Folks sign up on line for a meal that costs $125 per person.  Then, the day before the dinner party the guests learn, by e-mail, where the party will be.  Could be a rooftop, a warehouse or a building in the midst of renovation.  Cool idea.  For the complete story visit this link from the Des Moines Register.

Toro Toro Industries this week announced that by 2008 they will begin to sell their line of commercial lawn and garden equipment that uses BioDiesel as a fuel source.  (For the story click this link.) That's no small deal when you consider how many products Toro sells in this arena.  Another interesting shift in the marketing of bio fuel.  Will this rush to bio fuels last and what are the opportunities for those of us who watch the trends? 

Thanks for having a cup with me this morning...now, let's strap in for the coming week!


Rural Lifestyle Radio Tomorrow...

Hwy61_image_6 A reminder for those of you living in the Des Moines area...our rural lifestyle radio show Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is on Sunday morning at 7am on 98.3 WOW-FM.

If you'd like to see the line up for the show Sunday, just click on this link...you'll go directly to our radio show Blog.  It's not a farm show...but a show about the rural lifestyle and the stuff we do out there.  Guests and information with a rural twist.  Thanks for clicking in and be careful out there...


No Tom...Thank YOU!

Copy_of_inauguration_and_ball_2007_035 We usually don't get into politics on our business blog.  But, this is a bit different because it's about Iowa's Favorite Son candidate, a friend and a neat family.  There is also a marketing message here...so, read on if you dare.

I got the news this morning.  It came in an e-mail with the subject line, "Thank You".  I knew it wasn't good news.  Tom Vilsack the former governor of Iowa was folding his tent and stepping out of the campaign for the office of President of the United States.  For some of our readers you still may be saying, "Tom who?"  But for many of us who know him...well it's a loss.  But not for the reasons you may suspect.

Other than being a great guy with a wonderful story, a competent leader with a forceful message and a nice man with a fantastic family this early loss sort of tells us what is wrong with our politics today.  It used to be that regular people with big ideas and a desire to serve might be able to ascend to the highest office in the country.  But, those days are leaving us quickly.  Money talks...ideas...well you know that line.

Here in Iowa, the first test of presidential politics, we used to sit around coffee shops and home dinner tables and actually visit with the candidates.  Today they come to the state with motorcades and police escorts at a distance from the common man or woman. Sort of like rock stars...we're getting more and more disconnected.

We tell our clients and perspective clients that we're still in "relationship marketing" and that's true unless somebody else has more money and can then buy the relationship with their customers or in this case the public.  That's too bad.  And it's a marketing nugget...beware of the loudest voice.

Thanks Christie, Jess and Doug...for being so cool so Iowan.  And Tom...thank you...I know you're not done because leaders never really are.


Color Counts...BIG!

Df_news Dog_fuel_magsmall

If you are the person who makes buying decisions regarding print advertising read on.  There is a reason color ads cost more...

Last week my friend, and fellow advertising agency guy, Drew McLellan wrote about the placement of print advertising and the myth that right hand placement is better than left. 

That post revived another print advertising issue that some of you may deal with:  Is color better than black and white?  The simple answer is....yes.

According to studies by Readex using color in your ad increases effectiveness by 28%.  That's a pretty strong number if you are talking about a target of 100,000 people.  But, here are a couple of other things to consider:

  • Color alone isn't the answer.  A poorly designed ad that simply uses color is just a poorly designed ad that also won't work.   (Yes..."how" the ad is done makes a big difference!)Creative needs to be considered as well.
  • Advertisers with limited budgets shouldn't be discouraged because they "think" they can't afford color.  The trick here is to buy smart.  You very well may be burning ad dollars in things that are not correctly targeting your market.  Consider dropping those outlets and focus on your key demographic.

Now...one other piece of advice regarding black and white ads.  IF...notice that word...if the ad is well crafted, is not jumbled with lots of wording and is large enough...black and white can be very effective.  The trouble with this is many advertisers don't take the time to get serious about creative...it matters.  And, unfortunately, many advertisers think they need to cram every single word known to man in their advertising....please stop.

Go color...and get noticed.

What think you?


I Bow At Their Feet...

Man_stupid

So, have you EVER done something SO stupid and been saved from your major mess by a friend or friends?

I have...it happened today!  I am a lucky guy...

Quick post with a message about friendship and knowing the right folks...yes, even in business.

Thursday afternoon I was looking at some old files and trying to arrange them...  I gave up after a few minutes and decided that I'd not put those files where I found them...so to unclog the system I'll just delete them and clean up the site.

What I did was take down my website!  I deleted all the files with the push of a button and only was alerted when a client called and said, "Hey, how come I am forbidden from going to your site?"

I called my friends at DWebware here in Des Moines.  Matt Mann and Andy Priestley went to work and I was back up in fifteen minutes.  They had backups of everything that I had destroyed.

Bottom Line:  You can get things cheaper, you can use people and throw them away or...you can pay attention to folks you know, like and trust.  And, when the time comes...they are there for you.  Even in business...


So, this young lady said...

Woman_geek "Pssst...You really shouldn't be blogging!"

This morning I was at a Blog Class (yes...I am that nuts) with my friend Mike Sansone and about 10 others when it hit me...some folks just should not blog.  It isn't for everybody.

Even we in advertising and marketing have moments of clarity.  The question I asked the class this morning had to do with the negative pressure some business people have with regard to Business Blogging.  I listened...

"Blogging needs to have a point rather than ranting about wet streets and social comment."

"I'm not sure I see any money in blogging."

"Blogging takes too much time away from what we consider to be important business actions."

"Some say it is a fad and it's not going to last."

All of these are true...if you don't see the reason why blogging should be part of your marketing and advertising program.  And, if you are one of these folks...you should NOT be blogging.  You simply are not ready.

But, for those of you who might want to reconsider...some basics:

  • Blogs need to have a point a "bottom line". Think of it as a worthwhile message and conversation.
  • Blogs need to be consistent.  People, every day, have conversations and moments of teaching.  Business Blogs are no different.
  • Business Blogs are not about making instant money.  They are about RELATIONSHIPS...  We're not hookers".
  • Business Blogs are about sharing...not keeping things close to the vest...

And finally...if you are relying on a blog to be your only marketing system.  It is NOT going to work.  Blogging is just one tool in your Marketing Plan...

What think you?