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June 2007
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August 2007

Advertising/Marketing & THE Bike Ride...

Ragbrai_bikes_road_3 This is a cool story about the difference between "advertising" and "marketing" and WHY you, as a busines person, need to not only know the difference...but consider "how to" do it.

RAGBRAI - For those of you not in Iowa, is an annual bike ride across the state.  This year was the 35th year of the ride.  There were 10,000 riders, several thousand more support people and 477 miles to cover in less than a week.  (Did we mention Lance Armstrong was also along for the ride?)

Georgie_pork_chop_2 Our office was represented by Georgie who, four weeks earlier, had gone on a much smaller ride of 1,500 people in Illinois.  Needless to say, the SIZE of this event was staggering.  But there was more...her story:

"All along the 477 mile route people had stands where they were selling everything from sweet corn to water to even pork chops!  By day two of the ride I started noticing the "advertising".  Sometimes the operators of these stands would just put up a sign next to their booth and let us riders know what they had for sale.  Pretty passive.

But, the smart operators started their signs miles before you got to their booth.  Like:

  • Pork Chooooooooooop - 10 Miles!"
  • (Think "Mr. T"):  "I pity the fool that don't eat Pastafari - 5 miles!"

That was advertising.

And then there was this water stand...eight miles out the signs started:

  • "See Cuddles & Buy Water - 8 Miles"
  • "See Cuddles Eat Grass & Buy Water - 5 Miles"
  • "See Cuddles Chew While You Enjoy Water - 2 Miles"
  • "See Cuddles Poop - Just Ahead"

Cuddles The signs were the "advertising" and Cuddles was the "marketing".  And it worked...dozens of people were buying water and watching Cuddles.  While down the road fifty yards at another stand, nobody.  We saw this all along the route. 

The people that "advertised" did well.  The people that also were out "marketing" did better.  Yep, advertising works...but when you throw in a little marketing savvy...it's golden!"

Thanks, Georgie.  So, the question to you:  Are you simply advertising or are you marketing too?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we think Cuddles made the story...and, yes...Georgie DID get to say "Hi" to Lance...


Rural Lifestyle Radio Sunday Morning

Hwy61_image Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is on Sunday morning at 8am here in the Des Moines, Iowa market.

We've got a pretty full line up of news and information important for folks living the rural lifestyle.

Nope, this is not a farm show...it's all about the rural lifestyle of living on an acreage or small farm.

In the second half hour of the program we've got a special guest who'll be here to talk about the surprises she saw while on RAGBRAI 35.  My wife will be on to visit about her experiences in the many small towns they went through this past week on their 477 mile trip across Iowa.  (Maybe a Lance Armstrong story or two?)

Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is heard each week at 8am on 98.3 WOW-FM.  Visit with you Sunday...tune in already!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we think we'll also hear a little about "sore butts"!


Magazine Ad Placement - Front or Back?

Chubby_016_2 Look, nobody really cares about magazine ad placement...so I thought I'd send you a photo of me and my friend.  OK, OK...she is Catharina Evans Miss World from 1962!  And, she is also Chubby Checker's wife since 1964.  Thanks for the photo Chubby!

Hey, I thought I'd "dress up" a business blog on marketing and advertising!  (And do a little name dropping...)

Enough fun...let's get to it.

So, when was the last time somebody called your office and tried to sell you "position" in a magazine.

Img_2759_customer_service The nearly breathless sales call goes something like this:  "Hello, Michael?  Thanks for taking my call!  Look, we just happen to have page three of our magazine open.  Yes, right hand position and up in the front of the book.  It would be a great position for your client!  Usually this spot goes for $15,000 but we just had a cancellation and we can get it to you for $9,000.  What do you say?"

Now...the moment of truth...like admitting "Cat" is Chubby's wife!

Do I rush to buy the ad?  Or...do I ask:  "So, what is the matter with page 83 where we purchased an ad for $4,500?"

(Breathless answer):  Oh...well, more people read the ads in the first part of the magazine.  It's a better position."

Bunk!

In a study by READEX Research, people were asked to indicate which ads they remembered reading.  The scores from 3,105 one page full color ads show that readers are no more likely to read an ad in the front of the publication than they are to read one in the back!

What is the difference between remembering and forgetting?  The creative nature of the ad. 

Doubt me?

Chubby_016_3 OK...try this...what is the name of the woman whom I am "cheek to cheek" with?  (No cheating..no looking back!)  Would it have mattered if I posted that photo here? Or at the front of the article? 

Neither...it's the creative that matters....not the placement.  Besides, I couldn't resist posting the photo again!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we hope to lift the veil of misinformation.  (And we sorta like "Cat" too!)


The "B Word"!

Addingmachine021 We got an e-mail from a perspective client yesterday.  We followed up with another telephone call.  I don't believe her company is a client today.  The reason?

I said the "B Word"!

(NO, not THAT "B" word...you are soooo bad!)

B-U-D-G-E-T...the word that makes most advertisers shake and quake.

"What, exactly, do you mean by an advertising budget", she asked.

I said, "Well, we've talked several times and you have a couple of marketing/advertising needs.  What have you budgeted for this line item in the past?"

Woman_shock She said, "Budget?  Well, we spent roughly $28,000 on advertising last year."

Me: "Is that your budget number for this year?  And what was in that "advertising line item?"

She:  "Well, we don't actually budget funds for hard advertising and marketing.  We prefer to make those decisions as we go along.  But I think we'll be in that area this year. But we may add 5%."

Me:  "You told me once you do four trade shows.  Were expenses for trade shows in your numbers from last year?"

She:  "Oh no, those were under 'Trade Shows'."

Me:  "I see...  What about brochures and signs for the shows."

She:  "Yes, the signs were under trade shows but the brochures were under printing."

Man_gun_or_noose I asked how much steel they planned on buying next year and how much paint and...labor costs.  All of those she had a budget line item for and could make a stab at forecasting.  But marketing/advertising?  Nah...they "sort of shoot from the hip".

We offered to play...but I think the BUDGET may have gotten in the way.  You see, we wanted to help with that FIRST.

Other agencies might have taken them on...but our experience is that if you don't have a solid plan and if that plan is not shared...well.   We think she'll be back at the same place next year wondering why they spent in excess of $60,000 (which I think is her 'real' marketing/advertising cost) and will not have much to show for it.  Worse yet...is she doing the "right" things with her available dollars?

The first line of our website is, "The year is half over, made your plans for 2008 yet?"

Have you?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we too hate the thought of being "ruled" by a budget...but understand the need for a flexible plan.


The Market at Jordan Creek

Majc About a week ago there was an article about this high end grocery store called The Market at Jordan Creek.  The headline was not encouraging.  Seems that after four months in operation the owners are considering closing "the struggling market".

My friend, Doug Mitchell already did a short piece on this and his insight is worth a read.

I'm not wanting to "pile on".  My job is to offer another question.  Do you really think the folks that are being targeted to shop at this "high end grocery store" really have the cash to spend on specialty items? And, the second question...are there enough of them?

It's an honest set of questions.

Majc2 Over the past six months two "up scale" wine shops have closed.  Victim, it seems, to poor management...not experience or desire.  But, here again we've got to ask the question, "How many upscale wine shops can a metro area of 500,000 have?  Especially when now even the supermarkets and Target have better products and produce on their shelves than they had ten years ago.

In his post, Doug has a solid suggestion to help pull out the people and get them to this market.  I'm all for it...and hope it works.  But, you've got to wonder if the ground work was done in the beginning. 

Frankly, I know plenty of "upscale folks" who might shop at this store...but are struggling to make the payments on their 5,000 square foot house and the two BMW's in the garage.  Bet they buy their wine and produce at Target...

The reality is no matter if you are selling farm equipment or $75 bottles of wine...you can never do enough advance work to make sure what you have...people can/will buy.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we've actually seen $75 bottles of wine.  Ahh...no, we didn't make the buy.


It's Just A Bike Ride....

Ragbrai07coverpromo Well, not really.  It is THE Bike Ride across Iowa with 10,000 of your "closest" friends and another three to four thousand day riders and workers.

Sunday in Iowa is "Bike Day".  Actually it's been "Bike Day" for the past two weeks as thousands of riders have been gearing up for the week long, 477 mile trek across the state.

The 35th "Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa" (RAGBRAI) is a ride of monster proportions and it is also a great lesson in marketing.

I came to Iowa in 1979, several years after the first RAGBRAI.  In those days riders numbered only a couple of thousand.  Still, it was large enough that the founders of the ride (several journalists/bike riders) from the Des Moines Register were minor celebrities  I was doing morning radio here and "the guys", Karras, Kaul and Offenburger were always good for an interview or two.

Lance_2 I'm sure they really didn't think it would get so big that in year 34 and 35 Lance Armstrong, who is to the world of cycling as Gordie Howe is to hockey, would tag along for the ride and raise thousands for his cancer foundation "LIVESTRONG".

But it has.  In part the success of RAGBRAI are the people who ride.  People from nearly every state in the Union, and far flung countries like Uganda, come to ride and make a statement.  And then go home and tell others of the wonder we call Iowa.

But, more than any event in the state (outside of the Iowa State Fair) RAGBRAI has figured out the secret to success.  They get as many people involved in the event as possible.  From town councils who will see the population of their "cities" double or triple (and struggle to find housing) to churches where members will gather to bake pies to sell to hungry riders.  All along the 477 mile route people get involved...and prosper.

It's a lesson in success and positive public relations and for those of us in business or politics.  It addresses what is sometimes elusive...inclusion in the process.  Even if it's only baking pies.

Georgie_bike And, if things are a little slow around our company this week...blame Georgie.  She and Lance have a week long date...or so she says.

Program Note...Sunday morning at 8am the rural lifestyle radio show, Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is on...if you're in the area you can catch us on 98.3 WOW-FM.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications, where we've been  oiling chains and gears...and living through the excitement of the great adventure.  Thanks to The Register for the Photos.


If ONLY We Ran Our Business PR Like This...

Urbandale_chamber Last week I crossed off another item on my "To Do List".  For nearly three years we've intended to join the local Urbandale Chamber of Commerce.  (Voted the 39th Best Place to Live in the United States!) So far so good.  So good in fact that there is a lesson here for your business.

Chamber functions are not new to us.  Been there, done that. So, I had this pre-conceived notion about "The Chamber".  But, we joined anyway.

That was Wednesday.

Dsc02581 Since Wednesday, at noon, I've received several e-mail notes from other members, all saying "Welcome".  There have been three phone calls to the office by members of the Board and no fewer than five notes from Tiffany Menke, Urbandale Chamber Executive Director.

Ahhhhh....  OK, I realize all of this does not just happen and the "gushing" is not just because our business is wonderful and they are ALL so glad we joined.  It is a coordinated mission of welcoming a new member...or new customer.  And it is worth mention.

So, who on your staff (should be you!) is leading the charge to make welcome your new customers?   The real question here is, "Do you have a coordinated plan of action to make your customers or clients feel welcome and special?"

Remember, people have many choices...what sets your company apart from the rest?

Nice going Urbandale Chamber...

PROGRAM NOTE!  (For those of you in the Des Moines, Iowa area.)

Katebw1 This Sunday on our rural lifestyle radio show, "Highway 6 - Y our Road to the Country", our guest will be Kate Klein.   We first met Kate several weeks ago at a "speed networking" event and were impressed with not only her personality but also her business.  So...Sunday morning at 8 listen in. We're on 98.3 WOW-FM.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're always impressed by positive people doing a great job.


Water An Issue In Iowa? We Told You...

Ethanol_plant Several times in fact.  On one of our very first rural lifestyle radio shows back in January we had Lyle Asell from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on.  He went into great detail regarding not only the QUALITY of water in Iowa but also his concern regarding the QUANTITY of water due to ethanol production.

We also blogged about this very issue, but some of you may not have seen it.  (Maybe because we started out with a Paris Hilton photo...many seem to get sidetracked when they see her.)

Today in the Des Moines Register...smack on the front page was a story about water concerns...because of ethanol production.

Are you feeling a breeze?  If so, it may be the result of you wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.  (Thanks for the line Mike Sansone!)  In other words...nobody can dare come out with these questions...because corn is the new gold for agriculture.

We brought this issue before the Iowa Corn Board several months ago at a chapter meeting of the National Agri-Marketers Association.  They told us it was not an issue.  Really?

Issue or not the urban rumblings are there.  Remember...there are more urban dwellers than corn producers.  And, because perception can become reality, the Ethanol Industry better get on top of this...now.

Oh, and turf professionals and golf course owners and managers...you listening?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where water is never wasted...only mixed.


Blogging About Corn Yields?

Corn_pile_closeup Often, when talking to somebody who does not understand business blogging, they think "blogging" is something teens do on "My Space". Or they think blogging is like those goofy anonymous message boards (that are full of pop-ups) that exist in the world of newspapers and even sports.

That's why I'm so excited about our client's new business blog at Calcium Products.

You see...Calcium Products and Craig Dick are blogging about increasing corn yield.

And they are doing it well.

Today in a post Craig hit a home run about the increasing cost of "ice cream"...and then related that to farmers who need to cut costs to stay competitive.

It's really one of the best posts I've seen...and from a newcomer to the art. 

Well done Craig!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we love it when the students out shine the teacher!


Rural Lifestyle Radio - This Sunday

Hwy61_image_3 Hey, a quick reminder for those of you living in the Des Moines, Iowa radio market.  Our rural lifestyle radio show, Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is on Sunday morning at 8!

You can hear the show on 98.3 WOW-FM.

Each week we talk about issues of concern for those folks living on small farms and acreages.  With roughly 150,000 of 'em here in the Central Iowa Area...it gets to be an important program.

And...we have guests!

Sherry_borzo_2_2 This week our special guest is Sherry Borzo from DSM BUZZ.  I've known Sherry for some time and she is a wonderful example of somebody who always has something good to say...about everything.  Her business, DSM BUZZ is all about buying local. 

Come on by for a listen...8am.  Sunday...on 98.3 WOW-FM.

Thanks for reading...and for listening.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're always excited about living the rural lifestyle!