Previous month:
June 2009
Next month:
August 2009

Recession? Did you say, "Recession"?

According to the Des Moines Register over 2,000 people attended the Special Event Homemakers crowdThursday evening at Homemakers Furniture in Urbandale.  The event featured Warren Buffett and a trip down "memory lane" with Dave Merschman who's father started Homemakers Furniture back in 1974.  Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns Nebraska Furniture Mart which purchased Homemakers in 2000.  The Merschman Family still operates and runs Homemakers and the Blumkin Family, who were also present, still runs Nebraska Furniture Mart.  And in more than one group the name Rose Blumkin was lifted up.  Go ahead and'll love the stories...

Some of the neat "take away" messages from the evening included Dave Merschman's often reference to God.  During his speech he talked several times about his family's relationship to their faith and extended family.  That was something different and Homemakers ice meaningful.  Not something one would think of hearing at an event like this.

Merschman also referenced his friendship with Nebraska Furniture Mart and how being on the "same team" is so much better than butting heads.

We got to see some old friends at the event including "Fort Dodger" Jerry Moen who has been selling to both Homemakers and Nebraska Furniture Mart for decades.  I asked Jerry about his business.  He said, "Ya know, even in this economy people are buying.  It may not be as brisk as it was a year ago but we're all selling and this store opening is a sign that we'll keep it up."

One other thing:  Nobody talked about the recession.  I'd not been to an event in a long time where there wasn't a mention of "tough times".  It really was remarkable.

And one other "one other thing":  The event took me back to my youth in Detroit where this was the way it was done...back in the day.   You see, special events were special Georgie_and_Warren crop then.  People actually "dressed up" to attend things like new car showings and new store openings.  The crowds that came were buyers and sellers and even the competition.  It was a celebration of major proportions.

And that also happened was wonderful, refreshing and it made an impact.  Oh...and yes, Georgie and Warren had a great time.  She said she didn't want to press the issue too much and only asked for a million dollars. 

Way to go Georgie!  You never told us what he said...

Thanks for reading - You can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and learn more about our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications by heading to And we'll talk about this a bit today on our daily business radio show, Insight on Business. Come on by?




The "Issue" About Buying Local

Last week I was at a meeting with about eight other Urbandale Chamber Members.  TheDSM Fireworks meeting was designed to introduce us to the Greater Des Moines Partnership and for them to "listen to learn how we might better serve our Partnership Members".  The Partnership is  a group of the local Chambers of Commerce who have banded together to better impact our joint missions.  Strength in numbers me thinks.

Heading the delegation was Martha Willits the director of the Partnership who came along with Meg Fritz and Mark Elliott.  It was a solid exchange of ideas and comments.

Buy Into Circle And, then we started talking about "buying local".  It's a big push from the Partnership to "Buy Into the Circle" and they've gone to some expense promoting the idea among buyers and sellers.

Joe Domeier, who owns the Art Store commented on the "Buy Local" campaign and shared some interesting numbers with the group.  "For every dollar spent with a locally owned business 80 cents stays in the community.  However, when people spend money with non-local chains only 20 to 40 cents stays in the community."  Here is the citation from the news story he was quoting.

The folks in the room were impressed.  "Wow...that much of a difference huh?" And, then...Joe asked the following question:  "So if that is true and the Partnership has spent so much time and effort in promoting buying local why is it that when the Des Moines Art Festival was held downtown the promoters purchased their frames out of town?"

Pretty much...hushed silence.

He went on, "And it's not that my local prices were that much higher.  I think they saved maybe a dollar on each frame."

Martha made the point that The Partnership does not manage the Des Moines Art Festival but did promise to mention it to the promoters.

We hope so






On The Road - Red Oak - Social Media & Tourism

We're doing a road trip this week and taking the "dog and pony show" to one of my Red Oak favorite towns in Southwest Iowa.  We'll be in Red Oak  talking to leaders from the Western Iowa Tourism Region about Social Media.  What it is, how to get started, stay involved and engage the public in showcasing all they have to offer.

And, Western Iowa has plenty to offer from some great rodeo in Sidney to the site of a Bonnie and Clyde robbery in Guthrie County.  And, Red Oak is home of this famous Courthouse.  It's a beauty and a photo much like this graced the cover of an economic development magazine I did for the town back in 1997.

MPL Chubby Red Oak is also the place where my friend, Chubby Checker (Ernest Evans) and I hooked up again after not seeing each other for years and years.  And, yes, I'll tell that story about that night at the Red Oak Country Club and how that meeting led to many years of working together on several projects.  Including the wedding of his beautiful daughter a couple of years ago in Aspen.  (Notice Chubby was, well, more chubby than he is today and me?  I am more chubby than Chubby.)

Looking forward to seeing friends from that part of the country and sharing with them the power of Web 2.0 or Social Media.  Strap in'll be fun! 

You can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightAdv your choice.

Thanks for reading.  You can learn more about us at


It Looks Like a Radio....

If it looks like a radio, sounds like a radio...must be  Well sort of.  For the past Internet Radio 60 days we've been involved in a broadcasting experiment.  Some of you know that I love doing radio.  Cut my teeth on it when I was a kid and, in one way or another, I've been involved in broadcasting for over 30 years.  During that time I've seen lots of changes:  AM to FM, Mono to Stereo, 45's to LP's, LP's to tape, tape to CD's, CD's to server based data.  I've seen four TV stations morph into 500+, the dawn of the Internet and now...Internet Based Radio.

That is the experiment.

A little over six months ago we started talking about taking radio to the Internet.  Today we're not only there but now pack over 14 hours a day of live, local talk radio on the station, Macs World Live.

Not only that but we're now mobile.  One of our staffers listened to the radio station driving from Des Moines to Chicago.  And the reception?  Just like sitting there.  He used his SmartPhone and it was flawless.  The picture above is an Internet Radio.  Must like the radios used on desktops in Europe.  Ahhh....looks like a radio huh?  And, what is better...sounds just like one as well.Studio May 22 2

No longer are people tethered to their computers to listen.  Now it's "right there".

Where is this going?  That is a good question.  We're not sure.  But we do know that we are way ahead of the curve.  Nobody produces this much local LIVE radio talk each day...nobody.  Not one local Des Moines land based radio station, not one satellite radio station and to our knowledge, not one Internet Station.  Oh sure there are others...but many program "recorded" shows or shows done in some other location.  Each one of the Des Moines Local...LIVE shows are..LIVE.  And, that is the key.

Like I wrote at the start of this "experiment" we would much rather be in the parade than sitting on the side watching it go by.  And, if you want to pop in Monday - Friday you're welcome to listen and watch Insight on Business our daily, live radio talk show that has a focus on advertising, marketing and trends.  The idea is to offer you take-aways that you can use to help your business not only survive but thrive.  Join us daily at 12:30PM Central at or head to our site and click on the link:  Daily Business Radio Show.

Who knows, this Internet thingy might just catch on....

Michael P. Libbie - Thanks for reading.  You can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightAdv before, during and after the show. 






You're Right! Social Media Is NOT For You!

It seems I spend lots of time talking about social media with people who continue to think it means nothing and has no future.  So, for the benefit of those of you who think this is bunk.  I agree!  What follows are quotes from the many conversations I've been in with people who think they know better.  It makes for a great self administered quiz.  If you want through these real world comments.  If you agree with the quote, give yourself a point.  If you disagree you get a zero.    Scoring is below.   Ready?  Let's go!

  1. "I see no value in Twitter.  I mean why would anybody care if I had a double latte this morning at Starbucks!"  Yes = 1 Point  No = 0
  2. "Facebook and MySpace are for kids who either want to "hook up" or creepy old men looking for an 18 year old...  I say, Stay off and Stay Safe!"  Yes - No
  3. "I've seen Twitter and I am not impressed, who cares what I am doing every minute of every day?"  Yes - No

  4. "Look, I'm about SELLING not about talking!"  Yes - No

  5. "But, being on Twitter or Facebook is putting our business at risk of being talked about."  Yes - No

  6. "My kid said that Facebook is for them and not a place for adults."  Yes - No

  7. "Why would I want to talk to kids?  My customers are adults!"  Yes - No

  8. "I've heard that people surf social media and find out things we don't want everybody to know."  Yes - No

  9. "OK, but if we do this Mary, our office manager, will handle it."  Yes - No

  10. "You mean I'd have to do this every day?"  Yes - No

  11. "Our IT Department said it would take weeks to set up a blog and they just don't have the time."  Yes - No

  12. "Our IT Department said there was no way they could make Twitter work with our website."  Yes - No

  13. "Our IT Department said this is a waste of time.  If people want to know about us they can go to our Website."  Yes - No

  14. "But, you want me to use my REAL name?"  Yes - No

  15. "Our Board of Trustees took a vote.  None of them have every heard of this social media stuff.  We're not going to bother."  Yes - No

  16. "Our consultant said it would be much better for us to increase our direct mail program."  Yes - No

  17. "Blog?  Blog?  What kind of a thing is that?"  Yes - No

  18. "We're not interested in this.  We have a Customer Service Department that calls people who are behind on their payments."  Yes - No

  19. "We've got a firm company policy about not allowing our employees to play on the computer."  Yes - No

  20. "We'll get back with you on this.  We need to run it past our Customer Care Committee."  Yes - No

There you go!  Have fun.  Oh, the scoring: 

  • If you score three points or less - Call me. 
  • If you score 4 to 10 call me and I'll refer you to my worst enemy. 
  • If you score 11 to 15 points unplug your 
  • If you scored more than 15 points see if you can find a "Closed" sign, put it up and head to a warmer climate.

Thanks for reading and playing along.  You can follow us on Twiter @InsightAdv or @MichaelLibbie (your choice) and if you would like more information about us including our daily business radio show head to our site,


Getting Along With "Transumers"

Not long ago my friends at the Des Moines Register had a great article about "transuming".  A transumer is a consumer driven by the desire to experience the best in entertainment, clothing, cars and housing.  They don't actually own the rights to these things...they rent them.Man For Rent

It's said this is the Generation X and Y answer to having the best right now while staying ahead of the payment curve.  And, with the economy in trouble more and more people are experiencing the "Rental Lifestyle" over actually owning that designer handbag, pair of sunglasses, combine or dress.

Here is how it works:  Let's say a handbag sells for $800.  Rather than buy the bag, women can rent them at $40 a day.  Or designer dresses that sell for $2,500 can be rented by the hour or day for a fraction of the price plus a one-time cleaning charge.

In reality this is not new.  Think car leases, town-home rentals, movie rentals...there are even companies that lease combines rather than have the farmer shell out $300,000 for a piece of machinery he might only use for three weeks.  The difference today is this trend is moving into consumable luxury items.

So, why bring this to you?  If you are selling and/or marketing high end items transuming might be a way to stay in the game and actually expand the experience to an audience who may shy away from your line because of the price.

Transuming a trend that is getting bigger and something to watch. 

Thanks for reading.  You can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie and find out more about us by visiting our website, and join us on our daily advertising and marketing program, Insight on BusinessHere is that link.


Iowa State Fair - "You got some splainin' to do!"

I did this story last week on our daily business radio show, Insight on Business, and received so much feedback that I figured I'd write it down.  Why leave it lost to the airwaves?  We're always telling our advertising agency clients to take advantage of all the tools they can to better learn more about their customer.  The same advice might have worked with our friends at the Iowa State Fair.Ricky Ricardo

 A few days after the death of Michael Jackson the Iowa State Fair thought up the idea of sculpting the self proclaimed "King of Pop" in butter and have him standing in the Agricultural Building near the famed "Butter Cow".  If it was a planned public relations was brilliant.  The media had a field day and Lori Chappell, the marketing director for the fair became real busy....real quick.

The first hurdle:  The display is sponsored by those wild and crazy members of the Iowa Dairy AssociationThe Dairy Association, on their web-site, said they had nothing to do with it.  Yikes...that didn't work out so well.

Local and national media picked up on the story and in the post Michael frenzy much of the conversation centered on the question, "Ahhhh, what are you thinking?"  Butter Cow

When the pressure started to build the fair folks cooked up the idea the the MJ statue was somehow related to the original concept of honoring the 1969 Neil Armstrong moon walk.  I know, lame...but hey, it added to the buzz and it was kept the story alive. Brilliant again! 

But lots of people were pretty upset that this guy who, twenty years ago, played the Iowa State Fair but then turned into a pretty creepy person, and to have him grace the storied halls of the Agricultural Building?   Not so fast.

However, the Fair still had more tricks up their sleeve.  They  said, "OK, you people want a say?  Go on-line and vote "yes" or "no" on Butter Michael!"

Again...brilliant! Keep that story "churning"!  And it did as Iowan's waited seven long days for the announcement. 

In the end over 100,000 folks voted and the idea got spanked.  (I wonder if it's OK to use the word "spanked" near another sentence with MJ's name?)   Butter Michael Jackson lost 65 to 35 percent.  Game over!  Right?  Well, not quite. 

You see...some of us are still wondering if it was a planned stunt...or if the Iowa State Fair really..really thought this was a good idea.  If so...and in my best Ricky Ricardo voice, a message to Lori Chappell, "Lori, you got some splainin' to do!"

The Iowa State Fair with all the glitz and loudness and food on sticks is rooted in what many of us see as something wholesome.  Having Michael Jackson, the "King of Weird" honored at such a venue would be like having strippers on the Midway.  (Not that it hasn't been tried, at least unofficially.  But that is another story.)

Can you imagine the marketing meeting?  "OK folks, we've got an idea.  Michael Jackson just died so what do you think about honoring him in the Ag Building and have those conservative dairy farmers sponsor the program?"  You know, those same dairy farmers who are right now taking it in the shorts (did I say that?) because of the low milk prices.  The same dairy farmers who are going out of business at a rapid rate because they simply can't turn a profit when prices are half of what they were a year ago.  "Yeah..the people will buy this one!  What do ya think?"

How out of touch can one group possibly be when it comes to their core supporters, and customers?

By the ain't quite over.  Waiting in the wings?  One of the country music stars to headed to Des Moines to entertain the faithful is Kelly Clarkston who was being promoted as the new Country Music Vegetarian. Recent reports have her denying her love of all things "green".  We'll see.  If not, look for more fireworks once this sinks in with the Iowa Cattlemen, The Iowa Pork Producers, Turkey and Lamb farmers...

Hey, it couldn't get any better!






"Cute" Spokespeople and Public Relations

I have no idea who she is but the company (an energy "watchdog" association) should have thought twice before they ran her out and had her "visit" with the media. (Oh, Claire Celsi...where are you when a company needs you?)Woman cute young

It was morning "drive time" and while driving to a 7AM appointment I was listening to local news.  One of the stories had to do with the recent drop in fuels prices. (For those of you reading outside of Des Moines, Iowa...our price for unleaded with 10% Ethanol is now $2.15 a gallon.)  It's a pretty big story because usually the price of fuel heads up during the peak travel times like the vacation season.  So...a story like this is of great interest.  We would think. 

However, the woman the association picked to come out and tell the story about the current fuel costs was...maybe...ten?  Honest.  This cute little voice saying:   

"Well, ummm, the reason the fuel prices are lower isn't all tied to the price of, ya know, oil.  It's tied to...ummmm...many other things like, ya know, supply and ahhhh demand.  And, to ummm, other things like, ya know...."

I'm grateful I was at a stop light because I found myself staring at the radio, thinking to my self, "What the heck are they thinking?"  Oh, I bet she is as cute as a TV anchor but, to be on a regional radio station talking fuel prices and she sounds like she should be going to summer school...I should take her seriously?  At least with video we might have been stunned by her good looks and ignored the babbling. far too often reality.  And, when we're talking energy prices maybe it's not in the best interests of the watchdog association (or any association in general) to trot out "Nicki" or "Brandi" and tell us the scoop. 

So, the take away from this is if your company has not had media training...get it.  If you have had media training but us.  We'll put you in touch with some folks that "get it".  How you make an impression on the public is critical to being taken seriously.

Ummm, ahhh, don't ya, like, maybe...think?

Thanks for reading...  Follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie and come on by our site to learn more about what we do for our clients...and  It's one of the reasons the last of the three key names of our company has "communications" in the name.



Welcome Home Daddy and The Spin...

Daddy is home for the next three weeks.  He's been flying aircraft in Afghanistan for the past six weeks...and he's headed back too soon.  Our son-in-law, Chase, is a captain and pilot for C-130's and this was the scene when he arrived home this past Friday. Waiting_for_daddy

Grand-daughter, Sailor waiting and watching the plane come into base a recording of a safe return.  We're all so grateful and even though he must return in 21 days, the time to reflect is today.

Chase would blush and say it's not that big a deal.  But it him and the military families who are experiencing the increased violence in Afghanistan.   While writing this post I heard a newscast that said more Americans have now died in 2009 fighting in this backward country fueled by a lust for a faith that calls them back to the 7th century than have died in Iraq. 

It's tragic...and scary and far too often ignored by those of us living our lives "normally".  Nothing "over there" is normal. is here! 

Or is it?  That the Iowa State Fair...that icon of everything now taking your "vote" on their warped decision to sculpt Michael Jackson in butter speaks to the "other side" of normal.  For folks reading this from outside of Iowa ya gotta be scratching your head.  But, understand, this butter sculpture thing is a big deal here.  For generations the Fair has honored various individuals by having their image sculpted in butter and placed in the Agricultural Building for thousands of folks to see.

But, Michael Jackson?

We've long contended that given the ongoing war(s) and how they have touched so many families from Iowa...that a sculpture honoring the military might be a fitting tribute.  We've suggested other Iowans as well.  And, now...feeling the public backlash the Iowa State Fair has suddenly suggested that the life-size image of Jackson is Neil Armstrong Moon somehow tied to the Moon Landing by, Neil Armstrong.  Yeah, right..   Now if only they could somehow get an Iowa angle to, "Ohio native, Neil Armstrong, who first walked on the surface of the moon, has a third cousin Earl who lives in Earlham, Iowa (who is a Michael Jackson fan) and so we are recognizing those Iowa roots with the fact that Michael Jackson once performed at the Iowa State Fairgrounds...and..."

So, Iowa State Fair...who is your "spin team"?  Even that is so far fetched nobody is buying it.

Two "take-a-ways" from matter what business you happen to be in.

ONE:  Be thankful everyday.  Having Chase "state-side" for 21 days is wonderful.  But, are we grateful each and every day for the little things we have?   Time to get to it.

TWO:  If you must "spin" for the media.  Don't make the spin even less believable than the original decision.  Unless you think, like some politicians, that the larger the lie the more likely people are to believe it.

Michael Libbie - Thanks for reading...  You can keep up with us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie and learn more about our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications by heading to our site,

You can also read us in The Des Moines Register...

Read...Like You Have A Passion For...Golf

I subscribe to a number of advertising, branding and marketing blogs.  I get to read at least one book a week on marketing and advertising.  Why?  Because I want to learn Man Reading Beachand take that learning to my clients and to the listeners of our daily radio show, Insight on Business.  That is my job.  So, the next question to you might be, "How many blogs do your subscribe to that are specific about your occupation?  How many trade magazines cross your desk that you actually open?  How many newspapers, online or hard copy, do you read?  What trending reports do you receive?


Several years ago I attended a seminar with about 125 top level executives engaged in the long term health care industry.  The speaker asked those who attended these same questions but started differently:

"How many of you," he asked, "are active in some sort of hobby and what is it?"

"Reading!", "Golf!", "Cycling.", "Horseback riding.", "Photography!", "Skiing."...the list got pretty long.

"OK, how many of you subscribe to more than one magazine or newsletter that has a focus on your hobby?"

80% of the hands went up.

"How many of you have ever taken lessons, from a professional, over the past six months, to get better at your hobby?"

Well over 50% of the people in the room raised their hands.

"How many of you practice your hobby or engage in your hobby at least twice a week in an effort to become better at what you love?  Or how many of you watched a television show that focused on your hobby"

85% of the people there raised their hands.  Then the sobering questions:

"How many of you subscribe to three or more journals associated with the long term health care industry?"  About 40% responded they did.

"How many of you subscribe to a news service to keep you abreast of the issues facing your industry?" 

Fewer than 20%.

"How many of you, in the past month attended a class devoted to your industry, or watched a training film about your industry or participated in a lecture to the general public about your industry?"

Less than 10%.....

But, we sure like to golf.

Read more.  It just might improve your game...errr...Business!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications.  You can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie and have a look at what we do by going to thanks for reading.