Can Local Retail Compete with Amazon?

The information from the report is stunning. According to data compiled by Forrester Research… generated about 60% of total U.S. online sales growth in 2015 far outpacing the Amazon Logo competition.

The report found that the retail giant tallied $23 billion more in U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015 than 2014. Twenty-Three billion...dollars more in sales in just one year.  And that's not all...Forrester forecasts that U.S. e-commerce sales will grow to more than $530 billion by 2020, with more than 206 million shoppers spending money online. 

Is it any wonder that mall anchor stores and big box stores are closing so quickly. We have entered into a new economic reality and one that sends shivers down to spine of every small business retailer in the nation. Or, should it?

You see the report also offers some hope. The report goes on to say more than three-quarters of consumers (78%) say shopping on mobile devices is still hindered by things like slow download times and screen size. Your brick and mortar does not have that issue...right? And your optimized retail website allows people to access YOU with a call or email...from the home screen...right?

Chrissy JensenAnd, the report has several other suggestions on how to stay relevant in this new retail economy: "Retailers should offer unique merchandise and seek out new ways to monetize the business."

Now, if you want a lesson in how to offer unique how to monetize your business to a broader audience go see my friend Chrissy (photo) at Domestica located in Des Moines East Village. In my mind she does this better than just about anybody. Honest...   



The Friday Wrap - Insight on Business the News Hour

Each Friday we offer up the Friday Wrap a review of our long-form broadcast interviews just in IOB_podcastv2 case you missed one.  The Business News Hour, a product of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications, is the only hour-long, M-F business news broadcast in the Midwest.  If you want to listen in, live, you can catch the broadcast at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 or in HD at FM 103.3 HD2.

Here is a review of our guests this past week. You can click on the player or on the highlighted name of our guest to listen.

Over the past several months two local shopping malls, Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines and Valley West Mall in West Des Moines have requested that bus service be removed from their property. Here from DART is Amanda Wanke. We asked about that and more.

She joins us each Monday with her list of top networking events in the Des Moines Metro and Laura Kinnard has a bunch to share...

A month ago the INS Family of companies launched their new name and brand Aureon. At the time we talked about it with Ron Keller the President/CEO of Aureon. We caught up with Ned Flynn to check on the progress.

Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Jen Childress is the founder of JenSpiration a health and fitness studio and she makes house calls.

Our guest is one of the Tero International trainers, Trish Baumhover. She shares some thoughts about how sales people can really connect with customers and close a sale that makes both the buyer and seller pleased with the transaction. And, the best news this is all trainable.

Well over 400 people were in Des Moines for the Third Annual Global Insurance Symposium. To talk about the impact of insurance on Central Iowa we have Jay Byers of the Greater Des Moines Partnership break it down for us...

With us is international designer Annie Sloan who is the head-liner for the 6th Annual Spring Junk Jubilee. She is spending several days at the Iowa State Fair Grounds teaching and sharing chalk paint secrets.

We visit with Joy and Kevin Peterson from Peterson Holistic Services that celebrated their open house at their Windsor Heights location.  Holistic services are becoming more mainstream. We ask about that and more.

Our guest is Mike Fellers a friend of the Broadcast who counts on public transportation to get from one place to another. However the recent decision by Valley West Mall has put Mike and others who may be disabled in a bind. It's always somebody else...until it's somebody you know.

Thanks for reading and listening!  Catch the broadcast Weekdays at 5:05PM

Future Entrepreneurs - Simpson Collage

This week I was honored to be asked to judge the Simpson College 2016 Iron Journalist Pitch. I Simpson Iron Journalist 2016 was joined by Heather Hassebroek (Bublins) and Kaylee Williams (Volunteer Local). We were there to listen to business startup ideas created by four journalism students, Brock Borgenson (top left), Brittany Robb (top right), James Tillison (bottom left) and Kylee Hereid (bottom right).  The judges were encouraged to offer tips and ask questions of each contestant.

I know, "What? Journalism Students pitching for-profit business ideas?!?" That had me too so I was truly intrigued as to why Professor and Chair of Multimedia  Brian Steffen would mix "The Fourth Estate" with business creation. He said, "Journalism is rapidly changing and I want my students to think as entrepreneurs and to learn how to craft messages that will match consumer interest. Many of these students may find success in creating content that is not part of major news organizations but content consumed by people interested in specific niche areas." Good enough for me....

Here is a brief overview of each pitch:

  • Brock Borgenson - I'm not in his target market of but found his idea of marketing the sport of "Gaming" interesting. His idea was to create a portal where people, and there are millions, can come and learn more about professional and amateur "Gamers" through video, written tips, a magazine and walk-through events.  
  • Kylee Hereid - Her pitch was about weddings and creating a place where brides and grooms, in Iowa, could go to find and connect with everything from clothing to cakes. I loved the idea of keeping it "local" to Iowa and thereby helping folks in rural parts of the state get connected with goods and services. She would also, in the future, franchise to other states. This edition was I Do - Iowa. Nice. 
  • Brittany Robb - This was an interesting twist covering virtual reality news. In fact the site is called VRNews. The goal was to share VR technology news with others from business to research schools. She says, and I have to agree, this technology will be the next "hot thing".
  • James Tillison - This pitch became personal. James received his Eagle Scout at the age of 15. His pitch was hyper-local to the Mid-Iowa Council of The Boy Scouts of America. He envisioned a platform that would instruct, encourage and expand the knowledge of the 2,000+ Boy Scouts in Central Iowa. As he was presenting my mind floated back to my Boy Scout days and the impact those had on my life.   

We asked questions, tallied up the score and in the end the winner of the 2016 Simpson College Iron Journalist Challenge was Brock Borgeson of Naperville, Illinois.

Good stuff and thank you again for asking me to be part of the adventure. It was worth every minute. 


The Business News Hour - Friday Wrap

Our ad agency is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour. It's the only IOB_podcastv2 TuneIndaily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest. (No, really...we checked.) It airs Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and (if you are really cool) in HD at 103.3 HD2. While we don't record and save the news and markets (that could get old....) we do save the long-form business interviews.

Also, we've been informed by the Iowa Broadcast News Association that the Business News Hour is now the Award Winning Business News Hour. We'll be picking up that honor this weekend in Waterloo at their Annual Convention. Thank you all..

Our long-form business interviews from this past week are below. You can click on the name of our guest or on the player to catch the interview.

He is the master of events. Meet our friend Beau Fodor who has, for years, put his special touch on event after event. From small gatherings to Iowa's Gay Wedding Planner to the man behind the Bollywood Ball. His company, Panache Points continues to adapt and grow.

 She's back...and each Monday Laura Kinnard joins us to share her top networking opportunities that are available here in the Des Moines Metro and we end up with a quick Social Media Tip...for business. This time we talk about content...what to share.

It's an interesting family business that's been around for generations. Mike Wells joins us to talk about the beginnings of Wells Blue Bunny, where the name came from and what's this re-branding they've been involved with? We also talk about the Iowa Business Council and what that means for Iowa and Iowa businesses.

Last month Thomas Kutz an attorney with the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines attended South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. We were interested in why he attended, what his impression of the event was and what people there thought about Iowa. We talk music, business and impressions.

For over 70 years Woodard Hearing has been assisting people correct their hearing loss. Sure the technology has changed but, according to owner Diana Kautzky, the careful care of their patients has not. Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Woodard Hearing and their special event coming up soon. 

We love startups and today we learn about Servons from co-founder Steve Schott. Servons helps non-profits not only track volunteer hours but also serves as a way to reward and keep volunteers engaged. How does it all work?

The program is called Embrace Aging and it is a series of educational conversations on healthy aging in Iowa. The upcoming session is called Managing Chronic Diseases. The event is scheduled for 26 April at Drake University, Olmsted Center. With us is Dr. Yogesh Shah a geriatric specialist from Des Moines University and Kent Zimmerman from the Calvin Community of Des Moines. A deep conversation about health issues and outcomes.

Over the past several months two local shopping malls, Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines and Valley West Mall in West Des Moines have requested that bus service be removed from their property. Is it safety, congestion or something else that is driving these decisions?  In a written response from Kris Walter of the Merle Hay Mall we are told it was because Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) was misusing the drop-off area and causing congestion. We asked DART about that and more. With us is Amanda Wanke the Communications Officer for DART.

Thanks for reading & listening! Catch you tonight at 5:05 for the Business News Hour!


Anger and Social Media

Over the years I've heard more than one business person tell me they Man Anger"stay out of social media" because they fear the danger of something that may cause stress to their brand and business.  However, here is proof that NOT being on social media can be worse.

The case revolves around mistaken identity and a person who, for his own reasons, made the choice to go after our company because he thought one of our staffers had written an "anti-gay" letter to the editor of the Iowa Press Citizen.  Here is the story, in podcast form, from our broadcast on The Business News Hour: 

 While social media is a fantastic method of communication and marketing there is a dark side that, when entered, can shatter reputations and brands. Had we NOT been in the social media space we may never have been able to act so quickly to repair our business name.

Have you got some thoughts?




Lessons Learned - Politics & Business

A week ago last night my daily involvement in a political campaign with Cowboy 1 Desmund Adams concluded. After 17 months of our work dedicated to media, communications, policy, public events, video, photography, design, voter outreach, social media…we lost.  Desmund lost by over 1,400 votes to a guy who had campaigned for 34 days. Now, while that sounds like a bunch it really was not.  Our opponent had a 5,000 voter registration edge on us.

I learned some things from this adventure that may be helpful to the business world or for those of you considering a political future.  Here is a quick list:

  • Work vs. Money – While we all say we value hard work going into something underfunded is a death blow.  In 34 days our opponent outraised and outspent us by nearly 4 to 1.  Deep pockets trumps hard work it would seem;
  • Stay Simple – Our campaign worked over seven key issues we believed were critical to the future of Iowa.  Meanwhile our opponent failed to utter a single original idea and kept true to his political party’s talking points.  There is a lesson here about detail me thinks;
  • Social Media & Facebook – If you have a business and you want to connect with potential customers use social media and promote by doing advertising on Facebook…it works;
  • Mass Media – Television works.  It’s that simple.  In the final weeks of the campaign our opponent spent thousands on television advertising.  While the ad was not very creative it was the only thing running;
  • Direct Mail…Sucks – We spent several thousand dollars on specifically directed mailings to selected special interest groups.  Our return was less than 1%...way less.  This has caused some re-thinking for our agency about the use of direct mail;
  • Relevant Message/Bad Timing – No matter how “important” you  think your product/service is trying to sell ideas during the Holiday Season is tough…very.
  • Winter Elections/Promotions -  In December it’s dark by 5PM finding a polling place, especially after redistricting was tough.  That brings to mind the timing of your promotion/event.  Getting people OUT after dark during the week?  Unless it’s a very social thing…nada;
  • Wednesday & Church – Not being a Christian I had this misdirected thought that Wednesday nights were like any other night.  Wrong.  Avoid Wednesday night events...especially if you are targeting women.

However difficult it was to lose it was a wonderful adventure and we were grateful for the experience.  I know that Desmund Adams is not finished with his dream to serve the citizens of Iowa…I’ll let you know where that leads all of us.



If you would like to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or join us on our Twitter Stream @InsightADV or our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.  Thanks for coming by.


Sunday Morning Coffee - January 8, 2012

We'll get back to business tomorrow.  Today you've got the chance toCoffee Cu ps drink up some Sunday Morning Coffee; our look at sex, politics, gossip, opinion.  The stuff you crave.  Don't just sit there, you know you want some!

This week:

  • Chris Hagenow - Week 47
  • Iowa Caucus - It's not just the GOP
  • CNN - We talk Social Media and...The Weather
  • President Obama - Grows some...
  • The Holocaust - A weight loss answer from Dubai?
  • Rick & Newt & Mitt - Huh?
  • Penguins - Happy Feet meets Raiders of the Lost Ark

Don't just sit there grab some Sunday Morning Coffee right here



You are welcome...Michael

What Makes It "Click"?

I know dozens, if not hundreds, of people who look for that "magic bullet" that willMPL Twelve Thirty allow their product/service or campaign to click in the minds and wallets of consumers.  I want to share the secret(s).  It's timing.

Here is a great example:  Over the past eight months the State of Iowa has been the political and media focal point.  For months we've had to endure listening, reading and watching folks opine about our state.  Often missing the mark...completely.  Mix that fact with creative folks (tip #2) like Scott Siepker and Paul Benedict who have been (tip #3) paying attention and you get...this: (NSFW Edition...sorry it works better.)


535,000 views...and counting.  Oh, there is one other thing that needs to happen to make something "click" in the hearts and minds of the consumer you need to (tip #4) take action.  Just having the timing, being creative and paying attention won't get the job done.  You need to mix those with actually doing something and chances'll click.




If you would like to connect you can leave a comment here, or on Twitter it's @MichaelLibbie (personal) or @InsightADV (business or our advertising agency Facebook Page is  Thanks for reading! - Michael

Welcome 2012 & Social Media ROI

What can measuring the number of social media mentions a company, product or (in the case) politician tell us about the success, failure or news buzz?  Plenty and that's why our friends at The Washington Post formulated Mention Machine an app that tracks social media "chatter" and then ranks pending winners/losers.  It, January 3rd.


This isn't just for folks who are "political junkies"...  It is for folks who seem to think there is no value in using social media tools for products and services.  The neat thing is you can also very easily "track" your business social media buzz by using any number of tools. I'm hooked on this stuff and as a business person you should really, really make 2012 your year for social media success.  If you want to leave a comment here, feel free or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal) or @InsightADV (all business) and our advertising agency Facebook Page is




Thanksgiving Thank You....

We took some time on Thanksgiving Eve 2011 to go out and ask some folks what they are thankful for.  Thanksgiving is that one American Holiday that screams "family".  Here is what we heard:


For those of you who don't have family close or, perhaps, without family members...know that we're all connected in that bond of humanity that, as we learned today, can be very special, warm and loving.  It can be...honest.

From all of us at Insight...have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  If you want to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or join us on Twitter @InsightADV or here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by! - Michael