Given our short attention span...now estimated to be roughly 6 seconds...LeadN15 ("Lead in Fifteen") where presenters are given fifteen minutes to bring their "A Game" to an audience might be...a little too long. But, given the line up that Tom Henrickson has put together this event may just hold the attendees attention.
On stage this week to present include:
Dr. Tony Paustian on "The Word that Changed My View of Everything
Sonya Heitshusen and Matt Zepeda: "It's the Process"
Kimberly Baeth: "Tips on Growing a Successful Business"
Liz Nead: "Active Leadership - The Climb of My Life";
This week I was honored to be asked to judge the Simpson College 2016 Iron Journalist Pitch. I 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.
Look, I do marketing and advertising for a living. It's my craft to engage, for and with our clients, consumers in the key demographics they wish to reach. So could I learn something from a bunch of thirty-somethings? (Well, then there was Mike Wagner...) Sure! I love learning how others share their messages, build their brands and engage consumers. Perhaps I'll learn something new. Maybe pick up some new tips or confirm what we're doing for our clients is spot on.
And it was "Yes" to all three areas. Some key take-a-way items:
Brand Engagement Requires Thought - It's not enough to simply post something and hope it will stick. You've got to know who your target demographic is and speak to their passion/interests;
Rifles Are Better Than Shotguns - Sure you can scatter your message on whatever media you like but that may not be where your demographic is hanging out. Just because you like the 10PM News doesn't mean that is where your consumer is. Besides, shotgun marketing is very expensive;
Branding Is Everything - Here we go again...branding is not your logo. Branding is everything from how you answer the phone, the outgoing voice mail message you do daily (you do that...right?), the way in which you respond to email, how employees conduct their social media presence, how counter people engage the customer....and on and on and on;
Social Media Ain't Free - I do an entire seminar on this for businesses and the bottom line is it takes...work;
Skinny Budgets Require Collaboration - How can non-profits build a solid brand by engaging others? Ask Steven King from the Des Moines Arts Festival;
Don't Forget Volunteers - The NASCAR Iowa Speedway has 17 employees but hundreds of volunteers who share a passion for racing. Make sure you train your brand warriors in customer centric engagement methods be they paid or volunteers.
So, you get the point right? Even "old dogs" can learn. Oh...and get some cool swag! Thanks for the opportunity!
If you were to "Google" the words "Social Media Strategist" you would
find an endless stream of people selling their knowledge about this new media. LinkedIn offers this definition: "Social media strategists are marketing professionals who specialize in the research, planning, development and (often) implementation of a business' social media program. Companies need to understand that social media is not a single
campaign. They must "socialize" in the arenas where they create a
I agree and it is that final sentence that you and your business needs to understand.
Over the past few years we've run into dozens of "social media strategists" or at least they bill themselves as such. Not long ago we asked on our agency Facebook Page and on Twitter for a recommendation or two so we might visit with them to learn exactly what they....do.
The response was underwhelming.
So here are a couple of tips when and if your business goes out seeking a "social media strategist" to help your marketing efforts:
Investigate - It's pretty easy to find out who is and who is simply posing. Check their social media feeds and see exactly how active they are. What kind of content do they deliver and are they the right fit for your business;
Understand Marketing - Look again at the definition. "...social media is not a single campaign." In other words it will not replace all existing marketing efforts. Anybody who suggests it will...show them the door;
One Trick Pony - If the person who is pitching you understands only Facebook or only uses Twitter and isn't able to talk the many other forms of social media...beware;
Coach or Take Over - Some in the field offer "coaching". They realize the best social media program comes from people deeply involved with the product or service. We tend to favor that method rather than simply being the "voice" long term.
A Good Fit - Whomever you choose to help needs to have an understanding of your business and your market. On the job training of your social media strategist takes time...and money.
Not every person involved in social media is a "strategist". While anybody can throw together a few Tweets, a Facebook Post or a Blog...not everybody understands how to plan and make it...work. Good luck out there and be careful.
What to do following several days at the Agricultural Media Summit in New Mexico? Head back to Iowa and visit with farmers at the AgIowa 140 Character Conference this Friday.
Look, there may be only 2.2 million farms and 4.4 million farmers but they, just like you in your business, count on information to guide them. This Friday seventeen of the states best social media folk will gather for a grower specific event at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University Campus to talk about using Twitter to gather and share news and information.
The AgIowa 140 Character Conference kicks off at 2PM and each presenter has ten minutes to share his/her advice on the how, when, why of Twitter for Agri-Business. The cost? Less than two bushels of corn.
140 Character Conference, AgIowa, agri-business, Agriculture, Ames, Deb Brown, Des Moines Register, Farm Bureau, Farms, Insight Advertising, Iowa, Iowa State, Jeff Caldwell, Larry Sailer, Michael Libbie, Shannon Latham, Twitter
This week Des Moines played host to the second 140 Character Conference or The State of Now - Iowa. Last year I attended to present and then stuck around for a couple of hours. This year I decided to make a day of it. From 8:30AM to the final act at 5:30 I mingled with people who work in various "silos" calling out to consumers, constituents, friends and customers using Twitter and a host of other social media tools. So, what did I learn? (Photo: Jeff Pulver founder of the 140 Character Conference. We're thinking.)
It's OK to have a voice and to share your thoughts and objectives with 140 characters. What YOU have to say may seem "silly" or "stupid" to somebody...but to another person it matters. If you're not in the game, you'll never know.
We've used Twitter for years and connected with some amazing people. Some whom we've never met but continue our on-line relationship. Recently we've held parties where we invite folks we've not met in person but communicate with on Twitter. Fastinating.
Yesterday I met four of the most passionate teachers on the planet. Teachers who have opened up the minds of young people by engaging and encouraging them to use social media to break out of the 1950's and enter the world of...now. Example: "What adult reads a book and then writes a report? I asked my students to read a selected book and then blog about some aspect that touched them. The results were original, thoughtful posts that touched thousands."
It Drives Business
Number one reason business rejects social media? "I don't have time." Really? You don't have time to connect with your customers, to learn more about them and why they like (or sometimes dislike) your product or service? So, you go about doing the same dumb-ass stuff you did a year ago and wonder why it's not working... Social Media drives business and motivates consumers to become loyal friends. Does your business have a "chief listener"?
Often business thinks there is little value in social media because many times the raw cost to "do it" is...free. So because it's "free" business sidelines the effort. Or, they find out that "free" really isn't free because social media takes...effort. It takes work to think. It takes work to write. It takes work to engage. And, it takes some balls. Don't let that hold you back.
Bottom line: Social media, done right, with a plan, with purpose and an understanding of the basic "how to" can have a huge positive impact on your business and your interaction with other...humans. Because real people, at real keyboards are creating real...content.
The business of business hinges on so many things; willing consumers, a solid brand, selling something folks really want/need and...leadership to pull everything together. That's where my friend Steve Farber comes in.
Thought you might like that. Steve nails it when he talks about the education system, teachers and how, positive change can start right now in classrooms without having to wait for the gears to grind. Looking forward to sharing this with my friends who wrestle with education issues...daily.
In a nutshell the report tells us that Iowa students, who twenty years ago ranked in the top national percentages in reading and math, have slipped to the "middle of the pack". And, it's across the board, white kids, minority kids, rural, urban... That's troubling for...business and it should concern you.
I don't have an answer as to "what to do". I'll leave that up to Jason Glass the Iowa Education Director. However, as a "life long learner" who is fascinated with consumer trends let me offer up some marketing advice to all sides:
It Isn't Political - There are some folks who will latch on to this information and run to their partisan corner of the world pointing fingers at the other corner. Stop it. Consumers, the public, are sick and tired of that behavior.
Consumers Want Action - It doesn't matter if you're talking about telephone service or education. Consumers do not understand how it is that hundreds of administrators, often without field experience, can tell the grunts how and what to do. It ends in non-action and that is frustrating.
Be Simple - If you can explain "education reform" in thirty-seconds do this: Film the answer and get it in front of as many people as possible. We want answers.
Be Honest - Education doesn't have to be "fun"...it has to be "interesting" but if children spend six hours in an interesting classroom and go home to an "emotional wreck" with stressed a stressed out parent(s) it doesn't work. There is a direct tie between economics and education.
Old Isn't Better, It's Different - It's not time to say, "When I was a kid..." it is time to look at how we use technology in the classroom and in the home. When the folks that are writing the lesson plans don't understand how technology works...how can it work for students?
Parents - When will somebody start a media campaign that looks into the camera and asks how much time you, as a parent, work with your kids...learning? This isn't all the responsibility of "somebody else". Seriously...if companies can spend millions selling a new beer to consumers can't we find a way to sell the idea of responsibility to parents?
I'm just a marketer, a guy who creates desire among consumers. Maybe its' time to create a desire for learning. More rules, more tests and more politics don't seem to work well... Sorry for the musings...it just bothers me.
I don't often post stories from Insight on Business with Michael Libbie, part of Webcast One LIVE. However this show is critical for those of you interested in education, what business is seeking, and what "reform" may look like.
The show is from March 8, 2011 and it features Jason Glass, the young incoming director for the Iowa Department of Education. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad calls him "...an energetic reformer and a change agent." which, in the minds of many is very scary. We found him to be bright, savvy, and very passionate about new directions in education.
So, why am I pointing you to this? Because we are all invested. It doesn't matter if you have kids in a school or not. The kids that are in our public schools grow up and enter the business world. How well prepared will they be in the 21st Century and what is business demanding?
Here is the complete show. Our interview with Jason Glass begins at the 17-minute point. You can fast forward to that or wait the fifty-four seconds for the start of the show. Links are below.
If you would like to carry on the conversation you can leave a comment here, reach me through Twitter - @MichaelLibbie, shoot me an e-mail, pick up the phone, join us on our agency Facebook Page... For Jason Glass it's @JasonGlassIA on Twitter. Thanks for coming by.
business trends, Des Moines Register, educational trends, Insight on Business with Michael Libbie, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Schools, Jason Glass on Education, School Reform, Terry Branstad, Webcast One LIVE