Communicating Agriculture

This month we've got three great events that are meant to help us Three Fingers communicate the reality of agriculture.  Each is different but worth a solid look. 

American Agricultural Editors Association

Each year the AAEA brings together some of the best minds for a three day learning session. This year we'll gather in Albuquerque to better hone our craft.  From trade show meetings to learning better photography skills members will learn new and exciting methods as we reach out to growers and the general public.  

State of Now - Agriculture Iowa

On August 17 at Iowa State University farmers, ranchers and growers of all kinds have the opportunity to spend a day learning about how to connect, market and share information by using Twitter.  Deb Brown the organizer for the 140 Character Conference has assembled a great group, including farmers, who will present solid ideas to get you going and keep you on track.  The State of Now - Agriculture Iowa will take place in the Scheman Building.  Here is the link to get you started.

The Iowa State Fair

Imagine the possibilities when rural and urban folks get together for this eleven day celebration of Iowa. From video to blogs to Tweets the Iowa State Fair offers those of us committed to agriculture a rare opportunity to impact people with our story. For those of you using Twitter it's #IowaStateFair and @IowaStateFair is the Twitter "handle" where Emily will answer your questions and take your comments.

We'll be at them all and look forward to seeing you...

If you want to leave a comment here, feel free or you can connect with Twitter @InsightADV or our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.



When Technology Gets in the Way?

The other day I wandered into a local Wendy's and saw this new drink Coke Machine machine.  Sleek huh?  The "table tents" boast that now Wendy's customers have "100 different drink choices".  One-hundred...

What technology can mix up for us.

I thought it was very cool however my Bride said, "I bet at lunch time, when there's a rush, the line gets pretty long."  She has a point.  With one-hundred different choices we suspect it's going to take longer for folks to make up their mind. Then, I think about my Mom, who is 92, standing in front of this thing looking at the choices, the lunch hour would be over before the next person in line got their drink.

Sometimes technology can get in the way.  Think about your business. What new. "cool" gadgets have you incorporated on your website, in your store, in your manufacturing facility that...while cool...can get in the way of your core business.  In Wendy's food just may have gotten...slower.

As always, if you want to leave a comment here, feel free or let's connect on Twitter @InsightADV or here is our advertising agency Facebook Page. Thanks for coming by!


Good Enough for Heinz

Coming to you on November 14th will be a new ketchup flavor from ourHeinzLogo friends at Heinz.  But, you won't be able to pick it up at your grocery store...for awhile.

Heinz announced this week that their new ketchup formula, which replaces traditional white vinegar with balsamic vinegar, will only be available on...Facebook.  Yep consumers won't find the new ketchup in their supermarkets until late December and until then the only outlet will be on social media.  Why this is such a big deal and why YOU should pay attention:

  • Major Brand Influence - The "Big Guns" have been flirting with Facebook for a very long time.  This new product launch will up the value of creative going social.
  • Data, Data, Data - By using Facebook Heinz will be able to capture data on a wide variety of individuals buyers...and non-buyers.  On-line sales have aways been able to capture sales data...but this time Heinz gets to have a relationship with non-buyers for future campaigns.
  • Viral Messaging - This is a brilliant PR move.  Take a product like ketchup and alter the recipe a tiny bit.  No big deal.  BUT, take it to social media and folks talk about it.
  • Start With Your Base - Heinz already has 825,000 fans on Facebook so why not launch to your most "friendly" base?
  • Make It Special - In this case Heinz is labeling this "new" product as a "limited edition" until March.  

The bottom line for you:  While you may not have the advertising dollars and marketing ability of Heinz you already have "loyal fans" and consumers on Facebook...and off.  The next time you launch a special Heinz Pkg useprice, a new product, a special event, START with your loyalists and give them a reason to tell somebody else.

One other ketchup detail.  Remember when I "discovered" the new "Dip & Squeeze" single serving packet on a filming in Georgia?  Single servings have NOT been available to consumers outside of fast-food facilities.  That is about to change.  You'll be able to buy ten of these single serve packages for, ready? $2.00... it! 




 If you would like to leave a comment here...feel free or let's connect on Twitter: @InsightADV and here is our advertising agency Facebook page.  Not yet at 825,000...friends. - Michael 

It Offends Me...Get Over It

Over the past couple of weeks the Internet has been on fire because of this new ad campaign for Dr. Pepper 10.  If you haven't seen you go.  My comments follow.


Loads of things, from production to copy-writing, to talk about here...but let's stick to the "hot button" issue of being offensive to women.  I'll admit when I first saw that ad it was, "What the heck?".  It's not your usual soft-drink piece.  So, I went to YouTube to watch it...several times.  (You see...I don't TIVO to cut out the ads...I make a note and then go find them.  Sad, I know.)  It's satire, parody the end it works.

Sure we've got some folks fired up about the "anti-women" message and the Facebook "Man'Ments"...that's the idea.  Get people talking about your product/service and make it as viral as possible.  Dr. Pepper could have launched something safe and predictable and they would have gotten the "safe and predictable" return: Yawn.

Get over it..and drink up.  But, if women REALLY want to get offended I present you with this new campaign from Hardee's.






If you've got a comment you can share here or let's connect on Twitter: @InsightADV or here is our agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for reading! 

Let's Talk...Trends

One of the most exciting parts of the advertising agency business is following consumer trends and then taking them to our clients so they might create a product or service ahead of consumer demand.  Fun stuff if you're watching what is going on and you get it right.  Here's a trend we started watching five or six years ago and it continues to build...against the odds.

Natural/Organic FoodBuy_fresh_buy_local

We do lots of work in the "farm to table" world and while the natural/organic food trend isn't new to the coasts it's still emerging here in the Midwest.  We believe the drivers are: choice, health, cause and age.  People, for too long, have had little choice in their food decisions.  We simply purchased what was on the shelf at the local grocery store.  People wanted "something different" and, because of the information now available through technology, we heard about natural/organic and the proposed health benefits for people and the planet.  That becomes the "cause" portion of the trend.

The "age aspect" is something very different.  The coveted age demographic has always been 18 - 24 with 25 - 34 coming in a close second.  In this trend the drivers seem to be folks that are 45+ who have the money and interest in health decisions.  In fact, much of the action is coming from men and women that are considered "baby-boomers" at 55+.


But, don't take my word for it here are several solid, local examples of the natural/organic trend that is raging in the Midwest:

  • Farmers Markets- In the Des Moines Metro there are at least six with the largest being the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market which draws 25,000+ each week.  That has been so successful they have now started a Mid-Week Farmers Market during the noon hour....
  • Grocery Stores- Regional grocery stores have increased competition from not only farmers markets but places like, Campbell's NutritionWhole Foods and now brick and mortar grocery co-ops like Tallgrass which will open soon in Historic Valley Junction.
  • Community Supported Agriculture- They are called CSA's and they are growing at a steady rate.  This is when individuals agree to buy specific items form local farmers each month.  Buy Fresh, Buy Local is something only the hippies did...ten years ago.
  • Organic/Natural Farms - Farming in the Midwest, ten years ago, was all row-crop with eggs, hogs and cattle on the side.  When Senator Tom Harkin suggested in the 1980's that producers should consider growing more sustainable local crops such as "endive" he was laughed out of the room.  Today the number of small, independent, family owned farms continues to grow.  In fact, the 2010 USDA Farm Census showed the first increase in the number of farms in the United States since 1940.  And, it was these small farms that made the difference.
  • Farm Tours & Events - Would you think over 1,300 people would travel to rural Iowa to tour seven small organic/natural farms to buy and or sample their products?  They do at Farm Crawl which will hold their fifth annual event this fall.  Here's a video from last year.  And this is happening all over the country.

Bottom Line

At the start I suggested this trend is growing "against all odds".  What are those "odds"?  Money.  Not everybody in the nation is convinced the sky is falling and they have money to spend on natural/organic items.  Cause is powerful.  

Following trends isn't hard...but you need to be "tuned in" and listening.  With this trend there is still room for your business...even outside of food.  Think of the drivers, "Cause", "Health", "Age" and "Choice".  What can you develop that meets those consumer demands?  And will you market it? 

Thanks for reading...if you want to see several examples of this trend have a look at this piece we wrote for Insight on Business...complete with some video.

If you want to connect and leave a comment here...feel free.  Or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (all business) and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page where folks get these posts...first.   Thanks again and have a great day! - Michael


Great Idea for a Dangerous Business

Actually the restaurant business isn't dangerous unless you happen to own one.  Statistics tell us that the failure rate of restaurants is one of the highest of all start-ups.  Here's a story that came to me from my friend Steve ShraderBachar who is vacationing in July.  Uhm...  In Steve's words:

Dinner at Aiello's

"The other night we had dinner at Aiello's a great resturant here in Phoenix.  The food was AWESOME, but the reason I am sharing this with you is the marketing aspect. At the table, once the dinner is complete, Aiellos PHX every patron has a chance to have "dinner on the house" Simply pick a number from 1-90 and it if that numbered tile shows up when the owner Joe Aiello comes by with the check, its on the house!

Wow, what a fabulous thought that was. We didn't win, but just the chance to have a $100 dinner paid for is something else! Then to top it off, he took a liking to my 7 year old so much that he offerred her the chance to pick a 2nd number from 1-90 and if we got that, we would get dessert for free. We didn't pick the number correct, but again its just the simple little act like this that has peopleJoe Aiello  talking! 

Thought I would share this with you in your quest for innovative marketing ideas!"

A Thought...

The restaurant business is highly personal.  Notice that Steve says, "when the owner Joe Aiello comes by with the check...".  Everybody wants to know "the boss" and the smart boss checks in with his customers at every chance he can.  No doubt Joe is also listening to what is being said.  And, it's personal. 

Loved the story Steve and thanks for thinking about in the lap of a cool Iowa Summer...not!  But, Phoenix in...July?


But It's Just...

I love it when I can share stories like this with you.  A dose of reality helps bring things into focus.   Part of our craft here at Insight is to do packaging for our clients.  We're the folks that create "the look" of the stuff you buy.  Our goal is to design a look that explains what the product is, what it does and how you can use it. really is an art.

But The Packaging Is Only ONE Part

La Creme Creating eye catching packaging is only part of the overall marketing adventure.  There are so many others from point of purchase displays, traditional media advertising, social media marketing and, of course websites.  Here's the story:

When I was at my Urbandale Hy-Vee (It is mine you know...) my Bride pointed at this package and said... "WOW!". is. But,  It's just coffee creamer.  They could have put the stuff in a plastic bottle, slapped a name on it and...try to sell it.  And they would have but they, and we, know...the the package us just part of "the package".

Beyond The Package DesignLa creme label

From the colors to what is written on the container you can tell these folks spent some real dollars in creative.  They send a message with the tiny icon of the cow.  It's all...real.  But the really cool part of this product marketing...the website.

The web can be a wonderfully active marketing tool...when done right.  While we expected a nice site..we were not prepared for what we found.  Not only is the site...classy it's also full of tongue in cheek humor and some creative classic elements that make it come alive. Go ahead...we're braging it up...have a look!  We'll wait.

It's Just Coffee Creamer

So, what do you think?  Here we've got several elements going on.  The call to provide a "natural" product to a consumer group seeking something more healthy.  We've got classy upscale product packaging.  We've got a multi-layer website that is interactive.  Complete with the Mechanical Cow and a little icon that says, "Real Cows/Real Dairy - A Sign of Respect".  The on-line video and music...  It all fits.  Oh and they use Social Media - Facebook and YouTube...well.  

What About You?

Remember it's just coffee creamer.   One little product in a sea of products...but look at what they've done.  They have branded their coffee creamer apart from others.  There is a huge lesson here my friends.  It doesn't COST to build dynamic pays.  We'll watch the 

Thanks for coming by!  You can comment here if you like, send me an e-mail, connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV or here's our agency Facebook Page.  Have a superior day! Michael


Sunday Morning Coffee - October 31, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee is a look back on an exciting week and a peek forward to the next.  Short stories that had an impact with a littleCoffee Cu ps  editorial comment.  You might consider this to be the "scattered thoughts of a cluttered mind" and that's OK.  Because I'd like to carry on the conversation, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom, send me an e-mail or make contact on Twitter - @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (business baby...all business).  Let's pour a cup...

"Silly Season" Update:  "November 2nd?  I think we might have 24-hours of rest before the 2012 Iowa Caucus activity starts...well, actually it already has."  Kathie Obradovich the political columnist for the Des Moines Register was an Insight on Business guest as we discussed the business of politics.  If you didn't see the show, here is the link to Webcast One LIVE!Jerry Kluver

What?  It's Jerry Kluver!?!?  Jerry is an amazing guy who is in charge of the Urbandale Hy-Vee Garden Center, all around "pitch-man" (here he is selling pizza), host of a weekly TV show (Get Growing with Jerry Kluver on KCCI-TV8) and a nice man.  This picture either means it's Halloween or he's been using NatraTurf products on his head.

Halloween Candy 2010 Speaking of Halloween - I had NO luck getting rid of the fresh jalapenosWe had about 50 kids come by the house last night an nobody wanted a jalapeno!  Kids...they just don't appreciate the "good stuff".   

We've started a new Friday feature, "The Stuff We See".  All week long Insight on Business with Michael Libbie looks at marketing, advertising and consumer trends.  On Friday we take a break and offer up some video of "The Stuff We See".  Last week, Happi Sushi...go on, I know you want to see it.

I'm bummed but then again...not.  This week is the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association fall meeting in Dallas.  I was all set to go but waiting for a client to pull the trigger on a major project.  Guess what?  They did and rather than being in a swanky hotel in "The Big D" I Tom Trapget to be in the field on television shoots.  This is the first FEMA meeting I've missed in a decade however, one costs money...the other...pays.  I think it's a good call.  Have a great time gang...and send photos?  I'm counting on you Mike Lessiter to get candid shots like this:  Here is Tom Burenga from Worksaver waiting for the next print advertising salesman.

Folks in Great Britain are calling the ad for "Royal Desire", a new scent inspired by Christina Aguilera,"soft porn".  Yikes!  Describing Aguilera in the ad as, "...showcasing her ample cleavage in a very low cut dress and writhing in a chair in ecstasy as she sprays the perfume across her chest." Mail Online thinks, "the singer's ad may be a bit too risque for her younger fans."


How about the older ones?  And too bad it's not "Male Online".  If you've got three minutes and want a peek at what it takes to film a commercial (and the reason that filming and editing isn't cheap) follow this link to The Making of Royal Desire.  Check the equipment, crew....etc.  And that's just the is the edit.  Now you know what it takes to make something...sell.

Back to reality...

Customer service drives sales.  That is a pretty easy statement but we Kenn both know how difficult it often is to access that elusive service.  But...then there are jewels out there.  Meet Kenn Bekker who has been an employee of Office Depot for 16 years (several of which were in California).  He is one of the reasons that I travel out of my way to shop at the Office Depot store on Merle Hay Road here in Des Moines.  Helpful and honest ("You know, you can buy this printer for less and it's just as good or better than the "on sale" printer.")  When I posted, on Facebook, that Kenn was a customer service wizard a half-dozen of my friends responded that "Kenn Rocks!".   He does...and thanks!

I had a real ethical issue come up last week.  Should I buy HalloweenG Halloween 2010  Candy that I don't if we have left-overs I'm not tempted? the stuff we like and hope we've got left-overs?  Here we are Saturday Night...handing out "the good stuff" and praying for left-overs.  I am soooooo weak.  An interesting custom here is that when kids come to collect their treat...they are encouraged to tell a joke.  We heard, "What is a sale do ghosts really like?  A White Sale!"  Do you have any customs like that were you are?  We think it's fun. 

Theromstat This is my NASA inspired thermostat

.  If I knew HOW to work it...I believe it does everything.  There is a "Wake Up" setting, a "Leave" setting, a "Return" setting, a "Sleep" setting.  You can set it for the weekend, a long vacation and fire rockets from The Cape.   Ummm...I can't get it to do anything other than hold a very toasty 71 degrees 24/4.  Grumble....

I ran into a friend late on Friday afternoon who told me that she has banned all local television and radio in her house.  Seems that "Silly Season" political ads make her crazy.  Not to worry Robin...November 2nd is close and like Kathie said...we warm up for the Iowa Caucuses.  Sorry to ruin your Sunday.Taylor Halloween 2010 2

Happy Halloween kids!!  For a parting shot, this is our grand-daughter  Miss Taylor who made a visit last night.  She's not really sure what all the fuss is about and hasn't got her joke down...yet.   But darn cute huh?  I know that every parent says this..."It wasn't that long ago that I took my kids Trick or Treating."  There you go...said.  Last night our son,  Aaron Libbie reminded me of Halloween 1993 when we had a major ice storm that cut power to thousands of homes.  Last night was not that way...beautiful.  Hope your evening was safe and that you have a fantastic Sunday!

Catch you LIVE tomorrow with Insight on Business with Michael Libbie.  Our guest, Dan Johnson from the Social Media Club of Des Moines.






















Food - Another Consumer Trend

Want to grow your business?  How about adding new products and services before the competition?  Want to increase market share outside of your current business silo?  Sure you do...but how?

Follow consumer trends.

Back in the day, even a decade ago, following trends in consumer behavior took an Weather Vaneamazing amount of ground work.  Not to say it's simple today but access to data, reliable data, is much easier.  Let me give you a couple of examples we talked about during Insight on Business with Michael Libbie.

One of the consumer trends we follow centers on agriculture...more specific...the public perception of how we grow/raise what is fed to the world.  (We're in's a big deal!) It looks like Unilever is also paying attention to the animal rights movement and the "cage free egg" debate.  They've just announced starting NOW you can buy Hellman's Light Mayo that is made with "cage free eggs".  What does that mean for Hellman's?  They have moved from simply selling a commodity (mayonnaise) to "cause marketing".  And, they will be able to charge a price unquestioned by people moved by the animal rights cause. 

Following consumer trends isn't difficult.  You don't need a staff of dozens to know that "organic", "natural", "micro-business", "private brands", "value" and a "localizing of business" are all consumer trends that are HUGE.  How do we know?  That's the stuff we do for our clients and what you should be doing for your business.  (Lecture over...)

Well, not quite.  Think for a moment:  "Why would 20,000+ people converge on Downtown Des Moines, Iowa each Saturday morning for five hours buying food that is 15 to 20 percent more expensive than they can get at any number of supermarkets and Big Box Stores in the city?"   Get my point?

OK, one more.

Staying on the culture and trend of "natural/organic" food.  For decades, and still in some circles, traditionalists will tell you, "Organic food is a waste of money."  "There is no health benefit to buying and eating natural foods."  Organic food is an old hippie movement and it's just smoke and mirrors."  Blah, blah...blah.

Who cares what is being said...the pure fact is..."natural/organic" food is a multi-billion dollar industry.  You have a problem with jumping in and making money?  If so...stay out, leave them alone there is still a large market aimed at folks who don't care what they eat.  But, before I leave this area something to chew on:

Whole Foods Logo Not to rub it in...but, we love it when we are spot on.  In spite of the recession, in spite of reduced purchasing power...  Whole Foods posted an 8.7 percent increase in same store sales in their second fiscal quarter.  And, a 9.5 percent increase so far in the current quarter.  Nope, we don't make this stuff up.  Here is the story from our friends at Reuters.

So what if your product or service doesn't revolve around food?  There is still a valuable message here:  Consumers want and are demanding a more wholesome approach to daily living.  What product or service can you deliver to this hungry crowd?  Come on...think.

Let's connect here by you offering a comment or let's get in touch with Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (personal and some business) or @InsightADV (all business baby).



Sunday Morning Coffee - April 25, 2010

Welcome back to Sunday Morning Coffee a time when we look back on a week that was and a glimpse forward to what's coming up.  It's sort of like sitting down with friends at a coffee shop or cafe and sharing stories.  And, because it's a conversation, I'm interested in your take.  You can comment here or send me an e-mail   Coffee is hot...have another cup?

Wellmark logo It's getting really spooky...  This past week Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, one of the largest employers in Des Moines, decided to go "all in" when it comes to battling smokers and smoking.  According to published reports, in the Des Moines Register, job applicants will have to testify they are "tobacco-free" (even at home) and those employees who currently "use" will have to kick the habit by October 1. The "edict" goes into effect June 1.   I'm not a smoker or tobacco user but isn't this too much?  Can Gestapo tactics be next?  Rewarding people who "turn in" folks that have a cigar on their deck, after supper?  And leather coats appearing at your desk the next morning, "Papers! You have papers?!?"  Could eating fast food be next?  How about having sexual relations, unprotected?  Or driving a vehicle that has bad tires?  Anybody else see a problem here?IMG_0138

Kizzy, our African Gray parrot,  has her own Twitter account.  She is nearly a year old and wanted to 'stretch her wings' a bit.  You can visit with her, should you wish, on Twitter: @Kizzy_Bird.  Could a Facebook page be far behind?  Of course...

Using on-line video to promote your business?  No?  Why not?  Last week I published this piece about how we use video to promote our business and the products and services of our clients. is why you should:  Nielsen Research, in a study released last week, says that nearly 73% of Broadband Internet users have watched on-line videos...and actually enjoy doing so. Here is that study.  You here yet?  Why not?

Coming up this week I'm going to share a customer service story with you that, once again, proves you should be doing business with locally owned, family run businesses over the "big box".  Price is not, and should not be, the main focus when you buy goods and services.  I'm hoping that this gives hope to those business owners who are thinking "price sells" and rushing toward the bottom trying to out-price each other.  It doesn't work.

Waiter food Enjoy eating out?

You must and quick serve restaurants increased their advertising dollars by over 2% to nearly $4.1 billion during 2009.  Meanwhile, and this is a bonus, what two cities in the United States does the most restaurant business.  Go ahead, think on this for a minute. (I'll also suggest to you why...)  New York City?  Nope...   St. Louis?  Nope.  How about that KC BBQ....ahhh....nah.  It's Fort Walton Beach, FL and close behind is Myrtle Beach, SC.  HUH!?!?!??  Think about it for a minute.  The median age, in both cities is nearly 39 years old. Older, stable and time to use their money.  Median age in St. Louis is 33 years old, Kansas City, 33, Minneapolis 32 and Des Moines, 33.  Those pesky Baby-Boomers...  But, don't take my word for is the study complete with the numbers.

Care about the Rural Economy in America?  You should...  Dr. Ernie Goss of Creighton University, Omaha, had this report about the health of our rural areas.  Is it better?  Have a read.Roller Derby 1134

Did you know that Des Moines has TWO ROLLER DERBY TEAMS?  TWO!!!  The Mid-Iowa Rollers and the Des Moines Derby Dames.  Just another reason Des Moines is ranked, by Forbes, as the number one city in the nation for business and careers.  Eat your heart out Peoria...

Last week this story about Three Rules for Retail Success got a lot of BUZZ.  What JerryKulver use happened:  I went out on a scouting mission for a client of our advertising agency.  I went to a number of garden centers all run by the Hy-Vee supermarket company.  Some of the same stuff but a different atmosphere and shopping experience...depending on where I went.  The Urbandale Hy-Vee Garden Center is amazing.  Why?  I think, and you already know, it comes down to three basics and those basics work in all retail settings.  Ya gotta have the right people, the right product supply and an ability to merchandise what you are selling.  Hat is off, once again, to my friend Jerry Kluver who...ROCKS!

Coffee is good this morning!

Last week I got a package in the mail from a friend in Minneapolis.  It's a DVD, professional,Fnal Solution 3 about the life of David Fishel, or more direct; his life as a slave laborer during WWII and his eventual move to Des Moines.  Knowing the family, Robert and Bobbi Aronson, I expected this to be good...but the 15 minute video is more than that.  It is profound and a wonderful teaching tool.  The video, Stolen Youth, is one of a four volume set that focuses on the Holocaust and intolerance.  The series would make for a great teaching tool in schools and houses of worship and comes complete with teaching materials.  More on this later...

Packing loads of stuff into this week...thanks for coming by for a read.  Sunday Morning Coffee is part of our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications.  We'll get back to business tomorrow.  Should you want to follow me on Twitter it's @MichaelLibbie (business and not-so-much), @InsightADV (business baby, business), @RuralLifeRadio (our love for everything...rural).  Thanks again for finding us.