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. 

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi


Bad Public Relations is Bad Branding

If the numbers are any indication shopping malls in the United States are becoming extinct. Overwhelmed According to Green Street Advisers, a real estate and REIT analytic firm 15% of US malls will fail and be converted into non-retail space in the next ten years. In 15 - 20 years retail consultants say that as many as half of the current malls in this country will fail...unless your anchor is a very upscale store.

With that kind of future one would think malls would be trying to find a way to offer a kind and welcoming face to the public. One would think.

Last year Merle Hay Mall became the first to demand that the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) move their bus stop off their property. DART says they tried to negotiate something with mall owners but, in the end failed. (They tell me they are still open for negotiation.)

Valley West LogoThen last week management at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines sent a letter to DART telling them they would have to move their bus stop off mall property. In a Des Moines Register piece this past weekend mall management, I suspect Paul Stender, says the current bus stop has "overwhelmed the retail center with buses and riders". DART has told me they continue to reach out to Valley West Mall to compromise.

Internal statistics from DART suggest that 75% of the riders to Valley West Mall are employees or shoppers and 25% are seeking to transfer to a different bus.

But, the mall is "overwhelmed".

Here, in all its glory is exactly the wrong way to brand...anything.  Get into a very public pissing match with an agency that serves, often, handicapped individuals, poor folks who can't afford a car and employees who are stuck at a retail minimum wage jobs.

Nice going...and now, on Facebook, there is an ever growing number of people who are offering to ease the crowding at Valley West Mall through a boycott.

Let's return to the first paragraph. Malls are in enough trouble and, for the life of me, I can't understand why they would wish to hurry their demise. One of my favorite stores is Von Maur. How favorite? When I pull out my Petersen Harned & Von Maur credit card I got back in 1982 employees tend to oooh and ahhh and say, "My, you have been with us for a very long time". I suspect, if I want to continue shopping there, it may have to be on-line. On-line shopping....the other reason malls are floundering.

Thanks for reading.

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 


New Horizons

I'm often struck at how fast we are moving forward. How, it seems, that each day something Speeding
new and fresh and exciting creates opportunity where not long ago there was none...or at least they were different

Step in the "Way-Back Machine" and consider what it was like ten years ago:

The sharing economy did not exist. Today we have companies like Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and others that have created a shift in how we market and sell services.

Television entertainment focused on cable, satellite or over the air transmission. Today consumers are cutting the cord at record numbers and watching on Netflix, Hulu and a host of other options.

Marijuana has emerged as not only a cash crop for Colorado but also coming is California and a host of other states and it's not only medical cannabis. This change has boosted another industry. Colorado is the number one state in the nation in promotional products. No, really.

And there is more..

Cars that navigate the roads on their own, electric vehicles that don't look like a battery (think Tesla), the rise of sustainability in products and services, podcasting where your business can create its own radio station, metrics that measure the success or failure of just about anything, relationship marketing through a host of social media tools...and that's just scratching the surface.

None of it was here just ten years ago.

So, what is next? We can speculate but the question you must ask yourself is this, "What have I done to better capture the realities of the new economy and match them with the consumer?"

What are your plans?

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 

 

 


Why Don't They Call?

Two weeks ago I attended a BNI meeting in Urbandale. They tell me it's the largest Business Telephone DustyNetwork International group in the Des Moines Metro. The breakfast meeting was well attended and I knew a great many of the thirty plus people there...I've been around awhile.

When it came my turn to address the group I offered them each a gift. I gave each person the business card for Insight on Business the News Hour and said, "I do the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and I would love for you to call me and let's get you on the air to chat a bit about your business. There is no charge."  

But, I knew they wouldn't call. I've been doing this business broadcast for years. I knew.

Perhaps having the 11,500+ people who listen to the three stations isn't impressive. Perhaps having us hand each guest their own copy of the recorded broadcast, in podcast form, along with the studio photos so they can share their story beyond the broadcast isn't impressive. Perhaps they figure it's "too good to be true" and it's my way of squeezing out a client relationship. Perhaps they just want to do business with each other.

Or they miss the value or they think we to "toxic talk radio" with "gotcha" questions.

I dunno.  Maybe you do.  Maybe you can help me understand why the phone sits there and collects...dust.  I'm really interested. 

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 


Just Shut It Down!

This past week Twitter celebrated its 10th Birthday. That caused lots of people to Tweet "Happy Birthday" and wonder, "Gosh, how long have I been using the 140 character platform?" Me too. Twitter Profle March 2016
So, I looked. I joined as @MichaelLibbie on July 15, 2008. Since then I've posted over 39,000 Tweets and interacted with thousands of people and businesses.

I'm not sure what you might consider an expert to be but, I'll suggest to you that with nearly eight years of experience, thousands of messages and giving dozens of presentations on the power of Twitter and Social Media...maybe I get it.

That's why, when I look at the Twitter Feeds of businesses and individuals and see how anemic their attempt is, I often suggest, "Just shut it down, you are doing more harm that good."

That was my suggestion to a former social media client who decided they knew better and said, "We'll just take over the posting duties. I think we've got an intern or some young people here that can get the job done."

Right...  I looked. Had to...it was the 10th Birthday of Twitter and I was wondering how far they have come over the past several months. Crickets.

So here is my social media marketing tip for you and your business. If you've decided to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn etc.) but you're not doing it....just shut it down. Stop because it ain't working and you are doing more harm to your brand than good. If you don't have a strategic goal. If you don't have a social media marketing plan. If you don't know....just stop. Or admit that you don't know and find some help.

But, what do I know...  

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi 

 


So What Do you DO?

It's a question I get...all the time. Somebody asks, "So, what do you do?" and my reply is Woman Beach
that 
I have an advertising and marketing agency. The questioner then nods politely as if he/she understands. But, I've been in this long enough to know that unless your business is advertising and marketing the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what we do in this space.  Heck, even my Mother often said, "My children? One is a doctor the other...I have no idea what he does something about advertising...I think."

And that...from my Mother.

So what do we do around here?  Two words:

Awareness & Desire

We create awareness of our client's products and services and we do that with many different techniques. It could be with traditional media such as television commercials, radio commercials, print advertising, billboards...you know the stuff you see every day. Or it could be creating awareness using new media or digital media like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, blogging. You get the idea.  And, because not every product or service matches the media we need to discover who our target is and where they are hanging out.

Creating desire is all together different. Creating desire includes a call to action, visual images that put the consumer in a touch with our clients product/service.  Allowing them to see or imagine themselves using or at least trying the product or service we are delivering. We emote, we share, we drive a message that creates desire to learn more.

For example this morning I spent four hours looking at images of food as we prepare to create a website for a client. No, really...four hours looking and writing words that match the images that will create awareness and desire.

That's what it is we, and hundreds of advertising agencies do...every day. We like to think of it as a craft. The craft of creation.  

Maybe that's why, even my Mother, had no idea what I do...

Thanks for reading!

  6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 


The Business News Hour - The Friday Wrap

Every so often I comment about Insight on Business the News Hour in this blog. The thought IOB_RGBoccurred to us that you might be interested in some of the long-form business interviews we do. You may find valuable the information our guests share with our radio audience. 

For those of you who don't know, The Business News Hour is the only daily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest. It is heard on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2. Each day, Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM, we cover the business news headlines of the Nation, Region and the Greater Des Moines Metro along with a Market Report and our business interviews.  To listen or download any of these, simply click on the play button or click on the IOB image of the Des Moines Skyline for our Podcast Page. 

Our conversation with the editor of the Des Moines Business Record, Chris Conetzkey, focuses on paying attention to trends, business R&D in an economic downturn, the back-story of the publication and the print industry.

While listeners enjoy promotions there is a back story to every one. Joining us in studio is Jeff Delvaux the General Manager of the Des Moines Radio Group and we talk about that and more...enjoy! 

Today we share the IOB Mic with the Dean of the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, Sarah Fisher Gardial. Sarah was in Des Moines to speak at a Hawkeye Lunch & Learn about women and business leadership.

How you say what you say matters. Wayne Bruns is one of the Tero Trainers and he's here to break that down for you and give you some solid tips on how to improve your speech.

On any given night there are roughly 300 people sleeping under bridges, in parks or in tents. This is the story of Joppa Outreach and what they believe is an answer to the issue if only the City of Des Moines will give them the green light. Meet Joe Stevens, Amy Hunold-Van Gundy and Kyle Horn in studio to offer up a solution and offer transition to families.

With us in studio is the AMA-Iowa Co-Vice President of Programing, Sarah Barthole.  We talk about what members can expect, what marketing trends are exciting, how email may still be an effective way to reach consumers and the upcoming monthly program.

Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Amber Robinson and Krave Gym of West Des Moines. She says that she started Krave so she could help develop a program that would attract individuals who really want to see results.

Last week we shared with you the difference between "Reach and Action". Today we offer up Five Tips for your Business Facebook Page that will drive activity and create action. Ready?

Thanks for coming by for a listen.  Now for our commercial:

Insight on Business the News Hour with Michael Libbie is a production of our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and is the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the region. The News Hour is made possible through the sponsorship of: Merit Resources of Urbandale, Iowa Computer Repair of Windsor Heights, ReMax Real Estate Concepts of the Des Moines Metro, the Iowa Association of Business and IndustryDWebware of Urbandale, The Strudl Haus of Des Moines, Manpower of Central IowaTero International and the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines. 


Reach vs. Action

Go ahead, check your Facebook Business Page, I can wait. Notice how many folks your most Reach Imagerecent post...REACHED?  So, what does that mean? Perhaps, not what you think. "Reach" simply means how many people saw your post. Saw it. Like in, "Oh, there it is." and nothing else. It does not measure how many people read the post. It does not measure how many people clicked on the post extension. It simple means how many people saw your post.

So, why bring this up?  We take the long-form business interviews that are done each day of our broadcast and post them on several social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and we always use a Bitly Link. Bitly shortens the URL of our broadcast interview and then keeps track on how many people click on the link to access the podcast. Here is a link to Bitly so you can use this technology. Bitly also lets you know where folks are coming from. A website? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn?

The number of Facebook "Reaches" is nowhere close to the number of folks who actually clicked on the link to listen. There may be 500 people whom we "reached" but only 50 of those folks actually took the time to click through to listen to the information from the interview.

I'm telling you all of this so that you can better understand that "Reach" does not equal "Action". Some people that I know get all excited because their post "Reached" 200 people and they often think that, somehow, means "Action". It does not...but there are ways to increase the "action" on your Facebook Page.  That story coming up.

And, you're welcome!

 

 


Creating a Call to Action

So, you've got a website (but is it responsive?) and you are selling a product or a service. So Action Button far, so good. But, here is the question we need to ask. "Do you have a CALL TO ACTION on your website?"

Look, just having an electronic brochure...which is what many websites really are...isn't enough to motivate the consumer. You've got a website for a reason. It's there to share information about your business, show off you ability to answer questions or provide a service. But (and you knew that was coming) if you fail to ask your visitors to actually DO something after they meet you then you are missing...doing business.

The goal is to convert "lookers" into customers and clients.  And that, my friend, is difficult to do with a passive web presence. 

How do you know if you've got a passive website? If you track your site using, say Google Analytics, and you've got a ton of visits but a bunch of bounces.  Or if you've got a super keen website and people are coming but then business is slack.  Bingo...passive website. 

It's pretty simple. 

So here are several tips that will allow you to take your passive site and make it interactive with your perspective customers/clients:

  • Call to Action Button - This is an easy fix. It can be "Ask your question." "Donate Here!", "Let's Talk", "Use the App" any number of things that you want the visitor to DO. Make sure that it can been seen and is large enough so folks don't skip it. 
  • Chat Button - You can offer a "live chat". OK, so you don't have the staff to do a real live chat but you can configure the "Let's Chat" button to generate an email that you can come back to that evening or later in the day and have that communication.
  • Help Button - Perhaps you are in a service sector that is specific to various consumer needs. Put up a call to action button that has a place where visitors can fill in a form and ask their question. You can have disclaimers that indicate the question does not, in any way, create a client relationship, but is an informational service. (Go on, click the "Act Now" button above.)
  • Call Us Now! - You can have a large call to action button that is directed to a dedicated voice mail number. Rather than the standard, "Your call is very important..." (Please, BTW do not employ that language because...most of the time you are lying.) use this language, "Thank you for calling. Please let us know how we might help. We promise to call you back and have the discussion!"  And, then....do it.

Simple fix items that will turn your passive website into a way you can generate business.

Go!

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi


Use It or Lose It

Back in November the Greater Des Moines Partnership (whom I admire and am an active Look Local First 2015member) rolled out a marketing plan designed to remind holiday shoppers that buying local has an enormous impact on the local economy. Look Local First had all the stuff: Images, a website and even a hashtag #LookLocalFirst to be used to promote the program via social media.

The other day I did a Twitter Search for #LookLocalFirst just to see if anybody had been using the hashtag. You know, spreading the whole idea that "Shop Local" is good for the local economy.  Here is a screen shot of what I found.

Look Local First Twitter Mentions 21 DecLook, I get it.  People get busy, they forget and sometimes it's tough to market a movement...even if that movement helps serve the commercial interests of the area.  So, how about some social media tips for the use of a hashtag promotion?

  • Encouragement - If you've got a built in set of social media followers continue to encourage them to use the hashtag and make sure they understand the relationship they have to share the message;
  • Use It - In this case the last time I could see that the sponsoring organization used #LookLocalFirst was the end of November. A long range campaign needs engagement all the time;
  • Cross Promotion - Use other media to explain the message. A couple of short videos, done by (in this case) small business people gives a human reason to use the hashtag;
  • Key Players - Get some key players in your social media world to use the hashtag. People follow people;
  • Blog About It - One and done doesn't get it. Sure you can have a big rollout but if you move on too quickly it loses steam. Offer a few success stories;
  • Start Early - If it's a campaign meant to cover the fourth quarter or two months of the fourth quarter start the campaign awareness at least a month earlier.

Big companies and organizations often have way too much going on and tend to forget about the campaign they started. That helps nobody. Stay with it and your ROI will improve.

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi