The Eyes Have It

We're asked all the time about what makes the most effective Content Marketing Effectiveadvertising/marketing content. In other words...what works best.  The simple answer is "it depends on your target demographic" but that takes time and talent to figure out so let's cut to the most recent study.

We realize this is for B to B however, we think it holds well for B to C marketing as well.

According to the North American Content Marketing Institute the most effective tool is person-to-person contact. It figures, "People like to do business with people they know and trust" right?  But directly equal to that is content in video form.


And the very cool thing about video is that it crosses nearly all the other platforms and can be used in each:

  • Video for Social Media Content
  • Video for Case Studies, White Papers
  • Video for your Website
  • Video for your Nearly Everything...

Of course it has to be done well and connect with the audience and you can't drone on and on...

Get Video and Get Noticed!



The Restaurant Industry - Needs a New Brand

There's some major trouble brewing in the restaurant industry and it's Servergoing to take some time to get it fixed. Let me set this up for in the Des Moines Metro there isn't a week that goes by where we don't learn of yet another restaurant opening its doors.  While that may seem like progress there is something else going on: No workers.

I know of two owners who have put restaurant openings on hold because they cannot find help.  There is a lack of servers, cooks, chefs, dishwashers...and those two owners know the market.

Meanwhile corporations are draining the market dry.  After all...Hy-Vee might pay a lower salary for cooks...but they offer benefits.

If it is true that consumers control the brand then the restaurant industry needs to up their game and share with consumers what a great career food service can be. But it is going to take time and money.

In Europe a server is more highly treasured than a banker or attorney. Why? Because the industry there has built a brand on high quality, low turnover and knowledge.  Servers in Europe are...professional. Here they are often looked down on.

I've been told that the Iowa Restaurant Association has a plan to move this forward...they can't start soon enough...we're hungry.



Are You Free?

Years ago, when we started the advertising agency, I did lots of things for FREEfree.  I still love to meet with people for coffee so they can pitch an idea or a concept but (other than helping out some local chamber types with my public speaking) I quit delivering my work

If your business is a real business and it counts on you to do what you do...why would you offer your services for free?  Here is what that says about your brand:

  • We are not valuable;
  • What we offer isn't worth it;
  • We're desperate!

Go ahead and help out your local non-profit (once or twice) but other than that being "free" tends to cheapen your brand.

So, what do you think?  Am I right or...just mean?


Big Getting Little

Grocery store chains across the country are consolidating or simply calling HyVee Local Produce Two it quits. Last week legendary A&P filed for bankruptcy protection...for the second time. Kroger announced they are buying Harris Teeter and one of the oldest chains, Albertson's was swallowed up. Locally, family owned Dahls threw in the towel.

Today there are only a handful of regional grocery store chains in the nation. 

The grocery industry is vastly different today than just 10 years ago because there is more competition and the changing habits of consumers. Natural, local and fresh rate high on the expectation list of consumers. So, how does a regional chain compete against the likes of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and others?

Bring on the LOCAL feel and flavor of a time gone by.

HyVee LocalA couple of years ago HyVee, a Midwest regional chain, had a pretty successful run at calling attention to locally sourced produce. (Photo at left and you can click to enlarge.) While it all worked the effort was small compared to what they've recently rolled out.

Here (above and to the right) is the new roll-out of how big can go little all in an effort to boost a little nostalgia while calling attention to the fact that they sell what comes from your neighbor. 

The entire "feel" of the brand says, "Hey, we remember what it was HyVee Local Produce here for local produce!" And then they go to great lengths to tell you how "local".

We love the graphics, the look and the feel of the campaign.  Good stuff HyVee! 

Thanks for reading!


Working Together

Every so often we run up on a promotion that we really like, appreciate and Passport USE 2015 hope others pick up make it their own. As many of you know, July can be a slow month in the restaurant business. To boost awareness and business three independently owned fine, European Themed eateries joined together to promote their cuisine through the Gourmet Passport.

Here is how it works: Consumers go to one of the three restaurants, Baru 66 of Windsor Heights, Bistro Montage of Des Moines or The Strudl Haus of Des Moines and order the specialty priced meal designed for the Gourmet Passport. Upon leaving the restaurant your "passport" is stamped. You then make reservations at the next eatery and repeat the process until you have visited all three.

David Enosh MichaelWhen the Gourmet Passport is stamped by each restaurant the diners put
their contact information inside the front cover and leave them with the restaurant owner.  All of the completed "passports" are collected and a drawing is held with the winner receiving a free full course meal for six prepared by Chef David Baruthio, Chef Enosh Kelly and Chef Michael Leo.

Because the promotion runs the entire month of July there is plenty of time to make reservations at each establishment.

Brilliant!  And, yes...we're going! 


Grab the Tissues - Emotion Rules

This week I get to travel to Davenport, Iowa for the Iowa Association of Man TissuesBusiness and Industry "Taking Care of Business Conference" where I'll do a presentation of "Five in Twenty-Four - Five things a business can do in 24 hours to refresh their brand message and sell more...stuff."

One of the "Five Things" I'll share is that good creative works. And, creative messages that have an emotional appeal work much better than the campaign that simply offers "the facts".

Want proof?

Whirlpool sells cold, hard metal products.  Recently they launched a campaign that warmed the appliances. It's called "Every Day, Care" and features some tear jerking images of people caring for people with the underlying message that we do daily chores because we care for the people we love.  Here's an example.


The result?  Whirlpool's sales have risen 6.6% in the first six months after the campaign started vs. the year-ago period, four points ahead of the appliance industry. The brand's positive social-media sentiment has risen more than six fold. Purchase intent scores are up 10% from pre-campaign levels, which has translated into a comparable lift in market share.

So, if Whirlpool can warm cold steel appliances and that drives sales what can your business do to appeal to the emotions of the consumer?  Think about it works.



Ad Blocking Technolgy

We know you LOVE it when your surfing the net and up pop ads, music and Stop Figuremore. Now that there is AdBlock many consumers (about 300 million) have opted to block the advertising that has become so pervasive. And, recently, AdBlock announced that it will also offer a blocking application for mobile. And, yes, it works on ads for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well.

What does all of this mean?

In simple terms it means that your digital advertising plans just took a hit and that it is more important than ever to grow your marketing organically. 

How do you do that?  We think you'll have to turn to creating content that matches the interest of your target market rather than relying on automation to shout at people. However, and I've shared this many times before, that takes WORK on your part. It takes effort to think through your marketing plan.  It takes work to create thoughtful and helpful blogs. It takes work to build a podcast network. It takes work to understand and engage by using Twitter.

Television and radio broadcasters have had to deal with these issues for years as consumer turn to alternative outlets for viewing and music. However if your content and your message is solid the listeners, viewers and your target market consumer will be there. takes work!

A huge Hat-Tip to our friend Katie Moen who is an intern at the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines for the thought starter!  Well done Katie!



"I Made a Mistake."

I was sitting with a client last week talking with him about his marketing Man Choicesplan, his website, social media and traditional media. About fifteen minutes into the conversation, after I suggested he contact his web developer to make sure his contact information was correct, he looked at me and said, "You do it. I know my business but I don't know marketing.  I made a mistake in my former business by not hiring professionals to help me with what I don't do well. That's not happening this time."

That admission is unique. I've been doing this work for a very long time and the biggest hurdle for many small business owners is the belief they can do...everything.  The business person who knows his or her craft and has that for a primary focus while leaving "the other stuff" to those of us who are attorneys, accountants or advertising professionals wins.

It's what we do.  It's our craft and our business. It's like we wrote some weeks ago, "You do what you do and let us do that Voodoo."

Thanks for reading!



Trust = Value

I've been a LinkedIn user for several years and grateful to have many, Linked In Image
many people with whom I've made the decision to link with.  I also do a daily business broadcast and one of the stocks that has made news over the past week is LinkedIn. 

On April 30 LinkedIn stock was going for $252.13 a share. Today the price has plunged to $198.20. Why? The company shared user data which indicates a growing trend in users year over year however the professional networking company reported lower than expected guidance for the next quarter, leading to a significant drop in its stock price. Still falling as of today.

LinkedIn says it is the strong dollar that is giving it troubles.  However, we're wondering if the shine might be gone because many active users, me included, wonder if we can trust the information LinkedIn provides.

Take for example their newer method of helping you keep in touch with your LinkedIn connections. You've all seen the box that gives you tips on who has a new photo, a new job or a promotion. Trouble is many times that information is not correct or it's simply confusing.

Rather than clicking "Congrats" and moving on.  I like to click on the members profile when I'm told they have a new job only to learn they have been on the same job for years and only recently updated some information.  Yet there is a string of "Congrats!" in the member profile.

Value can often be linked to trust.  If I can't trust the information LinkedIn is giving me how much value can I place on the product?

So, what's your LinkedIn experience like.  I'd be interested. Perhaps I've got this all wrong.

Thanks for reading!



Doing It Right!

A couple of weeks ago I was having trouble finding my favorite flavor of AmarettoCoffee-Mate. Never bothered asking the local Hy-Vee about it because I figured it would show up sooner than later.

Three weeks into the "Amaretto Coffee-Mate Drought" I popped off a Tweet to @Coffee_Mate who responded, timely by the way, "We're sorry but Amaretto has been retired why don't you try..."

WHAT?  No Amaretto Coffee-Mate?  My mornings were going to from sleepy to sad...very sad.

Over the past couple of weeks I Tweeted my disdain to my former friends @Nestle and @Coffee_Mate. Ya know, photos of the Coffee-Mate section without Amaretto. A friend of mine even chimed in with #FreeTheAmaretto for Twitter.  The brand was sorry for my troubles and suggested that maybe some new "Caramel and Coconut Girl Scout" flavor might be a replacement. What?  Who thinks of this stuff?

This past Sunday I included @Hy_Vee in my tweet...moaning about the loss of the Amaretto flavor. Within a few minutes I get a Tweet back suggesting that I send an email to with my concern. Told them the flavor was retired but went ahead and sent an email anyway. On Sunday! Within the hour I got a response...from a real person...with a real name and a real email address.  

Amaretto Coffee CreamerShocked!  Who does this?  What no Bot response...but a nice note from Kourtney?  

I responded back...just to make sure it wasn't a Bot and she wrote back, "You’re most welcome Michael! We run a 24/7 operation here so if you ever have any store requests or Fuel Saver inquires there will be someone here to take care of it!" what did I do?  Made my own!  Another friend on Twitter supplied me with this recipe and BAM we're in business...and, of course, I picked up the ingredients from..."My Hy-Vee".

Welcome to Des Moines Price've got some work ahead of you.


Well played Hy-Vee...very!