The "Book" and its "Cover"

He was a little stand-offish this guy in the dark suit with the bright red Dave Sanderson August 2014 tie and matching pocket square.

During a recent Midwest Speakers Bureau Showcase, something where professional speakers are given (in this case) twelve minutes to impact a room full of professional meeting planners...he didn't interact much with the other speakers in the room.

Dave Sanderson was getting ready to speak.  He was focused on his craft. He didn't want to be distracted. However, my first thought was that he, perhaps, thought better of himself than his fellow speakers  I was wrong.

Following his speech we sat down together and I opened up the conversation by saying, "Are those (shoes) Allen Edmonds?"  Dave looked at me smiled and said, "Yes, the best huh?"  We had a nice conversation about being well dressed, the value in buying high quality products and staying focused.

You know that old saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."? I truly enjoyed the time we spent together. I learned another lesson along with staying...focused.  Oh, his story?  Ever hear about "The Miracle on the Hudson"?  Dave was part of that adventure.  Go ahead...have a look.

(Photo Credit: Dave holding a photo of Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger holding the child Dave helped save - Diane Crone - West Des Moines. You can click to enlarge.)

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and host of the daily business news broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.


Old School?

It's 7AM on Sunday and I'm in the office writting "GREAT to Meet YOU!" Thank You Notesnotes to roughly one-hundred people I met last Friday during the 16th Annual Midwest Speakers Bureau Speakers Showcase and Iowa Meetings Expo.

Yep, I could have sent an email but that's not my brand besides, I'd rather not be deleted with a push of a button.

Sure, it's pretty old school but there is something about sitting down and writing words on a piece of paper that links us...better than LinkedIn:

  • Time - It's valuable and taking time to write to your customers/clients and new friends is an investment in branding;
  • Personal - Sure you can personalize your email but why not take the extra step and communicate something special;
  • Memorable - So few people write words on paper anymore that it's highly likely this "note" will at least get noticed and, perhaps, sit on a desk for a day or so.

Shameless self promotion?  No, taking the time to write also allows us a chance to reflect on exactly what we are doing...adding value to a brief meeting that, when action is taken, benefits the writer and the reader.

So, what do you think?

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and host of the daily business news broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.


This is Killing New Business...Dead.

Honestly, I want to help so here is something that will help your business grow while improving your brand.  (And, it's free!) FREE (2)

You know that automated answering system you have on your telephone? The one that asks me to "Enter the extension of the person you are trying to reach" or "Using the key-pad, type in the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach".

You know...That System?

It's killing your brand and your business, especially new business.

What if I don't know who the sales manager or salesperson is? Or worse yet the first name is Cathy and not Kathy?  Your answer: "Oh, just punch zero!"

Really?

And then what?  Get a voice mail like, "You've reached our general voice mail system, please leave your message at the tone."

You care that much about business...new business...to direct me to your "General Voice Mail System"?  Nice touch.

Why is your time more important than the customer who has a question or wants to buy something?

Have a good answer?

I didn't think so. 

Two things:

  • Hire Your Brand Expert - Get a real person to answer the phones and direct traffic. Then train them in your brand effort. This is an investment in your brand and your business.
  • Your Voice Mail - Change it...daily. Let people KNOW that you actually check the voice mail and that if they leave you a message you'll call them back.

Two simple, free pieces of advice that will have a major impact on your brand and your business.  Hey, it's what we do.

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and the host of Insight on Business the News Hour.

 

 


Contact Us...Really?

I've just spent thirty minutes on two different non-profit websites Contact Us attempting to connect with somebody...anybody.  No, we're not selling anything we're wanting to offer some airtime on our business radio broadcast. For...free. However there is zero contact information...zero.

Let's see if we can help:

Websites, in this century, are not only billboards about your business or your non-profit business they are communication tools that help you interact among members, consumers, future members, future consumers. Increasingly people search on-line first before making an investment in nearly...anything.  But, don't take my word for it. PriceWaterhouseCoopers finds that 80% of global consumers research products online before buying in stores, and that 73% of U.S. consumers do.  And that study is three years old!

Don't hide your contact information.  Some quick tips:

  • Contact Us Page - Make sure you have one and that it gives the visitor some sense that you'll actually respond;
  • Phone Number - Some folks still use one. List it and return the call; 
  • Info@Us - Avoid using "Info" or "Contact" as "names in the contact email.  It takes seconds to put a real person's name there.  People want to communicate with people not..."Info";
  • Be Welcoming - You do want consumers to interact with you...right? Make your "Contact us Page" welcoming and open for dialogue. 
  • Photos - If you have an Executive Director, you know the person that is the paid face and voice of your non-profit, use his/her photo if possible and at the beginning of the bio have that link to the email address;
  • Respond - I know, it's a pain to communicate with customers and if you ignore them long enough...they will ignore your business/non-profit.  Why risk the alienation?;
  • LinkedIn - You may have heard about it.  If you have somebody that is the face and voice of your business or non-profit why not use this method as an additional way to connect with consumers?

Seven things that will help you better communicate with folks that want to know more about you...your company...your non-profit.  Do you have others?

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!


So, You Wanna LinkUp?

We have this "love/hate" relationship to LinkedIn.  We love the  Linked In No Photo
opportunity to connect with individuals from all over the world and in different fields. Reading their original thoughts helps us grow and learn. The "hate relationship" is nearly equal. Most of the posts (90%) we see are not original thoughts.  They are posts written by others that our LinkedIn connections think are good...and nothing wrong with that. However what do YOU think? What do YOU have to say?  So, here's some quick tips to enhance your LinkedIn experience.

  • Your Photo - No really.  LinkedIn is considered a "professional resource" that means a photo of your cat might not be the best. However, a photo of your cat is better than no photo at all.  Post your photo.
  • Contact Information - Post it. If, for some reason we need to make a phone call to your office it might be a good idea for you to post your phone number...unless you're really not interesting in making a real connection. Same goes with other contact pieces.
  • Think Original - If you do a blog or have an opinion in your business world...post it.  We understand it's tough if you work for someone else. But, if you can post original thoughts...do so. It helps.
  • Read the Content - LinkedIn offers up content that tends to be in your professional space. (Amazing what they know huh?) Take some time to read it...some great original ideas.
  • Don't Simply Recommend - We LOVE it when a person recommends any of our crew.  However, at the same time it's better to reach out and comment on more than just "Say congrats on a new job".  Which BTW is often not really a "new job".  LinkedIn has some issues when you update your profile. (See they don't know THAT much!).

You have some LinkedIn Tips too?  GREAT!  Feel free to make a comment and thanks for reading!

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We're Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications a full service advertising agency that is also the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour heard Monday through Friday on 1350-KRNT and in podcast form right here.  


What Your Voice Mail Says...About Your Business

We take this voice mail thing seriously.  Each day we update our out- Man Fingers in Earsgoing message.  It let's clients, vendors and others know that we actually check voice mail and their message doesn't get...lost. Here is that post with simple tips to make your voice mail work for you.

The other day we reached out to a local business, at their request. Here is the message we heard from a woman at the business: "Thank you for calling. We open at 3PM. Messages left here are not checked."  

Huh?  Well, at least they "thanked" us for calling.

Uhm...one word: Stunned.  So much so that four days after calling it's still bugging us. Guess we could call after 3PM but we're more likely just to pass on this one.

Are we wrong?

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Insight Advertisng, Marketing & Communications is based in Des Moines, Iowa and is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business broadcast.  


The Iowa State Fair and Public Relations

OK, it wasn't as bad a flop as the roll-out of the Affordable Health Care Debit Card Reader website but still...  Last week our friends on the Iowa State Fair Board had cow-pies in their face.  The Board, aware of reports that other states that were missing out on thousands of revenue dollars due to either under-reporting of sales or skimming, determined that fair-goers should by fifty-cent tickets for food and drink. 

Yep, fifty-cent tickets.  Can you imagine how many tickets, at fifty-cents each, you would have to lug around just to buy a bucket of cookies or two rounds of cheese curds? 

Well, the public and the vendors screamed and within a day of posting the new rules the Fair Board decided they had enough and cranked out a press release that was heavy on "Oops" and very light on details.

When we made contact with their media office we were told, "The press release is all we are saying."  In other words, "We don't know exactly what to say and hope all of this blows over...quickly."

Cashless at the Iowa State Fair really isn't a bad idea. But, fifty-cent tickets is. We think it might be a wise investment to launch a "debit-card" system.  When you buy advance tickets you get a card (Maybe even pre-loaded with five bucks? Thinking PR) that you can load remotely or at the fairgrounds. 

The drawbacks of the cashless system are hardware and public relations.  And...judging by the poor PR that went into this decision it might be awhile before the Iowa State Fair should even consider...hardware.

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour where this story was first aired. 


The "Welcome Brand"

Sign Dont do thisThe other day I was having a discussion with a friend whose wife works in the service world.  Think maybe YMCA, apartment leasing, laundry, or other public accommodation business.  

When she became the boss one of the first things she did was stand back and examine how the business communicates with the public with...(ready?) signage.  You know, those (usually home-grown) signs that inform the public about what they should not do?  Signs that sprang up because somebody did something and it was deemed this activity was not to be tolerated so the answer became, "Let's put up a sign!".  Usually a sign that deals with the negative aspect of an action.

  • "Do Not Use This __________!"
  • "If You Remove This _________ You Are Liable!"
  • "Use of foul language is grounds for immediate dismissal!"
  • "Failure to sign in is against company rules!"

Notice that "negative branding" also requires you to use multiple fonts and sometimes color.  Pretty huh?

That got me to thinking about what creates a welcome brand.  (Tip: It ain't  any of the above.)

So what about your brand?  Is how you communicate with consumers positive or negative?  In advertising do you highlight the benefits of your product/service or do you contrast and compare?  Are your marketing messages direct and to the point or do you tend to use "soft" & "friendly"? Do you "listen" to your customers and then distill what they have asked for and match it with helpful advice or set yourself up as an authority?

My point is if you work hard at becoming a "welcome brand" by pushing the negative to the background you'll be more successful with more consumers.  People not only buy from people...they also buy from "nice people".

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Got an opinion?  Feel free to share here.  Or, let's connect on Twitter @InsightADV and our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.  Thanks for coming by!


Twitter for Business & Mediacom

There is a "love/hate" relationship with so many of our utility companies. We think the reason for this disconnect is not always service but Mediacom screen communication.  We've all had to call an 800 number and speak with a customer service representative who must (by some body's order) go through a script all the while saying, "Thank you for that information..." and then offer a prescribed set of "fixes" but no ability to share what's really going on.  It's frustrating and causes consumer problems.

Some time ago we found the "back-channel" to consumer confidence.  It's called Twitter.  Over the years we've communicated with major corporations from American Express to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and always been pleased. The same with our friends who work the magic at @MediacomSupport.  Mediacom, a regional cable TV outlet, has figured out that building relationships builds the bottom line and customer loyalty.  Not only that but if you read the interaction above MediacomSupport actually is...human...coming back with a "good night wish".  Impressive...

Mediacom has also figured out the reason to use Twitter is not to sell products/services but to actually reach out to consumers to listen and engage.  Your lesson here is just that...reach out, listen and advise.  Offer something useful to your customers like...customer service that is directed and personal.  How?  See above.

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If you would like to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or let's visit on our advertising agency Twitter Stream @InsightADV and here is our agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by!


Honest, We Were Trying to Help...

That's what we shared with our friends at the new Urbandale (Iowa) Hy-Vee last month when we authored "The SM Break Up" piece about their Man Exclaim "tired" Twitter Stream filled with "corporate speak".

Yesterday we learned that an "in-house" person has been tasked with monitoring and responding for all the social media platforms the new "super store" controls.  And, we couldn't be happier.  Not because we did anything other than point out that doing social media well isn't a cost...it's an investment in learning and interacting with consumers.

So... @UrbandaleHyVee welcome back to the conversation and thanks for the acknowledgement that there is real value in social communication. Glad we could help. We'll be watching and sharing!

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If you want to comment here, feel free.  Or let's get together over on Twitter @InsightADV and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by!