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!


How About A Little Help

Got a marketing/advertising question?  Man Questions

Our business is marketing and advertising and has been for years. Our goal is, and always has been, finding ways to help our clients sell more...stuff.  To be able to do that consumers need to know your business exists.

Not long ago we went out to area businesses and asked them to ask us a marketing question.  We filmed the question and then offered a possible solution.  Here is the first in a series from our friends at 515 Brewing based in Clive, Iowa:


This may not work for your business but we've seen it work for many new or re-emerging businesses that want their neighbors as customers.  Thanks for reading and for watching!



Get Ready Main Street - The 800lb Gorilla is Coming

Wal Mart New LogoIf you own a small business this news should warm your heart.  Walmart has announced that it will shift some of their national television advertising dollars to local TV in some 60 markets. The company will create 1,500 "hyper-local" television ads targeting price.  Actually, they will be targeting the local retail stores which dot Main Street.


Because they want a bigger slice of the grocery store business.  But, you can bet it does not stop there.

The retail giant will not only produce a mind-blowing 1,500 ads they will also extend the life of the campaign by using social media.

Before you put up the "Out of Business" sign some things you can and should be (Uhm...HyVee, Fareway, Dahls and others...)

  • Hammer Local - You are already the local business.  Today get "hyper-local" in your marketing efforts.  You live in the community.  You give back to the community.  You serve local community friends, family and neighbors.
  • Get Creative - There are a dozen ways in which you can top this move if you sit down and think, "How do I better serve shoppers?"
  • Get Personal - While Walmart is going to highlight price by comparing sales receipts you can highlight the people you serve and the people that serve the consumer.  Make it a personal experience.
  • Get Help - Trust me, you can't do this alone. I realize you "think" you know advertising/marketing it's not your core craft.  You make stuff to sell stuff or buy stuff to sell stuff.  Marketers are the folks who help you sell...more with better communication.

You can not attack this with Facebook alone.  You can not respond with cool signs.  You cannot do this with newspaper ads.  You can't do this with a speech at your local Chamber.  You can't.  It is that simple.  To be able to extend your brand to your core audience you must employ a host of methods...and you might want to get started today.

If you would like to read the article from our friends at Advertising Age, here you go.




If you would like to comment here, have at it.  To connect with us on Twitter it's @InsightADV and our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.  Thanks for coming by...and hope it helps.  Michael

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Market Day

I am a capitalist.  I think.  I love it when a client listens to our advice, Thanksgiving Sales 2012 sells more stuff and becomes successful.  That is what we're in business for.  If our clients were not successful we would be out of a job. So, I am a capitalist but I also want to be...fair.

This is an image of the Des Moines Register advertising section from the Thanksgiving Day edition, 2012.  Yes, the paper had some "news" but over 80% of the daily was...advertising. (Who says print is...dead?)  Going through this edition it's clear that "big box" has the upper hand with their advertising dollars.  Not many "mom & pop" ads for small businesses. 

Market Day 2012I get it that these chains and "big box" hire local folks but I also know that independent business owners and workers want you to shop them as well. That's why several years ago I vowed to make 80% of my holiday purchases from "Indies".  That starts tomorrow during Black Friday.

Market Day is a monthly event made up of "Indies" that takes place at the Des Moines Social Club.  But, Black Friday is special.  Dozens of artists and retail shops will sell useful and often querky stuff you'll find nowhere else.  And, doing business with these folks is a joy. (Here's a preview of some of the vendors.)

This year...why not be a capitalist and do that shopping local...really local...hyper-local.  If you're in the Des Moines area you can meet up with us at Market Day, Kirkwood Hotel, 400 Walnut Street.  Door open at 9AM. See ya there!

Happy Thanksgiving and...Happy Market Day Shopping!  Want more?  Quick video from last year:





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'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!



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!

Cookie Cutter Branding

Every company has a brand.  The folks responsible for steering the brand Jc penny logo
may have a corporate office but the "deciders" (the folks that really matter) are consumers.  JC Penny Co. learned that lesson and this week Michael Francis, the former Target Corp. executive who was tapped to redefine the brand, left the company.

What happened?  The consumer was not buying the shift away from "sales events" to steady low prices.  And, when you think JC Penny Co. you already have a brand image of..."old" yet "reliable".  (My 92 year old Mother loves JC Penny Co. my bride...not so much.)  All of that was upset with the new branding effort

To be honest we loved the "new look" of JC Penny Co. with its sleek low clutter print ads.  We've always believed "less is best" when it comes to JC Penny Coadvertising.  But looking like Target was not enough.  The company made the decision to borrow a Wal-Mart approach and go for...low prices all the time. The "deciders" (those pesky consumers) didn't like it because it went too far...too quick.

Perhaps what JC Penny Co. should have done was look at it's overall brand and make improvements in service, selection and begin a campaign that allowed for a slower transition toward capturing a more youthful, well heeled target demographic.

But, investors don't like to wait...and JC Penny Co. had already waited way too long.

This is a lesson in two ways, 1) Cookie Cutter Branding doesn't work. Looking "cool" isn't enough especially when it's out of touch with your core market and its expectations. 2) Mature brands turn their image like a cruse ship not a speed boat, especially true if you want the consumer to hang on.



If you would like to connect, feel free to leave a comment here or follow us on Twitter @InsightADV (business or @MichaelLibbie (personal account).  And...our advertising agency is also on Facebook, here is that link.

Five Great Retail Lessons

What makes for a great retail experience?  We're offering up what weWoman Shopper think are the top five things that create a "desire" on the part of the consumer.  The idea that they must  No fancy studies, just an honest assessment of what moves us to buy at our favorite retail businesses. 

Employee Interaction 

Within a 1.5 radius of our home there are three grocery stores.  We consistently pass by two of them and shop at the furthermost store.  Why?  We honestly like the people who work there.  Most are engaging individuals who see us all the time and say more than, "Did you find everything?"  (That is such a lame question and why "experts" suggest check-out people ask it is just...silly.)   Lesson Number One:  Hire friendly people.  You might have to pay them more...but it pays off.

Shopper Appeal

Some stores seem...tired.  I can't explain it to you but think it's a mixture of personnel, lighting and design.  Here is a test:  If you live in the Des Moines Metro head over to Valley West Mall.  Walk into Younkers and spend five minutes wandering.  Then, head all the way to the other end and wander through Von Maur.  The difference in shopper appeal is palatable. Music, staff, lighting, all works at Von Maur.  Lesson Number Two:  Avoid being a "tired store"Spruce up your shopper appeal by looking at your store as a consumer might.

Don't Shout

What the world needs now is...civility.  If you have anything to do with marketing or advertising in retail...stop shouting at me.  I'm not sure why nearly every local car dealer pitchman feels the need to be hyped up.  Why patio furniture needs to pitched as if it might be the last, best thing I'll do for humanity.  Use a little...class.  Let's have a conversation.  Lesson Number Three:  Don't shout, show some class.  We want to like you first.

Man Disco LoungeDon't Do It...

Please, for the sake of humanity, unless you are an accomplished actor who just happens to own a retail not appear in your own television ads.  I have friends who have done this and they look...silly and forced.  If, however, you want to be quirky go ahead.  But remember, your brand suffers.  Example: I would never do business with The Gold Guys...sorry but the lounge lizard look gives me the creeps.  Lesson Number Four:  Avoid the embarrassment and hire professionals for your television ads.

Bring Value

Not everybody shops price.  Bring value to the exchange by telling a story about the products you have in your store.  Bring value to the consumer by suggesting ideas rather than pitching a product.  If your stuff is expensive show value by how well it is made and how long it will last.  Bring value by being a resource rather than a store.  Lesson Number Five:  Add value to the transaction and people will share the story.  You end up selling...more.

You might have your own "Top Five" or you might have some additional ideas.  We'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment here or let's talk on Twitter @InsightADV or here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for visiting.






Are Flowers Enough?

Consumer studies for Valentine's Day are always fun and this recent bit of information coming from Alibaba sheds some light on what a growingWoman Valentine flowers number of people are shopping for...on-line. 

Sex Toys...  No kidding.  According to the data presented by Alibaba consumer interest in sex toys has increased by 194% from 2010 to 2011.  US on-line searches have increased by 26%'s not just "toys".  Consumers are also on the hunt for lingerie and "romantic-evening wear".  The same study tells us those searches have increased by 36% between Q-3 2011 to Q-4 2011.  Maybe it was the holiday...rush?

There is a serious reason I'm sharing this with you.  Here is your take-a-way: Watching consumer trends is not that difficult and, if you are in business, you should make it a point to try to follow as many trends in your "silo" as possible.  In addition, looking at what is going on in other industries can also help you make wise forecasts when it comes to buying what consumers want or think they want.




If you want to leave a comment here, feel free.  (I do, however, report spam and delete you know.)  If you want to connect on Twitter it's @InsightADV or here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Happy Valentines Day!

Pickups Loaded With Cash...

Today begins the three-day run of the Iowa Power Farming Show.  ItIowa Power Farming Calcium Products marks the 57th time producers, manufacturers and loads of 4-H kids flock to the Capitol City to see what  What is "new" is the fact the Iowa Power Farming Show now ranks as the 2nd largest indoor farm show in the...nation. (The National Farm Machinery Show based in Louisville still holds the number one spot.)

 Over the years my friends at the Iowa/Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA) have guided this show (and it's twin based in Lincoln, NE) to new heights.  And it has been deliberate.  Four years ago, as we sat in Kansas City, my friend, Andy Goodman the President/CEO of INEDA told me his goal was to build a larger, bigger show, support a new downtown hotel and help move the renovation of Vets Auditorium...two to go.  But there is more:

Agriculture is riding high.  Land prices in Iowa have set records, corn and soybeans prices continue to put cash in the pockets of farmers and rural manufacturing has seen the benefit.  This week, as thousands of pickup trucks rumble into the Capitol City, they are filled with cash.  But, for the most part, urban retail centers are not noticing.  They are unaware and that's too bad.  Think of the possibilities of attracting consumers with cash to spend.

And, if you're locked into one of the downtown buildings take a walk to the Iowa Events Center and have a peek at the power of agriculture.  I think you'll be impressed.

If you want to leave a comment here, feel free or let's connect on Twitter @InsightADV.  And if you are tweeting about the show try #IPFS12.  Thanks for coming by! - Michael 



Too Big to Fail?

Late last evening I was flipping through the pages of the Sunday Des Ad oneMoines Register inserts.  Yes Virginia, even on Christmas there are newspaper ads telling us we can save hundreds more on the stuff we already bought.  Anyway...

I came on this ad sheet for televisions and stuff.  (If you click on the image it gets larger.) As you can see, there is deal after deal after deal.  Seems it had been separated from the main body of the flier.  That...happens. 

So, I'm interested... "Where might one BUY one of these?"

I look but, no mention of the company name or what "Big Box" you might buy them from.  Nothing...  No logo, no footer.  Nada...

Ad 2 useThen, I see it...located on the bottom of a placement piece...the word "American".  But, I had to...scan, look, search.

Your tip is to make it clear where somebody can buy your product or service.  Sure, you may not have the big budget these guys do for multiple newspaper fliers...but you can be smarter then them and make sure you make it easy for the consumer to find you.  That goes for all forms of advertising...all.

Thanks for coming by the "Day After"...hope your holidays are going well.  For those of you celebrating Chanukah, today is Day Six.  And for those of you celebrating Kwanzaa it is Day One.  If you wish to connect: @InsightADV or our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.