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Marketing the War...

Calltofarmswomanwwii1943 Winning the Hearts and Minds Through Advertising/Marketing

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

(Excerpt from a speech to the National Tractor Parts Dealers Association)

(This is not a political statement, we try not to do that here.  This is a lesson to those who still think they don't need to carefully plan and execute a sound marketing and advertising plan.  You don't believe me?  Ask the President.)

The war.  It's with us everywhere.  We read about it daily in the newspapers, watch reports on television, listen to "talking heads" from both the right and the left scream at each other on the radio.  We see yellow ribbons, men and women in uniform and magnetic decals sporting all kinds of slogans about the military.  The problem is, as evidenced by the election in November and all the polling data since, the war has not captured the hearts and minds of Americans.  In other words...we're losing...again.

It's a hard thing for many of us to take.  We like to win.  And looking back we know that Korea was a "draw" and we're not really sure about Vietnam.  It's still too fresh.  But Iraq?

I was walking down Nicollet Street in Minneapolis the day before the election when I passed a used book store.  In the window of the store were five or six vintage posters much like the ones I'm using here.


I stood there and read each one.  They all had the same themes:  "DO SOMETHING!".  And, each poster came from an official United States government office or entity.

Foodweapon Many of the images urged the reader to sacrifice, to save, to become involved in the war effort.  Nobody was spared, everybody mattered and the messages were clear.

The government in those days understood that to combat the enemy we had to first win the hearts and minds of Americans.  The official line was not, "Travel and buy things..." it was sacrifice and get involved.

Ride_with_hitler Contrast these advertising and marketing campaigns with what is going on today.  Sure, each branch of the armed service has recruiting ads (my favorite is the U.S. Navy SEALS TV ad showing a calm beach at night, then footprints, then nothing.) but there is nothing from the government who is spending billions to prosecute this war.  The result?  Folks aren't buying it.

It is the same with getting products and services noticed.  You simply can't have a great product or service and let it stand alone.  It takes support, aggressive support.  That's the pitch.  If you have a product or service and you want some aggressive support and a solid advertising and marketing plan.  Call us.  Or, if you know Karl Rove...put in a good word for us.

Bad News for Compact Tractors

Anna_20hp_mailer Sales of Small Tractors Tank!

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

(Anna Mayer and a 20hp FOTON Tractor with Turf Tires)

The report showed up in my e-mail this morning courtesy of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA).  It's the monthly Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Flash Report that details monthly and year to date sales of tractors and combines.  It has always been an accurate measure of what is happening in the agricultural community.  Today's report should be of concern to anybody attempting to market compact tractors and should cause them to carefully consider their marketing approach.  Let's first look at the numbers:

Year to Date Sales of Under 40 HP Two-Wheel Drive Tractors:

114,321 sold YTD 2006 vs. 119,432 YTD 2005 - (-4.4%)

119,419 sold YTD 2005 vs. 126,443 YTD  2004 - (-5.6%)

126,265 sold YTD 2004 vs. 118,383 YTD 2003 -   +6.7%

118,383 sold YTD 2003 vs. 92,351 YTD 2002 -    +27.9%

For two years under 40hp tractors boomed in the market with the best year being 2004 and sales of 126,265 units.  This year numbers indicate a drop of 10% over the past two years.  What is going on?  Speculation on the reasons for the drop in sales go from "lousy economy" to "we've flooded the market" to "less people moving to rural America".  I'd suggest to you they are all wrong.  I believe  the drop in sales is directly related to the customer base being (ready for this?) under-served.

"What?" you say.  "Why, there are more choices in compact tractors today then ever before!".  "We're doing a splendid job in marketing our compact tractors, after all we are in all the magazines...our agency says so!"  Sorry...that is just the point.  You are missing the mark...big time.

Remember, this is FREE advice.  You can choose to ignore it, you can call us and tell us we are idiots...or you can adjust your thinking.  Your choice.  (Enough stalling...already!)

Here are the three reasons sales of compact tractors have tanked:

1)  Your Marketing Plan is TOO Traditional. - You are blowing big dollars in print media that does not really target your prime demographic.  The thousands of people who subscribe (or get free subscriptions) to "farm magazines" are not the folks who you should be trying to reach.  Why?  The publishers simply don't have them in their data-base.  Why?  Because this demographic are NOT FARMERS which means they are not easy to find in government database lists of farm payments.  But, you counter: "There are special magazines out there that DO target this crowd!"  Opps...check their data numbers.  There are 27 Million households that make up this demographic.  The largest "magazine circulation" in this arena is 250,000. A drop in the bucket.

2)  You are targeting the wrong gender. - Sorry guys, in this demographic it is the woman who makes the buying decision.  You don't think so?  Go out and buy a car or pickup without consulting the female in the family.  The purchase of a compact tractor is more like buying a family vehicle than it is buying farm machinery.  In addition, a recent survey shows that "discretionary income" for males has remained flat over the past five years.  During the same time period the "discretionary income" for women has increased by 12%. Follow the money.

3)  Traditional tractor dealers don't get it. - Once again, this group of buyers is very different than traditional agriculture buyers.  Many dealers are not prepared to talk "financing" vs. outright buys.  Many dealers are not willing to take the time to explain what the heck a "3-point hitch" is and what it does.  Many dealers simply fail to work the service portion of the sale.  Many dealers don't pay attention to the way their dealership "looks" from the road or inside.  Do you want to see how to accomplish these tasks?  Visit a new car/truck dealer in a large community.  You'll find upscale showrooms,  a lack of clutter, great looking promotional items and a sales staff that can actually "sell" rather than take orders.

The bottom line:  Sales have fallen because we think many manufacturers of compact tractors have already sold to the traditional ag customer base.  And...because many the lifestyle folks only put 100 hours or less on a unit each year....these tractors, in their hands, will last "forever".  So, what to do to build sales?  It is now time to expand your thinking.  Like I wrote...the advice is free.  (And you know how that story goes.)  BUT, if you are really serious about improving sales to this huge demographic...give us a call.  We can help.

A New Adventure in Radio


New Radio Show to Debut in January

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

"Hwy. 6 - Your Road to the Country" know that thing that you take when you really believe in something?  We did just that.  Starting in January we'll be doing a weekly talk radio show here in Des Moines featuring issues important to "Ruralpolitians'.  You know, those folks who live on 3 - 100 acres of land, drive a pick-up, have a couple head of horses and maybe some cattle.  (Scroll down a bit and you'll find a blog on who and what they are and why you should be marketing to them.)

Having lived that lifestyle and being involved with a number of clients that serve this emerging demographic it seems like a natural fit.  Besides, I've had an itch to get back on the radio and this is a prime opportunity to talk about rural lifestyle issues and the things that impact folks that live in the country.  True, if you are reading this and don't live in the Des Moines area you'll not be able to hear the show...  But, I think the larger issue here is how excited the radio station was to find somebody to reach this demographic.  From what they tell me several national sponsors are eager to jump on board.

The bottom line is that if you are not trying to reach this growing group of people you should be and that is where we come in.  We can help you prepare a marketing plan and material that targets this market no matter where you might be.  We believe in this so much...that we took action.  If you're interested, you should too.   Give us a shout...we can help.


Oh..the name of the show...Hwy. 6 - Your Road to the Country???  For folks in this part of the world Highway 6 is a major road that cuts right through the city Des Moines so the metaphor of a highway that runs from the city to the country makes sense...we think.

"So, How Much Will This Cost?"


A Good Deed - A Good Measure of Costs

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

We get asked all the time, "So, if we do a media campaign with you, how much will it cost?"  The answer always depends on what the product or service is, what media mix the client wants, what type of marketing vehicles we might recommend...the list gets pretty long.  The honest answer usually is, "We honestly don't know until we get into the project and learn more about you, your product, your core demographic, etc."

That is why I welcomed the recent article in the Des Moines Register from this past Wednesday.  Some friends of mine (see the photo above - and yes, some of them will actually admit to being friends of mine...others will deny it...something to do with Homeland Security.) got together and are offering their services to a charity, the name of which will be decided on shortly.  It is a great idea, a great way to market themselves and an excellent community service project.

We found a "nugget" in the story that current and perspective clients will appreciate.  The group plans to do branding, web development, printing of some brochures, a video or television ad, and a radio spot.  According to the story, Drew McLellan of McLellan Marketing estimated the selected charity would receive goods and services worth more than $75,000.  NOTE:  That number does not include costs for ad placement in newspapers, magazines, radio or television.  The number represents the value of creating the media plan and media projects; not taking it to the public.

We think it is insightful for some companies to read that message and understand that the costs to put together a well rounded campaign can be sizable.  Many factors can impact that number and cause it to rise or fall but the message is: "What we do in the world of advertising and marketing is only one part of the total cost of taking a product to the consumer."  Outside of development, clients must add the hard costs of buying space and time.  It's an important message.  If we can help you make sense of your advertising or marketing issues, give us a call or send us an e-mail.


Drew McLellan - The McLellan Marketing Group

Cari Spear - Trinity Press

Jay Brackett - Brackett Media & Event Services

Steve Mathews - Radio Garage

Mike Sansone - ConverStations

Size Matters!

When advertising your product/service....think BIG!

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

When it comes to print advertising bigger is better.  When buying print you need to buy the largest size you can afford.  Otherwise you may be wasting up to 40% of your money.

It's not really new "news" but we need to remind folks that you may be cutting up to 40% of the readership of an ad when you move from a full page down to a 1/4 page ad.  In study after study research proves you run the risk of not getting noticed when you place smaller ads.  That can mean the difference between success and failure.  Think of it like this:  Magazine Circulation:  100,000 times a "readership" of 3 = 300,000 potential readers.  Now, take off the 15% that are not effected by your product or service PLUS 40% for running a small 1/4 page color ad:  Cuts you right down to 135,000 possible impressions...real quick.

So...what happens if your have a skinny budget and you can't "afford" to place a larger ad?  Rule One:  Buy Smart!  If you are placing ads for your company you know that once you start in the advertising game you will receive call after call from advertising sales people telling you they have the very best deal.  Not everybody can be right...but, because you may not know who is selling you "hot air" and who is selling you the truth you may be tempted to "buy one of everything".  Stop the madness!

Improve your readership by doing the research on print media.  Improve your bottom line by actually knowing and understanding your core market.  Ask the question, "Is the space being sold critical or not?"  How do you know?  It takes work and years of experience.  If you build a solid marketing and advertising plan you can save real money...and what happens to the money saved?

You buy Larger Ads!

Rule Two:  Great Creative can help.  Nothing is worse than a small ad...with too much information.  Folks simply don't read all the "stuff".  If you must buy small...then get very creative.

All of this takes work, knowledge and dedication.  We can help.  We've put together solid marketing and advertising plans for years and we can do it for you.  And, then when it comes to creative...nobody is better.

Give us a call, send us an e-mail and let's get large!

Huge Market - Are You There?

Picture_004 (The kids:  Concho, Freedom, April & Corky enjoy the summer sun by the pond.)

New Study Confirms Large Numbers of "Ruralpolitians"

by Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Two times in the past five weeks I have sat in a seminar where a group of business and professional people sat agape and listened to a presenter talk about a little understood market of consumers that makes up a huge segment of the rural landscape.  We call them "Ruralpolitians" a term that I coined about ten years ago during an interview with a radio station in Evansville, Indiana.  Today it is the buzz.

The latest survey was commissioned by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) and will be released in just a couple of weeks.  Yesterday at a meeting of the National Association of Agri-Marketers (NAMA - Des Moines) Roger Olson, a former broadcaster, presented some remarkable statistics.  Here is just a sample of information collected on the target segment of people in the United States that own 3 - 100 acres of land:

  • 27 Million Households
  • 69,126,313 People
  • 51% have an income of at least $75,000 per year (US Mean: $44,000)
  • 72% Work Full Time off the acreage
  • 13% Retired
  • 97.8% Own their land
  • 89.8% Have Dogs (All dogs in the US:  64.9%)
  • 48% Own 2 - 3 Horses
  • 60% Own 1 - 25 Head of Cattle
  • 82% Own a Pick-Up Truck
  • 40% Own an SUV
  • 40% Own an ATV
  • 17% Own a Utility Vehicle
  • 62% Own a Tractor of less than 18 hp
  • 57% Own a Tractor between 18 - 50 hp
  • 26% Own a Horse Trailer
  • 52% Have Hunting Licenses
  • 80% Prefer to Do their Own Home or Property Projects

And the list goes on and on. 

So, the question is:  WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO REACH THIS MASSIVE CONSUMER BASE?  I've been banging this drum for nearly twelve years.  As traditional farms decrease in number this demographic continues to increase but most companies overlook the potential.  That is a huge mistake.

Our agency specializes in marketing products and services to the Ruralpolitian, we've lived the life, we understand the issues and we can help you reach this market.  Interested?  We'd invite you to give us a call or send us an e-mail.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Captny11112060709uss_west_virginia_pearl It is now up to us...

By Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

It hit me yesterday.  I was paying some bills and I wrote the date, December 6, 2006.  It took me a couple of seconds, "Why is that date familiar?" I asked myself.  "That's right, tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day."

The blog today is not about advertising and marketing.  (However I am preparing a speech that ties the disconnect Americans feel with Iraq to advertising and marketing...but that is for a different day)  This morning when I unrolled the Des Moines Register I saw nothing about "The day that will live in infamy!".  There was plenty about Iraq, Iran the "War on Terror" and...Christmas.  No story, no mention, not a word written about what happened 65 years ago today when Japan, in a two-hour raid, destroyed or damaged 21 ships, 320 aircraft, wounded 1,178 individuals and killed 2,390 people.  I guess it's old news.

I'm not old enough to remember Pearl Harbor.  In fact, I was not yet born.  My Mother and Father (of blessed memory) experienced that day and all that followed it it's wake.  Growing up in the 50's and 60's we were taught about Pearl Harbor in school, we saw old movies featuring the speech by President Roosevelt and read books on the subject.  Twenty years ago I visited the site where the USS Arizona rests at the bottom of the bay and it had a profound effect on me. 

So, today I remembered and I'm asking that you too take a moment and reflect on what happened that day and in those days that followed.  Maybe you can find a link between then and now.  But, I doubt it.  I fear we, as a nation, have become so out of touch with the terms sacrifice and service that we'll just blow it off as another day from another era.  That is a shame.

As the survivors die and the memories dim we need to ask ourselves, "Who will remember"?  That's why this blog on this it is up to us.

Using A Spokesperson?

12022006_02_2 Who Is Lauren Bishop?

by Michael P. Libbie, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations

I live in Des Moines, Iowa.  About 25 miles to our northwest is the city of Boone.  Many may recognize this at the birthplace of Mamie Doud Eisenhower.  It is also home to a 77 year old family run furniture store, by the name of Redeker's.  It is a fine store and one that I've visited several times over the years.  I may have even made a purchase or two there.

Redeker's advertises in the Des Moines market.  I have seen their newspaper ads and listened to their radio ads for years.  (I pay attention to that sort of stuff...I'm in advertising.) Included in their advertising campaigns over the years has been "Lauren Bishop" a very attractive woman who has graced their Des Moines Register newspaper ads (click on the image above) and is the voice I hear on the radio.  "Come see us!" she says in print and on the air.

This past Sunday I was in my office reading the paper and saw their full page ad.  And, yep, there was Lauren.  I was intrigued.  "Who is Lauren Bishop?" I asked myself.  I went on-line to their website.  And there was Lauren on just about every page and she was clearly identified in italics: Lauren Bishop.  Who is she?  An owner?  The top sales person?  A famous sports person (that I may not know)?  A furniture designer?  A home interior master?  I was now on a mission.

I did a Google search on her name.  I found lots of Lauren Bishops:  There is the illustrator from the United Kingdom, an actor from Chicago, (or an actor from Chicago) a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer,a self described "Teenage Blogging Queen", a professor from Ball State University even a 19 year old from Nortonville, KY.  None of the "Lauren Bishop" pretenders were the striking brunette in the ad.  Huh?

So, I sent an e-mail to the store and asked, "Who is Lauren Bishop?"  I got a reply that said she was indeed, "A spokesperson for Redeker's as she has been for many years."  I learned that she, " based out of Memphis, but does visit our store several times throughout the year."  John ended his message with Lauren's words, "...come up and see us." 

I closed my eyes and thought of the disconnect.  I guess I don't get it.  I recently blogged about the fact that people still buy from people.  I believe that.  But do they buy from a person who other than lending a voice and a photo has very little to do with the business?  Maybe.  Spokespeople abound.  I have several friends who do this for a living...but most of them are local, regional or national figures.  Lauren is...cute. 

The point to this rant is if you use an identified spokesperson you may want to make sure that he/she is "famous", "has something to do with the business", is "well known in the area" or is at least "attractive". out of four.