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December 2007
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February 2008

Iowa Power Farming Show - Ridin' The Bus

Ia_farm_power_show_bus So, it's ten degrees...with winds at 30mph and I'm ridding a shuttle bus taking farmers from Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and Minnesota to the Iowa Power Farming Show in Downtown Des Moines...

Twenty-five times a day...

Every day, hundreds of people choose to ride the free shuttle buses to the Wells Fargo Arena rather than pay $6 - $10 a day for parking.

Calcium Products paid for the privilege of sponsoring the bus trips.

Our goal was pretty simple...create a quality video that producers (farmers) could view on their way to the event and then back from the event to the free parking lots.

Cool idea...if the video machines worked.  Which they did in all but one of the buses...

So...guess who got to ride the shuttle, pass out literature and do the speech during the 8 minute ride to the farm show?

It was a great way to interact with potential customers, ask and answer questions and find out more about producers from all across the Midwest.

Calcium_products_booth_005 Sure...the booth was busy and people enjoyed the unique look of our site...and we did make sure we "pre-sold" our attendance at the show by using radio and blogs.  But, this was fun to do and allowed a unique connection with producers.

While we hope today (Wednesday) all the CD machines work making lemonade out of the lemons we were handed was a great way to connect with existing and potential customers.

Thanks for reading....see you at the show?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we'll always go the extra mile for our clients...even if it's the same route again, and again.

Iowa Power Farming - A Lesson in Marketing

Iowa_power_farming_2 Starting Tuesday and running through Thursday the largest Farm Show in the Midwest takes center stage here in Des Moines.

The Iowa Power Farming Show is a production of the Iowa/Nebraska Farm Equipment Dealers Association and over 570 exhibitors will be housed in multiple buildings at the Iowa Events Center (Vet's, Hy-Vee Hall, Wells Fargo Arena).

The Association is expecting a record crowd of 16,000 full and part-time farmers to wander the displays.

Calcium_products_booth_005 We'll be there too on behalf of our client Calcium Products who manufacture an pelletized ag-lime product that boosts soil fertility and costs so much less than traditional ag-lime.

We'll also bring you some stunning examples of what some folks do right with agricultural displays and what others do to actually drive traffic away from their booths.  Of course, we think that what Calcium Products does is fantastic...  What they did was "listen" and not just "do".

Booth_2008_pf And, another company who won't be at this show but just finished a major event, and is our client - Country Vet Pet Food has listened to us when it comes to marketing products to consumers using an open and inviting booth display with graphics and not words.. (This is their recent adventure at Pheasant Fest in Minneapolis).

The cost of doing trade shows is staggering.  However, far too often the return on investment is well below expectations.

Why?  Because most companies simply do not know how to:

  1. Pre-Sell the fact that they will be at a show and get top of mind awareness to the public well in advance of the event by using several media programs;
  2. Build an attractive display that people will WANT to stop at;
  3. Train their staff to interact with the public;
  4. Do any type of follow up after the show.  Fact:  Nearly 80% of show leads are NEVER followed up on.  Never...because nobody is put in charge of that very important duty.

Sadly way too many companies just pack up some graphics, a couple of brochures, get some shirts for their staff and head on out.

It's a waste of time and money...and this week we'll have a great opportunity to highlight just what SHOULD be going on when you target your next trade show.

So, our goal over then next several days will be to highlight the good, the bad and the just plain ugly that actually does more damage to your company than simply skipping the show all together.

For those of you going to Louisville for the National Farm Machinery's not too late to learn!

More tomorrow from the show...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we hope not to offend too many folks...stay tuned.

Sunday Morning Coffee - Brief Bits

Coffee_cu_ps Here we and I over a cup of coffee.  I spend some time on Sunday reflecting on some of the stories and events that's happened over the past week.  Some of these things may have an advertising or marketing focus...others, just observations.

Sunday just seems like a good time to do get a refill and let's get into it.

Obama wins big in South Carolina and the news media is awash in "black/white" talk.

Everybody is playing the game...  That's really sad considering we've just "celebrated" Martin Luther King Day, lined up and "remembered" the idea of race equality.  Guess we've got more to do.

Those of you who know about our advertising agency know we tend to specialize in agricultural and rural lifestyle issues.  Now comes a report that is linking the increased number of beef recalls for E-coli to distillers grain, a byproduct of the ethanol industry.

Angus_bulls Is it?  We don't yet know.   However this is another swipe at the industry that has reshaped Iowa and Rural America.  We've long held our doubts that ethanol from corn is the long term solution to energy independence and if this one sticks...kiss it goodbye.  Why?  The numbers.  Remember there are a whole lot more of "them" (non-agriculture related individuals) than us.

The housing industry slump is being felt here in Iowa as associated business begin to lop off jobs.  However many say because of our tie to agriculture and insurance much of Iowa may have some "economic stability".  We sure hope so...

Mlk_pitts_mpl But about jobs.  Here is a photo of Leonard Pitts and me taken last week at the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the Iowa Historical Building.  Mr. Pitts was on hand to deliver the keynote address.  I've long admired his writing both as a music critic and now as a Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist.

See the fellow in the background to my left? (I know it's on the photo)  That's former Lt. Governor (1983 - 1987) Bob Anderson.  Lt. Governor Anderson was recently tapped to lead the Iowa Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce.  Knowing that I approached him and asked, "So tell me Bob just where are these 150,000 jobs Iowa will be short by 2010?

I have a real reason for asking.  I have four families on the line who WANT to move to Iowa and in particular Des Moines but we're having trouble finding them work.  One is a law professor, the other an high-tech Internet programmer and the other two are truck drivers who want to move from New Jersey for a better life here in Iowa. 

I've been trying to find the answer to that question for months...Bob took my card and said he'd call somebody and have them call me.  We'll see.

Other than that...sunshine and a high of 36 expected for today!  Enjoy...and thanks for reading.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Mom Said, "Just Do It!"

Michaellibbie Actually lots of folks have said I should...but Mom gets top billing.  Because...she's Mom!

I had just finished my address to members of an association we represent.  The talk was on finding new markets and retaining customers.  As usual there was a break between segments so I mingled, took questions and settled in next to the Executive Director of the association to listen to the next speaker.

Ten minutes into his address my client turned toward me and said, "He's pretty good.  You're going to like him." 

So I listened...intently.  And she was right.  He was pretty good.

As his presentation was winding down I said to her "That was good, but I think I could have done better or at least different."

She looked at me and said, "Yes, you can.  Why don't you?"


"Really Michael, why don't you do public speaking on a regular basis.  You're really excellent.  I've thought so for years."  She might know, I've presented to her group four years running.

I called my wife and Mom...  "What do you think?" we go.

From the hotel I called our design team, sent out notes to executives I've spoken for, asking for recommendations, and started scrambling for recordings of some of my past speeches.

Within a week we had the media kit done and forwarded on to Five Star Speakers of Overland Park.

It's really a natural.  I've been doing public speaking on a regular basis since 1982 following my election as the president of the Iowa Junior Chamber of Commerce.  I've spoken to thousands of people on dozens of topics.

But...I've never marketed this ability.  People see me, call me and ask me to come and speak.  I'd tailor a speech around their event, and go...usually not charging a dime. 

Will it work?   Yes it will...  And, I look forward to coming and speaking to your group about "Passionate Change", "Self Invention", "Marketing to Rural America" and social media...

But, I fear this means yet another Blog...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications (This is the 'new' communications part of the company...thanks for reading!)

Advertising Dollars...How Much Is Enough?

Coins_graph It comes up in nearly every conversation I have with business owners.  "How much money should I budget for my advertising?"

Some even have their own answer:

Last week in Kansas City a fellow confidently answered that question by saying, "Two percent of sales!  That's it, that is the magic number!"

He was pretty sure of himself...and that is the problem.

You see the correct answer isn't that simple.  The better answer is, "It depends." 

It's much more difficult that just throwing out a number.  You need to know some stuff first, like:

  • Are you taking a new product to market?
  • Are you advertising a consumer based product?
  • How broad is your target market?
  • How narrow is your target market?
  • Do you know your target market?  (If not...back up and learn)
  • Do you think you know your target market?
  • Do you know how your target market receives messages?
  • Are you happy with keeping sales level - no increase?
  • How long do you want to stay in business?  (Really...)

Man_engagement_ring Several months ago I wrote about a real world example: A jewelry company that literally owns the market in California.  They spend 12% of their gross sales.  Result:  Each of their seven stores rake in $11 million in sales while the "average" jewelry shop in a mall has gross revenue of $1.1 million.

Or this from last year where I wrote about the simple costs of just CREATING an advertising message...that is sound, professional and on target.  Go it again...we'll wait.

The bottom line:  It's just plain silly to throw out an arbitrary number because that number is different for every business situation.  No matter what some professor at some seminar said...

What do you think?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we think "knowing" is better than "guessing"...

Bowling Shoe Advertising...

Bowling_shoe So, I'm watching TV the other night...kind of getting into this during the winter!  And see another pick-up truck ad...just like the pick-up truck ad before it.  You know, "The all newly designed MagnaCrunch!  Climbs mountains, goes as fast in reverse as in forward and can outwit nearly every beast known to man...even man himself!"  Then, the visual...lots of dirt flying around and manly men with two day old beards nodding in approval.


It's like putting on somebody else's bowling shoe...  "We'll just spray it with some fancy foot rot killing stuff that smells better than Joe's feet and yer good to go!"

The sad thing not only see this with pick-up trucks but also any farm product known to modern man.

Corn_grown_rows_blue_sky Think about it...have you EVER seen an inventive seed corn ad?  (Note to those of you living east of Ohio...we actually have television ads about seed corn.  Honest.)  Didn't think so.  There are nearly ZERO good tractor television ads out there...even fewer in print.  They are all THE SAME...just change the color!

The secret is to stand apart...but yet not be so weird nobody can figure out what the heck the ad is about.  (Note to those of you living east of know exactly what we mean because many of those ads come from you guys.  I'm still trying to figure out two ads from the 2005 Super Bowl!)

Kate_walsh So what do you do to stand apart from the rest?  How about some really simple stuff like this ad that everybody was talking about.  Or this ad...that I try to figure out a way to put it in at least one blog a month.  Kate Walsh rocks...actual the spot rocks...she's just the icing.

Honesty is one nice way to capture the attention of your audiance...we sort of like that idea.  It is pretty radical.

But, better than old bowling shoes....

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Yes....I really went bowling...twice.

Redecorating - Just Like Super 8!

Super_8_logo Just returned from Kansas City where I was held captive at the Hyatt Crown Center for four days.  It was the same story:

$130.00 a night (plus tax and other taxs)

$13.00 a day for Internet Connection

$11.50 for 4 Chicken Strips - But they were good!

$7.50 for a drink at the bar

- No coffee pot in the room

- No refrigerator in the room

- No microwave in the room

- Lighting just like Super 8!

I return home and scan the recent newspapers and learn that soon we too must redecorate our home lighting to look more like...the Hyatt...and Super 8.

It's the Law you know.  Gotta "Go Green"!

Lightbulb_glow Soon the warm glow of the incandescent light bulb will be like the memory of kerosene lamps and tallow tapers.

The stuff of stories: "That's right kids, skin colors were not always blue.  Once upon a time the interor of people's homes reflected a warm glow.  You could make out skin tones and hues of various colors.  We even had what we called dimmer switches that could help set the mood.  It was...romantic."

I really don't want my grandkids to miss out so, I have a plan. 

I was going to keep it a secret but figured that I may be able to make some future money on the Light Bulb Black Market.

Lightbulbs I'm buying up incandescent light bulbs...lots of them.

Every time I go to the store I'm buying a pack.  I figure that by 2014 I should have a healthy supply.  And, I'll be willing to share...for a price.

Guess you might say I'm also "going green".  "Pssst...wanna light bulb?"

Micheal P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Where we know there must be a way to make a buck here...

Got Time To Be Creative?

Dsc02443 The photo has nothing to do with this post.  Other than to drive home the point that it is minus five degrees in Des Moines right now.  Maybe just looking at this might bring back a warmer thought. 

It's my public service to you!

So, I'm sitting here reflecting on the past three days with our client NTPDA and thinking about the two or three things business leaders from all across North America shared with me.  There is a common thread and we see it wherever we travel and have in depth conversations with business owners.

They don't have the time to be creative.  They are so busy trying to figure out how to make the next sale they just don't have time to think.

We call it the "Creative Crunch".

It's not that these folks don't have ideas.  In the span of three days I heard at least five creative, thoughtful business ideas from five different people.  After some brief conversation they say, "You know, I've got this idea..."  And they'll sit and lay out their thoughts.  But each one ends with, "I think it's good, but I just don't have the time to take it to market."

Think They are not alone.  Our fast paced life makes it impossible to take the time to sit down and think.  We are bombarded with advertising and marketing messages, we're hooked up to all kinds of communication devices making us accessible but robbing us of the time to think.

It's tough to get a thought in edgewise.

So, here's my question to you:  What steps do you employ to move your ideas from conception to actualization? 

Your turn...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communication

NTPDA...It's A Wrap!

Temp357_header_3 Just over 200 members of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association met this week in Kansas City.  The association is a client of our advertising agency...but even if they were not...we'd still like 'em.  It's a fun bunch of people who are serious about their tractor parts business and we've enjoyed the relationship over the years.

Steve_chandlerjpg_blog Just a couple of quick shots...for fun.  The members elected Steve Chandler from C&L Tractor Parts as the new incoming president of the Board of Directors.  Steve takes over from Glen Leaders of Leaders Salvage.

While we couldn't get a formal photo of President Chandler his "Semi-Oval Office" supplied us with, as they call it, "The most you'll git from us!" photo of the new president with the daily catch.  Steve always has big fish to fry.

Worthington_all_states And we were able to sneak this photo of staff from Worthington Ag Parts meeting with staff from All States Ag Parts.  Bitter rivals, Carl Vande Weerd, Randy, Jeff Griggs and Paul Dyke told us they were not compairing price lists or marketing plans.  We, and our friend Mike Winter the boss of Worthington, believe them!  We think.

Thanks for having us come and share with you our thoughts about breaking into new markets and allowing us to share some new marketing plans with the staff and the board of the association.  We're pleased to have you as our friends...and clients.

Now...back to work.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where a little fun is great for everybody.

Making Adjustments - When YOU Can

Kc_skyline_nite You have to enjoy Kansas's one of our favorites. 

Today (Thursday) was a black day for the KC Convention and Visitors Association.  They just lost their largest convention.  SkillsUSA announced they'll be leaving KC for Louisville.  That decision means a loss of 25,000 room nights and the economic impact of $14.8 million spent by conventioneers just last year.

And, you thought you were having a bad day...  But what has this got to do with an advertising and marketing piece?

It's about making changes and adjustments BEFORE they are made for you.   That should be something you, in your business, should be considering every day.

And, that's how I started my presentation this morning before the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA).

No matter what business or industry you're in you have the choice to make the necessary changes to your product or service to meet the ever changing demands of your public.  YOU are faced with that decision every day and if you are paying attention you can react well in advance of a major negitive trend.

The KC Convention and Visitors Association didn't have that option.  There is no way THEY could build more hotels or more meeting sites.  That's not their job.  They can only work with what they are given.  And, in this case...they don't have enough to keep this meeting in the city.

Now, let's consider your business.  You do have the ability to watch, learn and react.  You do have the ability to consider new markets and new messages to reach those markets.  You are in control...

That, my friends, makes your day completely different...IF you take the time to listen and learn and act.  The message here is that in your business you can choose to take what is handed to you...or change and act first.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...where we always ask the tough questions to prompt change for our clients.