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December 2007
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February 2008

It's Stressfull In Kansas City!

Dave_stressed_001 So, I've now met with my client the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association and visited with their members.  And...now...

It's a toss up.  Tomorrow I stand in front of lots of people and tell them they need to re-focus their energy to capture another market...if they are to grow.

I'm really not sure how this will go.  It's never easy to vision.  And, when corn is selling on contract at $5.20 it's even more difficult to look toward the future when "today" is looking just fine.

But, that is what we get paid for.  Advertising agencies, like ours, look beyond today...and help our clients see what the future might hold.  We then set out a series of ideas and plans.  Some may take it and run...others might just say "no thanks".

We'll see how it goes...

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


Changing Minds And Markets

Ntpdaflyerlogo This week I head to the annual National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA) meeting in Kansas City.  My goals are several...

NTPDA is a client of our advertising agency.  NTPDA is made up of business people who sell used and now some new tractor parts.  We've watched them grow over the past few years and we're proud of their Board and Staff.  They have listened...most of the time... and taken some action like a new website, doing a Blog, increased marketing to various publics and building a better public presence at trade shows.

And, it's paid off...their membership has seen a nice increase.

Now comes the tough part. 

Most of what we've done has been pretty simple marketing messages targeting their traditional customer and membership base.  Now we start down a new road...redefining their future market.

Farmer_older_w_dog The problem is really very simple.  There are, and will be in the future, fewer traditional farmers.  It's a mixture of the aging process, consolidation and folks moving away from the farm.  Big farms are getting bigger, the middle is disappearing and the small farms are getting more numerous and diverse.

However, many members of NTPDA are stuck in the same world of 1970's agriculture.  Our job is to go to Kansas City this week and shake the trees.

Dan_duffy_blue_shirt_use I'll have some help.  Dan Duffy the CEO from United Country Real Estate will present with me on Thursday morning.  I was going to talk about the NTPDA website.  But, that's not what they really need...

They need to better understand where they can go to pick up more customers, they need to better understand the culture of the person living the rural lifestyle, they need to better understand that the entire sales experience needs to change to make these non-traditional "farmers" and rural lifestyle folks feel comfortable about even entering their stores.  Dan knows this better than most folks...and it will be great to share with the members.

They need to understand that to grow...they need to expand their product line.  They already have location...now they need to give their customers a reason to come back and see them.  And for some customers...they need to introduce themselves...all over again.

This will be fun...and it will be rewarding for those who are paying attention.  See you in KC.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we think the future is always more exciting...


BEEF...It's Just Freaky

Beef_sea Recently the Beef Checkoff folks released their latest marketing campaign, "Powerful Beefscapes".  It replaces the long time and successful "Beef It's What's For Dinner" campaign with surreal photos depicting meat as...geological formations?

Centennial, Colorado (home of the National Cattleman's Beef Board) must have been invaded by New Yorkers or folks from California.

Advertising agencies love creative approaches.  We tend to be "quirky" folks who balance between what you see and what we might like you to see.

Sometimes we drift outside of reality.

This is one of those times.

I'm not sure I want to see my steak as the "7th Hole at Pebble Beach" (above)...I want it on the grill.

Beef_beach Taking a bite out of what looks like Big Sur in California or what is called, "Moroccan-Style Beef Kabobs with Spiced Bulger" just doesn't ring right.  Know what I mean?  Besides...the sand will make it gritty.

Gritty...

Now there's a word that can describe the time tested voice of Sam Elliott who for years has been the trademark sound of "Beef It's What's For Dinner".

Sure, it's been around for awhile but every time you heard "the voice" it was like the chuck wagon cookie just hollered..."Supper's Up!"  It was a the cattleman...the independence...the open spaces it was the IMAGE. 

But, maybe that was the problem...folks in California and New York haven't got a clue what that's like.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...so OK...we just don't get it this time.  And what the heck is "Bulger"?


Listen Up: Most Radio Stations Are Lousy Marketers

Ear_of_corn Now that I have your ear! 

(I'm sorry...but we had to!  OK...we're from Iowa!  OK??)

Ever listen to a radio station market themselves?  They are usually really (no we mean REALLY) bad.  It's kind of like somebody at the station says, "Say, we've got all this time to fill...let's say some dumb stuff that will entice business people to advertise with us!"

Here are a couple of examples:

Somebody, usually the Sales Manager, (often the least creative person on the planet) instructs his/her sales people to take a page out of 1964 and voice a message about "making those cash registers ring!"

Here is the script:

Radio_old_car "Hi, I'm Michael Libbie, Senior Account Executive (It's more impressive to be "senior" than say....I've been here three weeks!) with K-Splat.  Ever considered Radio Advertising?  (Often it's not a good idea to ask this question...some folks can just say "no".)  Give me a call (Here we give the station phone number...sometime we'll write about phone numbers and radio advertising...but not now.) I can make your cash register ring!"  (Really?  Do cash registers "ring" anymore?)

D-U-M-B

Here is another one:

Radio_new "Coming up 55 minutes of commercial free music!"  Or:  "Join us for 104 minutes of continuous music on More Music Monday!" Or:  "More Music - Less Interruptions!".

Here they are telling listeners (business people listen too) that commercials are a bother.  Gosh, wouldn't you love to advertise on a station that says your ad is "getting in the way of the Spice Girls"?

S-I-L-L-Y

You see, for all the creativity that can be housed in most radio stations, these folks are often just plain lazy.  They don't "get it" but they are trying to "sell it".

There are some neat ways to say many of the same things...but it takes creativity, thought and direction.  It takes time.

My point here is that these are often the same people many companies trust to write and then produce their radio ads...if they can't market themselves how in the world can you expect them to be serious about your message?

Your turn.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we love radio but think you deserve more...


Sunday Morning Coffee - Bits & Pieces

Coffee_cu_ps It's been awhile since we've done this.  "Sunday Morning Coffee" is our way of highlighting several thoughts about marketing, advertising, news and culture all in a quick read. 

Great for Sunday Morning!

My friend (and one time campaign manager) Carla Lee-Lawson wrote from her home in Minnesota and asked if I had a story about the Iowa Caucus"I know you must have had something happen!"

OK...

The room in the precinct we went to has a fire department capacity of 250 people.  There were 384 souls packed into the same room that in 2004 held 160 people.  And it was like this all across the state.  A record turnout of over 340,000 Iowans meeting in schools, living rooms, churches...

What happened to me that night was this overwhelming sense of pride I had in Iowa and the honor we have of being first in the nation.  It's something we take seriously and something that I can argue with anybody that is right and fair.  It was retail politics at it's very best...Thank you, Iowa!

Fork_over_money Food prices in 2008 are expected to increase by 4%.  At least that is the word...now.  Expect beef, chicken...really all meat products to see the largest increase.  Then comes dairy products.  Oh, don't forget about the crackers!

Economists are saying, "Hey, it's just 4%!"  But, when you figure in the 4.3% increase from 2007 and then look at your take home pay.  Something has to give. 

Look for the restaurant industry to take a hit...big time.

Movies_mcdon Noticing some changes at your local movie rental store?  Gone, or going, are many of the "low cost deals" we once enjoyed.  Why?   We think non-traditional ways (Internet Service, Satellite and even movies from McDonald's!) to get your movie fix have put the hurt on these storefront guys and they've got to find a way to stop the hemorrhage.  Many have lengthened the time you can keep a movie and some are now giving away popcorn and candy while charging full rate for old flicks.

Beef_fondue Fondue is Cool...  Last night (back to food!) we stayed home and did the fondue thing.  Dinner took over two hours, the conversation was neat, prep was easy, the setting (Sinatra & candles) was cool and the entire meal, including wine, (it was a gift) cost us under $10.  Oh yeah...

The Iowa Legislature gets back into session tomorrow.  We'll see if this event is any more productive than the prior.  Good20capitolOur hope is that somebody takes a good look at the tax structure we've got and leaves the "emotional, moral issues" of who is sleeping with who, or how or what....alone.

That, and if you can tell me why city folks who buy pick up trucks get the same low license fee of $65 that farmers get...  It's goofy.  Frankly it's goofy that farmers get that break too (with corn at $4.66 a bushel) but I could live with it.  Pick up truck fees should be based on value just like other vehicles.  The simple answer for the farmer would be that IF you file a Farm Income Statement you get a tax credit for anything over $65. 

That's it...enjoy your Sunday and thanks for reading...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications


Is It A Campaign Or An Ad?

Business_man_sign_blank_2 As an advertising agency we get to do lots of "stuff".  Sometimes we create ads for our clients.  Sometimes we create campaigns.

They are two very different things.

OK, for those of you "into" advertising that makes total sense but lots of folks who read us may not know...so let's get into it for a moment.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest to you that most folks can put together a magazine or newspaper ad.  It's not rocket science, unless you're selling rockets.

We think that's one reason so many small to medium size businesses have "somebody in house" attempt to do their advertising.  "Cindy Lou, make up an ad for the Pawkeet Times and get 'er done today."  So, "Cindy Lou" sits down, slaps some words and maybe a photo or two into a file and sends it down the line.  Job done and they "saved" money by doing it "in house".

It's a far cry from how we would approach the project but...I guess, if you had to, you could take out your own appendix.  (We'll do a piece about "doing your own ads"...but not now.)

Building an advertising campaign is much different.  It takes into consideration a whole series of things including:

  • Style - What is the "voice" of the company or product?
  • Brand - And NO we do not mean the logo.
  • Image - Yes, it's part of the brand.
  • Audience - WHO are we targeting with our message?
  • Vehicle - WHAT are we going to use to carry the message?
  • Product - Did he say PRODUCT?

And notice...we've not even mentioned "the ad".

It's work...it takes real effort and when done right it will save your business money while increasing your sales.

Sure, we'll take the jobs of creating "an ad" but the real bang for your buck comes when you create a campaign.

What say you?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communication where we never touch a scalpel!


You Can't Be Too Serious...About Serious Dollars!

Handshake His name is Lee Rosenberg and he is a venture capitalist from Chicago.  He called our office the other day to visit about Barack Obama and why I might support him in the Iowa Caucus tonight.  A mutual friend had asked him to call.

It was a nice conversation.  We finished the political discussion quickly and moved on to some other topics.

Then he said something that, frankly, I'd not thought much about.  Lee said,

"As a venture capitalist I am amazed at the political process.  If you think about all of this from a business side of things it just makes no sense."  He had me at "political process".

"Think of it", he said.  "Individuals raise some serious money!  Millions and millions of dollars from various people and organizations.  They go out and hire hundreds of people, spend millions in advertising and marketing and in less than 18 months it's over!  It's simply amazing."

Sure the prize is big...very big.  But he's right. 

Now, let's turn that into a marketing and advertising message:

Let's say that you own a business.  You have spent your life and a great deal of money in setting up what you think will be a winner in a world with lots of competition.  (Your goal is to last much longer than 18 months.)  This is your future...and the future of your family, your employees and, perhaps, your community.

Are you spending "serious money" on your image?  On marketing your product?  On picking the right vehicle in which to advertise?

How serious are you about success?

Do you know?

363 days until 2009...don't wait another minute to find out.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we don't build a thing...except exceptional marketing plans.


Hy Vee - When You're the Face of the Company

Hyvee Sure, it's a goofy name if you're not from the Midwest.  But, HyVee has been a tradition here in Iowa for over 70 years.  Their age old slogan, "There's a Helpful Smile in Every Isle" (Did I really type Isle rather than Asle?  Must be my "English as a Second Language" class ain't working!) has been sung by scores of folks...and now with over 220 stores in the Midwest this privately owned chain is iconic to many.

But HyVee is experiencing a problem. 

You see, we think that many of the children that HyVee employs simply are not keen on being friendly.  Let alone smiling.

The most bothersome thing is that after the young man or woman says, "Did you find everything?" the conversation with the customer stops.  Dead.  And often, like this past Monday night, the young lady continued her conversation with the other young lady who was bagging.  They had some very important evening plans.  I did try, once, to engage...but I was ignored.  She did stop her co-worker conversation long enough to say, "Here's your receipt, have a nice day."

If you are a first time reader you need to know that we are not always critical of companies we come across.  In fact, we often lift up those excellent experiences and tell others about them. 

We're not sure what's up at HyVee...maybe we need to bring back a friend who really understood customer service.  Who?

Ron_pearson Ron Pearson.

I've met Mr. Pearson at several events over my 20+ years here in Iowa.  It used to be that Ron was the "face" of HyVee.  He was in countless television ads, you would see him at the State Fair, he would go and visit stores, without notice.  At least that's what my old friend Dick Handy once told me.  (Dick was the store manager in Fort Dodge...  He loved the customers and once told me Ron Pearson demanded everybody work hard at "treating the customer like family".) It made a difference...to Dick and his crew.

I last saw Mr. Pearson a couple of years ago when he and his wife attended the wedding of Fred Schneider's daughter at the Wakonda Club here in Des Moines.  That's when he was CEO.  Now he's the Chairman of the Board and no doubt out of the loop.

I don't know, nor have I ever seen Richard Jurgens, the current CEO.  I suspect he's a nice enough guy but...something is missing.

Sometimes when you brand a company with a person there is a "go to" feeling...somebody that talks and walks the program.  Maybe Mr. Jurgens does...  But, then again, maybe that's why the entire brand has changed.  It's about food...not about the customer?

Maybe some of the kids could use a refresher course of the "old school"?  Maybe the design and PR firm they own...could help?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications


OK...I'll Play!

Hide_seek At the close of 2007 my friend Larry Lehmer from "When Words Matter" contacted me and asked why I'd not yet "Played Tag" with the group started by Angela Maiers.

I said, "Opps...missed the note!"

So here are the rules of the game:

The idea is to link to the person who tags you. (for me that is Larry...for you that is...well, me), then to share seven (7) random or little known things about you and finally tag seven (7) random folks at the end of the post.

Then you, my dear tag folk...get to write a bit about yourself. 

Why not?  It's the New Year!!!!

Seven Random/Little Known Facts About...ahhhh...me:

  1. I once shared an afternoon and a bottle of Jack poolside in Atlanta with John Fogerty.  The end of the evening still escapes me.
  2. Following dinner in at the Hitching Post in Cheyenne with Tuff Hedeman I, once again, declined the offer to do ANY bull riding!
  3. My best friend, Gale McKinney and I still talk about that trip to Chicago in 1994 when we lost an entire Thursday.  It mayChubby_016 have had something to do with racket ball.
  4. I have a crush on Miss World - 1962...but so does Chubby!
  5. Best Event - Chicago Bears Game with my son Aaron. Best of the best:  He got to meet his idol Mike Singletary.
  6. The older I get...the more I miss my Father.
  7. I still...love my wife.  (It's not little known...but random?)

Alrighty then....NOW...let's hear the little known stuff from these fine folks:  (This will be REAL Ramdom!)

Ken_fuson I know Ken Fuson from the Des Moines Register has a BLOG someplace...but I simply can not FIND IT! (Second Choice from The Resigter would be Carol Washburn.  Maybe she could answer the question:  How come your site is so dang hard to navigate?)

Mrs_craig Craig Dick from our client Calcium Products.  Come on Craig, you must have some little known facts you (or your wife) would like to share!  It can't all be about business.  I used her photo Craig...'cause she takes a better one.

Mike_web_small We've got a friend (and future client...he is just dragging his feet) by the name of Mike Winter who should share his story with us!  Now, this would be interesting and informative and most of it can be shared in a family friendy environment.

Andy Andy Priestly from DWebware is (was) a friend until this tag.  Come on Andy...tell us some great stuff about you.  Promise to never bring it up again.  (Got to get a larger photo!)

Am I at SEVEN yet?  Nope...

Tony Tony Bibbs - Tony is one of those guys who always has an opinion.  Not sure about his BLOG STYLE but I'd like to learn more about him and maybe you would too.

Hang on...we're getting there.  This is alot of work you know!

Art_dinkin_two_buck Art Dinkin - No doubt Art has already played...but he knows how to buy me with "Two Buck Chuck" wine and while I already know stuff about him...he may want to share with you too!

Chris_woods Chris Woods - I met Chris this past year and he writes a bunch.  Some of it I can agree with other stuff.  Nah...but he is an interesting guy and is outside of the "business blogging" world so, who knows?

OK that's it!  So there Larry!

Now it's your turn...and Happy New Year!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...yep, we seem to know a wide range of folks!