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March 2008

No Service In The "Service Economy"


It's a stunning thought mentioned by a friend and reader Matt Coniglio. After reading about my DISH Network Nightmare he said, "This could be a serious downfall for America since we are moving into the service economy from the manufacturing economy."

Matt may not know it...but he, just uncovered the root of the issue.  And this critical lesson is key for any of us who say, "...service to our customers is important."

As our nation moved from a manufacturing economy to a service economy we, for the most part, failed to change one critical dynamic in the culture.


You see, in a manufacturing economy "service" is not an issue.  Goods are manufactured for the consumer based on what the consumer desires.  Little thought is given to the service side of the business:  "Look, he asked for a self-weasel winding torque inducer and that's what we made!"

However, in most cases, the Manufacturing Economy Mentality continues to exist in the Service Economy.

Confused?  Hang in there...

Look around you.  We are flooded by business that provide service and yet...when we get "serviced" well by that business we are shocked.  Why?  Because even service based companies too often think like manufacturers.  Here is an example...

Vonmaur_logo There is a family owned chain of department stores headquartered here in Iowa by the name of Von Maur.  On the outside it would appear that their business is selling clothing, shoes, jewelery, etc.  But that is not what they really do.   Their mentality is selling service first...the sale of the goods will come later.

The "sales people" actually engage the customer.  They actually talk with the customer, laugh with the customer and will do just about anything to be helpful.  After the sale they will often send you a thank you card! The entire culture, from "free gift wrapping" to a credit card that charges NO stunning.

Or so we would think.  It's only stunning because most of the department stores still work from the "manufacturing mentality".  Head over to JC Penny or Sears or (sob) even Yonkers:

"You want pants?  We got pants!"

No_pants_no_service That is why "service" companies like DISH Network don't give a rip about service.  As much as they would like you to think they are providing a "service" they are not.  They are providing you with a commodity and if you don't get the service they promise...they don't care...there is another fish in another town that will buy their commodity.

So...what has this got to do with you and your business?  Everything!!!

When you really think about it, we all sell a commodity of sorts.  At our advertising agency we sell ideas that produce results.  But...if we do not correctly service our client base.  Guess what?  Somebody else will.

Matt sells advertising space in a magazine called FASTLINE.  It is a commodity.  (Believe me...there are other magazines selling advertising space.)  If Matt or you or I do not bring along real customer service.  (The key word is R-E-A-L and "real" is what the customer perceives is real.  YOU do not make the rules here.)  POOF!  The customer is gone.

Moving mentally from the manufacturing model to a real service model is critical.  Have you?

What do you think?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we really love this stuff and we've got our pants on.

The Nightmare of DISH Network

Dish_logo_3 WARNING:  You do not have to read this rant.  I am only writing it because my doctor told me it was better to do this than go back on Prozac!

Just kidding...but this is such a nuts story of poor performance...we had to share.

When we purchased the BIG new TV we decided to try digital.  We were going to go with MediaCom and my friend John Kelling but there were some wiring issues we could not correct.  So...we knew somebody, who knew somebody who was selling DISH Network and we called. 

That was about a year ago and I can report to you that the system works about...80% of the time.

The only time is doesn't work well is when it rains.   Or, when the wind is blowing hard.  When it snows the reception is pretty bad and it will cut out.  But...when there is no wind, moderate temps and no sometimes works.

In November we were out for about a week and we called.  A nice man from a friendly country came...the same guy that had installed it...and put some wire in.  Got a bill for $29 and the system worked...pretty well until January.

The night of the Super Bowl we were watching and the picture started to go out.  Oh Oh...  We made it through the game but the next day, nothing.

So...we called and set up an appointment with DISH Network for the 19th of February.  I had to stay home between noon and five. 

Man_gun_or_noose_2 Nobody showed.

So...a little ticked...I called and a nice young man from Spokane cut my rate and rescheduled for today the 27th between noon and five with some company called BLUE SKY SATELLITE from Kansas.

Nobody showed...or called.

So, that makes ten hours I waited for service.  Not too happy with the entire thing, I called back today and was told they canceled because they did not get permission to drill.  Drill?  Drill for a technical issue?  How do they KNOW they have to drill anything they have NOT SEEN the issue...I know that because we still have SNOW on the tracks.  No Blue Sky...hmmmm

Man_frustrated So, I blog.  And ask you the question.  Anybody else had this lousy experience with DISH Network or BLUE SKY from Kansas?  Anybody happy with their service?  Anybody got a suggestion?

So...I blog...and, because I can, we'll ask the same questions this week on the two radio shows I do.  Maybe John Kelling will call and invite me to try MediaCom?  In the meantime I'll send them all a bill for my time. 

OK...I'm almost calm now.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where if our service was this BAD...we'd long ago been run out of town.


Jgs_newspaperstacked I'm still one of those folks who read the newspaper.  (I know...actually admitting to the fact tends to cast a pall over the entire piece but I hope you understand.)  It's a cup of coffee and the morning paper!  Gosh I feel like Dad! 

But it's getting increasingly weird how out of touch The Des Moines Register is becoming.  Consider:

We're in I-O-W-A the number one or number two (depending on who is bragging) corn and soybean state in the nation.  Yet the "Agribusiness" section of the newspaper is now down to one page.

Unless we're still counting classifieds where, for some reason, The Register still gets traction.

Then there is the ongoing increase of advertising rates while the circulation continues to drop.  It used to be the other way around.  Like the more eyes somebody put on something the more valuable it becomes.  It seems only in the newspaper business can they turn that around and have people actually believe it.

Then there was today.

Linkedinlogo Larry Ballard writes for the Business Section.  (Which also seems to be shrinking?) On Monday his piece "Workbytes" gave little support for LinkedIn. (Ironic if you think about it.) was "tongue in cheek" but I get the feeling Larry doesn't see much value in the process.  Go ahead you can read it yourself.

It's "kind of" funny...but it also reads like something my father would have written:  "Damn silly kids!"

Social Networking is still confusing to so many...and this story's just odd.  You know, once upon a a Mass Communication Class...we had to learn about setting type with lead.  We've moved beyond that.  Maybe the newspaper should too?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - "Damn it!  You listen to me when I'm talkin'!"  Thanks Dad!

Ignoring A Hot Story...Media Fails Again

For_sale_sign I pick up the Des Moines Register and the headline on the business page more doom and gloom:  "Iowa home sales drop 18% in 2007" makes me think I'm living in a parallel universe.

That's because I've just returned from a "smokin' hot" annual meeting of 700+ real estate professionals who have United Country Real Estate signs on their office (and more articles of clothing than you can imagine).

Here is the real headline:

"52% of United Country Realtors Report Sales Increase in 2007"

And projections for the nations largest rural real estate company for 2008 also spell growth.

Uc_duffy_boys Here is the kicker...  You would think that a major meeting of real estate company that has a positive message might get some media attention.   Factor in that this meeting is being held in Kansas City, a place that has seen plenty of business negatives over the past few months (Sprint?) and you would think somebody might show up.

You would think.

United Country invited over 100 media professionals to attend.  They would even have the opportunity to sit with the company leaders and ask any question they wished...

Two media professionals came.  Two.

Uc_crowd Had somebody bothered to show up they would have learned that 98% of the 700+ United Country Real Estate offices give the company an outstanding approval rating.  Had they showed up they would have learned about new innovations in technology that set this company apart from any other real estate organization in the nation.  They would have learned about new partnerships like bringing auctions and traditional real estate marketing together.  Had they showed up they would have learned of new financing methods and a partnership with US Bank.

Had they showed up.  But...they didn't.

Uc_flag_2 It's either that good news doesn't sell or the message United Country was delivering was 180 degrees off the message that we get spoon fed to us by corporate media types.

We'll have a follow up on this...just because what they are doing is so innovative.  (And, no...they are not our client...but should they've not paid for this.)  Sometimes it's great to recognize success.  So...should you be interested in a follow up contact Kyla Barcus or Mary Carver by e-mail or phone 800-444-5044.

It might be a good story.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications.  (Photo of Dan Duffy and two of his boys looking at images of United Country back drop, not too many "suits" at this "real" real estate meeting, Mike Duffy and another interesting/positive touch to a great meeting.")

It's All Perspective...Or Is It Attitude?

United_country_logo Dashing off a quick post before I head to the general session of the annual gathering of United Country Real Estate here in Kansas City.

It's not much of a secret.  I'm a fan of United Country.  The reason?  Because they have a passion for Rural America.  Sure there is a passion for making money...but when you hear Dan Duffy the CEO of this company talk, you know there is more to it.

Yesterday on 98.3 WOW-FM, a local radio station in Des Moines, I heard Don DeWaay of DeWaay Capitol Management tell the listeners that if you own rural land the best thing you can do right now is sell.  That it's not a good position to be in.

I suspect I'll hear a different tone today and judging from the discussion last night I expect there to be bell ringing endorsements for Rural America and the continued dream of living in the country.

We'll see...and let you know.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Radio - A Smart Buy...If You Do It Right

Radio_cute_kid It's not much of a secret here.  We love radio.  It's one of the very best ways to connect with the products and services we market and advertise for our clients.

We use radio for a variety of things from setting the brand to supporting other media and pre-announcing events.

We're also actively involved in doing two radio programs.  Each Sunday morning we do a program called Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country.  It's about the rural lifestyle...a big market here in Central Iowa and across the country. 

We also do an outdoors radio program on Monday evenings for our client The Iowa Sportsman.  Both of the shows are live call in/talk radio shows that are not only a blast to do...but also rewarding for our overall message.

Radio_mic_small  We get it and know how to use the medium.

That's why I was really caught by a recent post by Brett Astor and Jeff Small from StrategicMedia.  These guys clearly love and know radio.  Their recent post is about how radio is being "re-discovered" when the economy is "headed south".

The idea is that when profits are low business turns to radio and magically find a way to connect with their customers that costs less than other forms of advertising.

It's a good read...and bravo! using radio to the full extent?  Know how to do it right?  Are you writing ads that cause people to listen...or falling into the same trap many do?

It's important to know the media if you're going to use it.  And, remember, far too often when the radio station says, "Hey, don't worry...we'll write and produce your ad...for free."  Ahhhh...they might be doing one heck of a service but far too often you get what you pay for.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Stars On "The Iowa Sportsman" - Tonight

Stars_ice_girls_ron_michael There are plenty of reasons to be an Iowa Stars Hockey Fan...and tonight on the other radio show I do, The Iowa Sportsman we'll talk hockey!  (This was simply an excuse for me to use this photo of some friends at a game!)

The Iowa Sportsman Radio Hour is heard each Monday evening at 7 only on 98.3 WOW-FM here in the Des Moines Market.  If you want to listen from wherever you might live or work you can always listen live using your PC.

The Iowa Sportsmans Radio Hour is the broadcast version of The Iowa Sportsman Magazine and something I've been doing for our client for about 15 months.  I'm usually joined by my co-host Thomas Allen...but Thomas is out tonight.  So....I get to choose the topic:

Stars_faceoff Iowa Stars Hockey!  And before you scratch your head and wonder what the heck that has to do with hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, or noodling.  (Someday we'll have to talk about that!)  The answer is pretty simple:  It's all Iowa...and it's a great, tough, fast moving sport that many Iowa kids learn about on lakes and ponds (when they are not ice fishing!). 

Our guest tonight is the Assistant Coach of the Iowa Stars, Paul Jerrad_paul Jerrard.  Paul skated with the New York Rangers and the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL and was a member of the AHL Calder Cup Winning Hershey Bears in 1997.  Coach Jerrard is a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba and was hired as the assistant coach of the Iowa Stars in June of 2005.

We'll spend most of the hour with Coach Jerrard and you're invited to take part. 

The Iowa Sportsman Radio Hour...tonight at 7 on 98.3 WOW-FM here in central Iowa and brought to you by:

Toyota_logo Mid-Iowa Toyota Dealers the home of the Toyota Tundra.  Looking for a great deal on a great truck...find your local Toyota dealer on the Mid-Iowa Toyota Dealers dealer locater site.  Our thanks to Toyota for their sponsorship!

Hoyt_logo_2 Hoyt - The Bow Hunting Experience - Looking for the right bow...find it at Hoyt and D&J Archery in Fort Dodge or Southern Archery in Spencer.  Get Serious - Get Hoyt!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications you NEVER know where we'll show up!

Fertilizer - Our Land & Water

Ear_of_corn You can't live in Iowa and be engaged in agricultural marketing and advertising and not be surrounded by the amazing prices our farmers are receiving for their corn and soybeans.

On Friday the price of March corn was set at $5.14 a bushel while March soybeans closed at $13.73.  We're hitting record prices and some point to $6 corn as a "done deal".

For some of you, even if you live in an "agricultural state", these numbers mean little to nothing.  But they should.

While row crop prices have doubled so has the cost of raising these commodities.  The cost of fuel has doubled, the cost of fertilizer has doubled and in some areas tripled in price.  Land prices are soaring and the labor market is shrinking.

It's a volatile market.  And something else is going on...and this can really impact you, your home, the way you live and the future of several industries.

Farmers have been putting chemical fertilizer on their fields at increased rates in an attempt to drive up their yields.  That, along with the desire of city folks wanting a "perfect lawn", has had a downside on our land and water.

We are seeing fertilizer sales and use Golf_fairwayat all time highs and what gets put on your lawn and in your field will end up in our water.

But, what if there was a better way?  A way to cut chemical fertilizer use on crops, your lawn, the golf course, the hay field and even the football field?

And, what if this method (that by the way is NOT NEW) actually saved homeowners, farmers, and business people money while cleaning up our water source?

What if you join us on Sunday morning at 8am to listen to our radio show - Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country?  We're going to talk about it and let you know what the barriers are that has kept this simple, yet effective method, away from your eyes and ears.

Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is NOT a "farm show".  It is this nations only live full hour program dedicated to the rural lifestyle.  And, we even let "city folks" listen in.  And, we are NOT anti-agriculture.  We make our living in the world of agriculture and rural lifestyle and have done so for years.

Sunday morning at 8 - Only on 98.3 WOW-FM or if you're outside of the Central Iowa listening area you can go online and listen using your PC. 

Come can get up that early...

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Free Money - For Crooks

Man_money Banks, Credit Bureaus and Savings and Loans spend lots and lots of money attempting to convince consumers they are:

  • Helpful
  • Friendly
  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • (Yep, I was a Boy Scout)
  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Dependable

Here is just one example of how just one bank employee can really destroy a brand:

This morning I was visiting with a client about mail service.  It seems several things we've sent out just never gets to where we send it...or sometimes it takes weeks.

That story prompted our client to tell me one that I found amazing.

It seems a customer of theirs sent in a payment by mail.  Sixty days past due our client called their customer.  The customer responds by saying the check had cleared and was endorsed with the company name and "Pay to Alice Smith" (not the real name) under the handwritten endorsement for the company.

Our client never received the money and they have NOBODY named "Alice Smith" working for the company.  They called the bank that cashed the check asking if they had a customer by the name of "Alice Smith". 

They did.

Our client then seeks to collect the funds.  To no avail.  They have spent hours on the phone, filling out statements and legal papers in an effort to collect the $300.  That was six months ago.

They finally gave up and "Alice" pocketed the cash.

It's not a lot of money...but what's a company to do?

Meanwhile we have stories like this that must mean somebody did not follow procedures at the bank...and they blow their marketing plan just like that.  Ouch?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where it takes only one do you fix this?

THE DAY Is Nearly Here...Prepare Thyself!

Candy_box Ya gotta love marketing.

In just a few hours hundreds of thousands of men (and about twelve women) will spend 16.9 BILLION dollars on stuff for Valentine's Day.   $16.9 Billion.

We've done the math for you:  The retail industry tells us that is $123 per consumer which is UP $22.11 from 2006.  By the way...there is a gender gap here:  Men will spend on average $163.37 while women will spend $84.72.

But...YOU don't want to be "average" do you?

Of course not.  (I'm just helping spread the pressure!)

Speaking of pressure....

Some of you know that I keep a White Board in my shower.  (Don't think about that too long.)  It's much better than an underwater pen...because I've not been able to find underwater paper.  I jot things down when I have a thought.  It works.

Valentines_day_white_board_1 On or about February 1st, in the shower, pen in hand, I notice that somebody else has been using my White Board as you can plainly see by the photo at the left.

That was on February 1st...thirteen days ahead of The Day.

OK...maybe you can't see the writing very let's try this shot:Valentines_day_white_board_2

It's not so much the reminder of The Day that causes the pressure it's the not so subtle:  "Make it special - use your imagination!" line that kind of puts the fear of the Almighty in me.'s all marketing!

And sometimes all of marketing can be this simple:  Create awareness, connect with your target audience and then make a call for action.

Amazing what you can learn in a shower huh?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...$163.37 huh?