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The Creative Steps...A Visual

Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Our Agency Business Blog

Sparksflyupward_new_v2 As with most things creating "a look" takes some time.  Thought we might share with you what goes into the simple design of an image for a client. 

Just in case you were wondering.

A couple of months ago we were hired to produce some images and a marketing plan that will be used to market an opera that showcases a German family during the Holocaust.  The musical, "The Sparks Fly Upward", has been in the works for over twenty years and is the creation of Cathy Mansfield a professor of Law at Drake University here in Des Moines.

It's clearly been a work of passion for her.  The play/opera/musical will have it's national debut on November 8th here in Des Moines.  (Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster.)

The image above is the fourth or fifth draft from our group...and while we think it's's not the yet in final form.Sparks_fly_upward_v2_2

We started with the idea of black and white images that gave the vision of broken glass.  The musical revolves around Kristallnacht or the "Night of Broken Glass".  While the images were haunting they just didn't quite call up the fear and horror of the time.

So we went back to work on some different looks.  The one that is here was just too Sparks_fly_upward_v6 "over the top".  While it invokes an instant response it, we felt, was just too heavy.  The image speaks too much to the hopelessness of the time and not the idea of hope that is thematic towards the end.

And so, it was back into further discussion and work on the project.  We kicked around several other options and then our senior designer, Christa came up with the large image you see at the top of this page.  We took the idea of "sparks flying upward" and focused on the refurbished exterior of the Berlin Synagogue.  From fear and inhuman behavior to the blue sky of hope and rescue.

In the most recent draft we put some people back in and then Sparksflyupward_new_v3 moved the image of the synagogue down a bit to show more blue sky and the Star of David at the top of the dome.

While this is coming much closer to the final version we've still got lots to do when it comes to writing, editing and creating a host of media items that will go along with the publicity.

We'll keep you in the loop on this one...and none of the images you see here are final form.  We've used this simply as a way to explain "how" we come to creating a "look".

The reason for this rather long presentation is to share with you the time and the work we, or any quality advertising agency goes through during creation. It's something that we do for every one of our clients.  Nothing that comes out of here is slapped together.  Like everything of takes time to create.

Thanks for reading...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Hunting Customers - Got the Passion?

Thomas_allen_and_jake This young man is Thomas Allen.  He is my friend and co-host of an outdoor radio program we do here in Des Moines - The Iowa Sportsman Radio Hour.  (We're on 98.3 WOW-FM Monday evenings at 7).

Thomas lives to hunt.  This past weekend he and his wife and new son spent two days away from home in a Sioux City hotel so he could hunt turkey.  He gets to do stuff like this because along with being an avid hunter Thomas is also the executive editor of The Iowa Sportsman a magazine featuring hunting, fishing and outdoor activities.  So he sort of gets paid for doing what he loves.  Nice gig.

So why the hunting story and background?

It occurs to me that we can no longer take our customers for granted.  That YOU can no longer take your customers for granted.  Given the rough economy and the "doom and gloom" messages we're all seeing about retail sales this is no time to "cut and run" from aggressive marketing messages.

Turkey hunting takes time, patience, money and talent.  Ask Thomas...or better yet, his wife.  She knows what it's like because she sees it.  First there is the investment of money in the right gear...and there is always more gear to buy.  Then there is the time planning and preparing.  Then there is the trip and the time away from home and the patience and the frustration and finally success.  They call it a "hobby".

Women_two So the question to you might be:  Are you investing as much effort, time, money and talent in hunting your customers? 

They say that if business people invested as much energy in their business or work as they do their hobby...productivity would soar.

So, what are you doing to be creative to be different to be outstanding to be well ahead of the curve?

Maybe it's time to start hunting with real passion.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Thanks for reading and if you're in Central Iowa...catch you tonight on the radio.

Marketing Easter Weirdness

Professional_marketing Here we are planning our Easter Marketing Campaign.  Actually it has something to do with another holiday...but this just seemed like the right photo to introduce you to the topic. 

Nothing, but nothing could have prepared us for our friend Brett Trout's recent post titled Easter Patents.

Oh my...go ahead....go back.  You have got to read it!

What was amazing to us is that some of the patents he shows us exist and people are actually making money with them.

Brett not only writes well but the piece is hilarious.  Who says patent attorneys don't have a sense of humor!

Here is wishing you and your family a wonderful and spiritually filled Easter bunnies but do enjoy the ham.

When Should I Advertise? - The Claritin Story

Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - A Business Blog

Claritin_use We talk about advertising...allot.  It's what we do.  So back in January when we were discussing a new clients advertising plan we were told:  "But my strong season doesn't start until May.  I don't think we really need to start until April."

If you've been paying attention to radio and television ads over the past four weeks you've started to hear/see lots of allergy commercials.  They are everywhere.  Wednesday alone, in the span of a two hour drive, I counted five radio ads for Claritin and yesterday a piece ran on the Bob & Tom show about NASCAR sprint car driver Carl Edwards and the wisdom of staying alert while racing.  (Sounded like a good idea to us...)

There is a reason we see Christmas Lights in October...and hear allergy messages weeks before the season.

It takes the consumer some time to process and store the message.  If we hear five radio ads about Claritin in two hours we store that information and when the sneezing starts...we recall what has been pounding away.

I know this is Advertising 101...but clearly it's important for a refresher course.  One of these days we'll touch on frequency...another topic so many advertisers try to avoid.

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're waiting for the first sneeze to kick off the season.  Thanks for reading.

We Keep Telling FEMA, "Come To Iowa!"

Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications writes a Business Blog for people interested in advertising/marketing issues and current events.  Thanks for reading...

Welding I've bothered my friends at FEMA (Farm Equipment Manufacturing Association) for years about coming to Iowa.  They've got lots of members here and we're a pretty good bunch of folks.

This week in The Shortliner the regular publication for FEMA members there was the story about how employers cut 63,000 jobs in February.  The story also said the "jobless rate" fell in February from 4.9% in January to 4.8% in February.

Here in Iowa our "jobless rate" is under 3.7%.

In the same issue we are told that the economy in Ontario is suffering.  Come to Iowa it's a great place to live! maybe that's not enough reason to come to the finest state in the nation...but here is another:

The most recent data from the Iowa Workforce Development folks say that we're about 150,000 jobs short.  NOW!  If you click just to the left you can read the story.  In other words we need skilled workers here in Iowa and pretty darn quickly.

So..maybe...if you're looking for work...or want a great job in a great place consider Iowa.

We did...and never looked back.

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Thanks for reading and a BIG HOWDY to my friend Bob Schnell from FEMA.  Iowa Bob...say it with me....I-O-W-A.

Rural Lifestyle Radio Sunday Morning At 8

Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications business blog from our full service advertising agency based in the "Middle of the Midwest".

Hwy61_image Just a reminder for those of you who want to learn more about the rural lifestyle crowd. Our weekly radio show, Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country is on in the morning here in Central Iowa.  Each Sunday at 8 we're live from the studios of 98.3 WOW-FM.  If you don't live here in Central Iowa you can listen live if you head to their website and log on.  It's easy.

This week on Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country we'll be talking about the wage issue between rural and urban workers.  We'll also talk about what we believe will soon be the increase in Methamphetamine Labs in Rural America.

We'll spend some time talking with Deb Hoyt about the plight of unwanted horses and share some first hand information about what she is seeing in her role as a rescuer of horses.

Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country...Sunday Morning at 8 only on 98.3 WOW-FM

So, What Did That Print Ad Really Cost Us?

From Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications a full service advertising agency based in the "Middle of the Midwest" our Business Blog:

Blank_magazine_pages For some of you this may be "old news" but for others this might be the first time you've heard about CPM (Cost Per Thousand) as it relates to advertising.

Imagine your slick full color ad on the magazine page to your left.  Got it?

Now, let's figure out what that magazine ad really cost you when we look at pure circulation numbers.  (We'll cover the difference between circulation and readership in another piece.)

OK so you've hired us to create for you a great looking ad that we all agree will get your message across to the intended audience.  In the MEDIA PLAN...that you should have and that we helped you create...we've recommended a run in this magazine.  The cost for that ad comes to $8,500 per insertion.  You know all of this because it's in the media plan.

Kate_walsh Now, along comes another media sales person selling advertising space in their magazine and quotes you a price of $4,500 per insertion. (A shameless opportunity for us to insert a photo of Kate Walsh.)

We get the phone call:

"WHAT?  Why did you buy that high priced ad and not the less expensive ad?  I could have run twice for the price of one!"

We now drag out the highly accurate computing device and do the math:  The $8,500 ad is going in a magazine with a Abicuss circulation of 550,000.  We divide the cost of the ad by 550 and come up with a CPM of $15.45.  In other words the cost to reach 1,000 people was $15.45.

The $4,500 ad is in a specialty magazine with a circulation of 40,000 people.  Divide the cost by 40 and we see the CPM of this ad is $112.50.  That's right $112.50 to reach 1,000 people.

Now, are there times when our client should pay the higher CPM?  Yes if that magazine is the specific target market.  It all depends on what product or service we're attempting to market using print.

The bottom line...what seems cheaper may not be.  That's another reason we strongly suggest to our clients and our friends to do a media plan...then there are no surprises and everybody is on the same page. (Of that $8,500 a page magazine...)

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Thanks for reading.

Do Message Boards Have Value?

A Business Blog from Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications a full service advertising agency based in the Middle of the Midwest...

Man_upset Over the years we've been pretty vocal about doubting the value of "message boards".  Our rational was about being responsible and not promoting irresponsible behavior.  We've decided that we may have jumped the gun and we didn't "get it".

You might remember last year we wrote about our frustration with the local newspaper as they made the excuse saying,  "Digital natives needed to be assured of anonymity when they react to news stories".  We still think they offered us some goofy reasoning but now we better understand the rational.

And we now think it's an interesting and effective marketing/sales tool.  We were just S-L-O-W on the uptake.

Man_two_angry Message boards drive website numbers.  Folks get into an online argument over some point of issue and the "conversation" is on.  The hit numbers start to increase as the comments build.  Those numbers then turn into cash as the Internet host points to increased usage...which then allows them to charge more for their online ads.


So, what about a Business Blog?  It's an entirely different form of communication that is much more focused on fact and preserving information and identity.  If the writer has nothing to say or they offer up tirades without solid ideas their numbers don't go up...they head south.

Compass In addition, we believe that a Business Blog helps the business get found.  When the writer uses the key words that are critical to his or her product or service and they have the blog-ware set!  People searching for products, thoughts or ideas will find them much more quickly.

Finally, folks who wish to communicate with the writer do so by leaving comments on the blog that can be identified.  It's a great way to offer public ideas yet be accountable.  Which should be the basis of doing business...

So, we'll ask you:  Any of this make sense?

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Thanks for reading.

Happy Birthday...Say It With Feeling

Birthday_cake If you'll permit me a moment of personal reflection on what is normally a very busy business blog about advertising and marketing.  We'll get back to business on Monday.

Happy Birthday Dad!  Wow...I wrote it once again.  Today would have been my fathers 89th birthday.  He was born back in 1919 and died as I tried to revive him at his home in 1987.  It's been a long time since I've written those words.

Look, I'm not going maudlin on you it's just that most of the time we are up to our elbows making a difference for our clients while we also try to make a living.  While I'd have it no other way we sometimes need to re-focus on the really important stuff.

For me...this is one of those days.

Damon Libbie was "the party guy" who never knew a stranger.  He was the youngest of five children, worked at my grandfathers business, went off to join the Navy and stayed at it through the end of World War II.  He came back, got a job as a bartender, met my Mother, married, held two jobs while he went to school to better himself, built a career at Ford Motor Company, raised two boys, retired early, started a business, moved to Iowa and lived, for too brief a time, less than two blocks from my home.

I just wanted to tell you that...for no other reason that I'm being a little selfish today...and because sometimes it's important to take what little time we have to stop and reflect.  Just a little.

But, like Dad would say, "What are ya doin' sittin' there?  Get with it we've got lots to do today!"

OK, OK...and thank you for letting me do this...

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Is Your Advertising Message...LOST?

Bulletin_board Go into nearly any building frequented by the public (This is inside the Hoover State Office Building here in Des Moines) and you'll often see a bulletin board crammed with advertising messages.

Sadly, this is so very much like many advertising messages being put out by so many companies.  The messages get lost in the crowded field of other calls to action.

The result?

Unless you are a customer looking for a specific thing...forget it.  The brain just gets tired and the customer walks away from the confusion.

So how do you stand out from the rest of the advertising messages consumers get on a daily basis?  How do you really target your message with pin point accuracy and get real results?

Pin_point This week I had that discussion with a client.  They don't have an unlimited budget (like the Iowa Department of Public Health) so we simply can't guess about media placement.  What they do needs to be directly on point.

To get there we'll have to review the options, check the penetration of the media, make sure what we are told is factual and determine the best placement.

As a business owner or person responsible for marketing you may or may not know where to look and what to measure.  Sadly most don't and when the results are less than hoped for they throw up their hands and say, "Advertising just doesn't work!"

It does...but to work there has to be the right combination of the message and the media.  If that's not might as well stick a note on the bulletin board of the Hoover State Office Building....and good luck.

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we ain't just thrown' darts...thanks for reading.