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June 2008

Living With A 56K Modem...Ouch!

Old_phone Welcome to our business publication about advertising, marketing and public relations.  Thanks for coming by!

How soon we forget!  I'm "on vacation" in Northern Michigan without the laptop.  So I've been using my Mothers computer with a 56K dial up that's really working at about 23K. 

It's painful.

It's also standard up here.  And, that is a shame.

For so long we've pushed the idea of a national program to bring broadband to Rural America.  For those of us living in areas where it's available and inexpensive we take it for granted.  But, in places like this...

It is an economic burden, sort of like it must have been before electricity.  Imagine, for just a moment, having to do business or trying to do business on a 56K unit!  It's taken me over an hour just to connect, download a photo and write this.

Oh my...

And for those of you developing Websites...the reality is these folks just can not open what you've had built.  And, if your key demographic is've got to think before you ramp up the new technology.

Just something to think about...and it became very real this week.

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

In Search of My Father...

Memorial_day_08 Welcome to our business publication from our advertising agency...we're glad you came by for a visit.  Sometimes we write a bit of personal stuff...this is one of those days.

Twenty-One years ago this summer I buried my Father at Fort Custer National Cemetery here in Michigan.  As those years have gone by it's not his birthday, the date of his death or any special anniversary that calls out to me more than Memorial Day.

It is the one day that lifts up who he was more than any other.

My father, who never talked much about WWII and his nearly five years in the Navy, reviled in the comradeship of his fellow veterans.  He would help other veterans with their benefits as the Service Officer in each of the three VFW Posts where he belonged, he would serve in the Honor Guard at funerals and proudly carry the United States Flag in parades.

But, he never wore one on his lapel.

Vfw This weekend we drove to Onaway, Michigan so Mom could visit one of the Post 5357 where he belonged.  Mom, who will be 88 this June, picked it up a bit as she visited with the current leadership, some of whom were 15 - 20 years her junior.

They talked about my father and I listened in...  learning a little more about the man who I knew as "Dad"...who they knew as a comrade. 

It was another piece of my father that helps put more into Memorial Day. 

Thanks guys.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

In Search of Five-Dollar Gas...

Gas_sign_may_07 Welcome to our business publication for advertising, marketing and public relations...thanks for coming by!

Ahhhh..."The Good Old Days".  This photo is from May of 2007 when we thought gas prices were nuts.  Back then we were writing about taking extreme measures.  Today the same sign reads $3.79 for "Super Unleaded".

We're within striking distance of $4 gas by the Fourth of July and $5 by Labor day.  Yep, we predicted that months ago.

Mom Nice time to take a trip...

We're closing our office for a couple of days to make a trip back to Michigan.  Mom, who will be 88 in a few days has been looking forward to this for some time.  Us too.  It's the first trip for personal reasons in a very long time.

We'll be on the lookout for that five-dollar gas along the way.  Got a feeling we'll find it.

Other personal stuff:

Aaron_and_andra Last Saturday night we attended a wedding here in Des Moines.  It was for our long time friend and graphic designer Aaron Muelhaupt and his bride Andrea.  What a wonderful time and a meaningful ceremony, which they wrote themselves.  Proud?  You bet!  Fun...out of this world.  Creative...yep.  Mazel Tov again to you guys!  Now let's see what you do with that broken glass....get creative.  (I'll never forget the first day Aaron told me about Andrea...two years ago yet!)  Well done my friends.

The radio show for Sunday (Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country) was pre-recorded but it's a great topic.  We're going to visit with Craig Dick from Calcium Products and if you would like to learn more about how limestone and calcium makes a difference in soil...tune in to 98.3 WOW-FM Sunday morning at 8.

We'll connect from the road later in the week.  Thanks for reading!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...gosh she is pretty huh?  (Mom!)

Telephone Directory Advertising...Please.

Telephone_directory_2 Welcome to our business publication about advertising, marketing and public relations...thanks for coming by.

Last week a friend who owns a nice little wine shop sent out an e-mail to several of his customers.  We're one of them.  In it he asked this question:  "Which do you prefer, Yellow Book or Yellow Pages?  Trying to figure out where our advertising dollars should go and we'd like to know what you think."

My quick answer was, "Save your money and put the checkbook away."

The longer answer is this:

It depends on what you are selling and your primary demographic.  That's not advertising agency "double speak" it is reality. 

Women_wine In this case my friend is trying to reach folks who might  In this part of the country there is plenty of competition from grocery stores, other wine shops, heck even Target sells wine.  So finding it ain't tough.

Finding somebody that knows something about wine is a different story.  We'll get back to that.

Telephone_directory_phone Telephone directories have had their day.  (Like rotary telephones.)  There was a time when the yellow pages directory was a staple of the advertising industry. 

That has changed.  Think of it...when was the last time YOU opened up a directory?  Me?  When I was in Memphis sixty days ago and I did not want to plug in the laptop. 

What should our friend do?  1)  Create a great website that he can update on a regular basis to keep fresh content; 2) Start writing (blogs) about the fact that he actually KNOWS something about wine and share the information. 

In the end...THAT is what his customers will be paying for.  Help, direction and knowledge.

There is no better time to get started than right now!  You with me on this?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications...pass the wine!

Let 'em Talk!

Outtahere_revised Welcome to our publication about advertising, marketing and public relations...glad you stopped in for a read!

This past month we've been building some magazine ads for our client Calcium Products

Calcium Products is moving into a larger presence with the livestock industry.  We took a page out of the ol' marketing book and allowed the livestock to do the talking.  But what is missing here is "the pitch".

If you take a closer look there are fewer than 50 "sales words" in the copy (lower left side).  (And there were that many only because the product being sold has so many benefits for pastures, hay and forage.)  Less is always more.


The reason is we want the customer to ask more questions.  Why?

Questions sell better!  It's true.

Big_head_revised If you can get the customer or client asking you questions about your product or service so much the better.  That's one of the reasons we resist using allot of words in our ads.  If you give away the entire story the sales side of the company doesn't have anything to say!  And, sometimes too much information is not only overwhelming but also can give the customer a "reason" to say no.

Remember ads don't always "sell".  They should inform...enough to make the customer want to go deeper.  And then it's up to the sales force.

Thanks for coming by...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

"Slow Down Ya Move Too Fast..."

Fast_lane Welcome to our Business Publication about advertising, marketing and public relations.

We think the fuel issue finally has the attention of the nation.  It's not that we've not noticed the steady price increase.  It's that it is about to get to a point where many of us will have to re-think how we conduct business.

For example, I was on the phone this morning with a client who tells me he needs to travel 1,100 round trip miles to do some dealer development work.  "I'm cringing about the price of making the calls."

So, we talked about it.  How to minimize travel but yet get the message to the perspective dealer.

The answer, we think, is technology.  While it's true most business sales have been done on a face to face basis there is no reason why we can't harness technology to do, at least, part of the job.  Consider:

  • Video Links for sales messages that can be directed to each perspective dealer or target;
  • Enhanced Power Point presentations;
  • Video Conferencing;

Fast_lane_slow_up There are a host of different ways to make the sale and save money at the same time.  While it is easier to say "no" using an e-mail vs. being in the same room the real secret is have a great product and a persuasive media message.  It goes a long way.

Slow down a little...and use technology and great media presentations.  So, what do you think?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Positive PR - Even In The Middle East

Ad_for_israel Thanks for reading our business publication focused on advertising, marketing and public relations.

Say the word "Israel" to a hundred people and you'll no doubt get one hundred image descriptions. 

All different.

That is why this ad, taken out in today's editon of The Wall Street Journal, is so cool.

Not many Americans realize the modern advances that have come from Eretz Israel (The Land of Israel) and this is a neat visual reminder.

From the advertising side, we've had clients who demand lots of words in their ads.  I think I'll keep this as a reminder of how simple and effective a message, with only 31 words on a full page, can be.  That is the first lesson.

The second is a question:

How does your company use it's "voice" to capture the reality of your goods or service especially when there are competing realities?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Agriculture - Caught In The Middle

Irish_meadows_alpacas Thanks for reading our business publication for folks interested in advertising, marketing & public relations.

It is the best of times and the worst of times...for agriculture.

It's also a public relations and marketing problem that needs to be solved quickly.

Here in the Middle of the Midwest we're seeing farmers enjoying some great times.  Crop prices are pushing upward due to a host of factors including ethanol, exports and genetics. 

That's one side of the story.

The other is that food prices have been climbing, there is a shortage of food in some parts of the country and other nations are pointing the finger at US agriculture as commodities have inflated by up to 40% in just months...  Once the "breadbasket of the world" we're now seen as greedy farmers.

And there are other issues:

The 2008 Farm Bill is stalled, the price of fuel continues to increase, the weather is becoming a factor and people need a scapegoat.

Enter agriculture. 

Rural_urban Americans are further removed from agriculture than at any other time in our history.  There is a general lack of understanding where food comes from and where it goes...even here in Iowa.  A couple of generations ago most of us had family members on the farm.  Today, as the number of farmers shrink the scales tip toward urban thinking and acceptance.  That spells trouble for farming especially when the votes on critical rural issues need to be counted.

There is a bright spot.  Micro-Farms have begun to sprout up all over the country.  These are not the mega-farms profiled in the ag magazines but small farms and acreages that have embraced sustainable agriculture, new markets and local demands for high quality products.

Buy_fresh And, unlike "traditional agriculture" these small farms and acreages have built a positive public relations image at farmers markets, through inventive media messages and e-commerce.

It's time main stream agriculture followed and no, the Farm Bureau and various commodity groups won't get it done.  Each of those is seen as too large, too political. 

We'd be interested in your take on this...are we wrong?

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

Michael Hutchison & Parrot Rescues - Hobby to Job

Mikehutchison_2 Rural Lifestyle, let's talk about it.  Sunday morning at 8 on 98.3 WOW-FM.  You can listen live if you are in Central Iowa or click this link and use your PC.  It's quick and easy...

Along with news, information and tips about living the rural lifestyle we'll also be visiting with Michael Hutchison of the Iowa Parrot Rescue located on his Letts, Iowa acreage.  What was his passion has now turned into a full time business for the retired school teacher.  "Parrots are great pets but so many people don't understand the amount of care and attention they need," says Hutchison.  "Last year we took in over 100 birds some as far away as 300 miles."

Hutchison isn't just caring for parrots he's also expanding his methods.  This weekend he has six families at his acreage learning how to build a parrot rescue operation.  He says there is a huge need.  "Based on our experience we believe we could use about thirty rescue operations across Iowa.  It's that large of an issue."  Others must think so too...this year he received a large grant to expand his facility.  His hobby has become his full time job.

Grab a cup of coffee and come by for a visit Sunday morning at 8.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications...thanks for reading and now for listening.