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Sirius Geezer!

Sinatra_looks_like_2 We're taking a break from advertising, marketing and communications...sort of.

Nah...this ain't "Ol' Blue Eyes" but what we get to hear on Siriusly Sinatra every

When I was a kid I remember, with  fondness, my parents talking about the great bands and the great singers of their era.  (Mom, however, hated Frank..."Never thought he had any talent!" Mom sang with the Big Bands...Frank may have been the one who caught the "lucky break".  A little jealousy?)

To listen to Frank, Sammy, Dean, Mel, Tony, (San Francisco is on now as I type) is such a relaxing and romantic event.  OK...I'm sounding like my father...

The bottom line:  Memory tracking is big business.  Are you taking advantange of it?

There are as many folks out there who love Foghat...maybe more...than enjoy music from the 40's, 50's and 60's.  So how do you know where to position your message?

We're not talking about radio stations...but thinking outside the box.  Branding can be all about position.  While the rest of the world is headed one way...chart a course in the other direction.  Sometimes it works.

Who, in their right mind, would program a satellite station for such a minority audiance?  The smart folks.

There are hundreds of ways to be there yet?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and we thought all you could get on satellite was Bob Marley...which ain't bad either!


Computer_virus Last week a client we're building a website for weighed in on the the URL.  We passed this on to them...and now to you.

You ever get that "gut feeling" about a decision?  It happened to us last week and a recent story from the Associated Press Technology section proved our point.

A client wanted to end their URL with a ".info" rather than the traditional .com and we resisted the idea.  We pointed out that ".com" is the world's most popular and so ingrained among users that when a company uses a ".biz" or a ".info" or a ".net" folks may not type it correctly and then miss the website.  That spells disaster for consumer driven companies.

And, while ".info" is attractive to many in academics the goal was to reach the consumer base.

In the end they agreed with our assumptions.  A day later I read an article from McAfee, Inc.  They did a study and found the most dangerous website domains ended in ".hk" or Hong Kong ".cn" or China and ".info" or information.

Of all ".hk" sites tested by McAfee 19.2% were noted to be "dangerous" or "potentially dangerous" to visitors.  So too were 11.8% of the ".cn" sites and 11.7% of the ".info" sites.  ".com" came in at 5%.

The study is based on results from 9.9 million websites that were tested in 265 domains for serving malicious code, excessive pop-up ads or forms to be filled out that are really tools to harvest data for spamming.

Least risky:  ".gov" for government at 0.05%; "jp" or Japan at 0.1% and ".au" or Australia at 0.3%.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications - Be careful out there!

Maybe They Don't Want You To Call...

Phone_dusty Want folks to connect with you?   Maybe we need to re-think how we advertise phone numbers.

I was on the phone last week with our friend, Andy Priestly from DWebware.  A client of ours was having some connectivity issues.  As we discussed various vendors I asked him to check a phone number for me.

This is where it gets fun.

The provider had their corporate phone number on their website but they were using that "cute phrase" rather than real numbers.   Here it is:

Toll Free: 1.800.CALL.INS

Ahhhh....that translates to what exactly?   Imagration and Naturalization Service?????

Here is another:  1.800.CUCUMBER (these folks are also in the Communications Industry...oh my)

Now...if you have one on you...check your cell phone.  Bet you don't have "A", "B", "C" on the number "2".  So, if you are using a cell phone you would not be calling this provider.

In fairness, a local number for INS was listed but couldn't find a "real number" on the other site.

Join us in the effort to use numbers rather than "cute phrases" whose time has passed?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & our number?

Print Advertising - What Works?

Blank_magazine_pages Last week our friend Drew McLellan wrote a piece about print advertising.  He was honest in his assessment that most newspaper and magazine ads stink.  Then went on to list six things you can do that will improve your message and your sales.

Good stuff!

We wrote about "less is more" some time ago.  But, it never fails.  Somebody calls with an ad request and then wants us to use all the white space on the page.  Just yesterday we met with a potential client who brought along print ads created "by corporate".  They stunk too.

Remember, the reason we advertise is to get people interested in the product or service.   Somebody, rather than something (print ads) needs to do the actual sale.  You've got an "blank page".  Use it to get the attention of your customer first.  Don't rely on your advertising to actually make the sale.

What say you?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

It's Here...Now What?

Gas_money Welcome to our publication on advertising, marketing and public relations.  Thanks for visiting.

Our daughter is in San Diego today.  She phoned home to tell us that the price for regular self-serve gas is $4.79 a gallon.

We're only 21 cents from the five-dollar mark.  Now what?

It's a question many companies have got to be asking themselves.  Something has got to give...or you can pass the costs on.

Gas_dream Pass it on...and on...and on.  But then what?

When we top five dollars and head to six bucks...  It's a nightmare without end.  So, do you cut your advertising and marketing budget or do you become more creative?

So, what are you going to do?

Here is a hint:  Go in the other direction.

A recent poll conducted by CNN/Opinion Research, shows respondents believe, by 86% that gas will top $5 yet this year.  That compares to 28% a year ago.  How do you position your goods and services to take advantage of the market you're thrown into?

You better think fast.  The same poll shows 55% of consumers are slashing their household spending.  79% sat we are already in a recession. 

Enough of the bad news.  The good news is that now is the time to re-invent your product or service.  And do it in a way that puts more of your message in front of the consumer!

What's that mean?  My friend Peter Tarpey and I were talking about this the other day.  Both he and we run very lean ships.  Office_crowd You're not going to find a room full of "Assistant Media Buyers", "Assistant Art Directors" and "Vice President's of Corporate Development" sitting around spending our clients money.

Ask yourself...what good does all that layering do for your message.  If you're spending 25% of your ad budget paying for somebody else's help...  Silly.

Two messages here:

  • Reinvent and get the word out;
  • Put more of your message in front of your customers.  It's better than paying for lots of "back end" costs.

So, what are you going to do?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where running lean is good for our clients...and their customers.

FEMA - Welcome to Des Moines! Sort Of...

Fema_bus_use Welcome to our publication about advertising, marketing and public relations.  We're glad you came by for a read!

FEMA came to Des Moines this week.  Well sort of.  Right now they are getting office space ready in the Ridgemont Drive area of Urbandale, Iowa.  (It's a suburb of Des we really have them.)

They marched in last week and are occupying a new building in a new section of town.  A week ago it was for busy.

Fema_parkersburg Trouble is...the vast devastation from Tornadoes (Parkersburg) and Floods (Cedar Rapids and Iowa City) are 200 miles to the east.

It's a public relations thing...  We're sorry to point it out...but how strange.

Here is the scoop.  Our federal friends swooped into Urbandale and into brand new building, pouring concrete floors, building offices, and running new electric service into the site.  Like there are not enough buildings with floors and electric service already here?

Iowa_map Worst of all...their "new office" is over 200 miles away from the disaster areas.  Take a look at the map.  Parkersburg is near Waterloo...and you can see for yourself where Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are located.

It's your tax dollars at work.

OK..maybe they moved here because it's close to the capitol of Iowa...or maybe they moved here because of the airport...or maybe they moved here...  I honestly have no idea why.

But it just seems silly and you would think they might be more sensitive to PR issues.

We'll see.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

And The Winner Is...

Sherry_borzo_wdm Welcome to our publication on advertising, marketing and public relations.  Thanks for coming by.

The other day my friend, Sherry Borzo, wrote a great piece about "Advertising Campaigns".  In it she wrote about her failed efforts to attract attention and how she was spending money on advertising that had little to no effect.

"I tried placing some advertisement pieces in the newspaper and of course I had no cash so they were in black and white. Crazy again. I posted and whined about the expense and my failure. Nobody called. Nobody came. It was like adolescent dating all over again."

You can hear her pain...sound familiar?

Then, another friend, Drew McLellan sat down with Sherry and "listened".  He "asked questions" and helped her write (ready for the winning phrase?) an "action plan".

Bingo...out of the mouths of babes!

Squint For some of you who are "seasoned marketers" all of this may appear immature but, everyday we talk with business people who are in the same boat.  No action plan.  No idea of what they are doing other than "knee jerk marketing".

"Advertising de jour."  It swallows up advertising dollars and marketing money faster than the Des Moines River.  (Our necessary flood reference, which by the way is a major issue here in Iowa as thousands are forced from their homes in cities and rural areas. Property damage in the hundreds of millions...)

Our advice has always been to sit down and do some real thinking about the product/service, target audience, consumer trends, branding and media.  We're not talking fifteen minutes of thinking...but a process that will pay big dividends if executed properly.

Nice win Sherry!

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

Selling "The Box"

Mom_suzie_orman_2_the_box Welcome to our publication about advertising, marketing and public relations.  Thanks for coming by.

For as long as I can remember my Mother kept our families "important papers" in The Green Box.  The most common sight around our home was Mom sitting in her chair guarding whatever was in "The Box".  I never looked inside.  It was sort of like opening The Ark of Moses...get too close and POOF!

That's why it was so surprising when I called several months ago and she went on and on about her new purchase.

Mom_suzie_orman_1 The Suze Orman Blue Box...

What?!?  "You mean you gave up The Green Box for some plastic blue thing made in China?"

"Yes, and it's wonderful!  It only cost me $66 plus shipping and handling.  I paid with "Easy Pay" on QVC." (This from a woman who watches every penny like a hawk...she says it's a "Depression Era Thing".)

"What's the matter with The Green Box?  After all it's served our family for over five decades?"

"This is better.  I just love Suze Orman and those nice folks on QVC."

Ain't marketing great?

That's what sold her the New Blue Box (NBB).  The NBB is a simple extension of what she had.  Sure it opens differently and it is blue!  But what separated Mom from her $66, plus shipping and handling, was the marketing.

We try to tell folks that story all the time.  Far too often it's not what the product much as it is how the product is marketed.  Have a good story, told by a convincing pitch-person or great campaign and have the media budget to run's ice to Eskimos!

What a classic story...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we help folks market their products every day.  Long live the NBB and Mom!

Taking The Time To Listen...and Learn

Michigan_roger_jacobs_2 Thanks for visiting our publication on advertising, marketing and public relations.  Great to have you stop by.

Vacations are those costly events where we go someplace and worry about the projects and clients back home.  Obsessive?  Yeah...

They are also events that teach us something if we're willing to listen and learn.  So it was on our recent trip to Indian River, Michigan and a morning visit with Roger Jacobs.  I'd never met Roger.  It was his store that intrigued me.  The last time I had visited my Mother I had told myself that I really needed to see what was inside.  So...I pushed open the door, camera in hand.

Roger has operated Northland Sports Company since 1960 when he and his parents purchased the store and contents.  For over 40 years the white stucco building, that sits directly on the Indian River, has been a source of income and his home.  He has, and does, sell firearms, fishing gear, tomato plants, and just about anything else a person wants or needs outdoors.  He gives away free advice on where and how to fish, what rivers and lakes have the best scenery plus a little social commentary.  His inventory, of everything he sells or gives away, is astounding.

Michigan_roger_jacobs"It's different today," says Jacobs standing near a 130 year old wood stove that heats the place in the winter.  "People just don't get out as much.  They hang in their houses or motels watching TV and playing them video games.  It's a waste of time not getting outdoors and enjoying nature."

But people are drawn to his store.  Maybe they've heard about the incredible lure collection that dates back generations.  Maybe Michigan_roger_jacobs_lures they've been told "how the guy knows everything about the north-woods and lakes".  Maybe they've heard, "If you can't find it there, you can't find it."  Or maybe, like me, they are drawn to connect with a simpler place and time.  A chance to learn a little and listen to experience.  Here's a sample:

Spending Money:  "Credit cards, we don't take 'em", exclaims Roger.  "Some guy called me last week to sell me on the idea.  Do you know they charge a percentage of the sale back to you.?  I'm havin' none of that."

The Internet:  "I've tried it and I've got an e-mail address but I don't use it much other than keep up with the kids.  I enjoy talking and listening to people, not typing."

Work:  "I love to work but I work when I want.  If things are slow we close.  Winters get kind of rough around here and I get to travel a little but this is my life and I enjoy being my own boss."

Friends & Family:  "My friends always know where I'm at.  They come in, sit for a bit and talk." (Mr. Bones, a former auto industry executive, made such a stop while we visited. I learned his wife came from the same little town in Michigan where my family settled.  She had even worked at Cape's Ice Cream...where I worked at age 16 in my first "real job".  Small world.)  "My kids sort of like the fact that I'm as independent as I am and so do I."

Thanks Roger.  I just wish we had more time to spend at the fishing spots you told me about and use that old cane pole my wife had to have.  Maybe we could have even gotten the line wet.

But...we had to get to do.

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications gosh it's great to learn from to put some of it in practice.  Thanks again for reading.


Hockey News...Anaheim to Des Moines

Anaheimducksnhl_3 Welcome to our business publication about advertising, marketing and public relations.  Thanks for coming by.

Later today Bob Schlegel owner of the "now gone to Austin" Iowa Stars will announce a new agreement between the Anaheim Ducks and Des Moines.  It seems the Portland Pirates are headed from Maine to Iowa.  It will be the second AHL franchise in the city in four years.

Portland has had a good run (15 seasons) in Maine but they've been playing in an aging facility and the fan base seems to be stuck at "nearly 5,000" accorting the their website.

In addition a move to Des Moines would allow them to be closer to California.  But, the question is:  Will they stay?

A visit to the Ducks website has owner Henry Samueli saying his "long term goal" is to have all their farm clubs "playing in California".  They just inked a deal (May 21) taking their ECHL farm club team out of Georgia and moving them to Bakersfield in the Golden Bear State.

Other questions:

  • Will they remain the Pirates or is that too close in conflict to the Des Moines Buccaneers?  We think they will change.
  • How will they market to Iowa?  We tried to help the Stars but nobody was listening.  Maybe this time.
  • Will California "play" in the Midwest?  It might not matter there are only seven years left on the AHL deal and if the Ducks want all their teams in California, Iowa could be just a stopping off point.

The announcement will be this afternoon at 2:00PM at Hy-Vee Hall.  See you there.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications.  "Me Like Hockey!"  "Let them fight, let them fight, let them fight!"