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February 2009
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April 2009

Advertising Agency Horrors!

I know, it's a title you don't want to say too quickly.  But maybe so?  I'll let you decide once you read this story about how some agencies can take advantage of their "clients" and in turn...make life tough for many of us.

Sherie came to me from Twitter (Yes we do that too!).  She is a horse person who IMG_0742 married an Iowan, moved from the glitz of LA to an acreage near Des Moines.  She was perfect for our radio show Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country.  So, we had her on to share that urban to rural story. 

Over the next couple of weeks she learned about our advertising agency.  (She had thought we just did the radio gig.)  I called her early one Friday.  I needed to do a quick photo shoot for a client.  Needed horses, people...etc.  I asked her for a favor.  After the shoot she told me her advertising agency nightmare.  Sherie creates a line of equine products with the brand name of Equi-Spa (above)  She, knowing little to nothing about advertising made contact with an Eurotwistbottle2 advertising agency asking for help re-designing her product labels.  She wanted to remove the "glitz" and go for a more look more in tune with her "holistic" care.

So the agency gave her a look.  She rejected it.  "I told them it was just too 'blah'." said Sherie.  "I wanted something that said caring, holistic...maybe even love?"  They tried again (image left)...same decision.

Then Sherie took charge.  "They were not listening to me.  I wanted something more personal so I gave them a photo, the text, font and direction.  They took it...added a green leaf to the "Q" and sent me a bill for nearly $3,000!"

Here is the result of her direction:ShowcoatYELLOWFoundation

Was she "difficult"?  Was she "demanding"?  Sure...most clients are.  That is their job.  Our job is to listen...first.  Something that may have been absent in her relationship.  But...$3K for a leaf?  Yikes!

Some of you might think it's a "cheap shot" to even talk about this.  That's not our goal.  What we think is important is the lesson of listening.  We may think we are the "Gods of Advertising" but if we don't take the time to listen to what our clients say and then fail to deliver within the message...nobody wins."  That's bad for everybody.  Our clients lose faith and when we send a bill for work they have done...because we were not listening...we lose our creditability factor.

One more tiny thing.  It's tough if not impossible to listen if we don't speak the language.  Our agency wouldn't take on a client selling high end fashion.  We just don't speak the language.  However we wish we had met Sherie sooner...cause we get rural lifestyle and know how to say Equi...

Thanks for reading...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications






Advertising On The Cheap - Part One

The economy is on everybody's mind.  Not long ago we wrote an article about The Fog of Fear.  Several months ago we took the message of advertising during a recession to the radio show.  We've talked about the need to continue advertising during tough economic times and even offered up the Karl Chevrolet success story to prove our point.

In doing some of these articles I've been asked several times to offer up some ideas of where you can get a big bang for less money spent.  So...let's offer up a new series, Advertising on the Cheap

If you've got an established product or service viral marketing can be very inexpensive.  Video Shoot directing Even if you are bringing a new product to market the opportunity market that product or service using social media is a fraction of the cost of traditional print and electronic.

Here is just one idea.  A well crafted thirty second video ad can work great.  It's done at a fraction of a fully produced television ad and you don't have the added costs of "buying time" on local, regional or national stations/networks.  Some things to remember:

  1. The Key Words:  Well Crafted  Junk is still junk and won't work as well as something that's had some time put into it.
  2. Well Produced:  Depending on the production a traditional television ad can cost thousands of dollars.  A well done viral video...much less but it still has to be well produced.
  3. Drive Traffic - If your target can not find your video it does little good so make sure it's got the right tags and promote it with your Twitter account, your e-mails, blogs and a short news release.  Oh, if you have dealers....make sure they know about it.
  4. Build a Library - After doing one...add another using a new twist and then another highlighting a different benefit.  Soon you'll be able to pull one up for seasonal sales, hot topics and better target the message.
  5. Have Fun - When you're doing a video like this it's a different market.  Have some fun and be a little creative.  The nice thing to remember is...folks can watch it again and again.  So even if the message is a little offbeat it can sink in with repeated watching.


Michael P. O'Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where they keep telling me today everybody is Irish.  Thanks for reading.  If we can help, we're here.



Focus On Success...for a change

You don't have to look far for depressing economic news.  It's all around us.  If you pay attention to the media the "economic meltdown" and the "apocalypse" are upon us.  Any day now we are about to begin jumping off buildings as if it were 1929.  Good news is hard to find...

Until this morningCarl Moyer Register.

There, in the Des Moines Register, was an article about Carl Moyer and his "mega-car-business" in Ankeny, Iowa - Karl Chevrolet.  No, he was not laying off staff.  No, he wasn't declaring the end of the American Automobile Era.  He was telling business to get your head out of your butt (my words...not his) and get busy building success.  And...he's got the juice to back it up.  (Here is the full story from the Register.)

I read the article several times.  "More cars sold in 2008 than in 2007."  "On track for another good year."  "Opening up new outlets for his inventory."  And then these five tips for surviving tough times:

  1. Don't dwell on what cannot be changed.  Instead, keep working. 
  2. Use all the tools available. 
  3. Hire good (sales) people and expect them to execute.
  4. Focus on customers
  5. Keep planning.


I decided to find out and called Mr. Moyer.  He wasn't in so I left a voice mail and asked him to call me back.  I didn't think he would.  After all, we don't know each other.  And in my message I told him I wasn't buying a car...

So when the phone rang a couple of hours later and he said, "Hi Michael, Carl Moyer, what can I do for you?"  I was a little more than surprised.  Double that when I learned he was calling from an Arizona vacation.

Our conversation centered on marketing and advertising.  I asked him what changes he's made in his marketing efforts.  Has he cut back his advertising?  What does he feel has been successful?  What is making the difference and what advice does he have for others.  Here is a summation of our visit:

On marketing & advertising - "All of our departments have access to the marketing department.  We meet and discuss new and different things all the time.  We keep moving but stay with the focus on the customer.  For us it's very personal.  We give each one of our forty (40) sales people matching funds of $300 a month to be used in their local sphere of influence.  They pay $300 and we match it.  It's interesting to note that they don't waste it.  They buy carefully because they've got a stake in their local marketing."

On what media is working- "Television is holding its own.  Radio is becoming a great tool because of the low cost and high reach.  Print is falling.  But, the biggest increase we've seen is our electronic advertising through our website.  People love the convenience of shopping using the Internet.  Our website is very interactive and that seems to be the first place people go to get a flavor of who and what we are.  We're seeing big gains in electronic advertising."

On sustaining and building market share - "We believe in advertising even in the tough times because if we don't somebody else will and they then capture our market share.  That doesn't mean that we simply throw money at things that continue to fail or don't work.  We try to buy our media smart.  Look, one of the biggest mistakes is when, in lean times, a company decided to back off their advertising.  Then, once the economy comes back they throw money at marketing expecting to regain market share right away.  It doesn't happen that way.  Once you lose market share you can rarely get it back." 

On hope for a better day tomorrow - "Our doors might not be swinging with customers today.  But maybe tomorrow.  Every day I look out on I-35 and see people driving their cars and trucks.  They are adding miles and use and one day they will need a new vehicle. They may not come into our store today but we want to make sure we're at the top of their mind when they make the decision to buy.  And then, we take care of them by maintaining a relationship."

Not once during our conversation did Carl Moyer talk about price.  Until I asked him about that.  "We don't talk price.  Buying a car or truck is more about a relationship than how cheap you can get it.  We're more, much more, than price.  We're about making a long term commitment and staying with our customers for the long run."

Oh, and about those "five points".  If you go back and read them they work for any business, house of worship, our personal lives...just about anything.  Maybe that's why I thought the article was such a hit...Carl Moyer gets it.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're sorry for the length of this post...but lots of stuff here.  And, Mr. Moyer...thanks for the call back.  Thanks to the Des Moines Register for the photo.




Ten Commandments - Well, Sort Of...

The other day a friend of mine commented on a Twitter post I had  made.  Mike Wagner of the White Rabbit Group asked me if I was Moses because of my comment Moses regarding the laws of advertising and marketing.  In fact, he asked me what mountain I came down from.

It was a good question so let's take a look at the tablets and see if you and I agree about this advertising & marketing thing...

"I Am the Lord of Advertising and Marketing" This is easy.  If you make widgets for a living and you have employed an advertising agency to help you market these widgets to the public:  Listen to them!  We don't make widgets but we know HOW to make people want your widgets.  It's our business being the "Lord of Advertising" yours is to make great widgets.

"You Shall Have No Other Lords Above Me"  What this means is quit taking our recommendations to committee.  Just because somebody in the office doesn't "feel right" about the marketing direction does not mean it's wrong.  Remember, our business fails...if you fail.  So...please listen.  We really do know what we're talking about.

"You Shall Not Take Our Name In Vain."  We've all heard the horror stories of clients jumping from one agency to the other.  Or asking for all kinds of ideas and "spec" plans and then "moving on".  Let's play fair.

"You Need to Take A Rest"  Agree or disagree, when we get into a discussion about an issue...let it rest for a day.  Don't jump to conclusions over an e-mail (one of the worst forms of true communication that exists).  Take it easy and think on it.

"Honor Time Tested Methods"  Kind of like honoring your folks.  While their ideas of life may have been "old fashioned" they weren't wrong. In other words: Not every new idea is a good one.

"Don't Shoot the Messenger"  Every once in a while we may have to tell our clients some bad news.  "Sorry, that TV ad won't be done until Monday."  This does not mean we are lazy or unable to turn a job in a week.  It means we're picky and want it just right.  You should too...

"Don't Cheat - We're Partners" This falls into that old "messin' around" law.  Our promise to you is that we won't take on a client that is in your same business arena.  We won't represent competitors.   It's not right for us to serve two masters.

"Don't Steal"  Look if we do a job for you you need to pay us.  Likewise we're not going to take the ideas we gave to you and use them for somebody else. 

"Don't Tell Stories"  Gossip is a very bad thing.  We may know stuff about you and your business but we're not talkin'.  We hold this relationship to be precious.

"Don't Be Jealous"  It's called "coveting".   Let's keep within the bounds of what is expected from both of us.  We're not going to recommend a $250,000 media buy if you can't afford it.  At the same time be upfront about your budget concerns.

There you have it Mike.  I'd write more about each...but the dust on my hands from these dang tablets is getting into my keyboard.

Michael (Moshe) Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're thinkin' this is sort of cool...being Moshe and all.  (Note:  Is that Greek in the tablets Chuck is holding?  I can tell you it sure ain't Hebrew.)


Social Media Shout-Out

They are lawyers, printers, publishers, media and advertising folks.  You'll find educators, business start-ups and seasoned pros.  They all come out for the Central Iowa Bloggers meeting the first Friday of the month at, what we call, Panera University here Panera U in Des Moines.  If anything it is an eclectic group who share a writers passion and the desire to share ideas and business cards.  Lots and lots of business cards.  (Here we have Mike Templeton holding court with Ginger Johnson waiting her turn to talk.  That's Tim Johnston in the back and Andrew B. Clark in the blue shirt NOT listening to Mike! )

So, why do we go?

This monthly event started several years ago when Coach Mike Sansone decided that some coffee and a little nosh might help the group settle into sharing sessions. (Here's Mike doubling as a Panera U Mike waiter!)  We go to gather new and different ideas.  Share our knowledge and maybe pick up a lead or two.  It is the face to face social interaction that drives things like TweetUps and the BlogaNostra (that's us).

The bottom line here is that if you are not doing social media (blogging and Twitter) why not?  No value?  No time?  No idea?

All of these issues are easy to fix and by using social media we promise you'll increase your digital footprint...and maybe even make a friend or two.  Thanks, as always to Mike for building a great group of people who are really...really interesting.

"Hey Mike...more cream for the coffee?"

Thanks for reading!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications


Hangin' Up The Gloves

I know this is NOT the way to start a new month...but what's a business to do?  Last Boxing Gloves week I fired myself.  Threw in the towel.  Hung up the gloves.  Done.

"The frustration is just too much", I said in my letter to my ex-client.  "You came to me last year wanting help marketing your start-up.  We sat down and I explained what we do and how we help business owners build brands, create exciting  advertising concepts and work for your best interests.  Remember when I said we work to help you succeed because if you don't...we don't?"

We carefully explained how we bill for our time.   We urged you to embrace new and remarkable ways to get noticed.  We talked about budgets and marketing plans.  We created stunning print and electronic ads.  Called, for no reason at all,  just to check on you.  We met with media representatives.  Created promotional events that cost little but, we felt, would return dividends.  We listened to your fears and your dreams.  We took action.  We did exactly what you said you wanted us to do.  We gave you idea after idea."

"You fought us on every one.  You made it a point to ask everybody their opinion before you made a decision.  And, the decision you made was always...'no'.  You were marketing by committee and, sadly, nothing was happening."

"It just became too frustrating for us.  Kind of like a lawyer recommending to his/her client a defense or tactic and the client shrugging off the experienced advice and 'going it alone'. "

"So, we wish you well.  Honest!  We hold no grudge.  Some things just don't work out."

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Where we are sitting on some great ideas waiting for an open mind.