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Twitter - Social Media - And Your Business

I wish they would have given Twitter, the social media site making a name for itself outside of '20-somethings', a different name.  It's hard to keep a business person in a serious conversation about marketing and advertising when some words are used.  It seems "Twitter" and "rutabaga" have that in common. Tide 1946

"You want me to 'tweet' on Twitter??  Yeah, right!"

Of course that's what was said about words like, "Yahoo" and "Google".  No doubt somebody also laughed when a laundry detergent named "Tide" hit the market in 1946.  "Tide?  What kind of a name is that?  When the tide goes out it leaves all kinds of junk on the beach!  Are you crazy?" (Our thanks to P&G for the image.)

And so it goes...

But, just like the above examples when the product or service matches or exceeds the needs of the consumer the name may not matter.  Or it starts to define itself.

In the world of social media there is an 'up-side' and a 'down-side'.  Kind of like using too little or too much laundry detergent. It all depends on how you use it.

If, for example, you simply want to tell the world you are headed into see the proctologist Twitter can be a huge pun intended.  But, if you use the medium to communicate with like minded individuals (OK, so some folks may really "get into" bending over.") then you can use Twitter or just about any social media site to learn, keep in touch and promote your product and/or service.

Here is a practical example.  I've run across several dozen folks who have made great interviews on our rural lifestyle radio show, Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country.  People who really have something to say and share.  I've followed other advertising agency types and gained an insight (pun intended) on several projects I may have missed.  For us, it is valuable...

Like anything else, there is a learning curve.  There are, on all the social media sites, rules and ways to do things.  And, if you want to stumble around for a bit you'll catch on.  (Side note:  Tweets are the messages, not the people who use Twitter.  Those are Tweeps!)  See how easy that was?

Bottom line, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, Linked-In can all be great tools, no matter the name. 

Mine?  Head to @MichaelLibbie on Twitter and we'll get to know each other.  Hey, it was better than RutabagaMan...I think somebody already has that handle anyway, or soon will.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we might be able to help you...learn more about communicating with your target market.  Call us...or feel free to "tweet".






The Case For Decision Making...

"If you like spinning your wheels and going you like to make decisions in committee."  Committee Penquins

No doubt somebody has said that and it's a famous quote.  (I didn't look it up.)  But, if not...I'll claim it.  The idea came to me after I wrote the piece yesterday, "What's Really Wrong".  And that piece was written following four days of meetings (mostly in committee) with the Farm Equipment Manufacturing Association (FEMA).  This is not to say these folks are not well intentioned good people.  However, just like many committee meetings the final decisions are usually somewhere between "OK" and "We can live with that".

We find this all around us.   Government works, mostly on consensus.  So do school boards, houses of worship...even the local bike club.  And, usually it's just fine.

Usually...but these are unusual times.  These times demand action and not some "namby pamby" deal that takes the best of ideas and waters them down to inactivity.

That's one of the reasons I liked the recent firing of Mr. Wagoner of General Motors.  You don't invest money in a failed business and let the leaders of failure continue  It was a bold move and just the thing many sleeping business people need to consider.

You got into business by being decisive.  A little success later and you began to delegate.  Not that it's wrong...but as we move decision making further down the line the less we tend to decide.  A decision based on consensus can be as bad as no decision at all.

So, this is a call to get back in the game.  To make a case for decision making, to get back to basics while keeping your eyes and ears open for new opportunity.  Sometimes it really works...

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where now I'm wondering if we made a good decision to write this...nah...go with it.




It Is Up To You...Learn or Leave

If you have a pulse you know how fast things are changing in the world of advertising and marketing.  Some of you are no doubt conflicted as what to do.  If you own or manageTropical Drinks the marketing side of your business you are being told by those who sell you advertising space, radio or TV time, direct mail...or any host of "Website Mumbo-Jumbo" that THEY can solve your market share issues.  (We're now seeing entire groups of radio stations no longer calling themselves "radio" but "communication media corporations".)  They will all tell you they have the answer...for nearly everything.

It is not true...

The only person in the room that has any control over the market share of your product or you.  You and the thousands, if not millions, of people you hope to attract to your product or service.  And here is the key...

If you do not learn the new realities of marketing and advertising by doing the smart thing and listening to a much broader scope of people who actually "know" rather than want to "sell" you the magic potion:   Retire...or get a job on an island flipping burgers and making yummy citrus drinks for conflicted tourists.  (If they still go to islands where they are served burgers with frothy, yummy citrus drinks...but I digress.)

If you are marketing and advertising the same way as you did three years ago...yikes.  If you are not READING new media advice...oh my!  If you are still thinking your audience has not "moved on" or will soon "move on" to accept social media...have somebody check your pulse. Now!

You no doubt read the book by Thomas Friedman, "The World is Flat".  (Come on...everybody "said" they did.)  In it we are told about how business would be changing, how business would view new value chains, how things would splinter into components...

How many of you paid attention and made business changes?

To be true, some business leaders have made changes.  Others are just "praying" things will get better.  Folks pray at funerals too...

Today you need to start expanding your vision.  Today you need to take control of the message.  Today you can no longer afford to listen to the same people selling the same products and services you were buying three years ago.  Today you need to scrap that "media vendor list" you give to the receptionist, "Cathy, I only see these media sales people.  If anybody else comes in be nice, but tell them I am busy."  (YOU KNOW that is true.)

You need to learn...or leave.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where being nice to you folks is NOT in your best interests.  So, am I really ranting too much?








What's Really Wrong...

Yesterday, while on the flight from Phoenix to Des Moines, I met a new friend.  Jeffrey Zonis is the principal of a consulting and training company out of Scottsdale.  He's also smart and well read.  That means he is very interesting.  The 2.5 hour flight was over in China Made In the blink of an eye.  It was the first flight I was sorry to see end.

While talking about the fifth or sixth topic in the first hour of the flight he lays this one on me:

"There was an amazing article this week in the New York Times that got very little press, and I was a little surprised."  He had my interest...

"China has made the decision (which means they ARE going to do it) to leap-frog flex-fuel automobile technology and begin mass production of electric cars, that actually work, and then sell them for around $25,000 on the world market."

My reaction:  No amount of bail-out money will save the United States Auto's over.

And that, my friends, is what is really wrong.

While "talking heads" on the Right and the Left keep us busy pointing fingers at each other with blame and guilt, China has said, "Screw you...we're going to lead while you guys search for the boogie man."

You would think, with all the really smart people in this country, somebody would have said, "OK, here is the plan:  We're going into this GM Boardroom and fashion a strategy to not only return the company to solvency but to once again lead the world in auto production.  We ain't leaving this room until we get that job done."

That is what we would have done forty, fifty or sixty years ago...  We would have picked an issue, zeroed in on it, put our brightest thinkers and action people in a room and solved the problem.

Now we just throw money at it...

And...that's what is really wrong.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - What say you?


FEMA in Phoenix

This past week the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association () met for their Drew Spring Conference. It was held in the very nice Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort near Phoenix.   For those of you who expect lots of advertising and marketing information on this blog...well, this time you'll not find it.  We just want to share with you some photos of the event.  (All the photos will enlarge when you click on them.)  Some Jim Perry Iowa people who were having a great time, learning and building the machinery that keeps food on the tables of the world.

These photos are no different than any other association event in any part of the country.  We understand that you may think it's a little John Jerry strange to take up time to post photos of folks you don't know. 

But, it's more than that.  These few photos are of people working to build, feed and enjoy.  They are photos of second, third and fourth generation "shed builders".  Folks, who are the sons and daughters, John Bill grand-sons and grand-daughters of pioneers in agricultural equipment.

And, whenever you start taking and posting photos it's bound that we'll forget some folks.  Or we just can't post photos because people Raelynn objected. 

It's not our intent to upset anybody...but it is our goal to show some common hard working folks enjoying themselves...while they work to find better ways to feed the world.

Ricky Brown and wife Enjoy..The Ladies  Scott drew harold

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we're just pleased to be part of the movement.

A Trade Show Display That Rocks...

Those of you who follow our advertising agency know we are into MINIMAL looks when it Ingersoll Display empty comes to trade show displays.  We think a dramatic visual image says so much more and is so much more attractive than clutter and confusion.

That's why we loved this booth from the Ingersoll Tillage Group at the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) trade show.  (Click on the pic they enlarge) Not only dramatic...but also something many in the association had never seen before.  It is a photo of agricultural discs used in tillage equipment...but it's very different and just plain cool.

Along with the company logo the only other words are:

- Strong

- Sharp

- Flexable

Those are the three key points of the product.  And, of course it is augmented by the HD Ingersoll Display crop video to give more background.  Eye catching?  Yes!  Confusing?  Not a bit.  Impressive...very.  Can tillage tools be sexy?  Yes.

Nicely done - More proof that an advertising agency can create more than words...and blah.  Thanks to Steve Kertesz (L) for sharing the story...and bringing the booth!

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where agriculture can be sexy...see?



The Turning Economy – Bill Conerly

I expected much worse.  In fact ,I figured that after we heard an economist talk about the financial outlook we would all be offered a .357 and a chance to end it all among the palm trees gracing the parking lot.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Bill Conerly has a Ph.D in economics from Duke, is a Senior Fellow at John bill the National Center for Policy Analysis and he’s got his own shop, Conerly Consulting.  In other words he’s got the cred to back up his observations. (Dr. Conerly (r) with John McCoy of Orthman Mfg.) 

In a word his talk focused on…Recovery.  Recovery within our lifetime.  It was a much different view then we get from the TV talking heads…

Several highlights:

-      The only real solution for the excess housing in the US – More people.  “Population growth is the only viable solution to the high vacancy rates in housing.  That, or lots of fires.”

-      Business runs on credit and it’s tight.  “What many in government don’t seem to understand is that business credit is the lubrication of the U.S economy.  Business knows that before a consumer returns a dollar they must engage in lots of spending to create and then market their items.”

-      This situation is not extraordinary.  “What we are seeing is in line with historical data from past recessions.”

-      Consumers have a real case of “bad attitude”.  “Everybody is running scared, even the 92% of fully employed Americans.  Scared means poor retail sales.”

-      People with income are not spending.  “Income in many areas is actually up and people that don’t need to cut back are cutting back.  But they will return to spending habits, we’re not a frugal nation.”

-      It’s hard to think warm in the middle of winter.  “I believe the third quarter of 2009 is poised for growth.  One thing we need to remember, in the midst of this economy it’s difficult to see recovery.  Kind of like an Iowa winter, it’s hard to imagine 80 degrees and sunny.

-      When will it turn?  “I believe that we’ll fully return in ten to twelve months.  Between now and then be prepared for lots of negative talk that everything the government has been doing isn’t going to work.  But it takes time.”


Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Where we're glad they kept the guns in the safe.


Selling Beyond Price - Empowerment

Those of you who follow my posts know I was not excited about being in Phoenix for five days.  It’s not the time away or the company I’m with, Cliffs FEMA is a great group of farm equipment manufacturers.  It was the cost.  The flight price was OK.  It was the daily charge at Pointe Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs Resort that got me.  (Any time you add an “e” to the word, point it’s going to cost you.) 

It comes to about $250 a night. 

That’s a hefty price tag for a bed…in any city.

The price, however, pays for what has been exceptional service.  Here is just one example:  On Wednesday at 7am we had a breakfast meeting for 40 executives.  One of the FEMA staff members, Tricia, had been busy setting up a registration center since before 7 and did not eat.  By the time our meeting was over at 9:00 she was looking for “just about anything”.  I walked back into the meeting room, that was in the process of being torn down by three maintenance workers, and asked if any of the pastries were left.  I told one of the guys what was up and he said, “Just a moment sir.”

Less than three minutes later a member of the kitchen staff returned with a hot breakfast and said, “Here you are sir, our complements.  Can I get you anything else?”

IMG_4759 Is it worth $250 a night?  Maybe not but that one event (out of a dozen other examples so far) made it easier to swallow and sold me on the idea that even in these times it’s NOT always about price.  

It’s about value.


Empowering your people to make sure the customer is satisfied, beyond their expectation, doesn’t cost…it pays.  And, in this case, how many people do you think just experienced a customer service “win”?   Plenty…was it worth the effort?


Michael P. Libbie – Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we didn’t pay $250 a night…thanks Travelocity.


The Great Divide at FEMA

It’s a tale of “two agriculture's”. Gathered in a large meeting room manufacturers and suppliers of farm manufacturers spoke of the Grand canyon difference in sales from…this year to last.  Those who supplied and manufactured equipment for the Rural Lifestyle Market (39 million households living on 2 – 200 acres) told of sales being off by 30 – 40 percent.  While those who were working with large scale farmers growing grain, cotton, hay and rice had much better sales and were “holding their own”.

At first glance it would seem logical.  Large scale farmers have good crop prices and the money to buy the large equipment.  Those folks living on small farms and acreages don’t.  95% of their income is not from the farm and they are dependent on outside income to make ends meet.  So, they are not spending.

I think it’s a much deeper issue that deals with understanding this market.

The manufacturers and dealers for small farm machinery just don’t know how to reach their customers.  Many, if not all, have never faced this issue. 

So, here it is..this market, we believe, does not support traditional print advertising which has been the mainstay for these folks.  Why?  Because the rural lifestyle market is so segmented and can’t be lumped into hay, grain, cotton, etc.  These folks raise veggies, horses, milk goats, meat goats cat fish…and if a manufacturer tries to reach this diverse market by advertising in print that has a focus on each industry…they would go broke.

But, that is the habit of traditional farm equipment manufacturers.  That is what they know…

Proof?  When I asked them if any had been using social media to communicate with their target only one in 40 raised their hand.  Not to mention robust web sites, not to mention doing PR programs dedicated to various groups…not to mention the use of radio and even TV if it is carefully directed.

I’ve got lots of work to do in Arizona...

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we can's what we do.



Now We Know Why The Economy Tanked...

More from FEMA - The Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association Spring Meeting in Phoenix.  And,  yes, there is a marketing message here so, my urban friends, just because it says, "Farm" does not mean you can't continue to read.Peanut Butter jar

I'm sitting in an early meeting today with seven other executives from various companies, all who sell raw materials or other products and/or services to the manufacturers of farm machinery. 

One of the group said, "Let's dispense with having a discussion about business. I think we all know how things are going."  Not me. Remember, I'm there to learn what the heck folks are thinking and doing about the economy.  So, I pressed the issue:

"No, really", I said.  "I'd like to know how you folks are doing, what kind of changes have you made.  What is going on?"

It was interesting what followed.  Business wasn't really as bad as you might think the opening remark would have suggested.  In fact we found a few very bright spots.

Not going Pollyanna on you but sometimes, when we really talk the issue through, we find it may not be as bad as the telling us.  We might even find some good in the changes we've made in how we do things.  It seemed, from what I heard, most in the room had been holding their own and doing OK.Booze in glass

That's when one guy said he had changed some things.  He gave up peanut butter for Lent.  (HUH?)  Then two others said they had given up...are you ready for this?  They had given up booze for Lent!  No beer, no wine, no....nothing.  Lent.

That is two people out of eight that had given up alcohol for several weeks now!

Now, if I were a "news media" kind of guy I might suggest that, from what I can gather during this brief exchange, the economy will rebound in about eight days...once we get back to peanut butter and booze!

Remember, early today....we suggested we needed to lighten up a little?  There you go.

Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where we understand the peanut butter thing....