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October 2009
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December 2009

Keeping Websites Simple

Last week on my daily business radio show, Insight on Business, I talked about theABC Blocks need to keep websites "simple".  It got a lot of feedback so I thought it best to share the information with those of you who don't listen.

The "thought starter" for this came from a mailing we received from Qwest Business.  The 16 page full color "magazine" called "Network" had a story by Bill Scanlon, "Simplicity - The New Competitive Advantage".  In it he writes, " will likely mean keeping that Web site home page simple - resisting the urge to clutter it up.  After all the goal is to make things clear and logical for the customers."

Then he quotes Bill Jensen of who says, "Google has spent its entire history preventing things from getting on that main page.  The complexities (of the site) are invisible."

Here is the payoff.  Last year 76.7 billion searches were conducted on Google and had the most significant growth among all of its competitors.  Now, go take a look at their home page.  Simple...

And that, according to Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience at Google, keeps people coming back.  And she adds an interesting personal line:  "A lot of times when I'm reviewing a new user interface, I will think to myself, 'What would my mom think if she looked at this?' because my mom is a great test case.  Smart but a little intimidated by technology."

So now...look at your home page.  Cluttered?  Vague?  Easy to read?  Do people know exactly what to do without having to spend time searching for direction?  What would "Mom" say?  (Without prompting.)

Some would say,  "Simplicity depends on 'what' you are selling.  Google sells information and the newspaper sells advertising and XYZ sells plumbing parts and ABC sells dog grooming supplies..."   And, that is the problem.  You see, Google gets it.  We are all "selling" information but we do not have to spill all of that information on the home page of our websites.

Thanks for reading.  You can reach us through our website, and keep up with us on Twitter- @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and yep, we're also on Facebook.



Sunday Morning Coffee - November 29, 2009

Sunday Morning's our way of looking back on the past week and a visit to theCoffee Cu ps future.  Not much in the way of advertising and marketing advice, just a visit between friends. So, pour a cup "joe" and spend a couple of minutes me?  We'll get back to the heavy stuff tomorrow...

Funny what we get so excited about.  Last week a couple crashed a state dinner at the White House and everybody has been covering it like it was some sort of major event.  You have to admit with all the other crazy things going on...this was a little "light".  We thought the interesting thing here was the connection between odd behavior and "reality shows".  It wasn't that long ago the nation was gripped by "The Balloon Boy"...another media driven situation by folks longing for "reality".   Are we really that desperate?

Woman Santa Helper Early reports suggest that US retailers had a pretty good "Black Friday".  News reports from CNN this morning: "Initial reports and projections for Black Friday and the weekend show consumers have been taking advantage of deals on clothing, toys, electronics and entertainment. Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, Fortune 500), Toys R Us and (AMZN, Fortune 500) are among the companies that are already benefiting.

ShopperTrak, a retail analytic firm, said Black Friday sales were up 0.5% from last year."  Come on lady...get something's cold this weekend!

Last Friday, on my daily business radio show, Insight on Business, I gave you the list of the top ten companies who had created the most on-line and off-line buzz leading up to Black Friday.  All four of the above were included in that list of companies who used media (social and traditional) to drive traffic and buzz.  Oh, that "marketing thingy" again.Kizzy Turkey

Holidays?  Thought you might like to see our African Gray - Miss Kizzy - pondering over who that Turkey Might Be...  "Cousin that YOU?"

Hey, are you keeping things simple or are you fond of clutter?  Coming up tomorrow I'll share with you some thoughts about your website.  What you should put on the home page and what you should avoid.  It's based on a study that says the majority of us can only process eight itemsat the same time.    Hmmmmm.....Stars_faceoff

Could professional hockey come back to Des Moines?  Perhaps if folks listen to some thoughts offered up by former Iowa Stars Hockey president, John Pettit.  I promised not to write about the specifics but...I think he is on to something if the "powers that be" take note.   It's a bold...but exciting plan.

Does "advertising" work in the political spectrum? Duh...  A new Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register suggests that Iowan's are leaning more conservative than liberal.  This from a state that gave President Obama the big push just two years ago during the Iowa Caucus.  The key?  Perhaps part of the answer is conservative talk radio, both local and syndicated, that has been blasting away at progressives on an hourly basis every day for months.  And, when that is the only drum beat presented...  Does it have an effect?  Nah...

Organic Farming...later this week I'll be headed to the ACRES USA trade show in the Twin Cities on behalf of our client, Calcium Products and NatraTurf.  While we've been in this market for sometime this will be another great opportunity to sit down and study the consumer habits of "green farmers" and how we craft our messages...

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and you are looking forward to the "holiday season" getting into full swing.  Want a projection?  Business in the US just about "shuts down" from December 15th until January 3rd.  So...strike NOW...before folks say, "Let's talk next year."

Thanks for reading and for interacting.  You can follow me on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and on Facebook we're right here.  And, Insight on Business, a daily 90-minute radio show with a focus on advertising, marketing and consumer trends can be found here, just click and see what we've been up to.
















A Couple of Thoughts

OK, it's Thanksgiving and as my friend, Andrew B. Clark said in a recent post, "Why, on Facbook and other social sites, are there millions of people posting “what they’re thankful for” throughout the month of November when they can’t simply do it while standing in line at a restaurant on a basic Tuesday?" Good question, Brand Chef...JC Penney

Last month we picked up a new client who sells things (lots of things) on-line and in cataloges.  They are an agressive company and wanted our opinion on their website.  We gave it and we were honest (think brutal) about what they need to do.  Which brought to mind the recent decision by J.C. Penney to shelve its "Big Book" that had been shrinking since 2003. Here is the story from the Dallas Morning News. The company said it will save 30% of their paper costs...but no mention of postage, people and time.   The Yellow Pages and J.C. Penney, Newspapers....  Catching a trend here?  Nah...this "Internet Thingy" will never last.

That's it...  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  Doesn't matter if it is a family of one or one-hundred.  And, let's hold over the "being thankful" part of today at least into Saturday?






The Rural Thanksgiving...

Tomorrow most Americans will gather around tables for Thanksgiving.  This week has been full of shopping, cooking, cleaning and getting ready for the "big day".  We, likeTable and Chairs many of our friends, will also mark the date with as many traditions as we can.

Over the years Thanksgiving has changed from being a day set aside to be thankful for the blessings of a good harvest to simply being, "thankful".  That's not surprising because, today, there are so  many folks that have never had a farming experience.  So, I thought I'd infuse a little "rural thanks"...into Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow the kitchens and dining rooms located in the farm homes and acreages that dot this country will be wild with activity.  Folks will rise early to finish chores and then help where they can to prepare the meal.  There will be chopping, slicing, dicing, pie-baking and mixing.  The houses will smell of fresh bread, sage and pumpkin.  Even if it's cold, windows will be open and the smells and sounds will drift out to the pasture, across the fields and a mile down the road to the next home-place where the activity is just as intense.

And then, at a time agreed upon by the adults in charge, people will make their way, quietly to the place where the meal will be served.  And there they will bow their heads and offer a prayer of gratitude.  And some, looking out the window, will see the images of livestock and field stubble and they will forget the hard work, the bills and the struggle it takes to be in agriculture.  With heads bowed and a sense of pride in their hearts coming from the knowlege that they have fed thousands of others...they will quietly say, "Amen".

Thank you...thank you for what you do.




Back In The Dark Ages...

Remember the "dark ages"?  Those years before the Internet?  We had big "yellowKnight books" full of addresses and names and if you could figure out the category you could connect.  We had a choice of "where" to advertise and market ourselves.  If we wanted to break out of our "local trade area" we would buy all kinds of print, radio and television to push our brand.  And, sometimes, it worked.   Back then advertising agencies and corporate marketers would get to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building brand awareness.


Over the past five years new media has emerged to shed some light on the dark.  Following up from our series on "digital marketing" based on an August 2009 survey of 1,000 consumers across the age spectrum done by Razorfish we thought you might be interested in these numbers"

When building a brand you now have another tool for your toolbox:  Social Media and if you are not using are losing potential brand momentum.  Consider these numbers:

  • 97% of the respondents to the Razorfish Study reported increased brand awareness
  • 98% show increased consideration of a brand on social media;
  • 97% will likely purchase a product from the brand experience;
  • 96% may recommend the brand to a friend.

But, that is not all:  64% of consumers report making a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience.

Do not tell me your on-line image does not matter.  Do not tell me this is "only for the kids". Do not tell me you are fearful of entering the "digital playground".  What you should fear is the dark ages...because if you stay there you will become...history.

Thanks for reading and interacting.  You can follow us on Twitter @Michael Libbie or @InsightADV on Facebook we're right here and, you can always head to our Website, to learn more about our daily business radio show, Insight on Business.  Better yet, here is the link to that blog!



Make It Go Away...

The past several posts have been centered on the Digital Media Survey done by ourGirl Fear friends at Razorfish in August, 2009.  1,000 people from across the age spectrum (so no it wasn't just "kids") reported back on their digital habits when it came to business.  Just the other day we told you that 70% of the respondents said they had read a corporate blog.

But, business, large and small, often think digital marketing is a waste of time...  Hold on, there is more.  We ain't going away just yet.

The survey goes on to say that 67% of the respondents have watched a commercial or video advertisement on-line.  That, of course, begs the question:  What are you doing to enhance your image and brand through video postings on your website or on YouTube? 

Video is a great tool.  Are you using it?

What about "listening" to the consumer market?   Are you paying attention to what people are saying about you or your brand? 

You might want to start. It might surprise you that 73% of the respondents have posted a product or brand review.  If you haven't set up the various "watches" on your product or service...or do you know what people are saying about you or your competition?

We've got more we'll share with you but bottom line is this:  Are you engaged or are you  wishing it would all go away?   It's your choice.

Thanks for reading!  Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where you can keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or@InsightADV

Also, watch for our daily radio show, Insight on Business heard Monday - Friday starting at 12:30PM Central and yes, you can pick it up all over the planet.  Here is the link to the Show Pages.

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The Corporate Blog...

Continuing our discussion from the August 2009 Digital Marketing Survey byMan business doubt Razorfish that asked 1,000 Internet users about their on-line habits and how it relates to branding and business, we now turn to the corporate blog.

70% of the respondents (across all age groups) indicated they have read a corporate blog.  That number is higher than any newspaper and magazine advertising recall numbers I have seen.

Seventy Percent...

So why is it so few small business owners or even large corporations fail to see the value in a corporate blog?  It is too new, it's too scary and, "I just don't know what I would write about."  Really?  You mean you will let those tiny reasons keep you from communicating your story to the world?

There are three solid reasons why you should blog for business:

  • "Findability" is what we like to call it.  If you listen to me (or Mike Sansone) and write about your product, service, customers or life three times a week for three months you will increase your "findability" and page ranking.  Promise...
  • Conversation - Look, chances are you didn't, on the first date, walk up to your spouse and say, "Let's get married next month."  It took some conversation.  Some "getting to know you".  People still buy from people and if your target learns more about you, your product or service how more likely is it they will consider you...first?
  • Credibility - The business blog allows you to "link out" to surveys, white papers, other opinions that can boost the belief in your product or service while educating your target market.  You can not do that with print, radio or television.  Well you could but the cost would be out of reach.

Just do it...OK?  Get smart and get your message in front of more people than you might imagine...  70% is a very good number.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications you can follow me on Twitter - @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV. Our daily radio show, Insight on Business is heard Monday - Friday starting at 12:30PM Central.  Here is the link to Des Moines Local...LIVE!  Thanks for reading!






A Social Media Proof - Not WorthYour TIME?

Over the past few years we've encouraged our clients to use social media and digital marketing as tools in their advertising and marketing "tool chest".  During this same time period we have become more strident in telling people of the critical nature of using social media and accepting digital marketing.  But some of you just are not convinced...Closed building

But, We are right...and folks dodging digital marketing are dead wrong.  So wrong that we believe if you do not adopt some serious form of digital marketing you may as well head to the store, buy a board (2.5' x 3' should do) some paint (go ahead choose a color, red, yellow, black...) and a paint brush so you can construct your "Out of Business" sign.

Razorfish recently released a Study of social media and the Internet as it pertains to branding, brands and marketing.  If you have ever doubted what we've said in the past, perhaps this series of articles will get you to believe...  Over the next several days we'll highlight parts of the study and give our insights.

The study was done in August among 1,000 consumers from all across the country.  The responses were from a 50/50 mix of women.  The age group went from 18 to 55.  Annual income levels averaged $75,000.  Not to shabby a sample.

63% said they were hooked up to Broadband Internet.  That's about 200 million people.  How would you like .05% of that number?   Well, good luck if you don't have a vigorous digital marketing plan.  Why?

65% of the respondents said they had a digital experience that either enhanced or diminished their opinion of a brand. Hint:  If you have a first generation website or lacking information or something that  Good luck making that impression.

Of that group that had a digital brand experience, get this:  97% said their experience influenced if they would purchase the product or service.  Yep, 97%.

Oh...and were they looking for YOU on the Internet?  Could be.  97% of the respondents reported searching for a product or service on-line. (No active website?  No way to reach you!)

More how many folks do you think read corporate BLOGS?  Oh, never mind....that's a waste of time.  Right?  ;-)

Thanks for reading.  Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications.  Keep up with us on Twitter, @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV


"It's Not What We Do." Why?

I, along with thousands, of others subscribe to the blog by Seth Godin.  This morning Seth points out a problem with saying, "It's not what we do" when it comes toNo Service Woman times of change.  As he writes, "Simon & Schuster or the Encyclopedia Britannica could have been Google (organizing the world's information) but they didn't build a search engine because that's not what they do."

It's like when I and two friends, back in 2001, opened up a compact tractor dealership.  We were in the media business.  So why did we do it?  To prove to the world of agriculture that it was possible to sell tractors on-line.  We did sell 12 or 15 within six months but closed the business because it was not what we did. 

You do see the difference between an information business building a search engine and a media business opening a tractor dealership...right?

Sometimes the idea or service is just NOT in your field, not your core business.  Tractors wasn't ours but the encyclopedia folks missed the boat because information is their core.

It's like advertising and marketing.  We don't build anything at Insight Advertisingother than winning advertising and marketing campaigns for our clients.  It's what we do.  I can't tell you how to build a rotary cutter or a hay rake but I sure can market it in ways manufacturers could never dream.  We can't arrange wedding flowers or make wine but we can put more eyes on those products than what the designers or wine makers can.

It's what we do...

Sometimes companies who continue to "try" marketing on their own need to stand back and say, "'s not what we do.  Wonder who does?"

Thanks for reading and you can keep up with us on Twitter, @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.