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Sunday Morning Coffee - January 31

The end of the month...what they heck happened to January 2010?  Welcome to SundayCoffee Cu ps Morning.  It's that time of the week when we sit down and talk about loads of things.  A little business but also a bunch of other things we might visit about at any coffee shop in the country.  Grab a cup and have a sip of Sunday Morning Coffee...

I was hoping against all hope.  On Friday there was a "tweet" from @GovChetCulver.  It was signed off as, "Chet".  I was hoping it really was the Governor of Iowa and that he had finely decided to start communicating with Iowan's.  But alas...I fear not.  Posts later in the day are once again in the third person.  Here is the deal Governor Culver...  You are a great guy.  You shine when you are among the people.  However, even the Des Moines Register suggests that you are out among us less than former Governor Vilsack and former Governor Branstad.  While I'm not sure of their numbers I can tell you that once you start being YOU and communicating with us you will gain traction and support.  For the life of me I can not understand why your staff ignores one of your biggest assets.  Anybody???  Anybody???

What do you make of this propane deal?  Just wondering.

Ragbrai-2010-color Last night the Des Moines Register held the RAGBRAI announcement party at the Hy-Vee Center in DSM.  There may have been 300 people there.  However, they also broadcast the event over the Internet.  We saw at least 1,400 people logged in to watch The Nadas, learn the route and comment live at the same time. you REALLY think this Social Media Stuff is a fad?   People......get a grip.  It is amazing... Oh, it's from Sioux City to Dubuque.  A great ride.  By the way...The Nadas rock!

Are your customers dying? now what?  Here is part of the answer.

My friend Brent Pohlman recently attended a National Agri-Marketing Association event in Omaha where he spoke about social media.  He said three (3) of the 32 advertising agencies there understood or used social media.  One even said they don't use or recommend social media because, "farmers are on dial-up". I am so grateful for Brent that he went and is attempting to help people understand this form of media.  Usually it is the agencies that give info to business.  This time it's the other way around. 

This past week we've had some major technological issues with our radio station, Des Moines Local...LIVE.  Feeling a bit like Marconi on a daily basis.  We hope by tomorrow we're golden again.  Our guest for Insight on Business on "Metro Monday" is Suzanne Hull of Unemployed in Des Moines...just so you know.Man Doubt

Saw a headline that a family here in Iowa is turning to Oprah to help them re-connect.  Oprah!  Memo to self, "This business about going to religious services is bunk.  Must watch and listen to Oprah..."  Jeszh...  Are we REALLY that screwed up?

Four guys in their 40's decided to go to the Italian restaurant Mama Leos for supper because they waitresses there are "hot"..  In their 50's they go because they serve "heart healthy" meals.  In their 60's they go because the place gives "senior citizen discounts".  In their 70's they go because the place has "wheel-chair ramps".  In their 80's they go because, "Hey, we've never been there before!"  - Thanks to Howard Bernstein of Casa di Vino.

Let's see...who else can I offend...

Oh, guess we've created a "fire-storm" with Mike Lessiter from Farm Equipment Magazine when we were on the air talking about the lousy practices of John Deere.  Some folks who had "bled green" no longer support the industry giant.  Check the story.TRUCK

Six weeks after my son's vehicle was struck in a hit & run the Des Moines Police Department issued a citation to the driver (who of course has no insurance) of the green Jeep Cherokee.  It was tough tracking down the offender...  Well maybe not.  You see they had not only, on the day it happened, a description and a partial plate...  They...uh...also had the address...and of the driver.  Lighting speed....

My bride went south to see our girls...I was left at home to care for the critters..  You see who rates here.

That's it kids...  You can keep up with us on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV or @RuralLifeRadio.  Have a great rest of your Sunday!











My Clients Are Dying...

Sobering thought huh?  That's exactly what I was told earlier this week by a wellCemetary established firm in Des Moines.  "Michael, over the past six months, seven of our clients passed away.  We've got to find a way to replace them."

At least he recognizes the issue.  But is it too late?

They have a couple of options...and if this problem matches your company, so do you

He can choose to spring into action and embrace a number of media opportunities to get his business recognized among a younger demographic or he can rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. 

One decision will cost him time and money...the other will simply cost him his business.

It's been our experience that panic will set in and for a brief moment they (and perhaps you) will start to consider ways to boost your market share.  But, in the end, the tough decision to move forward with new ideas and new technology will be replaced by a lack of understanding how, a lack of funds and a lack of time.

We hope not.

There is a message here for your business:  You can no longer count on the "old ways" to bring  you clients and customers.  I'm not saying abandon all traditional marketing methods but add to them or at least start to understand your options.  And, if you've gone for years without investing in marketing and advertising and think you can actually grow by keeping your head in the sand.  We've got the sympathy cards ready.


You can follow us on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (business and personal) or @InsightADV (Business baby...all business) or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for everything rural)




Here, Let Me Help You With That...

Not sure if it was us or our friends at Qwest but we "found" five voice mail messages that had been left at our main number.  One of them was from a company that is considering a new consumer/business owner benefit program they want to roll out in Des Moines.  Think, "Name your price" for things other than hotel rooms.

I made the phone call and for the first several minutes listened to "Mark" rail aboutHelp advertising agencies, "Forgive me if I'm venting but I've spent much of the past several days talking to ad agencies who don't get what I am doing, want to charge me $1,000 to build a media plan for a month and have no clue about their city."  Mark went on, "I'm not wanting something for nothing but you would think these agencies would want to learn more about my idea and then work with me to see if we can launch in their city.  But, no.  Their first question is, 'What is your budget?' and we don't get beyond that."

It's a common problem...the not listening part.  Sure, there are talented people out there who can do great creative and build outstanding media plans...but if their first question is, "So, what's your budget?" they must be too busy for new business.

So, I listened and we talked...for nearly an hour.  Then today I called him back and gave him the name of a person in this market who is looking for a sales job, somebody we thought would be great for this project.  "Mark" was STUNNED.  "What?  YOU called me back not to find out if you had the job but called to offer me help...without charging me?  That is different."

It's the way more of us should work.  A guy from out of state contacts us for marketing help...we, in less than 24 hours get back to him not with a quote or a bill or a bid...but with help he never asked on the ground. 

Different...yeah...but hey, why not?  We think that's a better starting point.  What do you think?




We Know What We Know...

Last week I was sitting in a room talking about marketing with a perspective new clientFast Food Stand and I said "it".  "It" is the statement we give people about advertising and marketing and "it" goes something like this:

"One other thing for you to consider before we move forward; we know advertising, consumers and marketing.  It's what we do for a living.  We don't build houses, make tractor parts or fry dough...that's the easy stuff.  Our job is to put more eyes and ears on your business.  We do not sell your products or services we enhance them.  We have spent decades perfecting our craft and so when we make a suggestion it's' not a guess."

We've started making that speech because it seems like most business owners think they can build a space station AND market it.  That's usually where they fail.  We're not concerned with work schedules, inventory and sick days (though...some of that does have to do with branding issues).  Our focus is on broadcasting or "narrow-casting" what those business owners make or offer.

And, we're only as good as our last job...

So, what about you?  How do you view marketing and advertising?






Sunday Morning Coffee - January 24, 2010

Nothing like a Sunday Morning...not much open, not a lot of rush...just some time to sitCoffee Cu ps down and visit with friends about loads of things.  Here's a sip of Sunday Morning Coffee...

I had TWO days last week where I wasn't doing Insight on Business on our radio/tv station, Des Moines Local...LIVE.  It was like a vacation.  Not that I don't enjoy doing the show but it takes 4 hours to prepare, write and research for the 90-minute show.  Got loads done and on time!

Ice, Ice Baby...we've been "Slip sliding away..." for days.  Went from minus zero weather to fog & freezing rain to a day long thaw (with rain storms) and now back to the freezer.  Playing hell on roads and roofs.  It's February and most of our cities are out of funds for winter and road work?  Wait til spring with the pot-holes.  Meanwhile I spent nearly three-hours with our new friends from Gannon Roofing talking about roofing, marketing, "ice-dams" and more. Great guys...thanks for the time.

While Iowa Republicans focus on the past with Terry Branstad for Governor has the National GOP found their voice in Scott Brown?  Something to watch...closely.

I don't mean to be rude...well, actually I guess I am...but are you really passionate enough to be in business?  Are you passionate about meetings, graphs, spread-sheets, commission schedules or are you passionate about meeting the needs of your customers?   Here is a sample of what I'm talking about...can I get an "Amen"?

Talking about "customers"...  Has anybody ever attempted to call Pitney-Bowes to Pitney LOGOreslove an issue?   I hope I've had my last attempt.  Friday I started at 3:55PM to figure out why I received a bill from Pitney-Bowes "Postage by Phone" for $58.17.  (Mostly because we don't have a postage machine and haven't had one in use since April - 2009.)  I called the 800 number (that was on the billing statement) and the excitement began.  In 45 minutes I spoke to six (6) different people at multiple locations with different numbers.  Everybody passed me to the next...nobody could "see" anything or actually do anything or even answer the question, "What is this for?".  Finally  "Rose" resolved the issue at 4:40PM.  "You owe us nothing, Mr. Libbie."   I'm wondering if I should now send them a bill?  What mind-bending poor customer service from Pitney-Bowes...amazing they are STILL in business.Mpl Crowd 1

Thanks to the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce for the speaking opportunity this past week.  It was "No Bull Marketing - 2010".  Love doing this...should have been a a private school.

Speaking of private schools...  My friend Peter Tarpey (who took that photo at the Urbandale event) has a son in the Des Moines Catholic School System - Holy Trinity.  On Thursday he got a call from the school telling him not to come and pick up his 8th grader.  "Mr. Tarpey, the students are finding it difficult to stop playing at recess and then stand in line to enter the school.  So, we'll be practicing standing in line for two hours after our regular dismissal time."   It's not a "ruler across the knuckles" but I'll bet it was effective.  Try that in public schools....  Way to go Sister!

When was the last time you paid $5,000 for somebody to build a newspaper ad for your company?   And then spent another $4,500 to run the ad which resulted in zero response?  Just asking...  (We shake our heads around here every day.)  Now you know why folks in advertising rate slightly higher in public opinion polls than lawyers and used-car salesmen.

SHOUT OUT to Bradley Blinn the VP of Marketing for Mingle360!  I had an issue withMingle_logo2connections and my "MingleStick".   Sent Brad an e-mail and rather than "pass me and my problem on" (see above) he called me back and FIXED the problem...all in less than three minutes.  Word:  BIG is NOT always BETTER.   Just another reason to recommend them to your group, chamber or closed trade show.  It's magic. reading this?   Think added value for your trade shows....

Dear Red Box:  Nice idea...lousy movies.  I'm done.  (And I'm not even grumpy today.)

Thanks Lessiter Publications and Farm Equipment Magazine!  We had Mike Lessiter on our radio/tv show, "Insight on Business".  We were talking about no till farming, John Deere dealer purity issues and their practice of stripping dealers of the JD nameplate in favor of, what seems, large multi-store owners.  Here is the link to their homepage.

"Pants on the ground, pants on the ground...lookin' like a fool wid your pants on the ground...Git 'em up!"  I'm sorry...if I have to suffer with that in my do you.  In case you is our marketing tip from the "song".

Shhhh.....  Listen.  Do you hear it?   No?  Me either.  Yesterday the Iowa Republicans and the Iowa Democrats held their respective caucus events.   You would think that by the next day, if a Saturday afternoon caucus were successful, somebody would be shouting about it.  Somebody would be saying, "Our decision to move the caucus from a weeknight to a Saturday Afternoon was met with a resounding success.  Our caucus sites were brimming with fresh new faces who had never had the opportunity to attend these grass roots events because __________ (fill in the blank) and we're so proud!"  Nada...nothing.  Last night I sent out notes on Facebook and response.  None...  What I did find was conflicting.  KCCI-TV 8 said  there were "huge crowds" but  Right Wing Blogger, Shane Vander Hart said it was a lousy idea while Art Smith said it was great.  One thing is true.....It's very, very quiet in Iowa....    How about you?    Let us know?   We're really interested in your take.

That's it...what a week and a better one coming.  It's Metro Monday with Todd Razor from the Des Moines Business Record to kick off the show, Insight on Business with Michael Libbie tomorrow.  Join us?

We're on TWITTER:  @MichaelLibbie (personal and business), @InsightADV (Business or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for everything rural).

































"Pants on the Ground" - There is a Reason...

It happens every so often.  Somebody does something remarkable and before you know itPants on the ground the "thing" is a national or international mega hit with the public.  That's the way it is with "General" Larry Platt and his now very famous American Idol audition with "Pants on the Ground".

So, why did this connect with people so fast and (might I suggest) so deeply?

Here is a short list and there is a lesson here for marketers:

  • Platt actually "said" what people think, "You look like a fool..."
  • The message was simple;
  • Larry isn't a kid - we've got some "age envy" going on;
  • It's repetitive, easy to understand...think famous ad jingles.

Your "take away" from this is:  Connect with consumers, don't be afraid to say the truth and keep the message simple.

Class dismissed...and thanks General!

Photo: Courtesy of Very Demotivational Posters (Gotta love the idea)


Oh, and just in case you have NO IDEA what the heck I'm talking about, here is the video:

Let Your Emotion Loose

For the most part business lacks passion.  Oh sure there is the exception to the rule.  There is always that small business person that goes through the day stoked and ready to take on the world and I've seen some passion in Board Rooms...but that's usuallyMan Amen personal.

I'm talking about corporate; large and small.

Business meetings...for the sake of having a meeting.  Future plans...spoken about in hushed tones.  Sales meetings...with mindless charts and graphs.  Marketing plans loaded with data...but lacking emotion.

I'm not suggesting that you fill every event with phony "rah-rah"; people see through that in an instant.  I am suggesting that to get your passion correct you must be working on behalf of your consumer...  Think of it, a sales meeting with a focus on meeting customer demands rather than pushing some new silly compensation formula.

Today I get to speak to the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce for a very brief 25 minutes about "No Bull Marketing - 2010".  In that time I hope to share with them what their customers are begging emotional connection that benefits both parties.

Can I get an "Amen"?





Haiti - Twitter - Business

This morning at 5:30 Central I saw the first Tweets about another earthquake shaking Haiti.  Nope...not from broadcast media, not from any news media site....Twitter.   Within moments "The Whale" appeared telling us that Twitter was over capacity.  In that time span more people on the planet heard and were telling others of what was going on then any news organization has viewers, listeners, readers...


Now, the elusive issue for your business is the ROI of Social Media...right?  I hear people whine on a daily basis that they don't, "have time" or they "have nothing to say" or "I don't know what to say".

Maybe it's invest a little sweat equity into your business and stop standing on the sidelines....watching the parade go by?

Social Media beats the news machines to the story time after time.  Maybe it's time to remove the word, "social"?



Sunday Morning Coffee - January 17, 2010

Morning...or if you are a late riser, "What the heck have you been doing?  We've had the pot on for hours!"  Sunday morning, that great time of the week to sit down, look bothCoffee Cu ps ways, and share some stories.  Let's get into our Sunday Morning Coffee...

Haiti- Who would have thought an event of such human suffering could bring such a shock wave of negative political and religious talk.  But, that is not the real story. Millions of folks...folks like you and I...from around the globe have discounted the wackos and given millions of dollars in relief funding.  In spite of...or because of the "Side Show".  Here is a listing of relief organizations deemed the highest rated by Charity Navigator, an independent non-profit organization that lists charity groups based on effectiveness and financial strength.  

Ag Connect Logo For those of you in the world of agriculture Ag-Connect, the new farm equipment show put together by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), ended on Friday night.  The short story is that nearly 8,000 people attended the three day event (The World Ag Expo in Tulare averages 100,000 attendees) and according to this interview with Charlie O'Brian of AEM the show can be described in one word, "quality".  We'll have more later this week over at Rural Life Radio...after we talk directly to attendees.

Does anybody really care about Jay Leno or Conan O'Brian or NBC?  Just wondering.

Here in Des Moines the 18th Annual No-Till Ag Conference ended.  It was one of the most interesting events I've been to.   Seminar after seminar, well into the night, discussing sustainable agriculture.  And...get this, farmers paid $249 per person for the opportunity to attend the three day meeting.  And no, that doesn't include lodging.  Attendance?  Up. (For those of you "selling something" there is a message here.)Mingle_logo2

Have you "Mingled" lately?  Here is the piece I did last week.  Legs?  We think so...but now the real work starts:  Keeping the BUZZ going.

Staying a bit local...on Wednesday I'll be presenting at a meeting of the Urbandale Chamber at the Comfort Suites at Living History Farms.  We'll be talking about small business and marketing.  Kicks off at 11:30AM with registration.

I had one of the nicest things said about me this week by Mike Winter of Worthington Ag Parts.  He was in Nashville at the NTPDA National Conference and Tweeted:  "Second lousy speaker in a row.  Where is Michael Libbie when we really need him?"  Thanks Mike.

Are you keeping things...simple?  Or are you confusing the hell out of your customer?

JOBS Looking for a job?  I've had my head in the sand on this one.  Last week I attended an event called "Net 2 Work".  Here is an insightful post from my friend Suzanne Hull from Unemployed in Des Moines.  (Scroll down on her's there.)  It's a networking group that meets twice a month to allow folks that are unemployed or under-employed the opportunity to learn, from professionals and others, all sorts of ideas when it comes to getting hired.  There were 56 folks at this meeting.  Here is what I learned:  Technology IS NOT your friend if you are looking for a job.  The majority of HR functions regarding on-line applications are handled by a computer who spits out rejection letters based on key-words in your application!  I honestly had NO idea.  I heard from several people how they went around the system to get hired.  Even if you get a rejection back.  Something really silly may have triggered the rejection.  In the name of everything holy...this is insane.  And, HR people, don't tell me you "do not have the time" to review  applications.  That, in case you your job.

That's it...   A  quick reminder of our daily (Monday - Thursday) business radio/tv show, Insight on Business.  We talk about advertising, marketing, consumer trends and best business practices for 90 minutes starting at 12:30PM Central.  It's for folks who enjoy thinking...about business. 

Thanks for coming by for a sip of Sunday Morning Coffee.  You can keep up with us on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (business and personal) or @InsightADV (Business or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for everything rural).  Have a great Sunday!























Simple = Success

There are two types of consumers.  One type wants to know everything about the product or service they are about to buy.  The other buys because they want it, need it or are simply motivated to action by another emotional issue.  One plus one

The vast majority fall into the second group.  We buy stuff...with emotion and not a lot of study.

Sure, we may go to the website or read an article to learn "why", but at the moment of purchase, especially for lower priced goods and services...we don't want an education we want what we think, feel, know, believe we want.

Word to the wise:  Simple

Keep packaging - simple.  Keep point of purchase items - simple.  Keep signs - simple.  Keep print, radio and TV ads - simple.  Keep your homepage - simple.  Keep blog posts - simple. 

We're not suggesting vague...but simple.  Give the details on the back of the bag, on a page in the website, in a book, article or lecture. 


Your thoughts?