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February 2010

Urbandale Chamber Rolls Out - Mingle360

If you are in business or you network or do trade shows you've got stacks of business cards sitting around the office or in the desk or in your business card holder.  WhatMingle_logo2 if...what if, when you met somebody and wanted to exchange contact information all you had to do was pull out a small device, push a button and swap data in an instant?  That's what the Urbandale Chamber brought to their members this past Tuesday evening.

It is the "magic" of Mingle360.  While the technology isn't all that "new" (those of us who have attended "closed" trade shows have, for years, swiped a credit card device that included our contact information at booths) it is a handy way for a closed group of people to keep track of each other.  Think of it as a hyper-local LinkedIn tool. 

Besides, when you "touch" MingleSticks...it's...well fun.Mingle Stick

OK, there are some drawbacks.  For example, if nobody other than the 175 people who were present at the roll out use the service...well, then there are 175 people who have shared data.  Some of the people who picked up a MingleStick may not activate their account.  And, it could easily fade in usage among even these folks.  Old habits are hard to break.  At $19.95 each the MingleStick isn't cheap.  If you buy 100 of them the price comes down to $17.95 each.

However...and I think this is the plan.  Imagine business people all across the Des Moines Metro hooked up with Mingle360.  Imagine using the device at OPEN trade shows where one can use a stand alone device and interested people simply walk up and click. 

Some may think it is too costly.  But, when you figure that 70% of trade show leads go unanswered...yes 70% then an investment in a tool like this might make sense.  But, again the folks who get the MingleStick must activate their account...

We like it...even if it does have limitations.  And, we hear Mingle360 will soon roll out a Twitter App....hmmmmm

For more information contact Tiffany Menke at the Urbandale Chamber Office - 515-331-6855 or TMenke@UrbandaleChamber.com   Very cool...

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More Than One Tool...

If I asked you to build a house and then handed you a tool box with one tool...how successful would you be?Tool box

I didn't think so...   But, that "One Tool Wonder" is something more and more business people think will solve their marketing problems.  It's becoming like the "Holy Grail of Marketing."  "If only I start a Facebook Fan page...then people will flock to my _______." (fill in the blank)  And, it's not just Facebook.  That single tool goes by many names, Business Blog, Twitter, ."LinkedIn, Plaxo, Foursquare....

Not ONE of them is correct...  And the moment somebody suggests that all  you need to do to launch your business is spend a little time and money and get "social" with one or two choices...ask them to leave.

Case in point...

Today I had a long meeting with a California firm that believed all they had to do to interact with customers and perspective customers was start a Facebook Fan Page and the rest would be history. 

  • What would you say?
  • With whom would you connect?
  • Is it the right tool for your demographic?
  • What is the real mission?
  • Who speaks for the company?

"Hmmm, good points", they said.  "We need to think about this."

I hope I left them with the knowledge that SM is simply a tool from the marketing tool box; it is not the "magic bullet".  I hope they understood that there are many SM choices and the tool that works for one business may be a lousy choice for the other.  I hope they listened...and just don't start swinging a hammer...it'll be an ugly house.

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Counting Chickens

As you know, I don't do politics...so this isn't that.  It is however, an observation at theBaby Chick Egg "Grass Roots Level".

The Des Moines Register puts out "Neighborhood Editions".  The one that came to our office this past Tuesday is called the Urbandale Register.  Above the fold there is this headline:  "Hotel/motel tax brings in less revenue".  Then, "Receipts are expected to fall $124,919 below what Urbandale city officials had budgeted."

A couple of truths here:  $124,919 isn't a bunch of money.  Oh, it is if you don't have it or if your funding is predicated on some budget number that now is short.  But...that is the real issue.

A reading of the article tells us the budget was prepared on....air.  "A large part of the shortage stems from a hotel chain's (Holiday Inn) decision not to build in Urbandale as expected."

Not sure about you...but budgeting on the "maybe of life" is scary.  Not the end of the world...but that old saying about "counting chickens before they hatch" comes to mind.

Sorry for being "so local"....

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Sunday Morning Coffee - January 10, 2010

It's a habit...sitting down with friends and sharing some Sunday Morning Coffee.  Not a bunch of business just a look back and a glimpse forward into the new week.  Enjoy and,Coffee Cu ps as always, I'm interested in your thoughts.

When was the last time somebody told you it was a "blessing" to do business with you?   Me either.  But that's what happened this past week when my bride checked into a Super 8 Motel in Lamoni, Iowa.  That got us to thinking, "What if...what if we looked at every business relationship with that attitude?   Here is the original post... 

Back when we had a much kinder political climate I was avid with my opinion.  But, now that all of politics is hateful, mean spirited and has the charm of gorilla warfare I pretty much keep quiet.  I figure I'm not going to change anybody's opinion and hysterical rants are best left to others.  But I have to offer a suggestion to Dave Funk who is running for Congress in Iowa's 3rd District against incumbent Leonard Boswell.  Dave, smile more.   Really.   Saw you and Doug Mitchell (Operation Red State) at Panera Bread during Central Iowa Bloggers on Friday morning...  I know that what you are doing is serious but scowling at everybody you make eye contact with may not be the best way to influence folks. ;-)

They say we might reach 35 degrees this week...now there is something to smile about. 

Next week I get to speak to members of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce about marketing, advertising and why social media is one of the tools they need to use.  The vast majority of the small business people attending will be confused and dismissive about the topic. Until I finish...sounds like fun!

Last week, because of the blizzard, we had to cancel a Des Moines based meeting for members of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA).  I made mention of that on Facebook.  Except I didn't spell out the actual name.  That prompted several to quip that if a little Iowa blizzard forced "FEMA" to cancel a meeting, "what would they do in the face of a hurricane?"  We would built hay machinery...not sure what THEY would do.  (See...another reason to smile!)

Staying on "farm" for just a minute.  This week will mark the debut of AG CONNECT aAg Connect Logo brain child of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).  The idea is to put on an "international farm equipment show" in Orlando before and between other major farm shows like The World Ag Expo in Tulare, The National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and AgriTechnica in Germany.  Prediction:  It will fail. (My opinion only...)  You see, unlike the construction industry, think Con-Expo the massive show produced by AEM, the farm show industry is very mature with at least a dozen huge events each year.  Adding another expensive show to the schedule...now?   We don't think so...but they do win in the "website battle"...very cool logo as well.

Dear Treasury Department: "Thank you for the 2008 income tax refund check in the amount of $461 that came the second week of 2010. You guys have been pretty busy sending huge checks to everybody from AIG to Wall Street to Detroit so I can understand why it took so long.  One question:  Can you send more?"  ;-)

I was listening to Bob & Tom last week and they had this survey from Cosmo:  "The Top Five Things Men Notice about Women in the First Ten Seconds".   1) The Smile (see Dave!), 2) The Hair, 3) The Makeup, 4) The Purse, 5) The Cleavage.   THE PURSE????   As one of the guys said, "They must have polled gay men!"  Ya think?

That's it....have a great Sunday.  We're back with more business stuff tomorrow.  In the meantime you can connect with us on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (personal & business), @InsightADV (business baby...all business) or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for all things rural). Take care...and smile dang it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


"Serving You Is A Blessing"

My bride spent the past two nights at a Super 8 in Lamoni, Iowa.   That's as far as she made it on Wednesday afternoon coming back to Des Moines from Kansas City.  It wasMr Mrs Chandrakant Raval "white out" conditions on I-35 and with only 75 miles to go she, wisely, made the decision to find shelter and "hunker down".

But...at a Super 8?

I know, "any port in the storm"...right?   Only this story is different.

When she arrived, a bit overwhelmed, the man at the front desk, Mr.Raval (pictured with his wife) listened to her story and said, (Now get ready folks...this is over the top.)  "Welcome.  God brought you to us safely and it is a blessing for us to serve you."

Huh?   At a Super 8 a clerk/owner/manager says, "It is a blessing for us to serve you."? 

And, it get's better.  She had no cash with her and she wanted to write a check or use a debit card to get a dollar for the pop machine.  The man reached into his pocket and gave her a dollar bill and then, over a Coke, gave her directions to the store and a nearby pizza place.

So, what if...  What if we all had that in our mind each time we were allowed to provide a service or a sale to somebody?  What if we looked at that new or old relationship as "a blessing"?

What if....

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Google Ranking vs. Social Media

There are hundreds if not thousands of people in my field and related fields that willWizard promise your business higher page rankings if you purchase their "SEO Magic" and advise you to buy ad words to promote your product or service.

For some that advice makes sense.  You can buy what they are selling and it's the easy way to make things happen...but we think there is another, more targeted approach that get's left out of the mix - yes...Social Media.

The SM approach takes longer and is more time consuming.  But remember when you started your business...your time investment was huge.  We used to call that "sweat equity".  It is the same with the new SM trend...but the pay off is huge.  A couple of points:

  • SM allows you to engage interested people in your geographic location; 
  • SM allows you to engage existing customers with "inside deals" and offers;
  • SM allows you the ability to have a conversation and "be real";
  • SM allows you the ability to LISTEN to what is being said about trends, about you and about your business/industry.

In addition SM will improve your page ranking IF you keep at it and IF you are offering interesting and provoking conversation...that is real.  Here is a test:   Do a Google search on your name. Now do a Google search on my name, Michael Libbie.  Go ahead, we'll wait.   (Jeopardy music playing in the background...)  What did you find?  And nope...we've never purchased an ad word...never.

In other words social media is another tool in the advertising and marketing "tool box".  We think it's time to pull it out...and use it. 

So, what do you think?

Thanks for reading and engaging.  You can keep up with us on Twitter: @MichaelLibbie (the personal and business side) and @InsightADV (business baby...all business).  Facebook?  Sure here is that link.

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Reading The Tea Leaf

You read that correctly. We're not talking multiples.  It's down to ONE LEAF...Tea

At one time it was said that fortune tellers could "read the tea leaves" and tell you a host of information.  We believe that a single leaf might tell you more...

Here is the story, to be fully engaged in business and know (no see) what consumers want/need you must be able to drill down to the leaf.  In this case "the leaf" is the micro-trend that may be totally invisible to those who are not paying attention...and, in our experience that is most small business owners.

Here are a couple of examples of "reading the tea leaf"

The folks at TrendWatching.com call it 'Urbanany".  That's the startling shift in urban living patterns.  Did you know that 100 years ago less than 5% of the world's population lived in cities?  By 2008, and for the first time in human history, that figure exceeded 50% and is growing at a rate of 3 million people each week.  By 2050 over 70% of the population will live in urban areas.

So?

So...these urban dwellers have specific buying and trying patterns.  They are much more willing to move, and move fast, between brands.  That shrinks brand loyalty issues.  That means when you have a product or service that goes to market you had best focus on innovative rather than copying. 

And, another thing...this trend expects products and services to be transparent.  There are no more secrets.

Savvy, hip consumers will have at his/her disposal "real time reviews" of your product or service.  This huge demographic won't have to wait for the latest product review to show up in the newspaper.  Hundreds, if not thousands, will have already tried your product/service and rated it on-line long before the ink hits the paper.  So...no guessing and you had best be listening to what is being said about you...in real time.

Faster, deeper, mission centered, sustainable business get it...do you?  If not, maybe we need to talk.

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You Owe Me...Nothing

I worked on New Year's Day. (Like many of you..)   I work most every day other thanNo Charge Saturday.  On January 1st we sent out billing statements to our clients.  If you ask them they will tell you that we do not bill for "every minute" we work on their account.  Our clients will find a number of phone calls, research items and work priced  at "no charge". 

Why?

It's not that we don't think we're worthy of collecting.  We simply think we are in this "together".

So, on New Year's Day a new account billing passed by my desk.  I wrote on it,  "You owe us nothing".  This ninety minute conversation might be exactly what they need to soar. We'd rather see THAT than than $180. 

You see, we're all in this together.  And when we work together the end result of creating more business by expanding our (or our client's) "digital footprint" everybody wins.

It's not bragging....it's just stating a fact.  At some point we need to work...together.

What do you think?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications - you can follow us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.  Thanks for coming by.

Thanks for reading and for your comments.

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Sunday Morning Coffee - January 3

It's a great time to sit back and visit with friends, share a little business but mostly just chatCoffee Cu ps about some interesting things.  We'll get back to the business side tomorrow but for now, let's enjoy a little Sunday Morning Coffee...hot please, in this balmy 2 degree weather.

Last week I wrote about firing an "employee".  It must have resonated because traffic to the blog was the heaviest we've seen in some time.  We've got a feeling we're right on this and the vast majority of you agree.  In case you missed it...here is that article.

Love hockey...but watching on TV can leave me cold.  Except this past Friday when NBC US Hockey Jersery broadcast The Winter Classic where the Bruins defeated the Flyers in OT 2 - 1.  What a difference a couple more cameras make.  Good stuff...  Heads up NBC will broadcast the Blackhawks vs. Red Wings game on January 17 at 2PM Central.  Give it a shot?

Another quick hockey item.  They announced the US Olympic Hockey Team after the Winter Classic.  Five team members are from Michigan.  Who would have thunk...

I see there have been "issues" this week in Europe.  Like gunning down young people in Denmark and an attack on an cartoonist in HollandDon't worry...it's all in Europe, those things would never happen here.  Oh wait...there was that deal in Texas where 14 US soldiers were murdered.  But, I know, I rush to judgment too quickly.

Hope you had a wonderful New Year's Celebration.  Ours was very tame.  Lot's of conversation (mostly about politics and religion...I am SUCH a hoot to invite to parties) and the lighting of mini-hot air balloons and watching them fly over the farmland near Carlisle, Iowa.  Here is the :60 video...

Later this week we get to host members of the FEMA (Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association) Supplier's Section (folks that make things or provide services for folks that make farm equipment) here in Des Moines.  It will be nice to re-connect following our time in Atlanta last November.

Calendar glasses Have you done it yet?   You know, reserved a url in YOUR NAME?  Sort of like, MichaelLibibie.com.  Just a tiny hint...you might want to get this done.  Seriously...

Did you spend some quality time this weekend thinking about the year ahead?  We did and having a couple of days to write things down, re-think direction and take positive action really helps.  And, for you...it's not too late!  Now, before we get caught up in the the first "Crazy Monday" of 2010 go sit down, with paper and pen...and do some thinking, write down your thoughts and take action, one point at a time.

Great having you here for coffee.  You can join us for our daily, live business radio/tv talk show, Insight on Business.  Here is the show from this past Friday.  You can keep up with us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie and @InsightADV and yep, we're on Facebook.  Have a great Sunday...

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