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January 2010
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March 2010

Getting Noticed by Being Different

Last week the 55th Annual Iowa Farm Power Show came to Des Moines.  Over 19,000 people attended the three day event and our client, Calcium Products, Inc. was able to make an impact on thousands of them by being different.  Why?Flo on Bus 1 web

(Go ahead and click on the photos...to see them larger.)

While most companies (there were 640 displays) simply show up, put up a display and sit there hoping somebody will notice...we get aggressive.  We figure that if we're going to spend the time and money to attend a trade show where thousands of our target customers are going to be we should ramp up new and different ways to get their attention.

Booth Shot w Flo web Calcium Products sponsored the free shuttle buses, as we've done for the past three years, but this time we did a little extra.  In the past we've had a video running for the 8 minute ride from the free parking to the front door of the show.  Nice...but not enough.

This year we took "Flo" the spokesperson for Calcium Products and worked the crowd from the time they got on the bus until the drop off.  (Actually we had two "Flo's")  Then thirty minutes before Craig Dick moderated a soil science seminar we pulled "Flo" in to work the crowd and get them to the event...which was held just down the hall from our booth.Flo Working Crowd web

The result...we had the chance to talk to thousands of people...many, many more than the 40 or 50 a day that "might" stop by a static booth.  Oh, and the side benefit?  The images stay with the attendees and we continue to push the relationship without hurting the image or the brand.

So, what is your company doing to stand out...to be different...to get noticed?

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Sunday Morning Coffee - Feb. 7, 2010

Welcome to Sunday...sure, later today it's Super Bowl Sunday but right now it's Sunday Coffee Cu ps Morning Coffee a time to sit down with a cup of joe and visit about loads of different things.  We'll get back to business tomorrow...but for now...

Snow...it's a "four-letter word" that is about as welcome as other four-letter words.  We've had "sn-w" in Des Moines since our first snowfall on October 13.  We hear that on Groundhog Day "Phil" saw his shadow and looks like we're in for another SIX MONTHS of winter.  Or so it seems...spring will be soooooooo welcome this year.  Heads up, supposed to SN-W the next three days.

Does this sentence strike anyone?  "The more I work with people in the "faith community" the less faith I have in people."?   Just checking...love to know your thoughts.

This past week we were busy with the Iowa Power Farming Show...here are some thoughts about farm shows, rural lifestyle and city folks.  This week loads of my friends will be making their way to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville.  Travel safe and remember it's "Lou-ah-vul".  Don't offend the natives.

Hey...NON-PROFITS...  How is the fund raising going?  Really, I'm interested...let us know.

Snow Fence use Our radio station Des Moines Local...LIVE has been going thorough some major re--birth pangs and the frustration is building.  New technology is driving many of the 55 hosts nuts, not to mention the people who are guests, listeners and viewers.  The good news is it's getting better every day.  Brett Rogers...big ups and thank you.  The sn-w fence photo?  No reason.  Just me reminding you...sick huh?  

Dear Frank Cownie (Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa):  I've been trying to re-visit a topic that will insure positive press for you, the city and your passion for the environment.  Oh, and it will save the city money.  No joke...we talked about it briefly last fall.  We're ready to move forward.  Let's talk?

Have you seen the "banned" Super Bowl Ads?  No?  Here you go...

Last week I attended a "Social Media Seminar" sponsored by The Des Moines Business Record and Hanser & Associates.  In a word:  Underwhelming.  I think the people who went came away from the event even more disconnected and unsure.  I've got to do something to change the way this media is presented to business leaders...  The goal must be not only understanding why it is critical to adopt its use but HOW to use it effectively.  The word "fear" often creeps into SM discussions with business leaders.  Gotta change that.  We're working on it...look for something in March.

My friend Timothy L. Johnson had a neat post about local people and business.  Wonder what would happen if we all followed his lead?

The Iowa Newspaper Association held their annual meeting this past week, handed outEd-weintrob2 awards, and wondered out loud where they are heading in the face of an ongoing exodus of readers and subscribers.  (So, that's what Larry Bushman of the Fort Dodge Messenger was doing in town...saw him checking out the radio studio on Thursday.  Thought my "old friend", who saw me but turned around, might have come in for a chat.)   Anyway, I met the most interesting guy: Ed Weintrob (pictured) from Brooklyn, NY (not Iowa) who in 1978 launched The Brooklyn Paper a (now read this carefully) free community newspaper who went digital in the 1990's.  In its "hay-day" Ed was pumping out 55,000 copies a week.  He sold the paper in 2009 and now heads up Coney Media.  He is a wealth of information about the industry and a forward thinking guy who wanted to know as much as he could about Des Moines Local...LIVE.  Think...'hyper-local" once again.  Ed gets it... And we had a great conversation at the studio Saturday night.  Note to the association:  You might consider updating your Newspaper Seminar Schedule  or take it down after the "season".  Old content isn't attractive.

Anybody, other than me, notice that bulbs need to be replaced on the KCCI Weather Beacon?  I know, the weather has been too lousy to get up there.  @$#^&%!!  John, please tell us it's not going to "go away"... 

OK...out the door!  Have a great Sunday and we'll get back to business with Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications tomorrow.  Enjoy the Super Bowl (I can still write those words but can't use them in a commercial...the NFL says they own them...along with "Who-Dat"...follow the money.)  You can keep up with us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business), @InsightADV (business baby) or @RuralLifeRadio  (our love for everything rural). 

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WHAT Was That?

This morning I attended a meeting sponsored by the Des Moines Business Record and Hanser & Associates.  I wasn't alone.  There were about 70 people in the room who hadMan Thinking come to review the social media survey conducted by the DMBR and Hanser.  Here is that survey story.

I want to be kind...my goal here is not to bust the chops of anybody.  I do think that the majority of business people who came were expecting more meat than what they got.  While the participants on the panel were clear to the fact that they were "learning" about social media I was struck at the overall lack of understanding.  Now, to be fair, that may not have been the intent of the meeting.  But, I'll bet many in the audience thought they might be able to get a nugget or two on "how to".

They didn't until panel member Christian Renaud from Palisade started to speak.  He spoke of the difference between a business blog, Twitter and Facebook.  He told the people  to understand that Social Media is not only an advertising vehicle it is a way to engage in conversation with consumers and a way to learn more about what in the world is going on "out there".

Clearly Christian "gets it" and both Josh Fleming from Lessing-Flynn and I gave him major props.   He was clearly the most helpful on the panel.

One other very clear thing came to me and several other professional media people in the room.  Business continues to be very fearful of Social Media.  They want to put an ROI on it, want to control it, want to keep the conversation going in one direction...out.

However, that's not what SM is about...and it was also clear there is enough business to go around for all of us.  This is a much, much steeper learning curve for business to business and business to consumer groups than what I had already known...

Have a look at the stats...you'll see what I mean.  And, here comes the ad, if we can help...for crying out loud call...or write or...Tweet?  Thanks for reading.

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Don't Fall For It...I Have Proof

Over the past fifteen months I've heard the same excuses from far too many businessMan business doubt owners, presidents or managers about marketing.  It goes like this, "If I want to avoid lay offs I need to cut expenses and frankly advertising, marketing and product development are expenses I can no longer afford if I want to keep my people."  And then the gut shot:  "After all, what's more important?  My people or marketing?"

Actually...thinking is far more important because if these business leaders spent time thinking about it...they would never make that idiotic statement.

And, I have proof.

Yesterday Fortune Magazine listed six companies that, as of the middle of January, had not laid off a worker...ever.  One company has been in business for 124 years...no layoffs, ever.  Go ahead, read the article...it's short...we'll wait.

One constant comes through in this piece, the leaders at these companies made up their minds they would think through the hard times...think about ways to cut expenses but not one...not one cut marketing, advertising or product development.  Not one.

I weary of business not thinking and making the easy choices.  By failing to keep or expand your market share and your market offerings you are consigning your people, those whom you are looking out for, to the unemployment line.  Sooner rather than later..

What do you think?

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Farm Equipment & You...

OK, quick...what industry has remained pretty upbeat and stable over the past year?  Sure, they, like the rest of us, have not been immune to the economic downturn...but over all the Ag Sign road Farm Equipment Manufacturing Industry has kept plugging along.  Today they'll flex themselves a bit as the 55th Annual Iowa Power Farming Show hits downtown Des Moines.

Our agency does a bunch of work in the ag field and the next three days are like...Christmas for us.  We get to visit with friends and family as thousands head to the Iowa Events Center to take in hundreds of displays in what is the fourth largest indoor farm equipment show in the nation.

So...???

So, what has this got to do with you?  It's an industry that is changing and that is interesting to watch.  Large farms (and large equipment) continue to build numbers.  Small farms (and small equipment) have also seen expansion.  It's the middle ground that is eroding.  Farms, and farmers, who once made a full time living on 500 acres are no longer able to do so.  The "picture" many people have of a full spectrum farm complete with dairy, beef, chickens and row crops is, for the most part...gone.  The average age of a farmer is now well above 55 and women have entered the field in large numbers.

Yet the American Farmer continues to feed more and more people.  The variety of crops and produce expands. They are more responsible to the environment.  And export numbers are huge.  If you've never been...it might be a hoot to head to Des Moines this week.  It's another world.  And, excuse the pun, it's growing.

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"Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Five Grand?"

I can't get this out of my head and maybe once you read it you'll go "over the edge" too.  A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation to members of the Urbandale Chamber of Man money Commerce called "No Bull Marketing - 2010".  After the meeting, one of the people who came up to chat introduced herself as the marketing person for a large business in Des Moines.  She wanted to talk about marketing campaigns and professional advertising agencies. 

During the conversation she said, "We recently worked with an agency that did a newspaper ad for us.  The effort cost us $10,000 and we received zero response." 

I wanted to make sure we were talking about the same thing and asked her, "Are you talking about a full blown marketing campaign?"  "No.", she said, "The agency charged us $5,000 to create one quarter page, color newspaper ad and another $5,000 to run the ad in the Des Moines Register."

OK...  I've got to take this as the truth, it's too easy to check out.  That the ad placement cost her company $5,000 isn't surprising.  I don't know how often she ran the ad. That her company received "zero response" is questionable, I'm not sure how well they are tracking responses.  

But...CREATIVE for ONE COLOR NEWSPAPER AD billed at $5,000?

Speechless...this is Des Moines, Iowa  not New York City...

OK, I feel better now.  The monkey is on your back...

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