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Thanks For The Surprise Event

Not much business here.   I'll get back to that tomorrow.  This is just a note to thank so manyCake folks for coming out on a beautiful 70 degree, clear spring day to surprise me at the party my bride cooked up.  There are loads of folks to thank and say "howdy" to.   If I fail to mention your's because I am really OLD now. If you can click on each photo...they will get larger.

My bride, the kids and friends did a neat job in keeping this a secret.  I've been in Kansas City all week and returned early this afternoon in time for a "broadcast meeting" with several of the folks working on a new hyper-local news station here in Des Moines.  Little did I know that I was being set up.Taylor IV

So...thanks Georgie you rock!  Holly and Hunter (daughters) you are not only beautiful but also so thoughtful.  Son Aaron and daughter-in-law Mandi brought Miss Taylor to the event.  Thanks guys and yes, that's her.  Isn't she cute?  I don't remember much from my 40th and 50th party but who could forget my 30th.  Aaron was just a few months old.   Sleep?  Nah...

J. Michael McKoy, thanks for the use of Miss Kitty's and for keeping quiet about this.  You are amazing.  Broadcast friends, Amy Main (and husband Mark) were there as was Jackie Joens.  She ALWAYS smells so good. ;-)  Rabbi David Mike, Terry, Laura & Macshoes!  My social media adviser and "Godfather" to the BlogaNostra, Mike Sansone was there.  So was Kate Phanmaha who is everywhere!  Renda Lutz was in the house...she is the sweetest thing.

My friend and attorney Ron Kuntz came in and left a dollar!  Call the Register!  Terry and Laura Myers were there.  My friends and agency client who Crowd_IIunderstands not only business but also loyalty, Larry Moore and Susan surprised us.  From the Department of Agriculture the "bug lady", Robin Prusiner and her husband Mark made the trip.  John "That Video Guy" Windschitl came...without his camera.  LOL...  Chris Haviland from GBL and his boss Brian and Cheri Hewitt came in and that was very cool.  Our friend, also from Group Benefits Limited, Cindy Taylor had her smiling face...and also put in loads of work..was in the place.Michael, Jody, Michael, Joy & Ron

And those CRAZY hockey fans, Michael and Jody Leo, along with Ron and Joy and Rick and Mary were in the house.  You know, we have GOT to all go to a Roller Derby Match with Robin and Mark...they too are a little nuts!  Thanks for being here!  And nice photo!

Anita, Michael, Taylor, John & GeorgieAaron and Andrea Muelhaupt, who are the cutest couple, were there.  It was so great to see you.  My brother Yoni and sister-in-law Anita came in and told wonderful only he can do! And, we even got a picture of us...  Eric Michaels drove in all the way from Grinnell came to make sure I attend class next week.  And, speaking of Grinnell, my friend Jack Mathews was there.  Great to see you Jack.  You inspire me. 

Jess and Wendy Bernstein not only came but brought food.  Always cool!  Sid and Susan Jacobson were there (she brought food too!)  I will NOT share with you what Sidney had on hisSurprise! name-tag.  Oh my....but it is Iowa.  I walked in with Louise Fishel.  Now that is a story.  Remember, I had NO idea this was going on and when I pull up, who is walking into Miss Kitty's?  Louise.  I see her and call out, "Louise?  What are you doing here?"  She says, "Oh, just meeting a friend."  Me, "Here?"  Louise:  "Oh my goodness, it's a bar...oh my, I've never been to one before..."  She kept it up all the way into the door.  Smart cookie...

And the folks who couldn't make it?  Governor Chet Culver, we missed you.  Governor Terry Branstad sorry you couldn't be here.  Sarah, you never answered the RSVP...  President Obama you could have come...there is a smoking area just outside the back door.  I think there were a couple more...but time is getting short and this post is getting way long.

And, thank you to those of you who could not make it and posted some really wonderful notes and messages.  You guys all rock!!! 

It was an eclectic and interesting group and I thank you all.  There were some tears and lots of hugs.  In short...iIt was a hoot...let's do this again?




Sunday Morning Coffee - April 11

It's a time to sit back with a cup of "Joe" and visit with friends about what's happened, what is going on and a peek into the next week.  It's Sunday Morning Coffee, glad you came by for a sip...

If you haven't yet, catch this brief five minute video with Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh an economist from Kansas State University.  He spoke to a packed room last Friday about the economy, what is wrong with Washington, why we're "mad as hell" and why the "talking heads" have an interest in keeping you stirred up.  As Dr. Flinchbaugh said, many times about both the Democrats and the Republicans, "A pox on both your houses."   Have at it...good stuff and here is that link.

French Flag Someone might want to ask the 19,000 Casey's General Store employees, "So, how's your French?"  It's all about a hostile take-over move coming from Alimentation Couche-Tard out of Quebec.  (Nope I can't pronounce it either.)  I'll bet the folks in Gilmore City, Iowa (pop. 902) won't think too highly of replacing their Cappuccino with Café Noisette.  "Eh, excusez-moi mademoiselle, Café au lait plus de sucre, s'il vous plait?"  Just trying to help...  Here is the story from the Des Moines Register.

"Please bend over sir."  Get ready...'cause here it comes.  Gas prices well over $3, meat prices climbing 20 - 30 percent at the grocery store.  Remember 2008?  Cake walk.  The story.  Now, don't you wish you were a "speculator" too? Iowa flag

I was just thinking...the  flags DO look alike.   We've got that bird and squiggly stuff in the middle but...some minor changes...whamo!  Oui?  And, yes I know Quebec is in Canada....but work with me here.  K?

I've been staying at the Intercontinental Hotel of Kansas City - "At the Plaza" for the past several days while attending the Spring Management meeting of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association. The service and the response of the staff? Nearly flawless. The people that work here, it seems, have been through intense training where they have been told to "...always, in every situation, attempt to exceed the guest request and expectation of service."  That has got to be written down someplace because they live it.  When you stay in a facility for a week you get a sense of the employee culture.  A winner here.  The only thing...$11.95 a day for Internet?   Grumble...grumble....FEMA Plaque

While on the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association...  "Thank you!"  I've been with this group a very long time and last night was honored with some nice words from my friend Mike Lessister who is this year's chairman of the Supplier Section of the association.  Here are several of us, post presentation.  That was very nice...thank you.

Also...within the week we'll have a Facebook Page up for the FEMA Suppliers Section.  The 250+ members of that side of FEMA will use it to communicate what is going on within the section as well as share "stuff" about our members.  People buy from people...and what a great way to share the relationships.

Speaking of Social Media...did you hear that Miller Brewing Company will launch their new "craft beer" Colorado Native Lager by using only social media and some great ways to allow customers to do the promotion?  Here is the story from Advertising Age.   As David Parker from Adayana told the group during his presentation, "If you STILL think social media is a fad...get over it!"  Just sayin'.

Fema ConversationAhhhhh....but can you really use, as a marketer, the conversation of social media to sell products and services?

  Great question and something that we warn our clients and audiences about on a regular basis. While we call it the 80/20 rule that says you must engage in "conversational relationship" 80% of the time and "selling" the other 20% Jason Falls offers his take on why, right out of the gun, marketers make lousy conversationalists...unless you build relationships.  Here is that story from Social Media Explorer. 

OK...outta here for another Sunday!  Thanks for coming by.  Sunday Morning Coffee is another read from our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications.  We'll get back to solid business tomorrow with a great piece on Trade Show Planning.  Why do business people continue to do such a lousy job in the world of trade shows?  Why do they continue to throw money at efforts that fail time after time after time?   According to Tobias Eichberg of Eichberg Consulting, "They don't get it".  Tobias knows a little about trade shows.  He was the manager of the largest agricultural trade show in the world, AgriTechnica in Hanover, Germany.  Think 350,000 visitors...  We'll have that video interview tomorrow.  This is good stuff.

I monitor Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV catch you later. Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising.






















Fixing the Economy - Dr. Flinchbaugh

"It's the economy...and it's a mess."  Nobody trusts anybody, "talking heads" spew out falseBusiness News Key stories as truth and a growing number of American's are angry, frustrated and confused.  Where can we get the straight story?

As you know I've been at the spring meeting of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) here in Kansas City.  Along with giving members the opportunity to socialize the Spring Meeting is loaded with management seminars.  One of those seminars featured Kansas State University professor of Agricultural Economics, Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh.  I've heard Dr. Flinchbaugh several times and thought this would be an excellent opportunity to have you hear some of the unconventional wisdom and down to earth, no-nonsense things he has to say about the economy, why small business is confused, the anger at congress and the political division that is tearing at the fabric of our great country.

Five Minutes with Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh...right after this short clip that sets the tone...


Thanks for coming by.  You can learn more about Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh by heading here.  A reminder that I monitor Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.  Thanks for coming by.



Free Food for Big Business?

A couple of weeks ago during Insight on Business I suggested business owners shakeWaiter food out some "old" marketing tricks to lure and retain consumers.  One of them was the "free food offer".  You want a crowd or even a select crowd?  Pile on the food. Here is that link to the story and the article from the Wall Street Journal.

It's worked for decades and it can be teased and twisted into some cooperative ventures. For example, let's say you don't want the total expense of buying prepared goodies from the store.  Why not get creative and do a cooperative event with an emerging establishment?   You get the idea.

Now comes Stephen Siegel of Las Vegas who is turning around business after business and one of his "gimmicks" is the free food offer. Here is that story from written by Steve Friess.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

That got me to thinking about the "old days" of Las Vegas and how cheep the food and the rooms were.  A seasoned poker dealer who worked the casinos in the '60's and '70's once told me how and why it worked so well.  "In the old days the guys who were running the casinos paid taxes on food and room sales.  The real money was in the gambling.  So if you  were a 'player', maybe not even a big roller, the operators would 'comp' all sorts of things that were taxed.  It was their 'loss leader'.  The take from gambling was what they were after and nobody kept solid books then.  Every few hours these guys would haul cash out the back door and report just a small percentage of the take.  It worked for years until Vegas became respectable and they got greedy.  Now it's hard to get much for free."

That story came back to me when I read about Stephen Siegel and his "new idea" which...isn't so new but it's done with a new twist.   What kind of "old tricks" are there that you can dust off to create new business.  Sometimes the best ideas are really, really old.  Ready to cook something up?





Social Media Plan or Policy?

My friends over at the Urbandale Chamber sent out a notice this morning about another social media seminar coming up.  This is called, "Does Your Business Need a Social Media Policy?".  Good question and a great topic. 

So, as I'm driving to Kansas City I pulled out the camera and offer up my thoughts.  Think of it as "What comes first the chicken or the egg?".   I think a policy is great...but first you need a plan.  What do you think?

Thanks for coming by:  I monitor Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV we'll let you know what KC is like this week.


Even In This Economy...

Not every business saw their sales shrink over the past twelve months.  Yesterday I heard from a client of ours that they are about to run out of product and will only be able to ship to customers who had joined them in a pre-pay/order campaign they had last year.Sales chart


How did this happen when, in the face of the worst economic times we've seen in generations, a company posts record sales numbers?

While there are a number of factors that resulted in this success one stands out.  Rather than duck their heads into the sand, Calcium Products, Inc. of Iowa continued and then actually expanded their marketing efforts in 2009.  They did what Kellogg's did to Post in the 1920's:  Increased R&D, brought new products on board, increased staff and wisely spent  more advertising/marketing dollars.  History and the facts tell us that Post never recovered and Kellogg's continues to hold market share. 

Am I making this up?  Nope.  Here is the piece I wrote in October - 2008 about building market share in a poor economy, complete with the Kellogg's/Post reference.

I take no comfort in the fact that many business leaders failed to see the truth.  Many of them are now facing a very uncertain future.  For them it may be too late as they've saved themselves into the dust-bin of business history. about you?  Are you ready to grow, expand sales, build market share?  I'd love to get your take...





Sunday Morning Coffee - April 4, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee a chance to catch up and look forward.  It's sitting down with Coffee Cu ps friends and visiting about ideas, business and stories...oh the stories.  Grab a cup and let's talk.  And, yes, I'm always interested in your feedback.

Too much information?  Last week my friend Doug Mitchell wrote a piece about his reading habits.  The short story is that he subscribed to several newspapers and information sources so he could "keep up".  After just a few days he canceled.  Not enough time and too much information.  How about you?  Feeling that "time crunch"?  What have you done to still stay in touch but not crunch your time?

Gov Culver A dangerous trend?  Governor Culver and 29 other governors recently received letter demanding they "step down".  It was authored by an "extremist group" based out of Texas.  The Guardians of the Free Republics told The Des Moines Register they are out to end "corporate government" and are recruiting in Iowa.   I've written about the division in this country several times.  It is deep and fueled by national and local stories either real or imagined.  Recently a talk show host in Des Moines spent the better part of his three hour show telling people that Governor Culver, " so delusional that I can only come up with one reason that explains yesterday's speech.  Cocaine."  Add it all up and it makes for, what we think, is a dangerous trend to watch. hit 74 degrees in Des Moines the other day!  Is it possible that we can now stow the parkas?

Fuel Prices for 10% Blended Regular rose to $2.89 overnight.  The reason?  Oh...gee pick one and see if you are as smart as an oil company executive:

  • "You are driving too much";
  • "You are not driving enough";
  • "There is a "shortage" because we forgot to switch our refineries from winter blend to summer blend.  It's that pesky season thing that catches us off guard every year.
  • "We need a raise.  I'm making only $6.6 million a year and it was a hardship to buy Easter Candy for the kids."
  • "Because we...can." 

It's been a week since my last broadcast on Des Moines Local...LIVE.  I've been trying to deal with having an extra five hours a day.  I spent some of that time in meetings designed to re-build something new, better and much more reliable.  Here is what I can tell you.  Hyper-Local news and information is real and, judging by our research over the past several months, it's something that is valuable to viewers/listeners and sponsors.  The three major hurdles in making this experiment work are:  1) Reliability, 2) Content, 3) Find-ability.  We're convinced that if we take care of number one and number two folks will find us.  Stay tuned.  

To stay true to the mission while we re-group, I've kept Insight on Business live.  If you're looking for business tips and a laugh or two...check it out?

The spring meeting of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association takes place this week in Kansas City.  Lot's of issues to be discussed including the economy in the agricultural sector.  Over the past several weeks we've been in contact with manufacturers who tell us that their sales outlook remains optimistic.  We'll share more once we visit folks face to face.  Should be interesting.

Ken Root MPL Staying on agriculture for a moment.  Last week my friend Ken Root landed a new job with WHO-TV 13.  This move signals, I think, a couple of major changes in thinking.  WHO-TV 13 thinks there is a demand for a local agri-business show that highlights a major industry here in Central Iowa.  They are correct.  The consumer is more involved in food choices today than ever before and Ken understands the power of food production on the large and small scale.  Think Community Supported Agriculture.  In addition Ken brings a wealth of knowledge and a strong voice of a person who has actually "been there".  Unable to convince his former bosses at 1040-WHO Radio about this and being the kind of guy who isn't easily corralled he was let go. So you know, the two WHO's are not related.  The radio station is part of the Clear Channel Communications and the television station is owned by Oak Hill Capitol Partners an investment group with offices in California, New York and Connecticut and owns LocalTV LLC.  Way to go Ken and WHO-TV 13 here is link to his broadcasts.

The Apple iPad launch was yesterday.  Individuals who had pre-ordered received their iPads via Saturday Delivery.  So, how does it stack up?  Here isi a review from PC World carried this morning in the Wasthington Post.   Questions aside, eager users started lining up yesterday well before dawn at the New York City flagship store.  Here's a story from PMP Today. got one yet?  Gonna?Roller Derby DSM 777

I have a confession to make.  Last night my bride and I went with "friends" to the "Stars & Stripes Forever Roller Derby" match between the Mid-Iowa Rollers and the Muddy River Nighmaris.  Would friends really do this to you?   The Des Moines team won with a score of 130 to 90...or something like that.  (I have NO idea how they keep score...)  It was fun and worth meeting some of the "ladies".  Above is "Anna Killakova" Roller Derby 1134 #777 doing something on the floor and this is "Vyolent GriMm" #1134 who was there with her two children, husband and father-in-law.  (Go ahead and click on the photos to enlarge.) That has GOT to be a wild family reunion.  I failed to get a shot of "Eastside" #000 and no doubt will pay the price if she ever meets up with me in a dark alley. Robin Pruisner, you guys know how to enjoy an evening out.  Who says we don't have classy things to do in Des Moines?

Kyle Munson, who now writes the human interest stories about Iowa for the Des Moines Register, has this piece about a couple who moved to our state without knowing much or anything about Iowa.  I brought back loads of memories.  We moved to Iowa in 1979...sight unseen.  Anyway, have a stuff, that according to the story less than 30% of Iowan's will get.  74% of you are natives...well, you know what I mean.

Staying on numbers for a moment - William Petroski, in another Register article, says that the Black population in Iowa has doubledsince we arrived in the state.  There are now over 80,000 "Iowans with African heritage".  (I'll bet that if you do the DNA on this we would find many, many more.  Receitly saw an Iowa Public Television Special about this...) 

Today is Easter...and so to my Christian friends I wish you the very best for a meaningful and thoughtful holiday!

Going to push this out the door.  I get to return tomorrow with more from Insight on Business with Michael Libbie and our advertising agency blog on marketing.  Have a great day!  @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.















Three Tips to Entice the Post Recession Consumer

The other day I wrote about the buying habits of the "Post Recession Consumer".  Some scary stuff if you are marketing and advertising the same as you did...way back in 2008.Woman Purse Shock

Now our friends at Nielsen Research took a look at the winners and losers in this "New Economy" it shouldn't come as a surprise that grocery stores are winning while convenience stores are...losing.   Not only are consumers buying less...they are shopping less.  So, what should you do to build your market share in this economy?

Here are three quick thoughts...that we think you need to do NOW...not next month.   Ready:

  • If you have a "preferred customer" program push it hard.  If you don't, we suggest that you ramp one up quickly.  Remember it costs more to bring in a new consumer than keep an existing customer...
  • Engage new customers by offering something...FREE.  Don't waste their time with 10% off deals.  Be creative...
  • Market "Trust" and "Value" - People want to know they can trust your product or service and that what you are selling had best bring value to their lives...

And, nope...this is no "April Fools" joke...  Thanks for coming by.  I monitor Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV