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An Advertising Lesson

Each week on our news/webcast Insight on Business with Michael Libbie we present "The Worst Ad of the Week".  It is NOT an effort to cause anybody embarrassment.  It IS aWorst Ad July 29 teachable moment for the far too many business people who "think" they"know" how to market themselves.  Our goal here is to show you what you shouldn't be doing and give constructive ways to change. 

That being said...our winner this week is Rockstar Satellite, we think, of Des Moines.  My son, Aaron, was the first to see this ad in a program booklet for the Iowa Barnstormers.  Go ahead, click on the image to increase the size.

Here are the issues and the fix:

  • The Logo -  No it isn't Rockstar Energy Drink...but close.   Maybe too close?Rockstar-logo
  • Image Silly - When you look at the ad the images that "pop" are the skull and dice and money.  Wasted space...we think and are they critical to the ad?  We think not.
  • Lost Focus -  We've got "too much" information.  Usually folks that do ads like this expect the ad to actually "sell" something.  It ends up in brain overload.
  • Contact information- Buried at the bottom.  Actually, until we scanned the image for the show yesterday we didn't think there was any contact info.  Only when we were looking at it close for the crop... "OH!  There it is!"
  • Image Quality-  If you are going to use images for your ads (and we think you should) use images that are not fuzzy and images that are correctly photoshoped so you can't see the "ghosting" around the ads.

Finally - What is the ad trying to do?  Again, too many choices we've got three or four messages here.  Don't confuse the consumer. 

Bottom line...would you buy something from this advertiser?   Maybe if your target market is male, 18 - 25, rockin' bikers who like to gamble.  That's the brand message I'm getting.

When advertising where you advertise is important but of equal importance is the quality of the ad and what it says about your brand....and maybe we've pegged the brand correctly?

Thanks for coming by.



Five Things Business People Should Know

It was a real pleasure to be part of a panel at Simpson College of Indianola visiting with and speaking to emerging business people.  I was joined by Amy Kolin, Justin Brady, Help Daniel Shipton, Ben Milne, Rich Drake and Michelle Fetters SteenRenda Lutz, the "Networking Queen" with Iowans for Social & Economic Development is the business adviser who set the panel.

We were asked to interact with the students and share with them, "Five Things Business People Should Know...But May Not".  Each person had different suggestions and their input kept the discussion lively and interesting.  I thought I'd share with you the 5 things I brought to the table:

  • Know that you know nothing about advertising and marketing  -  Most business owners "think" they know something about advertising mostly because they have been hit with thousands of ad impressions each week.  It is an "experience" but it falls short of understanding why one ad works for one company but will not for another.  Understanding the prime consumer for the product is the first step in knowing advertising and sadly, most business people....don't or they are pegging the wrong people for future growth.
  • Buy the very best of "everything" you can afford - There is VALUE in QUALITY.  From your business cards to hardware to the way you dress...when you buy the best not only is the image priceless but the stuff...lasts.  Yes, these shoes are really 20 years old.
  • Be transparent to customers and employees - In this world of instant information and with social media being the new "word of mouth" it is critical that the new business person have no "hidden agenda".  Building a business is so much easier when everybody knows the 'end game' and how you intend to get there.
  • In tough economic times spend more money on marketing and R&D- I have beat this for years and the clients we have, who listened (and most have), saw double digit sales figures in 2009.  The market does not like a vacuum and when somebody pulls out of the market somebody else comes along and fills the void.  You be the company that is always there...
  • Hire professionals because it will save you money in the end - When people enter into a business the common thought is they need a lawyer and an accountant.  We go a step further.  Hire a professional advertising and marketing person even if for only a complete consultation.  You will be amazed at what we know...because it is what we do.

Oh...a bonus: 

Never believe everything a media sales person tells you - Thousands and thousands of dollars have been wasted in media buys that do not match the key consumer group a company wishes to reach.  Business people who buy media from an outlet that does not speak to the correct market...can be a huge waste of time...and money.

Let's connect on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADVand here is a reminder to catch our daily (Monday - Thursday) news/webcast about advertising, marketing and consumer trends.  Insight on Business with Michael Libbie Noon Central only on WebcastOne LIVE!

Thanks for coming by!



Sunday Morning Coffee - July 25, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee is a look back at the past week and a look forward at some Coffee Cu ps things coming up.  Not a bunch of business here today, we'll get back to that in tomorrow's broadcast of Insight on Business with Michael Libbie, today we're chatting, over coffee, about stuff.  And, because it's a conversation you can comment below, send me an e-mail or follow me on Twitter @MichaelLibbie.  Grab a cup and let's go...

RAGBRAI XXXVIII starts today and my bride begins her journey traveling from the Missouri RIver in Sioux City to the Mississippi River east Georgie RAGBRAI of Dubuque.  For those of you not living in Iowa or familiar with RAGBRAI it's the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.  Thousands, some peg the number at 15,000 (that's 9,000 registered riders, several thousand non-registered riders, staff and support people), will ride the 460 miles in seven days.  Here is the link to the RAGBRAI XXXVIII site.  Along the way towns large and small open up to welcome the riders and sell them...stuff.  Georgie says it's like a band of locusts rolling across the state devouring food and beverage along the way.  I'm really proud of her...we'll keep you posted.  (Here she is, along with her ridding buddy Chippy, dipping her front tire in the Mississippi at the end of a former RAGBRAI)

Some...would say it's...nuts.

The more I think about this whole deal with the USDA, Tom Vilsack, the Obama Administration, the NAACP, the Kooky Right, the Wingnut Left, FOX News and Shirley Sherrod the more ill I become.  I don't use the word "outrage" often, mostly because Sean Hannity can't string together a sentence without using it, but I think I'm there.  We've got lots of growing up to do.  Mr. starts with you or so says Keith Olberman in this great piece. (Video)  Even if you don't like  You'll learn new words.

Meanwhile, I cleaned my office.

I think I do stuff like that when I'm in a "funk".  This issue and others sort of drove me to cleaning.  Maybe it's therapy?

Staying with the "unbelievable" did you read where Goldman Sachs sent $4.3 billion of your money?  No? Here is the story from yesterdays Des Moines Register.   After reading it I had to beat back the impulse to clean the door.

Principal Park July 2010 Last Thursday night a group of us took in the Iowa Cubs baseball game.  It was a perfect night in the "near perfect" city of Des Moines.  Except the Iowa Cubs lost 8 - 4.  But it was a baseball game.  It was a super evening.  It was hanging out with friends and buying $6.50 beer!  That's nothing compared to "Big City Prices" but still, when you have to save up for a month to go to a game...  OK, I had...two.

On Tuesday night I'm speaking at Simpson College in Indianola.  The topic is business and business trends for a group of small business students.  Wanna bet I focus on how much small business owners don't know about advertising and marketing?  Hey, it's for your own good!  Thank you Renda Lutz for the invite.

I'm witholding details.  However it has to do with Enterprise Rental, the Des Moines Enterprise_logo Airport, and Customer Service.  I posted something on Twitter when I experienced nearly flawless customer service on the rental.  Enterprise picked it up on Twitter and replied in minutes. (Very good.)  Then there were "issues" with the return and I've been working with American Express for a resolution. Friday I posted, on Twitter, "Come on Enterprise don't disapoint me."  Within minutes "Kevin" was asking me for details from @EnterpriseCares.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

My bride tells me, that while she is gone, I need to feed and water The Dogs  EVERY day.  Basement Water Sump Pump Jeeeze...picky, picky, picky.  Note:  They are not just "the dogs"...but The Dogs.

I didn't serve in the jungles of Vietnam however I'm thinking this past week the weather here in Des Moines has been like that of the Mekong Delta.  Hot, humid and torrents of rain.  Which has gotten my attention because the contractor at our house either "forgot" or "failed" to correctly install the air-conditioning unit and the sump pumps.  We're not moved in yet but...just wondering...will Black Mold really hurt you?  And "Radon...ShmayDon"?

Aren't you impressed at my calm nature?   I'm telling you it's the clean office.

For those of you who have never done it...or had a child do it...this piece might not make sense.  It is from the Des Moines Register and it's about corn detasseling.  When I read the headline I thought back years ago to when our son Aaron took a job detasseling.  My memory is getting him up at the crack of dawn and driving him to the pick up point, lunch in hand.  I suspect his memory is even more clear about that hot, muddy job. 

Thanks for coming by for  a read...have a great Sunday.  Back tomorrow with more attention to business.



















Three Advertising Lessons

During our news/webcast, Insight on Business with Michael Libbie, we have a segment on the "Worst Ad of the Week".  We comb the magazines, newspapers, Web, TV and radio to find some outstanding piece that speaks to a lesson we can share with our Man Rabbit ad clients...and you.  This week was no different.

The goal here isn't to "call out" bad is a way to help business do better.  And us to be more watchful over what we do. 

This is a direct mail piece from New Products Showcase that went to business owners in the "specialty advertising business" sharing with them eighteen trade shows in the Midwest where (we think) they will see new products to sell.   A couple of quick points and help notes:

  • What the heck is this about?  A "Man-Rabbit"?  Sometimes creative can get into the way of the message. (Inside we have a "Man-Pineapple".) We're lost.
  • When opened the inside portion is upside down. Lots of folks, and we were once guilty of, use mass off-site printers for direct mail and general printing.  The problem (and we too learned the hard way) is that staff can not be there for the print run to make sure the piece prints correctly.  You solve that by buying local printing and caring enough to be there to check on things.
  • If you Google "Man-Rabbit" you learn about an Urban Legend and "Bunny-Man" who is said to dress up like a rabbit and chase people in Fairfax County, VA with an...axe.  Here is the link.  Nice image huh? let's review some basics:

Don't let "creative" overshadow the message.

Buy your printing locally so you can actually watch the print's the little things.

A little "background check" might be a good idea before you pick a "spokes-rabbit"?

But, least we're talking about it..right?  Thanks for coming by.

Follow me on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and, yes, we do have one of those Facebook thingys...


Sunday Morning Coffee - July 18, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee is our weekly Sunday Morning visit, a great time to take a look back and a peak forward at some of the stuff we might talk about over a "Cup of Joe" in the kitchen or at a favorite coffee shop.  And, because it's a conversation I'm always interested in your take and topics.  You can do that with a comment (below) or an e-mail and I follow Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.  Grab a cup...let's go:

I did this for two reasons:  1)  I needed a drop in video for Insight on Business our Monday - Thursday news/webcast about advertising, marketing and consumer trends.  2)  I wanted to show you how simple it is to have a video web ad for everything from YouTube to Facebook.  It took about twenty minutes to shoot and edit and while I don't advocate "do it yourself advertising" it makes a point.  Now...tell me you don't have a budget for on-line video.

Tip of the hat to Josh from the neighborhood Kum & Go.  He had just gotten off work when I borrowed him for his cameo appearance in  Thanks Josh!Von Maur Class

I think there is only ONE store in Iowa that could pull this off and that's the one that is making it happen.  I was in Von Maur the other day paying my bill and this sign for an etiquette class for kids was on the counter.  I want you to think about this for a minute.  The Von Maur brand is upscale and refined.  The shopping experience is always first rate and the lines they carry scream quality.  The program is being done by Etiquette Iowa and Dr. Patricia Tice who has been dubbed "Iowa's Miss Manners" by the Des Moines Register. (I MUST have her in as a guest for Insight on Business Metro think?)  So what do you think...  Could any other Younkers Tea Roomretail center in Iowa pull this off?  Is this a perfect brand companion or what?  (Sorry for the image Blackberry takes awful photos.  Just sayin'.)

This is something that, once upon a time, Younkers might have pulled off...back in the day of their downtown Des Moines anchor store and the Younkers Tea Room.  I have some fond memories of the room, the service and the staff.  If that doesn't call back a memory or two...maybe this photo will.  Once upon a time in Downtown Des Moines...

My bride takes off this coming weekend for RAGBRAI.  She has been in training for a couple of months....   Doesn't doing 345 miles in six days in the heat of the summer sound like a grand way to spend some vacation time?  Yikes!!

What a night...and a short Sunday Morning Coffee.  We had some major storms in Central Iowa overnight and lost power about 3AM. (Came back on about 8AM)  Sirens went off, at least three times, and I was up tending to critters, outside furniture and more.  Off to a 9AM meeting are spared any more coffee for today.  Let's catch up on Twitter or Facebook?  Have a great Sunday.









Why THIS Campaign is Different

I'm not sure you could find an advertising campaign that has ever created this much "buzz" in such a short amount of time.  The integrated Old Spice Body Wash Campaign is a lesson for marketers and business owners on how to take a tired, worn out brand name and infuse it with such vigor that even folks who are not connected with social media marketing know of the campaign.


The ad campaign began this spring and featured actor Isaiah Mustafa and some neat digital editing.  The "Old Spice Body Wash Man" feared nothing as he was shown moving from one daunting task to the other.  "No sweat."   The broadcast ad clicked, it was effective, because (OK business owners pay very close attention...) it was different, it was creative and it was entertainingFor a refresher on those items here is a link to the post about how creative is responsible for effective.

The agency then went where none other dared...Social Media.   In a NEW way.

They began getting messages directed to Mustafa about his fantastic feats and three weeks ago they set up shop at a Portland Studio and began to crank out ads, often fifteen to twenty a day.  These ads spoke directly to individual people and who had communicated with the campaign via Facebook and Twitter.  Here is a sample:

Fantastic, amazing and social media marketing taken to a new level.

Effective?  Consider this.  The other evening I was sitting with a pretty broad mix of ten individuals.  Men and women with in various income levels ranging in age from 11 to 80.  While the clear majority, six, were NOT familiar with the campaign...four were.  And the eleven year-old was NOT one of them.

Give them all another...week.

In a world where everything is moving faster and faster this campaign fits.  I don't know of any other major, tired, old brand that has captured this much attention this quickly.  The bonus...they are doing it with a demographic that is designed to take the place of the aging group Old Spice once represented.  They have been on this for several years...but this

Will it MAKE people buy the product?  Will SALES go up?  Will people switch?  I believe...yes.  Remember...this is NOT a high price point item and, if you read the article about creative = effective it will work.

Welcome to, fun and fast.




Want Effective Advertising?

For years we've watched companies fail in their advertising program because they cut corners and their radio, television, print or electronic ad fails to be effective.  For some reason the majority of medium and small businesses think that great creative is "too Creative Light Bulb expensive".  "It's a nice idea Michael, but how much time and talent will that take?"

My new answer:  "Enough to be effective.  That is what you want...isn't it?"

So, does great creative mean the advertising message will be effective?  Yes and I've got proof.  (Gosh, I love it when I'm right!)

One of the stories on my news/webcast, Insight on Business, referenced a new study released by IPA, Thinkbox and the Gunn Report.  They say (and I've said for decades) there is a direct link between creativity and effectiveness.  The survey, which looked at ad campaigns from 2002 through 2008 measured effectiveness (the ability to drive business things like sales, market share, profits and consumer loyalty). 

They found that award winning ads that were loaded with creativity were 11 times more effective.  Eleven times...

Let's see...if you spend $3,000 on creating a local, small business campaign loaded with creativity it is eleven times more effective than the junk one usually sees.  The junk?  You know, when the TV station or Radio Station or print publications says,  "Creative?  Don't worry, we do that"

I do love it when I'm right.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV







Sunday Morning Coffee - July 11, 2010

Hope you have had an exceptional week!  Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee it's sort of like meeting a friend at the coffee shop and sitting down over a hot cup, talking about the Coffee Cu ps events of the past week and taking a peek forward. It's sort of like that...  So, grab a cup and let's visit.  And, because it's a conversation feel free to comment (below), send me an e-mail or visit with me on Twitter, @MichaelLibbie.  Let's go...

Does it annoy you too?  You know "that voice" the cell companies use to tell you what buttons to push if you want to "leave a message", "call back", "send a text" or "buy a bus ticket to Pig Flats, Arkansas"?  Five seconds of time they charge you to listen to them droll on with stuff as useful as a flight attendant telling passengers "how to use a seat belt".  Of course every "tick" is income.  Grumble.

Honest, I'm NOT in a bad  mood this morning.

We had a great time on Friday doing a photo shoot for our client, Main Construction builder of fine homes in Des Moines, Iowa.  Honest...these houses ROCK and Mark Main is a wonderment and a skilled craftsman.  Here is a very quick video tour of a couple of places we visited.  Thanks Amy!

Mark builds houses in all price ranges...we thought you would enjoy the tease...

From the: "I'm Thinking I Should Be Angry About This Department" The smiling faces at Hy-Vee are now asking shoppers for their birth date should you buy "sin sauce" (wine, beer or liquor).  Nobody bats an eye when I tell them I was born in 1930.  Hmmm...

Honest...I am, not yet, in a bad mood...

What's so cool about...Urbandale, Iowa?  Friday afternoon I had a meeting at The Urban Grill on 86th Street in Urbandale.  It's a favorite hangout to meet clients and friends.  Seven hours later I noticed I didn't have my American Express Card with me.  The only place it could be...The Urban Grill.  I walked in and Angela met me at the door.  "Michael!  You left your American Express Card here!"  Gotta love locally owned businesses.  And, if you had not noticed, shopping, eating and buying from locally owned business is on the rise.  There is a great "marketing nugget" there...if you are paying attention.

Midwest Basement Systems is a company that does TONS of advertising.  Print, radio, Midwest Basement Internet...  I hear them daily on any number of Des Moines area stations. (I can even sing part of their jingle it's so "top of mind")  They are big on "free estimates" and "call us for inspections".  So...because I need to figure out what's going on in my basement with the sump pumps (wet basement) I called their office to have them come out and tell me what's going on.  The cheery young lady said, "Sure, we can get to you in September..."  SEPTEMBER!?!???  I asked her to clarify that and she said, "Yes sir, we're booked up until about the 10th of September."   And you are STILL begging people to call you for repair/estimate work?   Anybody think I had a "good brand experience" here?   Maybe hire more folks?  Just sayin'.

Democrats in Iowa will be marking their calendars for February 6, 2012 the date set for the Iowa Caucus.  Last time out the caucus (both Democrat and GOP) was held on a Saturday which kept many from attending, this time the leaders have got it right and set it for a Monday night.  Now it will be interesting to see how many states try to jump ahead of Condo Fire DSM RegisterIowa.  The DNC has said states that do hold a primary or caucus prior to Iowa will lose 1/2 of their national convention delegates.  That didn't stop Michigan or Florida in 2008.  Stay tuned, here in Iowa the caucus is a big, big deal.

Huge fire yesterday at a condo near our offices.  We didn't get the images but the Des Moines Register has the story and the pictures.  Dozens of folks watched as the three story building burned like crazy.  Here is the link.

This weekend I pulled out "Band of Brothers".  It's an amazing film...again.Mike Wagner MPL

If you own a business or work in marketing and you've not been keeping up with Insight on Business, our news/webcast about advertising, marketing and consumer trends...maybe you should?  Monday - Thursday we offer up news and tips about the elusive world of marketing and advertising.  It's live and on at Noon Central Time.  Here is a link to the most recent show page, this with Mike Wagner of The White Rabbit Group.  You'll get the idea.  Coming up this week:  Monday - Suzanne Hull from Unemployed in Des Moines about how badly broken the job search has become.  Tuesday - Liz Nead from The Liz Nead Show is in to talk about marketing a TV show and Paris (hey it will be fun).  Wednesday - Justin Hancock from Loki's Garden about the frustrations and success of starting up a new business.  Thursday - Howard Musin an accountant from SSC Services on business and taxes and tips.  Insight on Business LIVE and only on WebcastOne LIVEFor Facebook users here you go!

I ran into my friend Jonathan Narcisse last week and we were BOTH wearing a tie.  For those of you who don't know Jonathan he is running for Governor of Iowa as an independent and has a big hill to climb.  The inside story was that whenever we'd be in the same place either I was "dressed up" or he was...never both at the same time.  Could it be a sign?

Going to pump this out the door.  Thanks for reading and for your comments and for your conversation.  On Twitter it's @MichaelLibbie thanks again!
























Photo Shoots - What Many Folks Don't Know

This morning we're headed out to do a photo shoot for a client.  They are all structure shots with some inside detail images.  Our client has never experienced a professional photoMan photo framing event and, frankly most small business owners haven't' so...some surprises (perhaps):

Good Work Takes Time- Unlike amateur photographers, taking images takes...time.  Sometime the lighting alone will take most of an hour.  It isn't "point & click".

Time of the Day - Most folks realize that there is a factor of where the sun is in relationship to the quality of the image.  Days filled with sunshine isn't always the best time to click away.  Just saying...  We picked a sun-filled morning.  Yikes.

Angle and Image - This, I think, is the second most critical thing about doing photos.  Just because it "looks" good from one angle doesn't mean that it won't look better from a slightly different angle.  Again...this will take some time and of

Interior Lighting - Shooting location shots vs. indoor studio photos can be a struggle.  Some things that a client might want to have shot...may take loads of time for set up.

The Number - It's NOT uncommon to take 50 - 75 shots of the same thing.  Really.  Some clients and consumers don't get that part, "Hey you are taking dozens of photos of the same thing.  Why?"  See above, angle, lighting, framing, focus,...subtle changes can make all the difference.

The Edit - After several hours on the set comes the edit.  We switched to digital years ago and it's a great format to fix and enhance the photos.  This is one of the most critical steps in the process.  Good edit, in photos, is like good edit in video.  It can make or break the project.

Bottom line...when you see still images for products/services in magazines, on billboards or on the web know that there were hours of set up, shooting and edit that went into them.  That's just the way it is.

Thanks for coming by...we can connect on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and if you want to drop by our Facebook you have the link!




Yesterday was the 4th of July a wonderful national holiday.  Today is "The Day After".  One question...  You Open?

Yesterday my bride and I had "stuff to look at" for the house so it was off to the "Big BoxClosed Sign Stores".   We also needed several other things that we were going to buy.  However those businesses had signs on them saying they were, "Closed Through Monday".


I was reminded of my friend Hal Becker who wrote "Can I Have Five Minutes of Your Time?"  It's a sales success story that propelled Hal to the top sales spot with Xerox at the age of 22.  In one of the stories he tells of when it snowed a blizzard he decided he would work because, "...nobody else was out in the weather."  He had the best sales day of his career.   (If you've not yet read it...get it.)

Yesterday and today there are shoppers out there looking to buy.  This morning, on Facebook and Twitter I was reading about people wanting to go out to buy cars, dishes, even a new house.  The question is, "Are you there when the people are?"

6a00d83452534069e20120a53db1ed970b-800wiLet's connect on Twitter?  @MichaelLibbie and here's our Facebook Thingy.  Thanks for coming by!