I'm Farming & I Grow It - Video

Now for something...different. Much of our advertising agency work revolves around agriculture.  We've Insight Logo Kizzy helped ag companies launch new products and services through traditional as well as social media channels. 

That's why when we saw this video we had to post.  It's says all the cool things about agriculture and it gives a nod to the youth in farming.  Check it:

 

What we liked about this was the reality aspect.  We were willing to sit and watch for the 3+ minutes because it's something we relate to.  Will it play in St. Louis?  Maybe...but it does highlight the power of creative video in business...even farming.

Thanks for coming by.  If you want to connect leave a comment here or find us on Twitter @InsightADV or our advertising agency Facebook page.

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Farmers Speak Out...

This week is the 57th Iowa Power Farming Show being held at theIowa Events Center in Des Moines.  Not only is this the second largest farm equipment/products/services show in the nation it's also...fun.Groundhog

We took our camera to the line of folks waiting to board the free shuttle buses sponsored by our client Calcium Products and asked them to speak out about, Groundhog Day.  When is it?  What special things will you be doing?  Are you going to the sales?  And...we meet somebody who actually had family in Pennsylvania to see the Groundhog!  Royalty I tell you...

 

So, why post this?  Because you can also have some fun when you're marketing.  Honest.  Thanks for coming by.  If you want to connect leave a comment here or follow us on Twitter @InsightADVHave a GREAT GROUNDHOG DAY!

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Agriculture & Rural Lifestyle

Our advertising agency has had, for years, a focus on agriculture and the rural lifestyle.  That doesn't mean we've not assisted urban based companies with branding, marketing and advertising...it's just that we get a kick out of talking...farm.  Here we are in Illinois:

 

Over the past several months we've been on a major video project for a client based in Kentucky.  We've traveled to farms in Georgia, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio and at each location we've met some of the best people in the world....farmers.  Folks who produce food and fuel for the rest of the world.  Some shots from Central Iowa:

  

Some of our new friends farm thousands of acres...some just a few hundred.  They all share a concern over the environment, the rapid advancement of technology and what the future of their industry will look like in the next ten to twenty years.  When you think about it...that's much the same as your concerns.  And our friend Bart from Georgia:

 

Thanks for visiting...if you would like to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or let's connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page. - Michael

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Agriculture? Seriously?

Say the words "advertising agency" and, for some, visions of MadisonAg Soybean Harvest Avenue or Mad Men pop up.  Slick offices in the middle of the city creating marketing messages for folks who live in the city. That's not us...

Most of our work centers around agriculture and the unique place Iowa is when it comes to our domination of the industry.  It's a great place to be.  When so many other companies are chasing after "slick" we prefer to have a conversation that is more (literally) down to earth.

That's not to say that we've not done some exceptional work for retail, social media and packaging...we have.  It's just that when we say we work "in ag" we often get that odd look from folks who may be wondering why we spend our time with...farmers.

That's a good question and for the answer here's a great piece on embracing agriculture from our friend Lynn Hicks for theDes Moines Register.  Agriculture:  Innovation, Ideas and...Opportunity.

Thanks for reading.  If you want to leave a comment here...feel free.  Our let's connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal) or @InsightADV (business).  Have a great day! - Michael

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Making New Friends...

On of the realities of a successful campaign is creating/expanding relationships with people who can help the public better understand your product/service.  The key word in that sentence is "relationships".  This is not about using people to foster your message; it is about makingRich Fee and Craig Web  friends and having a deep conversation about...each other.

Here's a photo of Craig Dick (left) from Calcium Products, Inc. visiting with Rich Fee the Crops and Soils Editor from Successful Farming.  Not only was Rich, who has an amazingly busy schedule, willing to take some time to visit...he took time to get to know us and we...him.  Two hours later we all had a better understanding of each other and the product/service.

We made a new friend and that was the most valuable part of the day.  Your tip:  Don't just use the media when you want them.  Engage them as people who are doing a job but also as folks who, just like you, like to have friends.  That means you don't just think of them when you need something.  It's now a relationship.

Thanks for coming by if you want to comment here, feel free.  Or you can join us on Twitter @InsightADV or, if you want the personal side, @MichaelLibbie and our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.

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Let's Talk...Trends

One of the most exciting parts of the advertising agency business is following consumer trends and then taking them to our clients so they might create a product or service ahead of consumer demand.  Fun stuff if you're watching what is going on and you get it right.  Here's a trend we started watching five or six years ago and it continues to build...against the odds.

Natural/Organic FoodBuy_fresh_buy_local

We do lots of work in the "farm to table" world and while the natural/organic food trend isn't new to the coasts it's still emerging here in the Midwest.  We believe the drivers are: choice, health, cause and age.  People, for too long, have had little choice in their food decisions.  We simply purchased what was on the shelf at the local grocery store.  People wanted "something different" and, because of the information now available through technology, we heard about natural/organic and the proposed health benefits for people and the planet.  That becomes the "cause" portion of the trend.

The "age aspect" is something very different.  The coveted age demographic has always been 18 - 24 with 25 - 34 coming in a close second.  In this trend the drivers seem to be folks that are 45+ who have the money and interest in health decisions.  In fact, much of the action is coming from men and women that are considered "baby-boomers" at 55+.

Proof...

But, don't take my word for it here are several solid, local examples of the natural/organic trend that is raging in the Midwest:

  • Farmers Markets- In the Des Moines Metro there are at least six with the largest being the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market which draws 25,000+ each week.  That has been so successful they have now started a Mid-Week Farmers Market during the noon hour....
  • Grocery Stores- Regional grocery stores have increased competition from not only farmers markets but places like, Campbell's NutritionWhole Foods and now brick and mortar grocery co-ops like Tallgrass which will open soon in Historic Valley Junction.
  • Community Supported Agriculture- They are called CSA's and they are growing at a steady rate.  This is when individuals agree to buy specific items form local farmers each month.  Buy Fresh, Buy Local is something only the hippies did...ten years ago.
  • Organic/Natural Farms - Farming in the Midwest, ten years ago, was all row-crop with eggs, hogs and cattle on the side.  When Senator Tom Harkin suggested in the 1980's that producers should consider growing more sustainable local crops such as "endive" he was laughed out of the room.  Today the number of small, independent, family owned farms continues to grow.  In fact, the 2010 USDA Farm Census showed the first increase in the number of farms in the United States since 1940.  And, it was these small farms that made the difference.
  • Farm Tours & Events - Would you think over 1,300 people would travel to rural Iowa to tour seven small organic/natural farms to buy and or sample their products?  They do at Farm Crawl which will hold their fifth annual event this fall.  Here's a video from last year.  And this is happening all over the country.
  • 

Bottom Line

At the start I suggested this trend is growing "against all odds".  What are those "odds"?  Money.  Not everybody in the nation is convinced the sky is falling and they have money to spend on natural/organic items.  Cause is powerful.  

Following trends isn't hard...but you need to be "tuned in" and listening.  With this trend there is still room for your business...even outside of food.  Think of the drivers, "Cause", "Health", "Age" and "Choice".  What can you develop that meets those consumer demands?  And then...how will you market it? 

Thanks for reading...if you want to see several examples of this trend have a look at this piece we wrote for Insight on Business...complete with some video.

If you want to connect and leave a comment here...feel free.  Or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (all business) and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page where folks get these posts...first.   Thanks again and have a great day! - Michael

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Marketing By Committee

Last week we all witnessed a textbook case of "marketing byCyhawk trophy new  committee" when the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Learfield Sports and the Iowa Corn Growers unveiled the new Cy-Hawk traveling trophy.  The reaction was not what Mindy Williamson of the Corn Growers was expecting.  People from all sides...hated it.  I know that's a strong word...but true.  And when, the ever mindful of polls, Govenor Branstad weighs in and says, "I think they can do better."  You know the new trophy will have a very short life.

This fiasco does allow us a "teachable moment" and something we've warned about in the past.  Don't dabble in something you know nothing about especially when it's a committee with competing interests.  The corn folks know corn...and Learfield, based in Plano, Texas knows...uhm, let me get back to you on that.  That's how we ended up with a trophy that has nothing to do with football...or reality.  (There hasn't been a "farm family look" like that for forty years.  Well, maybe in Texas.)

New Coke Use "Hold on their Libbie!  In my company we all have our product/service at the top of our minds.  There is no competition here."   Sure there is.  When the new head of marketing comes in, talks with the folks in accounting and they talk with the sales department we get mistakes like...New Coke.  To name one.

Let's say you have an idea for a product or service that you've developed.  It might be wise to ask the advice of an expert before you dive head-long into...an Edsel.  No?

The good news...later today there is going to be a press conference among some of the folks involved in this.  The spin will be...amazing.  And that leads us to another "teachable moment":  Rather than dance around the issue and talk about corn and families and whatever they should simply say"We made a huge mistake and we've heard from the people of Iowa.  We're going back into design and come out with a new, new Cy-Hawk Trophy."  Some...free professional advice:  Maybe a likeness of Nile Kinnick on one side and Jack Trice on the other?  And, no...not running through a corn field. 

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Iowa Corn and...Football?

Creating marketing and advertising material from print to video is what we do...for a living.  We don't make another blasted thing.  But, if aCyhawk trophy new  company is really interested in selling what they make...they often hire an advertising agency.  So, why am I starting out with this shameless self plug?

Because we know advertising and marketing and we know when something just ain't right but nobody is going to say anything because of the money involved.

Enter Iowa Corn Growers and Football

This week at the Iowa State Fair the folks from the Corn Board (for those of you living outside of Iowa...hang in there with us...we honestly have a corn board.) gave the public a look at the new Cy-Hawk Trophy.  The uhm...football trophy which is given to the winning team following the renewed Iowa State vs. University of Iowa football contest.

Trouble is...folks hate it.

Cy-hawk_trophy old As ESPN suggested, "Frankly, it looks like something grandma might pick up at a flea market."  (Here's a photo of the OLD Cy-Hawk Trophy...with a football and a player holding a...football.)

We agree that the old trophy needed some updating.  But those of you that hate the new "trophy" just don't get it.  This isn't about football, silly.  This is about promoting Iowa's cash crop...corn.  And it's about naming rights and money to schools and...everything other than...football.

So settle down and save it until the Floyd of Rosedale trophy is recreated with money from the Pork Board (yes...we have one of those too) into a huge hog confinement building.  Or the Soybean Board (yep) gets into the act and buys rights to have all our basket balls painted...green.  Or was that John Deere?

Weary...just weary.

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Farmers and Snow Invade Des Moines

The first three days of February will not only see the year's first big2002%20color%20logo  snowfall in Des Moines but also the 56th Iowa Power Farming Show a presentation by the Iowa/Nebraska Farm Equipment Dealers Association.  Andy Goodman, the association Executive Director tells us, "We've had our moments this year with Veterans Auditorium going through a major renovation.  That meant we had to move displays to the Polk County Convention Center and along the skywalk between there, Hy-Vee Hall and the Wells Fargo Arena."

Billed as the "Upper Midwest's Largest Indoor Ag Equipment Show" the Iowa Power Farming Show will play host to 640 companies occupying 1660 booths.  "We're ranked in the top six indoor farm equipment shows in the nation," says show manager, Tom Junge.  "If the weather treats us well and the farmers get to the show they'll be Flo IA Power Farming able to enjoy a great three days of exhibits and seminars all directed to profit."  Last year the show saw nearly 20,000 attendees from many Midwestern and surrounding states.

This will be the third year our friends at Calcium Products, Inc. of Iowa will sponsor the shuttle buses that take farmers and exhibitors from the Iowa Cubs Principal Parking Lot directly to the doors of the show.   There is no charge for parking...or for the ride.  "We've got some new things this year", says Calcium Products Sales Manager, Craig Dick.  "We'll be showing a video on each of the three busses that shows some of the highlights of our seminars from last year where we talked about soil science, increased yield and theIowa Power Flo on Buss  importance of soil nutrients such as sulfur."  Each bus will be escorted to the show by a "waitress" from the "Calcium Products Cafe" who will be handing out information cards about the daily seminars and helping attendees get to the right stop.  Seminar times:

  • Tuesday - February 1 - 11:30am - Hy-Vee Hall - Room 7
  •  Wednesday - February 2 - 11:30am - Hy-Vee Hall - Room 8
  •  Thursday - February 3 - 12:15pm - Hy-Vee Hall - Room 7

 

In Iowa, agriculture is king...and this event is where the king and his court gather to celebrate all that is new, exciting and innovative in the world of farming....see you at the show!

If you want to continue the conversation feel free to leave a comment below, send me an e-mail or let's visit on Twitter - @MichaelLibbie or @InsightADV.

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Opening New Markets

Eric Benton is from Jefferson, SC where he runs Southeast Tractor Parts.  Eric attended the social media seminar I did last week in OrlandoEric Photo 1 (2) sponsored by the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA).  

He's also a true believer.

His world consists of fielding lots of phone calls from people looking for tractor parts or farmers who have been on the website and want more information or have questions about which part to buy.  Eric has two local customer demographic bases:

  • 25 to 45 year old men/women who own a single tractor to care for five to fifty acres of hunting plots, gardens or lawn care.
  • 45 to 65 year old men/women working 200 - 800 acres of soybeans, corn, wheat, turkey, chicken, watermelon, tobacco, cotton and cattle.

He wants...more.

Man Hay Bale Microphone Eric realizes he's behind the curve when it comes to online sales.  Add to that the fact that, in his area, forty percent of rural families are stuck on "dial up" connections through their phone company.  (This is just another reason why it's so critical that we move quickly to bring broadband to Rural America - but that's another story.)

He realizes that to expand he's got to look outside of his immediate market area...but how.  How is he going to engage consumers that live 500 to 800 miles away without spending tons of cash on traditional or even Internet advertising?

"I love building relationships with my customers.", says Eric.  "When they call I get to ask them about their business, the crops, how things are going and even their family.  Folks like that and I need to reach out more."

Enter the world of Social Media- A light went off in Eric's head last weekLightbulb  when he realized that he could begin searching for, communicating with and being a part of agriculture in many different parts of the nation...and world.  It wouldn't cost him loads of cash...and he would be working on one of his favorite things...building relationships.

Rushing back to South Carolina Eric, and his bride Linda, began adding more robust items to their website, careful not to get too creative or flashy (40% on dial-up), they started an eBay store and will soon have the real capability to sell online with the help of another provider.  He's started looking at Flip cameras to record the lifestyle of his consumers and share with the world.  And, we're looking forward to seeing him on Twitter/Facebook and a Business Blog...soon.

Eric is one of the 5% who came, got the message and is acting on it...he is building new markets where he can engage and sell and profit.

How about you?

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