The Wrong Messenger?

In my presentation "Five in 24" there is a section about the three reasons people are not buying what you are selling. Yes, there are only three.

One of those reasons is that you are using the wrong messenger to communicate with your customer. It may be that your core customer is Megaphone Vintage not in that communication channel or it might be that the channel is antiquated yet still around soaking money from the unsuspecting advertiser.

We see both of those issues all the time. A trendy new restaurant with a focus on young professionals advertising in a regional newspaper or a high-end jewelry store advertising on a cable channel where the viewers simply are not in their demographic.

So, how do you fix it. Better yet, how do you stop the outflow of marketing dollars that's not returning on your investment?

Well, you could ask a professional...somebody that is a trusted source of information. But, you can also do it yourself. Here are some ideas to get you pointed in the right direction:

  • Know Your Customer - Seems pretty simple but not every human out there is your target customer, unless you are selling a commodity. Then you've got other issues. So learn as much as you can about your current customer. What they like, don't like. What they are buying or not buying. This takes some time and some interaction but it can be done;
  • Understand Trends - The newest, hottest social media channel may not fit your current or future core customer. I've seen people spend loads of time and money chasing a trend only to, finally, learn it didn't work;
  • Watch & Read - What are other successful businesses doing that are in your space? What do your association magazines and communications say about how to best reach core customers?  Spend some time thinking, really thinking and learning more about how to market successfully;
  • Trust but Verify - Every media sales person who comes through your door has "the answer". But, remember, what works for one may not work for you. I once had a broadcast outlet tell me their audience was made up of thousands of people but when we went digging learned it was more like several hundred in our client's prime demographic.

Let me offer one other piece of advice, and this came from a conversation just this week. If you are a small business seeking to do business with another small business wouldn't it make sense to market in something that is directed toward small business owners?

Let's say you have an accounting firm or a office cleaning firm or a business law firm and your prime customer group is made up of other small businesses. What the heck are you doing in an advertising channel that is marketing to the masses? Doesn't make an ounce of sense.

It doesn't but, man, that sales person had a good story.

Thanks for reading...

 

 


Should I Start My Business Podcast?

I get this question from clients and non-clients every week. Businesses from start-ups to established corporations are often, just now, Insight-on-business-news-hour finding out about podcasting and thinking that it may be the perfect answer to an ever increasing number of media opportunities in which to connect with consumers.

The answer to the question is, as with most answers, it depends.

The number of podcasts that are now being done is stunning. Research from June of 2018 puts the number at 550,000 in more than 100 languages. That is a ton of competition but it also isn't a complete story. However, if you want to deep dive into the numbers like who listens, how often do they listen and more here is a link to PodcastInsights.com that we found to be enlightening. 

Bottom line is the people are there and they are consuming hours and hours of podcasts.  But, the question remains..."Should I start my business podcast?"

Linda  Harmon MPL Feb 2 2011I've been in this podcast/webcast world for nearly ten years. We started out in a closet at a local bar (no, really!). We put in a "studio" of sorts and I was one of 60 people doing a podcast/webcast from that location. We moved from there into a real studio and launched something called Webcast One Live. It was all years ahead of its time. 

Six years ago we launched Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business news broadcast/podcast that covers national, regional and some local business news plus long form business interviews that run between 15 and 20 minutes. So, yep, been there. Here are some considerations you've got to think about moving forward:

  • Do you really, really have something to say? - This is an important question because it's really about the long term. To simply launch a podcast and then, within two months you run out of material. Not such a great place to be.  So, be honest;
  • Do you have the talent to carry it off? - This is so critical. To just sit in front of a microphone and talk is a world away from having the talent to make it work. Talent goes to the ability to carry on the conversation, a voice that is listenable and the technical issues that go into creating a successful podcast;
  • Do you have the technology? - True you can get into podcasting pretty cheap and that's why it's attractive to some. But when you start adding up the costs and the knowledge it can get expensive. So, if you are willing to to make a commitment to and you don't mind learning and working...it can be done;
  • Do you have the time? - I do a daily business news podcast. It takes me roughly two hours to write the news another hour to record and edit and another hour to polish the finished product and start to share across multiple channels. But in our case we also do business interviews so there is another hour per interview. But if you're not doing that you can figure at least four hours a day. True you can do a weekly podcast and your time will be much, much shorter;
  • Do you know social media? - Yes, you can put your podcast up on one of many podcast platforms but how do you let people know that you exist. If there are over 550,000 podcasts out there how do you let folks know about yours?  Social media is key and you've got to not only understand it but be pretty darn good at the art of engagement;
  • Do you know how to measure and how to monetize? Measurement is sort of like the "wild west". We do track the number of downloads but some of the platforms we're on don't track them. Also, is this going to be a marketing expense or is there a plan in which you can make a little money and how do you do that?  Sponsorship? Pay to Play? If you are investing hours of your time how do you pay for it?
  • Do you have staff? - Yes, you can DIY your podcast but if you don't know how or lack the equipment and the ability to share the show you are going to have to count on hiring others. That, friends, can be really expensive and cost hundreds of dollars an episode. Who will line up guests, will you do remotes, what new items will you bring to the effort?  Us?  We find we are always evolving. 

Final thought. Podcasting is a bunch like blogging. I've known businesses and individuals that are all HOT on creating their blog for...maybe a year but then they don't see the value or the return on investment so they quit. It's taken us years to be financially secure with our format. 

Your thoughts?

 

 

 


Don't Be Scared

We just started the fourth year of Insight on Business the News Hour. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept it is the only IOB_RGB web 1daily (M-F), hour long business news broadcast in the Midwest. OK, WBBM in Chicago has a business broadcast but nobody else that we could find. We're on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2 out of the Des Moines Radio Group.

The format pf the broadcast is pretty simple we offer up the daily business news from the nation, region and the Greater Des Moines Metro. We do the markets and then two long-form business interviews with established businesses to startups. Each interview segment runs 12 -15 minutes.

And, nope, we don't charge these businesses to come in and tell their story. Otherwise it wouldn't be...news.

The biggest obstacle we have is not finding sponsors. It's not writing and delivering the news. The biggest obstacle is getting guests to come on the broadcast to tell their story. No kidding. We give these businesses $1,000 worth of on-air broadcast time, social media boosts and give them the photos we take in studio along with the mp3 so they can use it in their marketing effort time. You would think that business people would grab the opportunity to share their story but, sadly it's like pulling teeth.

Man Stressed
I moan about this from time to time and this week a client of our advertising agency said, "Michael, the reason they don't want to go on the air is because they are scared."

He's right. I get it that more people fear public speaking than death but really? We're offering an opportunity and so few take it.

I'm not complaining but I am hoping some of you will read this and consider that our goal is not to make you uncomfortable but to boost your brand and build awareness of what you do. It's called positive press.

So, when we call and leave a message...call us back? We would, honestly, love to help you tell your story.

 


Tips on Scoring Earned Media

It is called “earned media” when you get publicity through promotional efforts. You know, the Earned Media Boy reporter shows up at your business and does a great job in sharing your message/brand/effort.  It happens every day right?

It does but the promotional effort has to be something amazing.

While you think your promotion is really cool and fun and interesting you need to understand media outlets get pitched all the time and they only have so much inventory.  And, remember, media outlets survive on “paid media” or advertising.

Some Tips on Scoring Earned Media

  • Think and Plan – Sure, sometimes a promotional event goes viral on its own but to get to that point there must be some serious planning. You must take into consideration not just “the event” but how it will play with the public. Will they get it and will it make for a good “news bite”?
  • Wacky Works – Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? It was wacky, different and fun. The ALS Association scored international media attention and even offered up Ice Bucket Challenge 2.0 in 2015;
  • Celebs – Hooking your promotional event around “a name” is always a great way to induce the media to your cause. Some celebrities will pony up their time because they have a relationship to the cause or event but you need to know not just ask;
  • Broad Appeal – Even though your promotion is meant to drive your brand the event needs to be broad enough to garner wide appeal. Otherwise media outlets will ignore you;
  • Social Media – If you fail to get social with your promotion hoping the media will carry the ball for you…forget it. At the same time if you are not NOW working social media for your business but ramp it up for one event…ain’t gonna work. You must be in the space before, during and after;
  • Keep Pitching - Once and done is not a good media plan;
  • Be Timely - If you can tie your event to something that is already hot or something that is starting to bubble up, so much the better; 
  • It’s Not Free – Getting earned media is not free. It takes time, talent, planning, execution and a relationship with the media. All of those factors cost money…
  • The Relationship – I can’t stress this enough…if you and your business has created a media relationship either through paid advertising or personal it is golden. Likewise if you and your business is already seen as a leader in your vertical so much the better.

The bottom line is that earned media doesn’t “just happen”

Now, go think and plan!

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Future Entrepreneurs - Simpson Collage

This week I was honored to be asked to judge the Simpson College 2016 Iron Journalist Pitch. I Simpson Iron Journalist 2016 was joined by Heather Hassebroek (Bublins) and Kaylee Williams (Volunteer Local). We were there to listen to business startup ideas created by four journalism students, Brock Borgenson (top left), Brittany Robb (top right), James Tillison (bottom left) and Kylee Hereid (bottom right).  The judges were encouraged to offer tips and ask questions of each contestant.

I know, "What? Journalism Students pitching for-profit business ideas?!?" That had me too so I was truly intrigued as to why Professor and Chair of Multimedia  Brian Steffen would mix "The Fourth Estate" with business creation. He said, "Journalism is rapidly changing and I want my students to think as entrepreneurs and to learn how to craft messages that will match consumer interest. Many of these students may find success in creating content that is not part of major news organizations but content consumed by people interested in specific niche areas." Good enough for me....

Here is a brief overview of each pitch:

  • Brock Borgenson - I'm not in his target market of but found his idea of marketing the sport of "Gaming" interesting. His idea was to create a portal where people, and there are millions, can come and learn more about professional and amateur "Gamers" through video, written tips, a magazine and walk-through events.  
  • Kylee Hereid - Her pitch was about weddings and creating a place where brides and grooms, in Iowa, could go to find and connect with everything from clothing to cakes. I loved the idea of keeping it "local" to Iowa and thereby helping folks in rural parts of the state get connected with goods and services. She would also, in the future, franchise to other states. This edition was I Do - Iowa. Nice. 
  • Brittany Robb - This was an interesting twist covering virtual reality news. In fact the site is called VRNews. The goal was to share VR technology news with others from business to research schools. She says, and I have to agree, this technology will be the next "hot thing".
  • James Tillison - This pitch became personal. James received his Eagle Scout at the age of 15. His pitch was hyper-local to the Mid-Iowa Council of The Boy Scouts of America. He envisioned a platform that would instruct, encourage and expand the knowledge of the 2,000+ Boy Scouts in Central Iowa. As he was presenting my mind floated back to my Boy Scout days and the impact those had on my life.   

We asked questions, tallied up the score and in the end the winner of the 2016 Simpson College Iron Journalist Challenge was Brock Borgeson of Naperville, Illinois.

Good stuff and thank you again for asking me to be part of the adventure. It was worth every minute. 

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The Business News Hour - Friday Wrap

Our ad agency is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour. It's the only IOB_podcastv2 TuneIndaily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest. (No, really...we checked.) It airs Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and (if you are really cool) in HD at 103.3 HD2. While we don't record and save the news and markets (that could get old....) we do save the long-form business interviews.

Also, we've been informed by the Iowa Broadcast News Association that the Business News Hour is now the Award Winning Business News Hour. We'll be picking up that honor this weekend in Waterloo at their Annual Convention. Thank you all..

Our long-form business interviews from this past week are below. You can click on the name of our guest or on the player to catch the interview.

He is the master of events. Meet our friend Beau Fodor who has, for years, put his special touch on event after event. From small gatherings to Iowa's Gay Wedding Planner to the man behind the Bollywood Ball. His company, Panache Points continues to adapt and grow.

 She's back...and each Monday Laura Kinnard joins us to share her top networking opportunities that are available here in the Des Moines Metro and we end up with a quick Social Media Tip...for business. This time we talk about content...what to share.

It's an interesting family business that's been around for generations. Mike Wells joins us to talk about the beginnings of Wells Blue Bunny, where the name came from and what's this re-branding they've been involved with? We also talk about the Iowa Business Council and what that means for Iowa and Iowa businesses.

Last month Thomas Kutz an attorney with the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines attended South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. We were interested in why he attended, what his impression of the event was and what people there thought about Iowa. We talk music, business and impressions.

For over 70 years Woodard Hearing has been assisting people correct their hearing loss. Sure the technology has changed but, according to owner Diana Kautzky, the careful care of their patients has not. Our Small Business Spotlight shines on Woodard Hearing and their special event coming up soon. 

We love startups and today we learn about Servons from co-founder Steve Schott. Servons helps non-profits not only track volunteer hours but also serves as a way to reward and keep volunteers engaged. How does it all work?

The program is called Embrace Aging and it is a series of educational conversations on healthy aging in Iowa. The upcoming session is called Managing Chronic Diseases. The event is scheduled for 26 April at Drake University, Olmsted Center. With us is Dr. Yogesh Shah a geriatric specialist from Des Moines University and Kent Zimmerman from the Calvin Community of Des Moines. A deep conversation about health issues and outcomes.

Over the past several months two local shopping malls, Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines and Valley West Mall in West Des Moines have requested that bus service be removed from their property. Is it safety, congestion or something else that is driving these decisions?  In a written response from Kris Walter of the Merle Hay Mall we are told it was because Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) was misusing the drop-off area and causing congestion. We asked DART about that and more. With us is Amanda Wanke the Communications Officer for DART.

Thanks for reading & listening! Catch you tonight at 5:05 for the Business News Hour!

 


The Business News Hour - The Friday Wrap

Each weekday starting at 5:05PM Insight on Business the News Hour brings you the IOB_RGBbusiness news headlines of the nation, region and the Greater Des Moines Metro. It's the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and can be heard on AM-940, FM-104.5 and if you've got HD you can find us at 103.3 HD2.

Along with the news and the Market Report we conduct long-form business interviews with a wide range of guests and those we also podcast. The interviews are available on our Podcast Page and on iTunes for download.  Here's the Friday Wrap on our conversations you can listen by clicking the player or the name of each guest. 

Our friend Cynde Cronin from Merit Resources (Now Aureon) talks about the special relationship the company has with non-profits. How, often, non-profit companies struggle with balance between mission, board, fund-raising and the area of benefits administration.

This week the big announcement, that had been in the works for years, took place as the INS Family of Companies formally changed their name to Aureon. Why? Why would a company spend the time and money on such a big undertaking?  We asked Ron Keller the CEO of Aureon and he answered. 

One of the very best new restaurants in the Des Moines Metro, that's what we think anyway, is Prime Land & Sea on 8th Street in West Des Moines. We asked co-owner Sara Hill to come in and share a bit about what makes the restaurant so special and a favorite to so many. Listen in as Prime Land & Sea are in our Small Business Spotlight. 

We're joined by the founder and president of Tero International, Ro Crosbie a business training company helping businesses large and small create a more involved workforce. We talk about soft skills. What are they? What's the best way to learn them? How can the best be used? Oh, and what about sales training...how has that changed?  We asked and Ro answered.

Honored that our friend and Polk County Supervisor, Tom Hockensmith made some time to visit with us about transportation issues, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, hockey and the Polk County Courthouse Project. Lot's of areas to cover...listen in!

We welcome back our friend Jeff Garrison who represents ImageTek a company that has been around for a very long time and has been successful in creating more time for business. How? Listen in:

Our Small Business Spotlight shines on John Bartlett and his retail business I Work and Play. It's an interesting story on American Made Products and he also operates a union shop and he says that is part of his passion. Here is his story:  

Our guest is Sock Spearman a native of Singapore who now works as a realtor with Re/Max Real Estate Concepts. We talk a bit about the wonders of Singapore and then launch into a conversation about her home purchase guarantee an exclusive way in which sellers can get an immediate purchase of their home. Have a listen...

And, our regular contributors are Laura Kinnard with Networking and Social Media for Business and Sheryl Tessier from Eat, Play, Love Des Moines and "Stuff to DO in the Metro".

Thanks for reading and listening!

 


Why Don't They Call?

Two weeks ago I attended a BNI meeting in Urbandale. They tell me it's the largest Business Telephone DustyNetwork International group in the Des Moines Metro. The breakfast meeting was well attended and I knew a great many of the thirty plus people there...I've been around awhile.

When it came my turn to address the group I offered them each a gift. I gave each person the business card for Insight on Business the News Hour and said, "I do the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and I would love for you to call me and let's get you on the air to chat a bit about your business. There is no charge."  

But, I knew they wouldn't call. I've been doing this business broadcast for years. I knew.

Perhaps having the 11,500+ people who listen to the three stations isn't impressive. Perhaps having us hand each guest their own copy of the recorded broadcast, in podcast form, along with the studio photos so they can share their story beyond the broadcast isn't impressive. Perhaps they figure it's "too good to be true" and it's my way of squeezing out a client relationship. Perhaps they just want to do business with each other.

Or they miss the value or they think we to "toxic talk radio" with "gotcha" questions.

I dunno.  Maybe you do.  Maybe you can help me understand why the phone sits there and collects...dust.  I'm really interested. 

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The Business News Hour - The Friday Wrap

Each weekday starting at 5:05PM Insight on Business the News Hour brings you the IOB_RGBbusiness news headlines of the nation, region and the Greater Des Moines Metro. It's the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and can be heard on AM-940, FM-104.5 and if you've got HD you can find us at 103.3 HD2.

Along with the news and the Market Report we conduct long-form business interviews with a wide range of guests and those we also podcast. The interviews are available on our Podcast Page and on iTunes for download.  Here's the Friday Wrap on our conversations you can listen by clicking the player or the name of each guest. 

Business Law: When families of business owners get together, whether for holidays or family celebrations, sometimes discussion turns to the future ownership o the business. Here Sam Kreamer of the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines talks about various considerations important to the transfer of a family business within the family. 

There is now a place in the Des Moines Metro that offers a total spectrum of care for the elderly. Those of you with aging parents, grandparents or a spouse with frailty or memory issues you must listen to this interview with Dr. Robert McKinney the Primary Care Physician from the new Immanuel Pathways PACE Program. It will change your life.

The book is "Letting Go the (Sometimes) Messy Art of Relinquishment"with its author Jean M. Baker. We talk about what keeps people from "letting go" what some might want to "let go" and more. Join us for this discussion. 

This is a great story about food and diversity. Lutheran Services in Iowa has a program called Global Greens which matches up refugees coming to the Des Moines Metro to garden plots that, in turn, produce food for consumption and for sales at Farmer's Markets. It's business at it's most "grass roots" level. Meet Hilary Burbank.

Could Phil Wever be the "Most Interesting Man in the Metro"? Good question. Phil is a professional photographer, has survived a recent heart attack, is an avid bicycler and...drives for Uber in his spare time. It's a fun, wide ranging human interest conversation. Enjoy!

We're talking about the business of bicycles. While cycling has been rather flat nationwide here in the Greater Des Moines Metro the business is booming. We answer why that might be in our conversation with Forrest Ridgway of Bike World. Listen in.

The National Association of Women Business Owners - Iowa Chapter is holding their Women Mean Business event which is designed to bolster women in the business world. We visit with Kristin Hall the president of NAWBO about that and more.

There you have it!  The Friday Wrap.  Today we'll visit about "Stuff to DO in the Metro" with Sheryl Tessier of Eat, Play, Love Des Moines and our Friday Wrap on the Business News.

Monday our regular contributor Laura Kinnard is in with a look at Networking Events in the Metro and a Social Media Tip and we'll hear from Ned Flynn from Merit Resources and some exciting news from the INS Family of Companies. 

Listen daily at 5:05 and thanks in advance! 

 

 


So What Do you DO?

It's a question I get...all the time. Somebody asks, "So, what do you do?" and my reply is Woman Beach
that 
I have an advertising and marketing agency. The questioner then nods politely as if he/she understands. But, I've been in this long enough to know that unless your business is advertising and marketing the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what we do in this space.  Heck, even my Mother often said, "My children? One is a doctor the other...I have no idea what he does something about advertising...I think."

And that...from my Mother.

So what do we do around here?  Two words:

Awareness & Desire

We create awareness of our client's products and services and we do that with many different techniques. It could be with traditional media such as television commercials, radio commercials, print advertising, billboards...you know the stuff you see every day. Or it could be creating awareness using new media or digital media like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, blogging. You get the idea.  And, because not every product or service matches the media we need to discover who our target is and where they are hanging out.

Creating desire is all together different. Creating desire includes a call to action, visual images that put the consumer in a touch with our clients product/service.  Allowing them to see or imagine themselves using or at least trying the product or service we are delivering. We emote, we share, we drive a message that creates desire to learn more.

For example this morning I spent four hours looking at images of food as we prepare to create a website for a client. No, really...four hours looking and writing words that match the images that will create awareness and desire.

That's what it is we, and hundreds of advertising agencies do...every day. We like to think of it as a craft. The craft of creation.  

Maybe that's why, even my Mother, had no idea what I do...

Thanks for reading!

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