Use It or Lose It

Back in November the Greater Des Moines Partnership (whom I admire and am an active Look Local First 2015member) rolled out a marketing plan designed to remind holiday shoppers that buying local has an enormous impact on the local economy. Look Local First had all the stuff: Images, a website and even a hashtag #LookLocalFirst to be used to promote the program via social media.

The other day I did a Twitter Search for #LookLocalFirst just to see if anybody had been using the hashtag. You know, spreading the whole idea that "Shop Local" is good for the local economy.  Here is a screen shot of what I found.

Look Local First Twitter Mentions 21 DecLook, I get it.  People get busy, they forget and sometimes it's tough to market a movement...even if that movement helps serve the commercial interests of the area.  So, how about some social media tips for the use of a hashtag promotion?

  • Encouragement - If you've got a built in set of social media followers continue to encourage them to use the hashtag and make sure they understand the relationship they have to share the message;
  • Use It - In this case the last time I could see that the sponsoring organization used #LookLocalFirst was the end of November. A long range campaign needs engagement all the time;
  • Cross Promotion - Use other media to explain the message. A couple of short videos, done by (in this case) small business people gives a human reason to use the hashtag;
  • Key Players - Get some key players in your social media world to use the hashtag. People follow people;
  • Blog About It - One and done doesn't get it. Sure you can have a big rollout but if you move on too quickly it loses steam. Offer a few success stories;
  • Start Early - If it's a campaign meant to cover the fourth quarter or two months of the fourth quarter start the campaign awareness at least a month earlier.

Big companies and organizations often have way too much going on and tend to forget about the campaign they started. That helps nobody. Stay with it and your ROI will improve.




Want A Brand Warrior? Give a Great Experience!

A "Brand Warrior" is a person who isn't afraid to tell others how fantastic, rewarding and VonMaurwonderful your product/service/store is.  They will use opportunities to "name drop" your brand, they will share photos of your brand, they will use social media to promote your brand don't pay them a dime.

How does that happen?

It's not price. It is not convenience. It's not the paid advertising. It's all about the experience.

I've been a "Brand Warrior" for Von Maur for years. Why? It's all about the experience.

Here's a quick example:

Three weeks ago I purchased a bottle of cologne. The choice was made by a sample I'd been given by the Von Maur staff a few months earlier. It was OK...but for some reason the scent "left" just an hour after application.

Von Maur InteriorSo, I took it back. I was a little concerned that they might say, "Hey, you've used this for three weeks and NOW you want to bring it back?" problem, no pressure just a genuine concern that I got what I wanted. So, I picked out a different scent. However, my Bride didn't like within a day back to Von Maur.

Once issue.  No "customer service hell" just lots of help and, yet, another great experience.

You want to create a "Brand Warrior" for your business?  Excite. Over Deliver. Empathize.  All while charging a price that is worth the..experience.

Thanks for reading!






Turning a Blind Eye...

Have you ever been so enamored with one or two forms of media Woman Blind Eyeadvertising that you turn a "blind eye" to everything else? Hey, you're not alone. That's why, years ago, we made the decision to listen to all the pitches we got from advertising folks. You never know when you might hit on the "silver bullet".

So, let's talk about an ancient advertising vehicle that you may dismiss because, heck, that "social media stuff" is new, flashy and..."free"! (Well, not really but you know what I mean.)

So, let's talk radio.

What? "Boring old radio?", "Nobody actually listens to radio anymore." "I only listen to satellite radio!" I've heard them all and never mind that, according to the Pew Research Center on Journalism and Media"Traditional AM/FM radio, meanwhile, continues to reach the overwhelming majority of the American public – 91% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened in the week before they were surveyed in 2014."

Yeah, never mind.

Chuck Meford MPL Talking Two 3 march 2015The issue isn't that "nobody listens" to AM/FM radio the issue is that you don't know how to advertise on radio and you won't listen to people who know the business. So, rather than seek the answers, rather than ask the question, rather than do the turn a blind eye toward radio.

So, let me make this really easy for you. And if it seems like I'm shilling...well fine...but it's because I believe this might help your business.

On the 3rd of November, here in Des Moines, a fellow by the name of Chuck Mefford is presenting a FREE seminar on branding and radio. Chuck isn't some "fly-by-night" huckster he's got years and years of success in Chuck Mefford Book helping big and small corporations focus on their brand and their brand message with a focus on increasing sales. (Because that's the real measurement.)

Here is a link to the Des Moines Radio Group Registration Page and NOPE they are not paying me, they did not ask me, they don't even know I wrote this (until now). If you need more proof here is a link to Brands Formation the Chuck Mefford company. (Don't let the BIG NAMES scare is still affordable!)

Your cost to attend?  A little time.  And, if you tell me, "Michael, I've been to these free radio seminars before and they don't work!" I'll tell you that the reason they don't work is that you didn't work the system.

Does that mean "print is dead"? Nope but that comes later.

Thanks for reading! 



Doing It Right!

A couple of weeks ago I was having trouble finding my favorite flavor of AmarettoCoffee-Mate. Never bothered asking the local Hy-Vee about it because I figured it would show up sooner than later.

Three weeks into the "Amaretto Coffee-Mate Drought" I popped off a Tweet to @Coffee_Mate who responded, timely by the way, "We're sorry but Amaretto has been retired why don't you try..."

WHAT?  No Amaretto Coffee-Mate?  My mornings were going to from sleepy to sad...very sad.

Over the past couple of weeks I Tweeted my disdain to my former friends @Nestle and @Coffee_Mate. Ya know, photos of the Coffee-Mate section without Amaretto. A friend of mine even chimed in with #FreeTheAmaretto for Twitter.  The brand was sorry for my troubles and suggested that maybe some new "Caramel and Coconut Girl Scout" flavor might be a replacement. What?  Who thinks of this stuff?

This past Sunday I included @Hy_Vee in my tweet...moaning about the loss of the Amaretto flavor. Within a few minutes I get a Tweet back suggesting that I send an email to with my concern. Told them the flavor was retired but went ahead and sent an email anyway. On Sunday! Within the hour I got a response...from a real person...with a real name and a real email address.  

Amaretto Coffee CreamerShocked!  Who does this?  What no Bot response...but a nice note from Kourtney?  

I responded back...just to make sure it wasn't a Bot and she wrote back, "You’re most welcome Michael! We run a 24/7 operation here so if you ever have any store requests or Fuel Saver inquires there will be someone here to take care of it!" what did I do?  Made my own!  Another friend on Twitter supplied me with this recipe and BAM we're in business...and, of course, I picked up the ingredients from..."My Hy-Vee".

Welcome to Des Moines Price've got some work ahead of you.


Well played Hy-Vee...very!


How About A Little Help

Got a marketing/advertising question?  Man Questions

Our business is marketing and advertising and has been for years. Our goal is, and always has been, finding ways to help our clients sell more...stuff.  To be able to do that consumers need to know your business exists.

Not long ago we went out to area businesses and asked them to ask us a marketing question.  We filmed the question and then offered a possible solution.  Here is the first in a series from our friends at 515 Brewing based in Clive, Iowa:


This may not work for your business but we've seen it work for many new or re-emerging businesses that want their neighbors as customers.  Thanks for reading and for watching!



Get Ready Main Street - The 800lb Gorilla is Coming

Wal Mart New LogoIf you own a small business this news should warm your heart.  Walmart has announced that it will shift some of their national television advertising dollars to local TV in some 60 markets. The company will create 1,500 "hyper-local" television ads targeting price.  Actually, they will be targeting the local retail stores which dot Main Street.


Because they want a bigger slice of the grocery store business.  But, you can bet it does not stop there.

The retail giant will not only produce a mind-blowing 1,500 ads they will also extend the life of the campaign by using social media.

Before you put up the "Out of Business" sign some things you can and should be (Uhm...HyVee, Fareway, Dahls and others...)

  • Hammer Local - You are already the local business.  Today get "hyper-local" in your marketing efforts.  You live in the community.  You give back to the community.  You serve local community friends, family and neighbors.
  • Get Creative - There are a dozen ways in which you can top this move if you sit down and think, "How do I better serve shoppers?"
  • Get Personal - While Walmart is going to highlight price by comparing sales receipts you can highlight the people you serve and the people that serve the consumer.  Make it a personal experience.
  • Get Help - Trust me, you can't do this alone. I realize you "think" you know advertising/marketing it's not your core craft.  You make stuff to sell stuff or buy stuff to sell stuff.  Marketers are the folks who help you sell...more with better communication.

You can not attack this with Facebook alone.  You can not respond with cool signs.  You cannot do this with newspaper ads.  You can't do this with a speech at your local Chamber.  You can't.  It is that simple.  To be able to extend your brand to your core audience you must employ a host of methods...and you might want to get started today.

If you would like to read the article from our friends at Advertising Age, here you go.




If you would like to comment here, have at it.  To connect with us on Twitter it's @InsightADV and our advertising agency Facebook Page is right here.  Thanks for coming by...and hope it helps.  Michael

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Market Day

I am a capitalist.  I think.  I love it when a client listens to our advice, Thanksgiving Sales 2012 sells more stuff and becomes successful.  That is what we're in business for.  If our clients were not successful we would be out of a job. So, I am a capitalist but I also want to be...fair.

This is an image of the Des Moines Register advertising section from the Thanksgiving Day edition, 2012.  Yes, the paper had some "news" but over 80% of the daily was...advertising. (Who says print is...dead?)  Going through this edition it's clear that "big box" has the upper hand with their advertising dollars.  Not many "mom & pop" ads for small businesses. 

Market Day 2012I get it that these chains and "big box" hire local folks but I also know that independent business owners and workers want you to shop them as well. That's why several years ago I vowed to make 80% of my holiday purchases from "Indies".  That starts tomorrow during Black Friday.

Market Day is a monthly event made up of "Indies" that takes place at the Des Moines Social Club.  But, Black Friday is special.  Dozens of artists and retail shops will sell useful and often querky stuff you'll find nowhere else.  And, doing business with these folks is a joy. (Here's a preview of some of the vendors.)

This year...why not be a capitalist and do that shopping local...really local...hyper-local.  If you're in the Des Moines area you can meet up with us at Market Day, Kirkwood Hotel, 400 Walnut Street.  Door open at 9AM. See ya there!

Happy Thanksgiving and...Happy Market Day Shopping!  Want more?  Quick video from last year:





Honest, We Were Trying to Help...

That's what we shared with our friends at the new Urbandale (Iowa) Hy-Vee last month when we authored "The SM Break Up" piece about their Man Exclaim "tired" Twitter Stream filled with "corporate speak".

Yesterday we learned that an "in-house" person has been tasked with monitoring and responding for all the social media platforms the new "super store" controls.  And, we couldn't be happier.  Not because we did anything other than point out that doing social media well isn't a's an investment in learning and interacting with consumers.

So... @UrbandaleHyVee welcome back to the conversation and thanks for the acknowledgement that there is real value in social communication. Glad we could help. We'll be watching and sharing!



If you want to comment here, feel free.  Or let's get together over on Twitter @InsightADV and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by!

Cookie Cutter Branding

Every company has a brand.  The folks responsible for steering the brand Jc penny logo
may have a corporate office but the "deciders" (the folks that really matter) are consumers.  JC Penny Co. learned that lesson and this week Michael Francis, the former Target Corp. executive who was tapped to redefine the brand, left the company.

What happened?  The consumer was not buying the shift away from "sales events" to steady low prices.  And, when you think JC Penny Co. you already have a brand image of..."old" yet "reliable".  (My 92 year old Mother loves JC Penny Co. my bride...not so much.)  All of that was upset with the new branding effort

To be honest we loved the "new look" of JC Penny Co. with its sleek low clutter print ads.  We've always believed "less is best" when it comes to JC Penny Coadvertising.  But looking like Target was not enough.  The company made the decision to borrow a Wal-Mart approach and go for...low prices all the time. The "deciders" (those pesky consumers) didn't like it because it went too far...too quick.

Perhaps what JC Penny Co. should have done was look at it's overall brand and make improvements in service, selection and begin a campaign that allowed for a slower transition toward capturing a more youthful, well heeled target demographic.

But, investors don't like to wait...and JC Penny Co. had already waited way too long.

This is a lesson in two ways, 1) Cookie Cutter Branding doesn't work. Looking "cool" isn't enough especially when it's out of touch with your core market and its expectations. 2) Mature brands turn their image like a cruse ship not a speed boat, especially true if you want the consumer to hang on.



If you would like to connect, feel free to leave a comment here or follow us on Twitter @InsightADV (business or @MichaelLibbie (personal account).  And...our advertising agency is also on Facebook, here is that link.

Five Great Retail Lessons

What makes for a great retail experience?  We're offering up what weWoman Shopper think are the top five things that create a "desire" on the part of the consumer.  The idea that they must  No fancy studies, just an honest assessment of what moves us to buy at our favorite retail businesses. 

Employee Interaction 

Within a 1.5 radius of our home there are three grocery stores.  We consistently pass by two of them and shop at the furthermost store.  Why?  We honestly like the people who work there.  Most are engaging individuals who see us all the time and say more than, "Did you find everything?"  (That is such a lame question and why "experts" suggest check-out people ask it is just...silly.)   Lesson Number One:  Hire friendly people.  You might have to pay them more...but it pays off.

Shopper Appeal

Some stores seem...tired.  I can't explain it to you but think it's a mixture of personnel, lighting and design.  Here is a test:  If you live in the Des Moines Metro head over to Valley West Mall.  Walk into Younkers and spend five minutes wandering.  Then, head all the way to the other end and wander through Von Maur.  The difference in shopper appeal is palatable. Music, staff, lighting, all works at Von Maur.  Lesson Number Two:  Avoid being a "tired store"Spruce up your shopper appeal by looking at your store as a consumer might.

Don't Shout

What the world needs now is...civility.  If you have anything to do with marketing or advertising in retail...stop shouting at me.  I'm not sure why nearly every local car dealer pitchman feels the need to be hyped up.  Why patio furniture needs to pitched as if it might be the last, best thing I'll do for humanity.  Use a little...class.  Let's have a conversation.  Lesson Number Three:  Don't shout, show some class.  We want to like you first.

Man Disco LoungeDon't Do It...

Please, for the sake of humanity, unless you are an accomplished actor who just happens to own a retail not appear in your own television ads.  I have friends who have done this and they look...silly and forced.  If, however, you want to be quirky go ahead.  But remember, your brand suffers.  Example: I would never do business with The Gold Guys...sorry but the lounge lizard look gives me the creeps.  Lesson Number Four:  Avoid the embarrassment and hire professionals for your television ads.

Bring Value

Not everybody shops price.  Bring value to the exchange by telling a story about the products you have in your store.  Bring value to the consumer by suggesting ideas rather than pitching a product.  If your stuff is expensive show value by how well it is made and how long it will last.  Bring value by being a resource rather than a store.  Lesson Number Five:  Add value to the transaction and people will share the story.  You end up selling...more.

You might have your own "Top Five" or you might have some additional ideas.  We'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment here or let's talk on Twitter @InsightADV or here is our advertising agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for visiting.