The New RAGBRAI Logo

When we first saw the 2015 RAGBRAI Logo we LOVED it! And, because Soviet Ag Poster (some of us are old enough to recognize some historical things) it looked faintly like a Soviet Agricultural Poster from the Stalin Era. See...

That made it all the better...great lines and the "red star" made it even more attractive. (Commies....)

Then our friends from the "cycling community" started to voice concerns, "It looks like the tractor is running over a bicycle!" was the most 
RAGBRAI Logo 2015common.  And, indeed, if you look at the logo with that does.

"News Flash!" (Yep, the words of the RAGBRAI Director...) Clearly the Des Moines Register graphic design folks must have read the piece written by our friend Kyle Munson just days before the logo reveal (maybe not) which centered on the killing of a cyclist in Calhoun County early this year.  The judge set down the maximum penalty under Iowa Law, $1,500.  If you didn't read that you can listen in to a segment of the Business News Hour where it was discussed. 

Did we happen to mention that Iowa has fallen in the rankings of "bicycle friendly states" from 6th most friendly to...25th?

But, this isn't about the pitiful way in which Iowa treats its cyclists.  Or how many folks in Rural Iowa think bicycles have no place on the roads of our state.  Nope, it's about the logo...which, by the way, we still like.

Now, if only, we could get more folks in Iowa to love cycling for more than the dollars it brings some of our hamlets, THAT would be super!




This Week on The News Hour

Insight on Business the News Hour with Michael Libbie and a new KRNT Logo Web 2 week.  Each day Monday - Friday starting at 5PM on 1350-KRNT, Des Moines (click here for the Podcast Page) we not only bring you the business news but also interesting interviews with business leaders, start-ups, entrepreneurs, non-profit executives and news-makers.  Here is the line up for this week:

Monday - We welcome Becky McCray to the studio to talk about rural economic development and later in the hour Brianne Sanchez-Young about a new professional non-profit program.

Tuesday - From Indianola we make welcome Jason White from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation to talk...economic development and more. Then we'll visit with Katie Roth of Portico Staffing what is it and what do they do for business?

Wednesday - Ernest Phillips of TUG Consulting will be our guest.  We're intrigued by what it is he does. Then in the second half hour Adam Obrecht will visit with us about building wealth.

Thursday - We're going to do some in depth work with Amy Fredrichs from The Principal.  What's going on in the US with small business owners and more. Then from the Grimes Chamber we welcome Brian Buethe to talk up Grimes Development.

Friday - Our friend Darcy Maulsby will visit us and we'll have a conversation about rural economic development and more.  We end the week with our friend Lindsey Smith of Exhibit Smith and talk...museums.

Insight on Business the News Hour is made possible through the support of Mr. B Clothing of Clive, The Fireplace SuperStore of Urbandale, The Warren County Economic Development Corporation of Indianola, The Kreamer Law firm of West Des Moines, ReMax Real Estate Concepts of Des Moines, Westside Auto Pros of Clive,  West Bank of Des Moines, Merit Resources of Des Moines, the Iowa Computer Club of Des Moines and The Rick Davis Team of Des Moines.

The News Hour is a production of our advertising agency, Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and you can join us on Twitter @IoB_NewsHour and here is our Facebook Page for photos, videos and more.  Thanks for reading.

Business Development - Betting on Rural Iowa

Betting on the future of Rural Iowa Calcium Products, Inc. has purchased a vacant  1960’s school building located in tiny Gilmore City (pop. 504) DSC_1840 web and is in the process of transforming it into their corporate offices. “We’ve needed more space for a very long time”, says Craig Dick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the firm which manufacturers north America’s most effective soil amendments. “The offices we co-located at one of our manufacturing plants.  You cannot imagine how dusty our old offices were. This arrangement will allow us to keep a presence in Gilmore City and give a boost to the local economy.”

Craig Dick said Calcium Products is seeking to add a number of people to their growing support team including customer service representatives, DSC_1842 webaccounting and administrative roles, and employees for other various positions. “We’ve been asked if we thought being in such a rural area would hinder our hiring. While it can be a bit more difficult to find people, when you do find someone in a rural area, their quality as an employee is unrivaled. When people are offered a good job with a very stable company and can stay in the community or return to the community they grew up in, it’s a winning combination for everyone." (Image: Accountant Susan Flurer standing in the gym area which will be transformed into offices.)

The employees of Calcium Products, Inc. aren’t the only people excited about this move.  Dick “Putter” Jergens is the mayor of Gilmore City and was helpful in securing the abandoned building. “I’d say it was sitting empty for at least fifteen years”, said Jergens.  “The local Catholic Church once had used it for their school and social functions.  But, as time went on and the congregation aged the building was used less and less.”  When asked about the cities relationship with Calcium Products, Inc. Jergens was quick to respond, “We are so proud of Calcium Products and their founder Larry Moore.  He and his family have done so much for Gilmore City and this is just another example.  This is good for Gilmore City because it’s a major boost.  Heck, if they add five new jobs that’s one-percent of our population and that’s a good thing.”




If you wish to comment here, feel free or connect with us on our advertising agency Twitter Stream @InsightADV or our agency Facebook Page which is right here.

Buzzing in Franklin County, Iowa

We spend time in the world of social media works.  We want...proof.  OK, let's visit about tiny Hampton, Iowa in Franklin County Harvet Tour 2011 Franklin County. (Who, by the way, scored a congressional debate last month.)

This is about creating a buzz about something when you have very little budget...but lots of friends..."with benefits".

Deb Brown & Greater Franklin County

Last year Deb (far left), who is a connected social media expert working with the The Chamber of Greater Franklin County, suggested a "Harvest Tour" and invited several of her connected social media friends to come experience Rural Iowa.  The result was loads of content plastered across many social media platforms.

Spending a fraction of what it would cost to bring in a "big name" person or act Deb was able to help her community reach out to thousands of Franklin County Harvest Tour 2011people by using social media. 

So Now What?

While, according to Deb, the general community is still working through what a "bloggers tour" is there is no doubt Greater Franklin County has caught the attention of...many.  So many that this weekend is the Second Annual Harvest Tour with writers coming from as far away as New Hampshire and public television from...Japan.  


For more about the Greater Franklin County Harvest Tour you can head to this link.  We'll be there sharing some insights.  Hey, it's what we do.


If you would like to comment on this post, feel free. Or let's connect on Twitter @InsightADV or our advertising/communication agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for reading! Michael Libbie


Sharing Agriculture

Face it, the vast majority of US citizens know next to nothing about Corn Field Web food production.  It's sad how far we've strayed from "the family farm" over the past 30 years.  Those are some of the concerns expressed by professional writers, film makers, editors and social medial experts at this years Ag Media Summit sponsored by the American Agriculture Editors Association.

How deep is the disconnect between consumers and agriculture?  In my hands I am looking at a 16 page piece called "Building Trust in Agriculture" a research piece by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. The bottom line is that when agriculture says the sky is blue many in our society say it's black.

How did we get to this point?  Trust & Numbers

For all the good things agriculture means for the world there are those things that hound our work. For example we've recently been through the "Pink Slime" issue.  Lean Textured Beef isn't "pink slime" but that didn't keep the unknowing urban media from blasting the story and causing companies to fold and a loss of 700 jobs.  There are too many of "them" and not enough

And Trust.  We have become a country divided.  We're deeply divided on food issues, religion, politics...and why?   Money my friends.  Division creates wealth among those who would divide.  It is the business of distrust and it is growing.

So we pound out the positive stories while all the time knowing it is the negative that sells.  That's a sad commentary on our times and we can do better. Moderation does need...voice.

If you want to comment here feel free or follow us on Twitter @InsightADV.  Thanks for reading.




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's just that we get a kick out of  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  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


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+.


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 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


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.


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?



Sunday Morning Coffee - January 10, 2010

It's a habit...sitting down with friends and sharing some Sunday Morning Coffee.  Not a bunch of business just a look back and a glimpse forward into the new week.  Enjoy and,Coffee Cu ps as always, I'm interested in your thoughts.

When was the last time somebody told you it was a "blessing" to do business with you?   Me either.  But that's what happened this past week when my bride checked into a Super 8 Motel in Lamoni, Iowa.  That got us to thinking, "What if...what if we looked at every business relationship with that attitude?   Here is the original post... 

Back when we had a much kinder political climate I was avid with my opinion.  But, now that all of politics is hateful, mean spirited and has the charm of gorilla warfare I pretty much keep quiet.  I figure I'm not going to change anybody's opinion and hysterical rants are best left to others.  But I have to offer a suggestion to Dave Funk who is running for Congress in Iowa's 3rd District against incumbent Leonard Boswell.  Dave, smile more.   Really.   Saw you and Doug Mitchell (Operation Red State) at Panera Bread during Central Iowa Bloggers on Friday morning...  I know that what you are doing is serious but scowling at everybody you make eye contact with may not be the best way to influence folks. ;-)

They say we might reach 35 degrees this there is something to smile about. 

Next week I get to speak to members of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce about marketing, advertising and why social media is one of the tools they need to use.  The vast majority of the small business people attending will be confused and dismissive about the topic. Until I finish...sounds like fun!

Last week, because of the blizzard, we had to cancel a Des Moines based meeting for members of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA).  I made mention of that on Facebook.  Except I didn't spell out the actual name.  That prompted several to quip that if a little Iowa blizzard forced "FEMA" to cancel a meeting, "what would they do in the face of a hurricane?"  We would built hay machinery...not sure what THEY would do.  (See...another reason to smile!)

Staying on "farm" for just a minute.  This week will mark the debut of AG CONNECT aAg Connect Logo brain child of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).  The idea is to put on an "international farm equipment show" in Orlando before and between other major farm shows like The World Ag Expo in Tulare, The National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and AgriTechnica in Germany.  Prediction:  It will fail. (My opinion only...)  You see, unlike the construction industry, think Con-Expo the massive show produced by AEM, the farm show industry is very mature with at least a dozen huge events each year.  Adding another expensive show to the   We don't think so...but they do win in the "website battle"...very cool logo as well.

Dear Treasury Department: "Thank you for the 2008 income tax refund check in the amount of $461 that came the second week of 2010. You guys have been pretty busy sending huge checks to everybody from AIG to Wall Street to Detroit so I can understand why it took so long.  One question:  Can you send more?"  ;-)

I was listening to Bob & Tom last week and they had this survey from Cosmo:  "The Top Five Things Men Notice about Women in the First Ten Seconds".   1) The Smile (see Dave!), 2) The Hair, 3) The Makeup, 4) The Purse, 5) The Cleavage.   THE PURSE????   As one of the guys said, "They must have polled gay men!"  Ya think?

That's it....have a great Sunday.  We're back with more business stuff tomorrow.  In the meantime you can connect with us on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (personal & business), @InsightADV (business baby...all business) or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for all things rural). Take care...and smile dang it!