7 Easy Marketing Tips…

I took some time recently to jot down some easy marketing ideas. As we’ve reset the clock- the holiday season begins. I’ve had several small businesses have asked- ‘What will success look like in 2020?’

‘Success, right now, is all about people. Take care of them, and they will take care of the business.’ Jon Juliano

That’s what this and every other holiday season is all about. Remember to take care of people. Your customers are overwhelmed and anxious, just like you are. If we can adjust our mindset from seller to a valuable advisor, one who can be trusted, then business will be easier all around. Let me rephrase that a bit- Move from being solely service or product based to a ‘resource based brand’. They’ll rely on you as a trusted resource. Here are a few of ideas I jotted down:

  • 1. Put together a Gift Guide.  In your gift guide, add things of various price points and add in a few things you don’t actually sell, yet would be good add-ons. Collaborate? It’s possible or just make a simple easy recommendation. A seller of Handmade Soap, might recommend adding Mineral Salts for a relaxing Bath. 
  • 2. Offer Ideas –  Be the ‘idea’ resource for your products. For example- how to extend the life of perishables- pink pumpkins?  *Refrigerate. Use through Thanksgiving for decor. Save the seeds, dry, put into little packets to add some ‘magic’ to a gardener’s gift!
  • 3. Offer Gift Certificates. Product based of course! Service based- exercise or dance? Whatever you do, off a good old fashioned gift certificate. *For instruction, perhaps add the perfect dancing shoes or a foot soak too! Gift Cards are always welcome.
  •  4. Folks will be hosting smaller events. Bakers? Suggest an easy breakfast, dinner rolls and dessert. One stop shop! *Pastry Gift Card? Smaller budget conscious events inspire DIY projects…If you’re the one who makes Gingerbread House parts- add a recipe for icing and decorations. Are you beginning to get the picture?
  • 5. For existing customers- keep in touch. In stress filled times, saying- ‘We’ll get through this. Thinking of you.’ May be all a person needs to hear. 
  • 6. Provide Value. Value and extra value which is really adding convenience. A length of twine, a ribbon, a small gift tage or an inexpensive surprise adds joy- it’s added value for them- and your business. 
  • 7.  The all important, Four B’s Be memorable. Be Consistent. Be Kind. Be Grateful- a thank you note tucked in goes a long way… 

So, there you have it- my 7 Easy Marketing Tips… now don’t go far because as a special edition for a special time… I’ll be sending out an extra post this week for 3 Tips for Product Based Businesses (I personally think there’s probably a way service based businesses can get involved too!’ So! Stay tuned…

Love y’all, Brenda 

Texture…

Texture. The roughness of peeling paint. The wrinkles, ridges and bumps of pumpkins, contrast with rough dry stems. The soft fur of a sleeping kitten on a nappy blanket- all are varied examples of how Texture, even on flat images bring life and interest to design. This is especially important when blogging or social media which is dependent on non-textured images.


Soft feathers in vibrant colors play against an ornate gilded mask. Even textured monochromatic barn board and straw nest with the smoothness of galvanized metal show the importance of how light and texture brings life and interest to an empty nest I found and captured in a photo years ago. That image is still one of my favorites, a happy accident for sure.
By contrast- the soft sand, sleek and slick colorful fishes are improved with rippled water and mossy planks, which without those contrasting textures, just wouldn’t be the same.


Add the texture of rough chopped pecans to almost anything and your recipes will have the unmistakable flavor and texture we crave in food. *Tip: Inexpensive paper sacks or burlap bags are wonderful as props*

Dark, spicy ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread…topped with roughly spread cream cheese frosting, served on smooth vintage plates is an example of how opposites attract… and really, those crumbs do add a bit of realistic textural charm…
Tell the story of how the sweet and spicy Classic Southern Jezebel Sauce… sprang from our twisted roots, bayous and swamps. The textures help you tell that crazy tale…trust me on that!

And yes, in Autumn we must have the color and texture of fallen leaves to signal the changing seasons.
Texture is all around us- it adds to the tactile experience of life. It’s the thing that makes an image come alive- the sensations we know and love in the world around us. Evoke the sense of touch- real or imagined, folks will love it.
After Light and Color- Texture is Number 3 of my 9 Principles of Design. Look for it, find it, add it to your images and then- watch Texture bring your image to life!
Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s an image of that ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread…

Seasonal Wreaths…

Seasonal Wreaths…circles, imperfect, yes! Shapes and form are basic and elemental. And often set the stage in good design. Wreaths add personality, even create  or convey meaning and mood. I enjoy making wreaths, especially with natural materials I’ve collected or grown myself.  Since we grow a type of grapes called muscadines- my wreaths usually start with a grapevine base. I’ve been known to wind up muscadine vines, leaves and all- left plain? I enjoy it just like that!

I’ve used pale green hydrangeas grown here- I’ll admit those were my pride and joy the first year they bloomed. I love the cotton wreath because the cotton came from a special garden established to honor Alabama native George Washington Carver. A former slave who taught farmers how to enrich soil depleted by cotton growth by alternating growing peanuts! And, yes he’s probably the Father of Peanut Butter and more! For sure, he was a pioneer in adding nitrogen back to poor soil. And his work was done at the famous Tuskegee Institute in part funded by Henry Ford himself.

I had a bumper crop of Oregano- the scent when wound up into a wreath is amazing- fresh or dried. Herbs make wonderful additions to wreaths. As wreaths dry, you never know the form or color they’ll take on. Pale papery blooms take on a beautiful hue. Magnolia leaves are stunning any time of year, especially during holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond.

I made a wreath recently with ‘past their prime’ cuttings of hydrangeas, somehow it pleases me through the beauty of imperfections which will soften and become even more beautiful, I hope.

Shapes often have symbolic meanings. Take circles- there’s no beginning or end. Wreaths are timeless, seasonal- the shape and form feels complete, unified. Circular curves suggest softness and movement, especially when combined with the sharp edges of other forms. Like a door maybe?

Shape and form are basic, necessary elements of design- perfect or not, preferably not. Don’t wait until a wreath or anything else, for that matter, is perfect– just get started. Use Shapes and Forms in your designs. You’ll be glad you did!

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s that Magnolia Wreath- one of my all time favorites!

Add Mood with Nostalgia…

There may be nothing quite like roses and soft autumn leaves that brings forth sweet nostalgia for me… Roses past their prime or pink tinged rosebuds that are still full of promise. And I tend to prefer the softer side of Fall with the pink and red leaves.  A basket full of roses cut from my own, set by our picket fence are precious to me because I know they’ll soon be gone. Then as they wilt and dry, the soft scent is a reminder of a good season of blooms.

Old roses tend to be destined to be pressed or dried- held within the pages of a well loved book. I found an image of beautiful autumn leaves….there may be no more nostalgic image you could offer than a carpet of fallen leaves. Still. A wedding bouquet and the memories of a romantic getaway. We want to keep them all gathered in our imagination.

Mood. One of the most effective design tools we have. To create responses from our life’s imagination of simpler sweeter times. Sweethearts, proms, weddings… Nostalgic mood enriches emotional appeal- a sense of safety, security- of meaning and of times we felt loved and part of an affectionate community. To bring forth the ‘then and now’ – recreates pleasant moods.

In design, Mood is best used to stimulate good emotions. Recollections of sweet scents and exquisite events- puts us in a positive frame of mind. As a marketing tool- make the customer feel good, make them feel a stronger connection to your brand- form closer relationships to you through kindness, sentimental and pleasurable emotions. Folks are drawn to a more personal shopping experience these days. You might say- marketing and branding has joined the ‘slow food’ and ‘slow clothing’ movements, with thoughtful production of resources.

Good marketing sets aside the ‘overwhelm’- the tyranny of urgent demands on our time. Take your readers, your customers on a sentimental journey. Give them kindness, beauty and positive nostalgic mood. They’ll love you for it.

What better way to flourish and grow, than with a nostalgic sentimental mood? Creating Mood is a Design Principle you’ll want to employ over and over again.

Love y’all, Brenda

Indigo Blue…

Blue is the most beloved color around the world. The color of loyalty, honor, order, calm and healing- Blue is the color of the sea and sky. Classic Blue inspires trust, respect and invokes responsibility. Blue was named the Color of the Year 2020 by ™Pantone- the leader in predicting color for fashion and home decor. If you’re wondering how to spruce up your wardrobe, your home even your online catalogs- look no further than the Color Institute for inspiration.  For fall and winter, the blues are darker and classic. Even the green of this season’s color story has a hint of blue. The whole year has had several shades of Blue. Take a look at your catalogs- chances are you’ll find a hue for you!

Indigo is grown on almost every continent in the world. Here in the USA, you may be surprised to learn that the most successful grower and producer of dye was a young girl named Eliza Lucas Pinckney of South Carolina. Educated in London, her favorite subject was Botany. Eliza’s father, a British soldier based on the island of Antiqua, had brought his sickly wife and their two young daughters to the colonies believing the climate would be better suited to his wife. He was dispatched back to Antiqua, leaving 14 year old Eliza in charge of the family estate. He sent indigo seeds from Antiqua to Eliza to experiment with growing. After three years of experiments- the 17 year old had perfected, not only growing indigo- she was producing dye cakes. There was a great demand for the dye in England for military uniforms. During the course of her production in years to come- it has been said that the Emperor of China preferred the color of Eliza’s dye above all others, for it’s unique luminous color.

Eliza also revived the culture of silkworms, indeed her signature look was a Blue Silk Dress. Tens of thousands of pounds were produced by her estate. She married young, had two sons and her husband died while Eliza was still considered a young woman. At this point, Eliza was running her father’s estate and her husband’s as well. She had become a patriot. One of her sons signed the Declaration of Independence, the other became a Diplomat. Upon Eliza’s death at age 71, in 1793, George Washington, at his request, served in Eliza Lucas Pinkney’s funeral as pall bearer.

Indigo dyed fabric, the robes of Kings, became widely used in the States, as the common dye of Denim- the fabric of farmers, pioneers, working folks and of course for uniforms and business attire. Indigo is no longer widely grown in the US, yet in recent years, a revival of sorts, to make and use natural plant based dyes has occurred, among them is small batches of safely harvested indigo. Though, India produces what has almost always been considered the finest.

Be inspired by Eliza, use Blue in your own artwork, backdrops, designs and yes, even in business. This young lady used her love of home, family and botany to build a life through wars, crisis, loss and upheaval. Perhaps the need- or perhaps the color Blue inspired her!

I’m a believer that Color tells a story, before you read a word. Color is one of my top 9 Elements of Design. Make seasonal shifts of your own- with a generous amount of Blue!

Love y’all, Brenda

*Indigo was produced in Eliza’s day under very harsh conditions in my country, which began in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  The story of Eliza is told to inspire not to laud the production practices of Indigo.*

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