It’s Time to Pull Out all the Stops…

Behind the Scenes

With just mere weeks to go, it’s time to pull out all the stops for your holiday products. Behind the scenes, large retailers are sending out offers, telling you- ‘Our Stylist Recommends’, reminding you of this season’s color combinations and offering their Loyal Customers – ‘Secret Sales’. Using their wonderful words to draw shoppers in. No matter what size or type your business is- you can use those same well worded and well timed techniques. If they seem ho-hum, remember they’ve stood the test of time. Marketers do it because it works!’

shades of winter whites and graysRight now, shades of Winter Whites and Gray are easy on the eyes, it’s cozy and frankly folks love it. This year, soft comfort, natural materials and the classics are high on shoppers’ lists. Buyers also love seeing how shades of One Color can help the shop their closer while adding or accessorizing with just a few things. We all know this year will be different. It’s time to make the adjustments.

It’s a fact that humans respond to lists- Update your Gift Guides to 5, 10 or 15 Things ‘We are Loving Right Now.’ 5 Hostess Gifts, 10 items you need this winter, 15 things for the folks who have ‘everything’. As a business person, it will be helpful for you to zero in on your most profitable products or services, then pull out all the stops to offer those products, now. Offer a ‘Our Top Picks’ guide. Changing up your gift guides isn’t a gimmick- it’s a helpful tool when shoppers are feeling overwhelmed.

shades of redHelp your customers budget by offering ‘Under $50, Under $20’ for stocking stuffers. This will not only help them- it will also help you sell slow stock- in fact, slow stock is where you need to discount your items – Now! Make your offering delectable- if you’re talking about Shades of Red clothing- show a berry pie- perhaps even offer a recipe alongside.

shades of green and mercury glassWe all love Shades of Green, show them how beautiful green looks with gray mercury glass. A new combination is always welcome- looks fresh and new too! And while you’re pulling out all the stops- don’t forget a bit of whimsy, an easy truffle recipe for ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ found in Camellia’s Christmas Sweets… or a festive Red Car.

'not a creature was stirring...'Brighten their day and lift the spirits too! This is the time to pull out all the stops and make your products the merriest they can be! All the best, I know you can do this!

Love y’all, Brenda

And a Big PS…don’t forget reminders for when the last date for Standard Shipping is and when the last date for Guaranteed Delivery before Christmas! Don’t miss the last sleigh! Your customers will love you for it!Festive Red Car

The Little Black Dress of Marketing…

A thank you note is the ‘Little Black Dress’ of the marketing world. Every one needs one and you can personalize it anyway you want to and it will always look good! There are so many ways to say ‘Thank You’ to your customers – I’ve chosen 8 of my favorites!

  1. Find a way to personalize- maybe it’s a hand painted touch, a bookmark, a snippet of evergreen or a package of seeds… depending on your business, the options are practically endless.
  2. As a way to say thank you- offer free or reduced shipping on an item purchased after the New Year.
  3. A Gift for You. I know this may seem humdrum- yet when used a $10 off your next purchase, this is a powerful sales tool and keeps the momentum going into the next few months. And, by the way- A ‘$ amount off’ is far better than a discount that every one’s offering! Other ‘gifts’ you may offer is a consultation, a small swatch of a cleaning cloth or even samples of other products you carry.
  4. That old standby Free Gift Wrapping has been around for a reason- it works! For everyone it means far more than you realize. Wrapping can be fancy or all natural- just make sure it’s unique, even unexpected.
  5. If you sell any types of containers or coffee mugs, you’d be surprised how delightful a little gift tucked inside is- even cello wrapped coffee beans, a tea bag, a cute baked cookie. For garden centers, adding a bit of moss or a few pine cones in a container is low cost, yet is festive and welcome. It’s the little touches that say- Thank You!
  6. There’s something so charming about an unexpected blank seasonal card or gift tag tucked in, even a length of twine or ribbon is a welcome sight and guess what? You can use up extras because these little touches don’t have to match every time!
  7. If you work as a team in your business, it takes no time at all- snap a photo and print it out on card stock- Put a little bit of the personal in and folks love it. When I worked in retail I always had preprinted cards- I signed my name and a Thank You for companies I worked for- large and small. I’ve even been known to scrawl ‘Thank you!’ on the receipt!
  8. And here’s a great thing- sit down, write a stack of generic Thank You notes, then as each item sells, personalize it before packaging, then insert- especially for Loyal Customers! *I have received several packages in the last few months- from large companies and small boutiques, several of them had either pre-printed or handwritten thank you notes in them. Do what the best product based companies are doing and you can’t go wrong.

I’ll say it again, a Thank You Note is the Little Black Dress of Marketing. You can coordinate it anyway you choose and it’s always right!  Please remember, these days folks are looking for a more personal shopping experience- give them one from start to finish! And while I’m at it- thank you all for stopping by so often, it means the world to me!

Love y’all, Brenda

It’s the Little Things…

It’s the little special touches, in this case, the little extras we add to our packaging that creates the magic! It was my job for well over a decade to embellish high end goods in retail stores. Nothing made ‘shiny and new’ products more appealing than natural materials.

I still favor brown paper packaging ‘tied up with string’. Adding yellowed newsprint instead of tissue to ‘found objects’ creates charm and intrigue. Jars of handcrafted jams look even better topped with rustic fabric- I personally couldn’t live without burlap or drop cloth- yes, you read that right!

Seed pods and natural spices are amazing embellishments- add a bit of twinkle- just like adding a bit of whipped cream on a hot drink! And, if you style those goods and please include the unexpected element of the unrefined.

One of my favorite and practical ways to other a single ornament is to nest the most delicate ornament is in dry moss, excelsior in offer a single ornament is to nest the delicate ornament in dry moss, excelsior in a small paper box. The humble elevates the delicate and fine. The same goes for plain notecards… I stock up on inexpensive cards- then add varied bits of ribbon for 3 dimensional designs which take just minutes to do.

And really? Forcing bulbs is such pleasant indoor gardening- a reclaimed jar with garden twine around the rim only adds to the sweet pleasure of giving.

I once bundled snips of fresh herbs, greenery tied to dried kindling shortly after Thanksgiving with instructions to set aside the bundle until the herbs and greenery had dried and toss the bundle into the Yuletide fire. The fragrance was a gentle holiday scent.When my daughter married, her hostess thank you gifts were white paper boxes filled with natural excelsior, a small pottery bird and a feather snipped from a white boa. A simple card read- ‘Thank you for Feathering Our Nest.’ I continue to do some version of that from time to time.

Natural or found materials are less expensive, twine and scraps of ribbon add an unexpected charm. High end or delicate products simply look amazing with a rustic touch.  The reverse is also true, if the packaging is sleek and shiny and holds a rustic gift, the look is amazing.

Remember this rule the experts use- ‘Add a touch of the unexpected every chance you get.’  *Visual images that mix the ‘humble with the fine.’ look amazing too. Here’s to easy and beautiful packaging this year!

Love y’all, Brenda

My 3 Favorite Ways to Market Your Business in 2020…

And so it begins… Holidays and Sales. Online shopping, small boutiques, open air markets or garden centers- and let’s not forget pop up shops! From what my research shows- this is where most 2020 holiday sales will occur. My top 3 tips for product based businesses-

  1. Collaborate. Whatever goods you sell- team up with an opposite type of product or business. For instance, fresh pumpkins and amazing cutlery team up for a fabulous holiday table. Rustic pottery and naturals alongside fine wine and delicate goblets on a buffet outdoors. Imagine the possibilities for whatever you sell. 
  2. Open Air Markets. These will prevalent and considered safer than indoor settings- perhaps even a limited Sidewalk Sale. So! Pay close attention to packaging- I love cello, closed canisters and baskets. Folks want to know what they are purchasing is clean, safe and beautiful- not to mention it’s already wrapped! Regardless of what you are selling, your visual content needs to be really good and appealing. For instance, if you sell spice rubs or blends- even baked goods- the single ingredients often will be a more appealing image than just the package. Simple tableware looks wonderful if embellished, even tagged. Think of teaming up with a florist- then, go ahead and set the table for an amazing image. Offer unexpected color combinations and while you’re at it- offer an inexpensive natural gift. (The possibilities are endless- think visual and virtual of whatever you offer!) Speaking of Offers- Free gift with purchase, exclusive access to new or loyal folks- even a mystery offer if 3 or more items are purchased. Offers are one of the best places to let your creativity shine! 
  3. Popup Shops  I have hosted these with my own baked or handcrafted goods and as an added bonus 1-2 local artists were invited to participate. For the location- often the host receives a very small percentage of their sales. Note: if space is limited, ask the artists to have an inventory of their wares- to save space, limit crowding and most important for ease of checkout.  *Please give buyers a quick and easy shopping experience, especially online- checkout without signup, remove anything that slows down the process. 

Please note: You must have an online presence! It’s the most cost effective way to share where you are and what you’re selling. And here’s a few more hints- Use simple styling, simple wraps- for instance, I love wax, brown or parchment paper. Tie with twine, baker’s cord or even satin ribbon. Wrap with a natural linen, burlap, baskets- for everything from baked goods to flowers and plants- these wraps look good and save money too. For your photography: use flatlay photography (coming up in another post!) Layer or carousel to virtually showcase your wares. Begin right now writing holiday copy for your site, brand or blog- this year make sure you’re upbeat with kind understanding, it’s a difficult time. 

So! there you have my 3 favorites- Collaborate. Popup Shops and Open Air Markets with a strong online presence. *Decide on a fun and fair way to double or triple your efforts as you collaborate with others. All the best! 

Love y’all, Brenda 

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