It’s Time to Plan February…

I can’t believe that January is more than halfway through, before we know it February will be here. And guess which of the Winter months is the best for selling goods and services? February starts of with Groundhog Day when we’re hoping for an earlier start to Spring…so, anything pertaining to gardening (early bloomers anyone?) or even weather related is a natural and fun sales day. Warm, hot mugs of anything – tea, coffee, hot chocolate and.. maybe some fresh baked cookies? This is the month for you!

February’s also Heart Health Month- tailor made for coaches, mentors – anything that improves health- physical and emotional well being- this is a welcome time for you! (Remember, internationally, Blue Monday is January 18 when moods are said to be low) Its a wonderful time to lift spirits, from now throughout February. Super Bowl Sunday is a fun time to promote Fitness, Food and Fun. 🏈

There are various holidays to celebrate Love, including love for family, friends and even pets! Valentine’s Day is, of course, the big one, isn’t it? Did you know that it’s a multi-billion dollar business retail day? In the US and UK the average shopper spent an average of $200 spanning across those special gifts to children, friends and special loved ones. That includes gifts, cards, special meals and flowers- not just for that special someone. And, it doesn’t have to be flowers and chocolates- though I’ll take both!

Later on in February- don’t forget to ‘let the good times roll’ for Mardi Gras- another fun and food day!

So, what’s all this about? I have a gift for you! My February Planning Guide is ready! Let’s get February started with filling in the calendar, you’ll find the multiple dates will help with content creation and you’ll also find marketing tips- time savers and even suggestions for ordering supplies! ALL are included in my February Planning Guide. And hopefully, help you save time.

The planning guide is *Free* again this month and like January’s ‘it’s chock full of information.’ As those who’ve gotten it have told me time and time again! How to get it? Email me – brenda@camelliascottage.com and we will get it out to you. It’s a 3 page pdf that’s easily printable.

Why? I made a New Year’s resolution to help as many as I could in the first few months of what might be a difficult time financially for cottage industries, small businesses and more. The tips in February’s guide apply to product sales, service providers, mentors, course creators and coaches. You won’t want to miss this one.

February looks like an amazing month! Get a head start planning and creating content. I cannot close without saying Thank You to all who’ve gotten their January Guide, it’s been amazing connecting with you! Ready to get started with February planning…and don’t forget I

Love y’all, Brenda

*don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for even more inspiration @brendawyatt_

Add in some Merry Missions…

Whether you’re a shopper or a seller, this is the time when retailers back off large discounts, or if they are offering them, watch out for exclusions to that discount. As sellers you have a choice to do discounts or exclusions as well. I recommend it, because guaranteed holiday delivery is ending shortly and the big sales happen later. So, What Now? How to keep your customers coming back, checking into your site?

Several of my favorites have begun adding ‘merry missions’ or ‘holiday happiness’ in their online advertising. What are Merry Missions and how can they help with your holiday marketing efforts? These are amusing, easy and fun things that aren’t sales-y (which all of us are tired of by now!) Merry Missions make opening your notices fun! Alternate your site with activities that are sure to keep them coming back. Here’s a few I’ve come up with …

  1. What Christmas Ornament brings you the best holiday memories?
  2. Add extra marshmallows to your Hot Cocoa- just today! You deserve it!
  3. Wrap your packages by twinkle lights, it makes the task so much nicer..
  4. Name and sing your favorite holiday song or Christmas Carol. Sing as loud as you like! No one’s listening…
  5. Enjoy a candy cane while you write and mail a few love letters. If there ever was a year for it, this is it!
  6. Do a ‘hunt and gather’ walk, work your found treasures into your holiday decorating!
  7. Read your favorite Children’s Book- Velveteen Rabbit, Secret Garden or ‘Twas the night before Christmas…’  Children’s books are a sure way to amuse and charm.
  8. Make, bake and decorate a batch of cookies, even if they aren’t made from scratch or even perfect. Psst: Displayed by candlelight, no one will notice anyway!
  9. Get all Dolled Up even if you don’t have any place to go… watch a sweet holiday movie, it will make it seem like date night!
  10. Write your holiday wishes and tie them to the tree or better yet? Fulfill a few wishes!

Adding fun and Joy to your holiday advertising or even with your friends and family is sure to be a hit, especially this year. And! I’m sure you can come up with even better ones than I did to dole out one at a time…

And who knows? You might start a new tradition that will continue through the years… Merry Missions are way to build your audience and if it’s working for the big companies? Then I’m sure your customers will love you for it.. You’ll have to trust me on this!

Love y’all, Brenda

I’m wishing you much success! And PS Merry Missions work for product or service based businesses!

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 

Stop, Look and Listen…

Stop. Look. Listen. Those street crossing instructions not only kept us safe, they also sent us across the street and on our way. In our continuing series of ‘What will I do with this Time?’ There are design tips, there are inspirational tips and there are marketing tips, which we hope to include as well. Creating streams of income in these challenging times is certain to be important. In a recent Instagram postBlue Doors, a series of doors were matched up with amusing human characteristics. ( Look for the opening photo of the Blue Door on my IG grid) If you hope to sell a service or product, you must Look at the individual needs, hopes and dreams of potential customers. It’s not enough to figure out a way to sell them what you hope to sell- your job is:

  • to figure out their lifestyles,
  • their means to purchase or
  • if what you’re offering is even relevant to their lives.
  • If it is, then this post will help you in your marketing efforts. It’s mostly, Listen and Stop. Here are a few examples:
  • You: ‘Throw out those old spices, make potpourri bags or something.’ * When actually – ‘I was hoping you could help me organize and plan new shelves.’ *If you’d stopped long enough before advising and just listened.
  • You: ‘Why in the world would you put a chair out here?’ ‘Oh, I thought it would be fun to have our coffee out here, while we talk about that new addition.’ *Yikes, if you’d just stopped and listened…
  • Take this dark linen closet- You: ‘Let’s get this cleared out, lighten it up, put in some shelves…’ Stop. Listen. ‘No, I wanted to step into my little home office first- am really interested in…’ *What you saw, wasn’t what she wanted you to look at!’
  • Or listen in on this exchange- You: ‘Mary Beth, the sewing circle would love to have all of this! Then you could have a guest room!’ No, no no. ‘Actually, I was hoping you could design a craft room for me.’ *I hope you didn’t dampen her enthusiasm or talk yourself right out of a job!
  • Look at this all white kitchen- You- ‘We need to get you some color in here, liven things up!’ Really? Here’s what was said- ‘Well we like it, I just need a sisal rug and was hoping you could tell me what size to get.’ *Stop. While you’re ahead.
  • What about those lovely old windows? You: ‘We can get you some shades or curtains in here to cut the glare.’ Um no. ‘I love the light coming in here.’ *Listen. You just lost that job. Full stop.
  • Take this lovely old plant room… You: ‘Let’s replace these rickety doors, get you some metal shelves you can wash down.’ * Really, you just said that? ‘Well, I wanted to give you a plant before we talk about replacing the bathroom wallpaper.’ Thud. Just stop. Listen.
  • And this gorgeous flower room? Please don’t say- ‘Let’s clear it of all the clutter, make it easier to clean…then see where we are!’ Uh NO. ‘Actually, I’m hosting a flower arranging workshops- I really needed help with my son’s room.’ *Please stop while you’re ahead.
  • Doors of opportunity will open if you’ll focus on the customer. The best sales happen when you Stop Selling and Start Listening. Give compliments, not unsolicited advice. And. Listen to this – which applies to anything in life- ‘The cry of the human heart is to be heard.’
  • Marketing today is about making connections, building friendships and gaining trust. Stop. Look. and Listen – first.
  • Love y’all, Brenda