Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Your Website Design vs. Your Competition

Monday, September 14th, 2009

You’re hiring quite the team when you choose Hoppmann Creative for your web design and print collateral needs. With their cheeky saying, “Two Hoppmanns are better than one,” this husband and wife duo are two of the most creative minds out there, designing one-of-a-kind logos, web designs, and print collateral pieces.

In this exclusive interview with Becky and Carl Hoppmann, designers, developers, and owners of Hoppmann Creative, Becky and Carl share their secrets on building relationships with clients, the elements that make a great design, and why their job is the best in the world.

Sūmèr: What are the benefits of a husband and wife team?

Hoppmann Creative: I think that it gives our clients peace-of-mind 24 hours a day. Our minds don’t operate only from 9 – 5. We will discuss new ideas over coffee, during a walk or brushing our teeth. We’re not afraid to argue over what’s best either. Sigh. 

Sūmèr: Who are your favorite types of clients?

Hoppmann Creative: Our favorite type of client is anyone with an open mind and is passionate about making their project the best it can be, not one industry or another. The kind of work we like the best is a collaboration with our client to come up with a solution together, not just painting by numbers.”A food-for-design barter with a South Carolina BBQ shack.”

Sūmèr: How does color play a role in your designs? How do you decide what colors you want to use for each design?

Hoppmann Creative: To be honest . . . despite our training and years of experience:  For me, it’s often a gut instinct.  I really know what I like, and it almost always translates into something the client loves!  With that, we also do a lot of research, look at our clients’ competitors and create something far better.

Sūmèr: What is your unique selling point?

Hoppmann Creative: We do the work. A project doesn’t get filtered down through account handlers, executives, junior art directors and college interns. When you speak with us, we are the ones who follow your project from start to finish.

Sūmèr: Anything else you’d like to mention about Hoppmann Creative?

Hoppmann Creative: Confucius says, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” We really do love our jobs, and it’s impossible for that to not come through in our work.

Visit Hoppmann Creative’s website at and contact them today at 843.801.4893 or via email at .


Free Publicity for Charleston Businesses? Is that possible?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

East Cooper Entrepreneurial Women is throwing the party of the year and they’re looking for Charleston-area businesses to sponsor the event.

Flags of Freedom Benefit for Our Troops is an adult-only party featuring live music, Firefly vodka and other drinks, and food from some of the Lowcountry’s best restaurants. A silent auction will be held to raise money for our injured troops, the Mt. Pleasant War Memorial Scholarship, and to supply flags on the Yorktown.

When you donate as little as $150.00, you get two free tickets to the benefit party and sponsor recognition in a full-page ad in the Moultrie News. In addtiton to sponorship levels, ECEW is also looking for donations for the Silent Auction.

So what are you waiting for? The deadline for sponsorship recognition is September 15, 2009. Click here to participate.

Levels of Sponsorship Participation:

Admiral Level $500 – Two ECEW year memberships, Four tickets to Flags of Freedom Benefit for Our Troops, two complimentary passes to tour the Yorktown at Patriots Point, two event t-shirts w/ sponsor recognition, Sponsor recognition on Lowcountry Live and in full page ad in the Moultrie News.

Captain Level $300 – Two ECEW year memberships, Two tickets to Flags of Freedom Benefit for Our Troops, two complimentary passes to tour the Yorktown at Patriots Point, two event t-shirts, Sponsor
recognition in full page ad in the Moultrie News.

Commander Level $150 – Two tickets to Flags of Freedom Benefit for Our Troops, two event t-shirts, Sponsor recognition in full page ad in the Moultrie News.

Again, the sponsorship and silent auction deadline is quickly approaching. Please visit: and dontate to this event today.

Are You Boring Your YouTube Viewers?

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Message from Michelle

Welcome to this issue of Sumèr’s Secrets. Mama and I are finally settled after our trip to see the family (although she really misses her son, Moose).

Recently, a client came to us concerned with dwindling traffic on their YouTube channel and requested we critique their videos. It didn’t take long for us to figure out why no one was watching their videos. Before I continue, it’s important to note that Sumèr does not record or edit videos. We write the scripts and we are in the business of helping our clients create and share a strong brand message.

We figured that if one company was having this problem, there must be more. My team and I surfed business videos on YouTube and were shocked with what we found: video after video had boring, invaluable content.

This issue of Sumèr’s Secrets focuses on the common mistakes businesses make when posting videos on YouTube. From the video content to the messaging, and your dress to the footage quality, your videos should work to strengthen your brand image.

Connect With Me Online at:

Feature Article:

Are You Boring Your YouTube Viewers?

These days, it seems more and more companies (and individuals) are making videos and posting them on YouTube with the expectation their videos will help with search engine rankings and attract new clients. While video marketing has the potential to promote a business and attract clients, many companies find no one is watching or reviewing their videos.

Do a quick search on YouTube and you’ll find videos without sound, ones that make no sense, poorly produced videos, and boring content. The worthless video is everywhere.

These poorly produced videos are fine if you’re uploading footage of your cat chasing your hamster or showing your kids playing in the ocean. But if you are a company using YouTube to promote your services, products, or expertise, then poorly produced videos will do the opposite of what you intended.

Before taking the time to film your video, ask yourself “What is the purpose of this video and how does this video promote my brand?” Perhaps you want to explain a specific product or service, illustrate your industry expertise, or strengthen your brand image by providing viewers with valuable tips and strategies. Once you know the above, you will know what action you want your prospect to take.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when posting YouTube videos:

  1. Posting a video just to post it: Posting a video without a clear purpose is a YouTube no-no. Not to mention a waste of your energy and the viewer’s time. Before you create a video, you want to decide what the purpose is, the best way to provide prospects with valuable information, and the most effective way to execute it.Let’s say a tour company wants to post a video about their latest tour promotion to Niagara Falls. Posting a video that just scans the falls and the spectators isn’t enough. Without some sort of explanation to orient the viewer, the video will have minimal impact. And a video like this does nothing to entice viewers to want to visit Niagara Falls. Sure it’s a nice view, but the video message isn’t powerful enough. A more effective video would orient the viewer and include audio that talks about the tour, gives facts about the Falls, and / or include happy traveler interviews about their experience.
  2. Your video should reinforce your brand, not hinder it: A poorly made video—whether it be bad quality, muffled sound, or flat-out pointless—reflects your brand image. Your videos should be consistent with your brand personality and with your brand message.For example, if you are an adventure travel company and you have a video of you on a zip line high above a rainforest canopy, viewers will be okay with shaky video footage. It not only shows what your company does, but it creates an experience for them. By contrast, if you own a spa and you want to post a video on the latest and greatest facial services you offer, your video should be high quality. Your dress and message should reflect your brand.
  3. Not using a call to action at the end of each video: Although the entire video should be working to drive the prospective client to take action, the last portion of your video should always provide a call to action and be accompanied by the appropriate contact information and links. Having your information readily available after viewers finish your video will help drive them to take action, which could be calling your company, purchasing your product online, inquiring via email, or simply learning more about your company. Whatever the action you want them to take, make it obvious.While the call-to-action usually comes at the end, if you have the appropriate video software you can display your website link and company phone number at the bottom of the screen throughout the entire duration of the video.

The Website Alternative: Creative Business Blogsites

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Celebrated for her creative, one-of-a-kind designs, Hannah Craner, graphic and print collateral designer and owner of Sherbet Blossom Designs, has positioned herself as a blogsite designer and custom-designed print collateral guru. In this exclusive interview, Hannah shares with Sūmèr her design expertise and her inspirations:

Sūmèr: What is your design background?

I graduated with a BS in social marketing and took some computer / design classes in school, but most of my design experience came after I graduated. My husband started a nonprofit organization that sends doctors and dentists to third-world countries. Since we were a true nonprofit organization with little money to spare, my husband asked me to design a logo and website. I had a graphic design friend who mentored me through the process and helped me gain the passion I have now. I soon began doing websites and wedding invitations for a wide clientele and landed a job as a graphic designer for a magazine publishing company. I have been designing my magazine for almost four years now and absolutely love print work.

Sūmèr: Why blogs? How did you get into blog design?

Print work is actually my passion, but blog designing fell into my lap. I began Sherbet Blossom Designs two years ago and immediately had people asking me who designed my site. When they found out I designed my own blog, they asked if I could do theirs. After more than fifteen people asked me to design their blogs, I decided I should make a business of it. My greatest passion is still print work, but I do love blog design as well.

Sūmèr: How do your blogsites differ from traditional  websites?

Each of my blogs is custom designed. I design to the client’s taste and work with my client to create a site that is uniquely his or her own.

Sūmèr: What do you love most about what you do? Why?

I love to see the design in my head become a reality on screen and even more in print. To hold something in my hand that I created is a thrill. I love that I am constantly looking for beauty and shape in everything around me. Everything is inspiration.

Sūmèr: What is your source of inspiration?

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Shapes, signs, magazines, fabric, antique books—I have a hard time looking at anything without analyzing the design. I keep a sketchbook and camera with me to draw or take pictures whenever I get an idea.

Sūmèr: You have quite an extensive portfolio. How long have you been designing blogs / banners / websites / print collateral?

I have been designing blogs for about two years, but 80% of my designs have been done in the past ten to twelve months. It seems the more I do, the busier I become.

Sūmèr: What does the future hold for Sherbet Blossom Designs?

I plan on selling premade blog designs at bargain prices and also revamping the print work section of my site to focus more on invitations, ads, and packaging. I am very excited about the changes coming in the next three to four months.

To view Sherbet Blossom Design’s exceptional portfolio,     visit

Top Five Twitter Don’ts

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

If you choose to participate on Twitter, don’t be a tweeter everyone dodges. It’s not good for business. Instead, focus on listening, adding valuable content to discussions, and building reciprocal relationships.

Knowing the right strategies to successfully tweet will lead to an increase in your website traffic, a boost in online exposure, and position you as an expert in your industry.

Familiarize yourself with the top five twitter don’ts:

1. Don’t be negative: Avoid complaining and being viewed as a Debbie Downer. No  one wants to read tweets that have negative connotations—it doesn’t add anything  constructive to the conversation and discourages followers from following you. This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with someone. As long as you are polite and still add value to the conversation, you are more than welcome to disagree.

2. Don’t blatantly market and promote your business on Twitter: People don’t  use Twitter to be bombarded with advertisements; therefore, don’t use Twitter as an  advertising platform for your company. If you want to build a solid Twitter network with  working relationships, you must first listen and actively participate in conversations  relevant to your interests or industry. Once you have built a solid network and reciprocal connections, you can begin posting links to a few articles, blogs, or informative pieces about your company that you believe would provide value to your followers. However, be careful not to abuse your newly acquired position on Twitter. If you start to only tweet for business purposes once you feel comfortable with your network, you’ll immediately be back to square one. But this time, people will know not to follow you.

3. Don’t do all the talking: Twitter is very much like a cocktail or dinner party—  traditional social etiquette applies. For example, no one wants to listen to a chatterbox go off on a tangent about himself for an hour. The same idea goes for Twitter—no one wants to be tweeted at. Rather, Twitter is used for those who want to have intellectual discussions that provide every party in the conversation with valuable information. In the end, successful and solid relationships are built, and a network is created. By building relationships online, you can increase your exposure to potential clients and others in your industry.

4. Don’t neglect your Twitter account: Many people think that by setting up a Twitter account, they’ll automatically get followers and people interested in what they have to say. Some businesses even use autotweets—something that is frowned upon by the Twitter community. If you want Twitter followers, you need to work for them. You won’t build solid relationships if you’re not constantly present on Twitter. But how often should you tweet? Several times a day, throughout the day. Don’t pile all your tweets in during the morning. Space your tweets out in order to reach those who go on Twitter in the afternoon as opposed to the morning. Since fresh tweets always rise to the top of Twitter homepages, yours will most certainly be missed by those who go on several hours after you tweet. Keep fresh and valuable information constantly streaming through your Twitter account.

5. Don’t get discouraged when people you follow don’t follow you: Twitter is a great          place to find fresh and useful information, which is why it’s much more beneficial for you to        focus   on finding people you are interested in following. If you provide valuable information, they may   consider following you. Also, it’s not about the quantity of followers you have—it’s about the quality. Having just a few followers who provide you with valuable feedback and information and who are excellent connections for you to have are much more beneficial than having thousands of followers who don’t provide you with anything useful.

Two Twitter lessons to remember:

1. Proper social etiquette is essential on Twitter.

2. The Twittersphere can be a harsh place, which is why it’s important to always keep your Twitter dos and donts in mind.

Not familiar with the Twitter dos yet? Visit our recent Sūmèr post, Top Five Twitter Dos.

Want more tips like this? Consider signing up for free updates via email or RSS.

It’s A Bright and Exciting Future for Social Media Networking Sites

Monday, July 27th, 2009

In the video below, Jonathan Miller, Chief Digital Officer of News Corp., discusses the future of online social networking. Miller shares his insight into the future of MySpace, Hulu, and other social media sites, and provides tips for effective social media marketing and networking.

We’d love to hear from you about your social media marketing. Is it working for you? Do you know what you’re doing? Take a brief poll.

Don’t Let Your Business Fall through the Cracks of a Market Shift

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Is your company seeing fewer results and lower conversion rates than ever before and you don’t know why? You spend all this time with your marketing message, but you’re not seeing the expected results. The question you must ask yourself is whether your website is speaking to the current market.

Recently, the market has shifted greatly from where it was a year ago, and even six months ago, to where it is now. Comparable to an earthquake when the ground cracks beneath your feet and you can either move with it or fall through the cracks, you must choose if your business wants to move with the market shift or fall.

People are still buying, but they’re buying for different reasons. An uncertain economy leads to uncertain buyers, and uncertain buyers need to know for sure they’re getting the most out of their dollar. In a nutshell, there’s no room for wasting money.

How can you apply result-driven marketing to your company? Simple. Your target market wants to feel a sense of security, knowing that your company is going to deliver the ideal product / service—and a product / service that’s worth their hard-earned money. The current market isn’t going to spend money on uncertain luxuries. This is where you shift your marketing strategies.

All it takes are some tweaks in your products / services and / or your company message. For example, if you own your own travel company, you might consider pushing more products and services that create a sense of security within the client.

Below is an example of products and services a travel company could implement in order to move with the market shift:

• Offer more all-inclusives: Promoting all-inclusives is an excellent way to cater to the current market’s needs. With all-inclusives, clients are certain about how much money they’re spending on their vacation before they even arrive at their destination. No surprises. No uncertainty.

• Offer more customized packages: Creating customized packages for your clients is an excellent way to ensure they do only the things they want to do. Packages ensure clients aren’t wasting money and precious time while on vacation. Clients can also rest easy knowing their vacation is planned out and prices have been written out for them ahead of time.

• Offer more promises: Making promises to your customers provides them with a sense of security. Promises that you know you can make will build trust in the client and allow them to feel relaxed and confident about their purchasing decision.

No matter what type of business you own, effective website copy that speaks to the market shift will help convert more website visitors into leads and sales.

Result-driven copy . . .

• Hits your target market’s sweet spot. People who were once buying certain products / services with a carefree attitude are now looking for security in their purchasing decisions. They want to know exactly how much it will cost, what the value of the product / service is, features of the product / service, and what benefits they’ll be receiving from the purchase. Your web copy needs to send a message to your target market that makes them feel secure. You are there for them and your promises are consistently met.

• Illustrates an accurate and clear business message. Well-written web copy will show your target audience that you’re a trustworthy and reliable company that offers valuable products / services. Providing your customers with accurate information, promises you can fulfill, and a sense of security is going to allow your target audience to feel confident with their purchase and with your company.

• Converts more website visitors to leads and sales. The goal of your website copy is to influence website visitors to take some kind of action. Whether that action is to call your company, or purchase online, your website copy needs to persuade viewers to take action. If you can build a sense of security and trustworthiness in the viewer before they even meet or speak with you, you’ve already made part of your sale.

Bing Positioned to Hit the Jackpot as Most Popular Search Engine

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

According to comScore, the new Microsoft search engine, Bing, had an extremely successful public debut. comScore’s results showed that Microsoft’s U.S. searchers increased from 13.8 percent to 15.5 percent over the course of one month.

What does this mean for Google? Perhaps it will lose its long-standing position as the powerhouse of the Internet. If you’re looking for a more “aesthetically pleasing” site, Bing tops Google with its international background photos, simple set-up, and colorful images.

What do you think? Are Bing’s features topping Google’s?

• Bing’s search engine results page offers visitors the opportunity to move their cursor to the right of the link results and read a more in-depth synopsis of the page. This synopsis can include the description of the page, contact information, links, and a list of additional page elements.

• Bing’s visitors can interact with the changing images on Bing’s homepage. Scroll your cursor over the image to find a question pop-up pertaining to the image. Visitors can then click the link associated with the question and find more information about the content of the image. This feature makes Bing much more exciting to visit and allows for more interaction from visitors than Google.

• Bing’s search engine results page appears more innovative than Google’s. Bing’s results page offers related searches to the left of your current search and has a crisper tool bar.

• Bing provides visitors with helpful information at the click of a button. To the left corner of the Bing homepage, click “Tour Bing” to use Bing’s travel, shopping, health, and local features. Visitors looking to view flights to a destination are able to view all the best deals to any destination—all in one window. With a click of a button, get instant flight status, or view fitness news and how-tos all in one window.

• Bing is the perfect place for online shopping. When you use Bing’s shopping feature, you can receive cash back from your purchase whenever you see a Bing money-sign image.

The possibilities are endless on Bing. Start playing now.

Ever Dream You Could Have Your Own Talk Show?

Friday, May 15th, 2009

If you’re looking to interact with prospects in a unique and effective way, BlogTalkRadio is an excellent platform to look into. Not only is it free, but it’s also a fantastic way to increase online presence, gain brand recognition and credibility, and increase inbound links. With BlogTalkRadio, internet users can listen to a variety of channels, choose the category they’re interested in, and participate in a deeper, interactive experience.

Attracting your specific target market with BlogTalkRadio is simple. Choose from a wide variety of categories that best fit the description of your blog: dream, golf, culture, comedy, film, marketing, pets, spirituality, travel, and so much more. BlogTalkRadio is an excellent tool to use if you want to weed out those who are not in your target market—only the ones who are interested will click on your category.

So, what are the features and benefits of BlogTalkRadio for listeners?

• RSS feed, iTunes, and other feed readers, allow listeners to subscribe to shows and join in weekly for the next dish of news.

• No software download is required for using BlogTalkRadio—just a feed reader.

• No money is required to subscribe or listen to talk shows—they’re free!

• Listeners with questions have the opportunity to interact with the host and better understand the talk show content.

What are the features and benefits of BlogTalkRadio for businesses?

• BlogTalkRadio is a revolutionary, online social networking tool that enables businesses that blog the opportunity to directly connect with their target audience. All a host needs is a phone and a computer.

• BlogTalkRadio offers hosts the opportunity to create live, call-in talk shows, which anyone can listen to. Once the show goes live, it will automatically be saved and can be used as a podcast in the future.

• BlogTalkRadio allows businesses to measure how many people are listening and downloading their talk shows.

• BlogTalkRadio provides hosts the opportunity to customize their personal profile by including a blog link, a link to their website, a video, or any other widget.

• BlogTalkRadio requires no software to be downloaded. All viewers and hosts need is a computer and phone.

• BlogTalkRadio offers hosts the opportunity for hosts and listeners to interact during and after the show. Listeners’ questions can be answered, and businesses can build credibility and online exposure.

Going Green: Daniel Island Mortgage Debuts Partnership With myEnergyLoan

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, Gary Harwyn, owner of Daniel Island Mortgage,  unveiled his new green mortgage services and association with myEnergyLoan. (photo below: Gary Harwyn and Jeff Cole, founder of myEnergyLoan)


We are so excited to be helping promote Daniel Island Mortgage and its new ecofriendly mortgage products, and writing the web copy for their new site.

The event, hosted by Green Drinks Charleston, was held in downtown Charleston at Yo Burrito. As you can tell from the photo, we had a huge turn out for the event.


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