Your Website Design vs. Your Competition

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 .


When You Get Clear, You Get Clients

September 9th, 2009

I’m sure clients, colleagues, and you, Dear Reader, are sick of hearing me harp on how critical it is for companies to really understand their target market.

Call me a broken record. I don’t mind.

Before I take on a new copywriting project, one of the first questions I ask a prospective client is, “Who is your target market and how do you serve them?”

Not having a clear idea of whom you’re selling to or who your prospective clients are is the number one marketing mistake you can make—online or offline. If you don’t know whom you are speaking to, you won’t know the right message to communicate.

Identifying and knowing your target market—inside and out—requires you to look at yourself, at your company, and look into whom you serve and why. Too many companies have a general idea. Some have no idea at all.

Stating a target as “anybody who needs my product” won’t cut it (believe it or not, I hear this answer all the time). Defining your target as “people in the medical field” won’t help much either. Trying to be everything to everyone isn’t going to get you the sales you want.

If you want more customers, you have to know whom you are selling to. And you should know as much about them as you can.

Let’s say you own a high-end clothing boutique. You sell products to women, but identifying your target as “all women” is much too vague because most of your inventory is designed for a younger crowd. Look closely at your clientele, and you may find most of your patrons are between 32 and 45. Look even closer, and you may uncover a majority of your clients are young professionals who make over $80,000 a year.

Keeping with this example, now that you’ve identified your target, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and brainstorm. Make a list of questions you’d like to know about your target, then answer the questions to the best of your ability. You want to define their lifestyle, hobbies, profession, anything you can that will help you speak to their needs and wants.

Be specific. Where do they shop, dine, drink? What do they read? Did they graduate from college, have a bachelor or master’s? Are they active in their community? Do they bike on weekends, or do they spend time with family? Don’t limit yourself. Keep asking questions until you feel you know these people.

It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter if this is business to consumer or business to business, you are still dealing with people at the end of the day. So, if you are business to business and your target is a CEO, you need to know everything about who that CEO is so you can connect.

The more you know, the better you can target the group, speak their language, and give them what they want. And if you know all the above, it will help you further define the business message you want—a message that will attract your target audience to you.

Once you start mining to find out who your target market is, it has been my experience that many businesses find that their message isn’t clear, effective, or targeted to the correct market. It can be extremely difficult for businesses to project an accurate message, one that encompasses a combination of their company’s products, beliefs, mission, and goals if they don’t have a clear vision of their target market.

If you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re sending potential customers online, it’s time to change this message and solidify a strong brand image.

Just remember, speak to everyone, and you’re likely to get no one.

Why We Love Google Wonder Wheel

September 4th, 2009

When you’re at a loss for words and have nowhere to turn for the perfect blog topics, Google Wonder Wheel is there for inspiration. This highly effective tool brings the topics to you. All you have to do is type in a keyword and related words pop up. Click a related word for even more related words and continue until you find the perfect word that inspires your next blog topic. View the tutorial below for details on how to use this wonderful wheel:

Free Publicity for Charleston Businesses? Is that possible?

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.

What Not To Do On Your Blog: Learn From My Mistake

August 28th, 2009

Yesterday, I was messing around with my blog, checking the stats, adding a new widget, and answering comments. Something prompted me (or perhaps it was plain old procrastination) to click on page three and four of my comments.

I was happily reading through comments that were months old until I discovered six comments that I had not approved.

I didn’t even know they were there.

I make it a point to reply back when people leave comments because I like bloggers to write back when I comment on their blogs. Also, we market blogs for clients on a regular basis and actively market our blog as well. My number one rule is: leave comments and comment back. It’s the polite thing to do and it helps build relationships.

So, you can image my shock when I stumbled upon these unattended blog comments. To make matters worse, someone had left a message asking to expand on the topic. And another person left me a message on a post that was about how communication is the key to business success. Talk about embarrassing.

How these comments managed to slip past me isn’t important. What matters is that not only did I miss an opportunity to connect with other bloggers, but I may have also lost readership as a result of my neglect.

Let this be a lesson to those of you who blog: stay current with your incoming comments. Reply back in a prompt manner. And it wouldn’t hut you to check comments from months ago. You never know what you might have missed.

I’d love for you to leave a comment. Oh, come on, you know you want to. Or share it on Digg or StumbleUpon.

Never Again Hear the Words “I Can’t Find Your Video”

August 26th, 2009

Optimizing your video posts on YouTube is essential if you want viewers to find them. Discover the tips and strategies  for optimizing your videos from YouTube’s project manager, Matthew Liu.

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

Catching a Thief on Facebook

August 21st, 2009

It appears that dusting fingerprints, taking hair samples, and performing DNA analysis might not be enough to catch a thief. For Daniel James, owner of Las Olas, he did some of his own detective work using Facebook.

Where most companies use Facebook for promoting their businesses, Charleston’s own surf apparel shop Las Olas took Facebook to a whole new level. Below is the incident report.

Incident Report

Report Entered: 2009

Case Title: To Catch a Shorts Thief

Reporting Officer: Las Olas Facebook Page


Role Name

Las Olas Store Owner           Daniel James


Status Name

Shorts Thief                            Mr. Pánts-Stuffer


I was in Las Olas when a group of teenage skateboarders came in to browse. I had met one of the boys before and wasn’t suspicious of anything. They came in and started browsing; meanwhile, I had a friend asking about surf trip pointers as I rearranged merchandise—so I was a little busy. I was at the counter, and the boys were in the back looking at shoes. I had just rearranged the men’s shorts, and when they left, I noticed a pair was missing. At this point I called the police who showed up very quickly. I reviewed my security video from my computer and saw one of the boys had stuffed some shorts down his pants. The police did a sweep based on my descriptions but to no avail. So, I took still pictures from the video, enhanced them, and made a Facebook photo album with a reward for whoever could identify the thief.

Within about one hour, I had a dozen or so responses and suggestions. I followed the leads and found out the thief’s name.  I then called the detective working on the case and gave him the information. I wasn’t too surprised that people recognized this boy from the Facebook album I created.  Charleston is a small town, and if you live here, someone has seen your face before.

Report Status:


Las Olas was opened in May 2007, during a time in which mainstream surf clothing had evaporated everything unique. Las Olas tries to promote unfiltered products to let the customer decide what is in fashion. Bringing Southern California style to Charleston, SC, Las Olas has now been open for two years, despite a fluctuating economy. You can reach the Las Olas store via phone at 843.737.0488, or visit them at 441 King Street in Charleston, SC.

If you have a great Facebook story, we’d love to hear it! Leave us a comment.

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Social Media Vulnerability: Could You Be Affected?

August 21st, 2009

More WebProNews Videos

Although popular social media sites are some of the greatest tools to use to market and promote your website, they’re not the ONLY tools you should be using. The above video discusses how Twitter, as well as Facebook, were recently the victims of a hacker. When these systems were down, tweets and Facebook updates could not be passed through. This event should inspire you to use other online channels to market and promote your business. Other channels include discussion forums, blogs, and email.

What else are you doing  to market and promote online?

Redefining the Way Businesses Gain Exposure

August 18th, 2009

Message from Michelle

Greetings from Kimberling City. For the past week, I’ve been in Southwest Missouri visiting my family and relaxing.

It’s a much-needed break as my team and I have been busy this summer helping clients ramp up their publicity on- and offline. And it’s working. This past Sunday, our client Ears of Experience was featured in the Travel and Arts section of the Post and Courier. In addition to the article, within days after their optimized press release appeared online, they received four calls from prospects that saw the release.

In the past few months, more and more companies are contacting me, asking for help with promoting and marketing their companies online. This issue of Sūmèr’s Secrets focuses on how to gain more exposure-both on- and offline-through integrated PR.

Connect With Me Online at:

Feature Article:

Integrated PR: Redefining the Way Businesses Gain Exposure

When most people think of PR, they understand it to be the act of relaying news to a media source via a press release. They believe once they submit a press release, that’s all they can do. They wait to see what the press release can do for them. Too many people submit a press release to a variety of news outlets–thinking they have a great story the media will pick up–but they hear nothing back.

Instead, they wait, and wait, and wait. Nothing happens.

Ever since the first press release was published on October 30, 1906, public relations has been shaped and defined by more than a written release. Networking, relationship building, trustworthy practices, and brand presence are just a few additional elements that help define public relations.

Today, with a wide variety of news mediums to choose from, the public has spread itself across several channels. If you choose to convey your company message only through one medium, such print media, you may find the public is elsewhere and your efforts wasted.

If you’re not using online platforms to enhance your public relation efforts, then you’re missing an opportunity to expose your brand to the public, generate leads, increase sales, and boost credibility.

Some of the most innovative and effective ways to reach your target market online include PR 2.0 and optimized press releases.

  • PR 2.0: By definition, PR 2.0 is a social media press release. This newly developed public relations tool was born from the rise in social media popularity. As more and more people use flickr,, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Digg, they are more desensitized to newspapers and traditional media outlets. Because of this shift, using modern media forms, in addition to traditional forms, is the most effective way to get across time-sensitive news items related to your business.PR 2.0 incorporates a variety of interactive social media elements including video, Twitter pitches, share options, bookmarking capabilities, photos, slideshows, bulleted information, links to your website, blog, and social media sites, and contact options. Because PR 2.0 is viral, the audience base you can reach with it is infinite.Click here to view one of our client’s latest PR 2.0 releases.
  • Optimized PR: Also known as SEO PR, an optimized press release is search engine optimized to ensure it pulls up on search engine result pages. In other words, the press release is written to incorporate important keywords that prospects may be using as search terms. One of the most popular places the public and even the media go for their daily news dish is the Internet. Google News, Yahoo! News, and Bing, to name a few.

If you post an optimized press release in popular search engines, you can be sure to get some hits off of it. Similar to PR 2.0, an optimized press release is viral and has the ability to reach a countless number of prospects.

It’s obvious the public relations model has shifted over the years, but public relations still, without a doubt, embodies the same principles it did over 100 years ago: provide the people and the press with truthful, accurate information that is both newsworthy and valuable.

Want to see more marketing articles like this one? Visit Michelle’s marketing blog, Sūmèr Blog.

Tip of the Month

According to WebProNews, PRWeb shared a case study that involved a firm that usually sees a 50% increase in website traffic after issuing a press release. One of their most successful releases led to a 400% increase in website traffic. In order to drive additional traffic to the releases, this same firm used social media sites to increase press release exposure.

Like this post? I’d love for you to share it on Digg, StumbleUpon, or the other social media tools found below.

Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier: Business-to-Client Gift Ideas

August 14th, 2009

You know the power gifts and thank-you cards have when it comes to customer retention, yet, you can never think of anything new to send. Well, if you’re tired of giving another plant or bouquet of flowers or gift basket . . . you’re in for a treat.

Sūmèr has found the perfect solution to the stress of gift giving. And that solution is chocolate. 

At a recent networking event, Sūmèr was thrilled to meet co-owner of Christophe Artisan Chocolatier, Carly Paume, and to find out that Carly’s husband, Chrisophe, is the master chocolatier of Christophe Artisan Chocolatier.

Christophe Artisan Chocolatier is located in Charleston, South Carolina, and specializes in handmade chocolates, which can be customized with company logos, specific designs, flavors, and more. With customized gifts to match any budget and personal preferences, Christophe Artisan Chocolatier should be on the top of everyone’s gift-giving list.

Sūmèr: What makes your chocolates the perfect gift for companies to give to their clients or employees?

Carly: Chocolate is wonderful for many reasons. It is a gift that is truly for everyone. Most people can find one piece that they love no matter what. It is also a gift that is genderless; both men and women love chocolate. And, it is a gift that can be shared. One box can be sent to an entire office. Giving a gift of Christophe Artisan Chocolatier heightens the level of appreciation, as it is also a gift of art—edible art. Also, with the focus on buying local, it is a great way to support a local company.

Sūmèr: What is the price range of your chocolates? Specifically, what can customers purchase for a very affordable price, and what can they purchase for a more expensive price?

Carly: We have a gift option for every budget. A one-piece box of chocolates can be purchased for $2.00 or a 144-piece box for $250.00, and there are options in between. A 4-count box retails for $9.95, a 9-count box for $18.95, and an 18-count box for $34.95. These are the boxes that we carry on a typical day, and they are made from faux-crocodile leather, which makes a very upscale gift. We can also make it more affordable by choosing different packaging, as we work with a few different companies. The possibilities are endless.

We do offer a discount based on the level of purchase. For purchases between $1,500-$5,000, we offer a 10% discount. And, with purchases above $5,000, we offer a 15% discount.

Sūmèr: We believe gifts with thought are a great customer-retention tool. If a company were to send chocolates to valued customers, why should they choose Christophe Artisan Chocolatier over another chocolate company?

Carly: We can customize the packaging and the chocolates more than most companies can, or will. There are more choices to the personalization of a gift. Our chocolate is also made here locally and by hand. These are not mass-produced chocolates filled with preservatives or low-grade cocoa butter content. Our chocolate does show a higher thought level, as we specialize in hand-painted chocolate, which typically gets an “Ooh” and an “Aah” even before it’s eaten.

I have a year of specialized corporate-gifting experience in chocolate from a company that I had worked at before, and therefore, I am knowledgeable about how details play an important role in gifting. The smallest detail can make a lasting impression. Using Christophe Artisan Chocolatier can take the stress off of gifting, since all we need is a list of whom the chocolates are going to, along with an address—we take care of everything else. You don’t even have to worry about shipping or delivering.

Sūmèr: How do you personalize gifts?

Carly: There are many different ways in which to personalize the gift. We can place a logo transfer on the chocolate itself or use a chocolate mold that would represent the company. We can also custom print the packaging with a logo or choose a specific color that represents the company. Customized stickers and ribbons are also an option. We work with many great packaging companies that can do some wonderful things with business logos.

Christophe is also great at making sculptures freehand, so we don’t always need a special mold. For the upcoming holidays, we’ll be making a lot of great items, such as a toy soldier, nutcracker, candle, ornament, and more. We also offer personalized message cards in the package as well, where a company logo and special message can be placed. Gift bags and baskets are always an option as well.

 Sūmèr: Do you send chocolates across the nation? Internationally? Will people eventually be able to purchase from you online?

Carly: We can ship throughout the United States but have not yet tackled international shipping. We will also deliver corporate gifts to the company placing the order or to their clients as long as they are in the Charleston metro area. We would love to have an online store by next year for purchases, but, for now, we can take call-ins.

Sūmèr: What’s the best way for prospective clients to contact you?

Carly: By email at or by phone at (843) 388-7495. The earlier the client contacts us the better. This way we can work more on personalization and make sure that we secure the packaging the client prefers. But, we also have options for someone the day before he or she needs the gift, or even the day of.

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