Archive for the ‘Business Success Tips’ Category

Building a Unique Brand Message One Pair Of Socks at a Time

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Oberon Socks, an up-and-coming stylish, men’s sock line, is taking the retail community by storm with its effective and unique brand message and marketing strategies. We’d like to thank owner Chris Clark and partner Maggie Winterfeldt for their willingness to share their struggles with finding the right audience.

The post below is by Maggie Winterfeldt.

In March 2008, Chris came to me with an idea he had for a company. He was going to start a line of men’s dress socks. His reasoning was logical: dress socks had a simple business model, a relatively low price point, and a steady demand. Mostly, however, Chris saw a lack of hip men’s dress socks on the market and believed he could create a superior product to fill that void.

By September 2008, Chris had successfully formed an LLC, settled on a manufacturer, and designed and produced his first batch of Oberon socks. He had also decided that the socks would initially be sold entirely through an ecommerce website, which would eliminate overhead while serving as both a delivery channel and a branding mechanism.

With 2,400 pairs of socks in route to Charleston, SC, and less than a month until the October 1 website launch, we sat down to discuss how we were going to brand Oberon Socks. In questioning Chris about who he felt the Oberon Sock customer was, we discovered that our target market was an educated, young professional, roughly 22-27 years old. He was making money and, while not overly fashionable, was willing to invest in certain status clothing pieces such as designer jeans to impress on the weekends, but during the week he was still learning how to adapt his wardrobe to conservative corporate culture.

Our customer was essentially Chris and his friends. It made perfect sense at the time. We had recently graduated college, and our successful friends had jetted off to NYC and Charlotte after signing inflated offers with finance firms and banks where they made more money than they knew what to do with.

Thus, the initial branding was focused on our customer as a young, successful professional looking to validate his newfound career status with unique, luxury goods that distinguished him in a world of monochromatic suits. We referred to him as a “discriminating client” and described our socks as “upscale.” We aligned our product’s functionality with his lifestyle, boasting that Oberon Socks could take him “from the boardroom to the VIP room with ease” and billed Oberon Socks as “the antidote to the dull corporate wardrobe epidemic.”

We had the Oberon Sock Guy pegged.

Then, two things happened.

First, the economic bubble burst. Our Oberon Sock Guy no longer existed, or at least no longer existed as he once had. Currently unpopular or unemployed, he might still be buying designer jeans, but it now took more than an obvious logo to convince him to purchase them. The jeans had to be perfectly fitted, exceptionally comfortable, and functional enough to wear all week in order for him to spend precious severance dollars on them.

Second, the Oberon Sock Guy we had painted was not the person buying the socks.

The analytics from a small Facebook advertising exercise revealed that the most responsive demographics were 18-22 year olds. Read: college students. Additionally, the socks were being purchased as frequently by women as by men—Oberon Socks were the perfect gift for the difficult-to-shop-for husband, boyfriend, or father. Oberon Socks, we realized, were perceived as a novelty item.

The Oberon Sock Guy was actually an outgoing young man who enjoyed the uniqueness of the product and the attention it garnered in social settings. He wasn’t thinking about work or office appropriate at all. In playing up all of the socks’ upscale qualities, we had missed their most important attribute—they are fun, and that is what customers were responding to.

Since clarifying who our ideal customer is, we have refocused our marketing efforts to better speak to him (and the women who shop for him).

Advertising was the easiest thing to shift. A big change we made here was targeting women, a demographic that was not even on our radar when we began but that became very significant; for example, an advertising campaign aimed at daughters and wives yielded big sales for Father’s Day. Also, we are aiming more marketing efforts at college students whom we discovered to be some of our best customers.

Another huge step we are taking is to rewrite all of our web and promotional copy with a laidback and comedic voice that is better aligned with our customer than the grandiose language we originally used. Looking ahead, our future sock designs will be more about novelty than work wear, since we know now that that is what our customers value.

In the end, what we learned is simple: redirect your efforts toward the people who like the product instead of wasting time and money trying to attract the original group. Defining your product’s target demographic is important, but being able to adapt will ultimately lead to success.

To check out some of Oberon Socks’ great styles visit their website at or contact the team today via email at or by phone at 617.571.7327.

Feel free to share the love and send your friends and family the link to Oberon Socks. Who knows, maybe someone will buy you a pair.

How NOT to Waste Time Promoting Your Company Online

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I’m often asked, “How do you have the time to spend on social media? How do you handle client accounts and do all that blog marketing?” Or my personal favorites, the less tactful questions, “Do you ever sleep? Do you have a life?”

The world of 2.0 has created a wealth of free marketing and PR opportunities. It’s leveled the playing field—the smaller companies can compete on the same level as the big boys. PR 2.0’s user-friendly interface makes it simple for anyone to use. The problem is, this wonderful technology has delivered a healthy dose of overwhelm and exhaustion to those who use it to promote their company.

If you are struggling to find the perfect balance between promoting your brand online and spending your time wisely, you’re not alone.

The list is exhaustive: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.ici.ous, YouTube, blog writing, blog commenting, article marketing, ezine writing, and more.

Where does one begin? Where does it end? (Is your head spinning yet?)

There’s a simple remedy to wasting your time promoting your business on social media, Tweeting all day, and commenting on blogs until your fingers ache.

It’s called a strategic plan—one that you can actually implement and stick to.

My team and I are able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time for our clients and Sūmèr (and, yes, still have a life) because we operate off of a deadline-driven plan. Each week, we have objectives we need to meet, which are broken down into daily tasks.

And we batch our work. It’s amazing how many blogs you can comment on when you have a set list of blogs and do it all in one sitting. Set a timer, and don’t switch tasks until you’re finished.

Another great tip is to track your efforts. Whether you track efforts in a spreadsheet, a planner, or a word document, you’ll be able to see where your time is being spent and refine your efforts weekly.

To recap:

1) Create a plan.
2) Break goals down into easily digestible daily tasks.
3) Batch your work.
4) Track what you do and the results you get from your efforts.

Have any tips to help increase business productivity while decreasing the time you waste promoting your company online? We’d love to hear your feedback in our comments section.

Photography Meets Design: The Personal Approach to Online Marketing

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

It seems today that websites have either photographic elements or graphic design elements, but not necessarily an integration of the two. Jennifer Huffman Photography is making its mark in the website design and photography industry, incorporating photographic elements with graphic design elements for a creative and humanistic approach to online marketing.

Jennifer Huffman, photographer and owner of Jennifer Huffman Photography, brings the personal sides of businesses to life through her photographic and design elements. In an exclusive interview with Jennifer, she shares the secrets that make her designs work to facilitate a connection between the customer and the business, while expressing a clear brand message and personality.

Sūmèr: Some of your sample postcard designs and brochures are absolutely stunning. How do you so seamlessly incorporate photography with design?

Jennifer: What a nice compliment, and thank you! I’ve only just launched my new business after working in corporate communications for several years, so what you’re seeing is a giant burst of creative energy applied to new clients, purposes, and projects. I’m having a blast, and I am delighted that it translates into designs that some call stunning!

My designs are usually inspired by a photograph or collection of photographs. I try to build the design around the photos, keeping it simple while showcasing the photos. I want the images I choose to convey meaning. I aim for tight, articulate, and fresh copy, for streamlined designs that complement my photography. Ideally, all of these elements come together in marketing pieces that are memorable and hard to throw away. So far, I’m finding this is a strategy that works well for me and, hopefully, for my clients.

Sūmèr: What’s the importance of good photography on a website or print collateral?

Jennifer: With “good” photography, you can achieve, in a single photograph, what it may take a combination of fonts, symbols, and graphics to communicate. Busy consumers appreciate that, especially in the current marketplace where they are literally ducking from the barrage of images coming at them from every direction. And businesses can reap the benefits of that appreciation.

Sūmèr: What do companies need to consider before hiring a photographer to take pictures for their marketing materials?

Jennifer: Just as one would want a teacher to know his / her students or a doctor to sit and listen to a patient, great marketing starts with great conversation. When I meet with my clients, I try to find out as much as I can about their image, their mission, their vision, and their passion about their work. I need to be inspired by them—for them. Uninspired marketing pieces get thrown away, which breaks my heart a bit. But, if I can see the company as special and can communicate that through my designs, consumers will pick up on that, too. It’s a more nuanced, more human approach to marketing. I believe consumers want to know that real people, real ideas, and real exchanges are still at the foundation of every business, despite what anonymous online retailers and standardized, commercialized wholesalers may have us think. Photography can capture those nuances. 

Sūmèr: What advice would you give companies who are looking to add photography to their website—whether it be product photography for eCommerce sites, headshots for bio pages, or just anywhere on their site?

Jennifer: I don’t think you can go wrong with paying the utmost attention to detail. That single element, applied to anything but especially to marketing and photography, is key to conveying a polished, thoughtful image to clients or potential customers, regardless of the size of the company or business.

Ideally, a company would use photographs taken expressly for them, with their needs and marketing goals in mind. Anytime a company runs a photo, it is a chance to convey a thousand words in a 480×360 block of webspace. With that opportunity, it’s important to be thoughtful. Photos aren’t fillers; they are communication tools. In every way, those photos should represent the essence of your company, perhaps even more so than the text that the photos are only meant to supplement.

Sūmèr: What are the benefits of incorporating photography with design? How does it project a different brand message than a site with just photography or just design elements?

Jennifer: A single photograph can really be quite powerful. It can evoke emotions, tell a story, and reconnect the viewer with the human elements of business. That is so important today, especially for small businesses competing against the big dogs.

Another benefit to incorporating photos into design is that it can be a fairly inexpensive way to build a marketing product. My designs are simple and are meant to enhance the photography and communicate information about a business. If I were to design, from scratch, trying to create graphic elements that convey the same meaning of photographs, it would take me twice as long and cost the client twice as much.

Sūmèr: What is your favorite thing to photograph and why?

Jennifer: I don’t think there is just one thing; that’s why photography is so exciting! I adore photographing kiddos and faces. I love to shoot interactions—moments between people when they don’t think I’m watching. One of my favorite photographs is of a mother who was trying to console her newborn boy. He wasn’t excited about having his picture taken. She picked him up and started shushing him in his ear, cheek to cheek. It turned out to be a beautiful photograph, an authentic moment.

There is definitely beauty in artistically arranged photographs, the kind taken after a great deal of time spent preparing for the shoot. And there is definitely a place for that, including in my own work. But what I love the most is when life brings that same kind of beauty to me, during moments of time you can only catch by paying attention. Usually, this happens when people care for each other, and you can’t create or arrange anything for that.

About Jennifer: Jennifer Huffman Photography and Creative Services launched earlier this year after I quit my job last July as communications director for a large nonprofit in Iowa. Before that, I spent eight years in radio and television news as a reporter and writer. Two small kiddos provide me with daily inspiration and laughter, and I currently live in Des Moines, Iowa, with my incredibly supportive husband. We travel back and forth to Kansas City and St. Louis, both for my business and to see family. I’m also working toward an MFA in writing at Hamline University.

Contact Jennifer today via phone at 515.988.0646 or email her at .

Who Are You to Your Prospective Clients? The Answer May Be More Complex Than You Think.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

What do you represent to your clients? The answer has been sitting right under your nose, but perhaps you have been too busy trying to sell to actually see it or think about it. For many business owners who haven’t been seeing the results they desire, they have not truly discovered how their clients and prospective clients perceive them.

For example, if you own a travel company that specializes in family vacations, you may think that your clients view you as simply a family vacation provider. Au contraire.

When people are looking for a family vacation, they don’t view a travel company as simply a vacation provider. They view the travel company as a facilitator. In the clients’ mind, a travel company has the ability to provide their family with a time and place to spend quality time together, on a safe and fun vacation, as well as a great price for their trip. See the difference?

Your target audience isn’t coming to you because you provide family vacations—they’re coming to you because they believe you will fulfill their family bonding needs, provide them with a happy and stress-free experience, and meet their vacation standards and criteria. The more specific you are with what you are actually providing for your clients, the easier it will be to connect with them.

Here’s a challenge for you:

1. Analyze your website copy, social media site profiles, past press releases, blog posts, and print marketing materials. Are you speaking to the needs and desires of your target audience? Are you reaching deep down into what you are truly providing them? Remember that you may perceive yourself as a travel company, but that’s not necessarily how you want your prospective clients to see your company—if this is how you’re projecting your company to your target audience, you may find you have no clients.

2. If it appears you’re simply trying to make the sale and not hitting your target market’s sweet spot with your marketing materials, you may be spending tons of precious time with no results—running yourself into the ground.

3. Step back, take a deep breath, and start brainstorming. What exactly do you provide to your audience? How do you satisfy their needs?

4. Now, the trick is to touch your prospective clients with the right marketing strategies and materials. Once you’ve hit the sweet spot, you’ll start to attract more clients, build online exposure, and have a clear brand message that speaks volumes to prospective clients.

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If You Could Outsource What Would YuDu?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss has been floating around our office. As Sūmèr grows, I’ve been trying to set systems in place so I don’t work myself to death. Two weeks ago, I decided to reread this book and, this time, implement Ferris’s advice.

On a Monday, I made the decision to start delegating more. Two days later, at a networking event, I was introduced to Sarah Hays, co-owner of YuDu, a personal concierge company that helps business and individuals fulfill their daily to-do lists.

I cannot do it all. As much as I’d like to think I can, I can’t. So, I hired YuDu to help me with some business tasks and asked co-owner Sarah Hays if she’d share her expertise and services with our blog readers. Below is the interview.

Sūmèr: What benefits do YuDu’s services bring to a business?

Sarah: YuDu’s benefits to businesses are twofold. On one hand, we are an alternative to part-time or temp employment, allowing businesses to have “on demand” temporary assistance with specific jobs such as filing, invoicing, mailings, supply runs, etc. This allows more flexibility for a business that is not in a position to permanently increase the size of their staff or team. Letting YuDu perform these tasks also allows businesses to better utilize their full-time team members in other areas, such as marketing, sales, or design.

YuDu can also help a business to increase the productivity of employees by taking on their personal errands. This allows employees to focus their time and efforts on work, rather than stress over external errands. For example, YuDu can do a company’s dry cleaning run, a bank run, a Post Office run, meet contractors at employees’ (or owners’) homes to start repair projects or even obtain reliable estimates for work around the home.

Sūmèr: What’s the main struggle you see business owners dealing with?

Sarah: The main struggle we encounter with regard to business owners is time management. Many business owners have a hard time saying no, thus causing them to become inundated with places to be and things to do. As a result, some of the every day (or weekly/monthly) tasks that keep the company running are ignored. Typically, we find that entrepreneurs burn a candle at both ends. It does not take them long to realize that there are areas of their personal and professional life that simply need help. That is where we come in and help alleviate the stress and work to get things back on track.

Sūmèr: Business owners have a tendency to micromanage everything. Letting go of managing and doing specific tasks and delegating to others can be difficult, even though it’s necessary to grow a thriving business. What can you do for them to make their lives easier?

Sarah: Business owners are people, too, and we run into this problem as well with nonbusiness clients who are used to micromanaging their families’ (and even sometimes friends’) lives. Usually we find that if clients are in need of help, especially if they have a lot of tasks, it takes them some time to wrap their brain around their to-do list and explain each task. The great thing is that once they explain their tasks one time, whether in person, by phone, by email, or through our website, we can tackle the tasks without intruding much in their day. The best part, for ongoing clients, is that we work hard to learn their personalities, expectations, and likes and dislikes so that we are able to take on their to-do lists with fewer questions.

Our website and client pages also allow our clients to submit new tasks at any time as well as monitor the status of those tasks and the time it takes to do them. We know our clients are busy so this form of communication allows us to keep them abreast on what has been completed without inundating their day with nagging phone calls and updates. Ultimately, we use the clients’ preferred form of communication whether it be text, email, internet, or phone. We just like to provide them with convenient options.

Another way we make their life easier is making our service “on demand.” Clients buy a block of time (from 30 minutes to 5 hours), and as they need us, they contact us. The time does not expire, and we work in 6-minute time increments so that we can accurately fulfill the time they have purchased. By being “on demand,” clients can contact us immediately, and their tasks can usually be completed within 24 hours or less.

Sūmèr: Do people have a hard time delegating tasks to you even after they’ve hired you? If so, how do you help them cope with their decision and the work you do?

Sarah: Yes, on occasion we come upon clients who have difficulty delegating their to-do lists. Usually, we try to get them to talk a bit about what led them to contact us and take notes on different areas where we can help. Sometimes, clients are not even aware of all that we do, and they are pleasantly surprised that we can help them in so many ways. There are some people, though, who feel bad about asking someone else to do things for them. They think it reflects negatively on the type of person that they are. What I tell them is that we are really just facilitators who work to be their extra set of hands, or essentially an extension of themselves. We work to minimize the stress caused by nagging to-do lists and allow them to focus on more significant obligations in their lives, whether it’s board meetings, extra patients, or even quality time with their friends and family.

Sūmèr: What would you say to an entrepreneur who needs your help but is hesitant?

Sarah: Think about what your time is worth. Literally calculate the value of an hour of your time. Then consider your to-do list and decide which of those things is worth an hour, or more, of your time versus spending your time focusing on other priorities. You may rather spend an hour of your Saturday afternoon at the park with your kids, rather than grocery shopping. There may also be times when weekday meetings run late and your dogs have been waiting since breakfast to be let out. All clients have to do is prioritize their obligations and give YuDu a list of those things that need to be done, thus allowing them to focus on other areas of their personal and professional lives.

Sūmèr: How have your clients’ lives changed after working with you? Specifically, what do many of them say helped the most? Has it helped their business grow? What have they had more time to do because of your services?

Sarah: We received this comment from a business client of ours on Friday: “You are a life saver—who knew how much stress could be released simply by having a little helping hand? I’m already compiling a list for the next set of hours I buy! I’m recommending you to all my clients and colleagues.”

I know that this particular client had reached a point in her life where she was consumed by stress. As a local book publisher, she was trying to figure out how to best serve her current clients, manage the day-to-day stresses of her business, and still grow her company—all the while enjoying out-of-town weekends with her husband. We do simple things like mailings, local deliveries, and grocery runs that give her several extra hours per week to edit her clients’ work and make art and print decisions.  This allows her to have the extra time she needs to relax, refocus, and reenergize.

Sūmèr: What’s the oddest request you’ve ever had?

Sarah: We have not had an odd request yet. Now that we say that, I’m sure one will come our way soon! Most of our requests involve local errands (dog walking, grocery runs, mailings, meeting contractors at clients’ homes, etc.). However, every now and then we get asked to do special things such as getting estimates for a custom picture frame from local framers. We just need to make some phone calls and present the information to the client in a form that would allow him or her to make an informed decision.

We were also asked to travel with a client to Columbia to load and unload boxes/materials for an event.

Sūmèr: What area do you serve specifically?

Sarah: We cater to clients in the Charleston Tri-County area and will soon be franchising to other parts of the state and country. We will travel for local clients at their request.

Contact YuDu today at (843)972.4008  or send Sarah and Abby an email at .

Does Your Business Have the Personality of a Carrot?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Message from Michelle

September already–I can hardly believe it. My schedule is already filled with networking events, birthday parties, and fall festivals. On top of that, there’s completing client work and implementing my own marketing plan.

It’s easy to get busy. It’s too easy to get caught up in the doing. This issue of Sumèr’s Secrets is about slowing down–taking a break from the doing–and taking the time to look long and hard at your company’s brand message.

Connect With Me Online at:

Feature Article:

Does Your Business Have the Personality of a Carrot?

You might not think so, but do your prospective customers? If you want to achieve online business success and attract more clients, you must step outside of your usual realm of thinking and view your company from an outsider’s perspective. From the perspective of your target market.

Too many times businesses either neglect their brand message or don’t project it accurately. When this happens, a brand image is easily misconstrued and it can have a devastating effect on your business.

Don’t let your prospects think your company is comparable to a carrot–orange is out of style.

Here are some tips for making sure an accurate brand image is shining through in all that you do:

Step 1: Take inventory. Review your company vision and mission, what types of products / services you offer, what sets you apart from your competition, where your products / services are sold, and all the details about your target market.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to take a hard look at how you are projecting your business message. Take out a piece of paper, and answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

  1. Is your message accurate and consistent on your website, your blog, and social media sites?
  2. Are your vision and mission expressed in your messaging?
  3. Are you speaking to your target audience or at them?
  4. Would you purchase a product / service from your company based on what you see from your marketing materials?

You may be surprised to find that your message is boring–extremely boring. Or you simply aren’t conveying an accurate message.

Step 2: Don’t feel down about Step 1–your findings do not mean your company is boring or unorganized or incompetent. It simply means your marketing message is not clear and accurate. Every business should regularly analyze how they’re projecting their brand personality and message.

Step 3: Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they would purchase from you based on your current marketing message. Make sure to ask people who will give you an unbiased opinion. If anyone says that he or she would not purchase from you, ask why. Perhaps your web copy does not project the correct business image, and you lose prospective customers who visit your site. Maybe your website design is jumbled and difficult for viewers to navigate through. Perhaps your website lacks a strong call to action or is simply boring.

Step 4: Now that you know where your website and other marketing materials need improvement, it’s time to revamp them and inject some brand personality. Whether you need web design work, a professional web copywriter, a blog marketing expert, or a social media guru, it’s important to find the right one who can provide you with the results you desire. Don’t hire just anyone. Do your research.

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

Friday, 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.

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.

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Top Five Twitter Dos

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

When used properly, Twitter can be an effective tool for businesses to integrate themselves into the online community. But since Twitter is a sensitive medium, tweeting cluelessly can be dangerous.

Tweeting dangerously? Yes, it can happen. It happens all too often.

If you are constantly working to market and promote your business on Twitter, you may insult the Twitter community, and in effect, create a poor business image online. Twitter should not be used for sales pitches and for advertising—it should be used to build reciprocal connections with others in your industry, as well as your target market.

So, before actively participating in the Twitter community, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Sūmèr’s top five Twitter dos—because it might save you from Twitter rejection.

Top Five Twitter Dos:

1. Do have an account for both business and personal purposes: Twitter users like to feel that they’re interacting with a human being—not a company. Building personal connections on Twitter that also work as business connections is an excellent way to integrate yourself in the community and build working relationships. Just remember, don’t tweet about anything you don’t want known in the business and online community. Reputations can easily be tarnished if you aren’t careful.

2. Do let your personality shine through: One of the keys to success is expressing your distinct personality and showing a human side as opposed to just tweeting about your business. An effective tweet can share information, work to build relationships, or provide value to a conversation. Your personality should naturally flow out of your tweets.

3. Do follow people in your industry or those with the same interests: Following people in your industry is an excellent way to learn from each other and provide helpful feedback. For example, if you own a construction company that builds luxury custom homes, you may find it beneficial to build a relationship with several architects on Twitter. This, in turn, will increase your online exposure, boost site traffic, and possibly allow you to find an architect you’d love to work with.

4. Do listen: There is an abundance of valuable information circulating throughout Twitter, which is why listening to what others have to say is an important factor associated with successful tweeting. Listening also shows others that you aren’t simply using Twitter to post your own information—you’re interested in what others have to say.

5. Do actively participate in conversation: After you begin to get a feel for the personalities of the people you are following on Twitter, you can begin to participate in the conversation and lend constructive advice and comments. If you feel you have valuable information to share with your followers and those you follow, by all means, share the wealth. It’s a great way to illustrate you’re an active participant in industry news and updates, as well as someone who enjoys sharing helpful information with others.

Share your top Twitter dos with us. Or tell us if you agree or disagree with the above. We’d love to hear from you.

Networking: Be Aware Of Your Body Language

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

How many times have you had a meeting with someone who has made direct eye contact only 50 percent of the time?

Everyone is guilty of this at some point.

Body language is a great indicator of how a person feels about a conversation. Frowns and furrowed eyebrows can make the speaker feel as though his  message isn’t getting across or is being disagreed with. This isn’t always the case. Many times the nonverbal cues could be misinterpreted by the speaker.

Avoid body language that may discourage the person speaking with you. Make direct eye contact, keep a neutral facial expression, and give nonverbal cues, conveying that you understand what the speaker is saying, such as nodding with understanding.

Also, be aware of proper personal space. In America, a business conversation should happen about four to twelve feet apart. This space differs from country to country, so if you are planning to attend a business meeting with foreigners, it would be beneficial to observe their speaking distance before the actual meeting.

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