Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Five Favorite Social Media Posts

Here's a round up of my top five favorite articles on social media that I've read this week:

What's your favorite marketing tip? Share below! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blogging for Growth

My current focus in recent weeks has been to increase my blog presence as well as my Facebook fans.  I've spent much of my "down time" reading about blogging techniques and ways to increase my Facebook fanbase. I realize these need to be long term goals, as it can take time to increase one's social media crawl when everyone else it playing in the same sandbox.

So I thought it might be good to spend some time talking about what I have found to work for me, to share my "oops", and to chat with you about your successes, your challenges, and your questions.

Let's get the conversation started, beginning with blogging!

Recently, I completed as redesign of my blog. From the beginning, I used a template - don't we all? I loved the look, but knew it wasn't "mine." My sweetie gave me a new monitor for Christmas, and I love the more rectangular look. So a couple of months ago I began playing with new backgrounds. I don't know what I'm using now is the best, but here are a few things I've learned:

Make sure you're using a design that works with your brand. If you have graphic design skills or can afford a designer, create a cohesive look between your blog, your website, your logo, and all your marketing materials.

Use plenty of white space! We have so much distraction in our
lives, and people find simple designs more refreshing these days. I know we're all advised to use our sidebars for ads, calls to action, subscriptions, etc. But take some time to review what websites and blogs you like. Chances are most of them use their space well with plenty of visual breaks. While you're at it - make sure you're using a light background rather than a dark. I know it's not "artistic" but will be much more engaging for your audience.

Experiment with your settings. My sweetie gave me a new monitor for Christmas, and I love the more rectangular look. I suddenly became more aware of how my newsletter and my blog looked on the new monitor. As technology evolves and old monitors and television sets are being replaced, more and more people are using the more rectangular look. It's time to expand your settings to accommodate these changes. By the way - I found I also needed to increase my font size to keep up with the new design.

Move some of your sidebar items to page tabs. Like most, I had a widget for my Etsy shop and my Pinterest boards. I began to think about my sidebar items as "advertisements" and my page tabs as my website. So I changed things up a bit. My page tabs are more "about me" and ways to move my visitors deeper into my "website". My sidebar items are true advertisements (click here for advertising opportunities!) or calls to action for subscription management, etc.

Always, always, always create your settings for pages other than your own to open in a new window. The goal with any website, and your blog, should be to retain your audience for as long as possible. When you allow a new page to open over yours, you lose the opportunity for someone to stick around. When your viewer is done looking at the other page and closes it, he will come back to yours, and hopefully take some time to see what other great information you have!

Over the past few weeks, I've developed other techniques to increase new visitors, subscribers, and content. I've also found challenges to writing content, to finding advertisers, and to marketing my blog. Goals include writing content for my customer base, writing e-books for download, and always, increasing my subscribers.

What are your successes? What have been your challenges? What are your goals? I'd love to discuss these in the upcoming weeks, as we're all in this journey together! Please comment below with your questions or successes, or email me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Advertising and Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available!

My blog is growing, and now is your opportunity to benefit!

I am now accepting advertising opportunities, such as those you can see on the right panel. Expand your audience by getting in front of mine!

Why advertise here? 

We currently average over 2,500 views per month and we continue to grow!! Posts are continually promoted using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon. Using additional media outlets allows us to spread the word about your products or website past the pages of this blog.

Advertising here will target an audience which is curious to discover something new, unique, and inspiring. We offer different options for your advertising needs. Having limited space for ads assures you great exposure regardless of your budget.

Current Advertising Opportunities 

Ads can be linked either to your blog or to your product or shop. All paid advertisers are eligible for one complimentary feature similar to our Etsy shop review.  

Banners: We have the following sizes available:

  • 4 spaces for 150 x 150 30-day Shop Ad
  • 4 spaces for 150 x 150 Buy One Get One Free!

*We are currently offering a FREE 30 DAY BLOG/WEBSITE SWAP AD. Basically, we would love to swap ads with other bloggers. It's super simple, we put your ad on my blog for a month, and you put our ad on your blog for a month. We think it's a great way to show support to all the fantastic blogs out there! 

  • $5 — Buy Now
    Buy one, get one!150 x 150
    Only 4 left! Starts May 8. Introductory offer! Buy one month ad spot, get one month free!  Ad will run for 60 days, 4 shown at a time.
  • $1 — Buy Now
    Blog Ad Swap150 x 150
    Only 1 left! Starts May 8. This is for a BLOG 'ad swap' space. Basically I display your button on my blog and you display my button on your blog. Use the promo code SWAP to get it for free.  Ad will run for 30 days, 4 shown at a time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your Blog: Connecting Your Marketing Content

Like most bloggers, I work to find ideas for content. Like most bloggers, I work to find ways to bring additional readers to my blog. And like most business owners, I work to find ways to connect all my marketing content.

So I had a V-8 moment last week when I came across an idea on how to combine all three.

Add your electronic newsletters to your blog.

Like I said - a V-8 moment.  You know, the way you slap yourself on the forehead when you realize the obvious is right in front of you.

Last fall I wrote a series of posts about how to develop your newsletter content, how to create your electronic newsletter, and how to market your newsletter and yourself. I truly don't know why it did not occur to me to add my newsletter to my blog.

I wish I could find the article I had read which gave me the idea. Prior to writing this post, I spent an hour looking in the usual places where I store similar gems I find. But alas, it's nowhere to be found. So, without that article as my resource, I'll give you a few reasons why I think adding your newsletter to your blog is such a great idea:

  • Most newsletters are written with customer-friendly content. Most blogs (this one included) struggle with writing content that is customer-specific. Adding your newsletters to your blog enables your customers to search your "archives" in an easier format to learn more about your and your product. 
  • As your customers spend more time "in" your blog, the more they learn about your.  Think about it - your newsletter represents how your product and your brand have evolved. The more your customers learn about you, the more making a purchase from you is a personal decision, rather than a business decision.
  • Past newsletters give your customers a glimpse into your future. For example, I have featured Strawberry scents as the Fragrance of the Month for the past two years in June. What are the odds I'll over it again this year? This can help your customers plan their future purchases.
  • Your newsletters and your blogs can support each other, driving content from one to the other. In addition to linking your products in your newsletter back to your shop, your newsletter can link to your blog for more information. Again, try to keep your customers' attention as long as possible.
  • Adding newsletters together with the appropriate tags can help optimize your search engine results. Aren't we always looking for ways to do that?
So, in the spirit of transparency, click here to view my April newsletter! Seriously, you'll soon see my blog updated with a link to all my past electronic newsletters. I challenge you to do the same!

Happy sales!


P.S. - I'll add the link to the article I read with more information....just as soon as I find it!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Customer Loyalty Programs

As a small business owner, I'm always looking for additional opportunities to market my business, aren't you? And the easier and less expensive the better. But finding those opportunities is a challenge.

We all know it costs more to gain a customer than it does to retain a customer.  But if you sell a product that people don't really need, how do you get that customer to keep coming back to you?

Not long ago, I decided to implement a customer loyalty program. It took a few weeks before I settled on the right product. According to Hubspot, the most common loyalty programs are:

1.) Points systems. We're all familiar with these - we walk into our favorite coffee shop and are offered a frequent purchase card which is stamped or punched with every purchase. Or the purchased dollars equate into points to be converted to a free item. This can be difficult for business like most of your who read my blog - selling with stores utilizing online marketplaces.

2.) Tiered reward systems. This program expands the point system by offering one level of reward for, say, 50 points, another level of reward for 100 points, etc.  Still difficult to coordinate for the small business with limited time and resources.

3.) Upfront fee for VIP benefits. I recently purchased some kind of card from Staples for some kind of reward. Does my ambivalence show through here? Again, not a program for me.

4.) Non-monetary rewards for customer values. You've heard the sale - for every $x in sales, y number of trees are planted. Honorable, but not for me.

5.) Partnerships. Specifically, this article referenced Twitter campaigns, but my favorite comparison is a local company which offers, this week, free tickets to the Disney Ice Capades for an estimate. Hmm.

6.) Games. McDonald's Monopoly anyone?

7.) None. Offer a quality product and customer service with the sale, and loyalty will follow.

I'm sure most of you, my loyal readers, feel you choose strategy #7. And I hope each of you does offer a quality product and exceptional customer service. But I wanted to do something more.

So last fall I began a Refer A Friend program. The steps for me are easy enough to implement:

1.) Identify customers who have made their second, or more, purchase. For you Etsy sellers out there, these customers are easy enough to identify - a little star is placed by his name in your sold orders log. For my non-Etsy customers, I can easily identify them with the auto-type feature in my database.

2.) Create referral cards. Use the products you have on hand. I happened to have on hand folded business cards, but I could easily use regular business cards as well.  For gifts, I have a card I enclosed into a coin envelope easily found at your local office supply store which I've stamped "Thank You." Using these business cards and thank you envelopes, no additional supplies were necessary.

3.) Create a unique coupon code. I have a simple formula of customer initials and year.  So "DN2013" is my personal coupon code. This allows me to track when the code has been used. I offer a 15% discount to a new customer who has been referred, as well as a 15% discount to my referring customer.

4.) Include the card with my customer's order!

This program has worked well for me. I have a way to thank every customer for his/her return purchase with a method which encourages him/her to spread the word about my product and to reward him when he does!

After working with the program for nearly nine months, I have the following recommendations for anyone interested in implementing such a program:

  • Use what supplies you have on hand. I know many of you order your business cards through online printers, so perhaps this option isn't for you. But most of you have a printer and scissors and can easily print something using a postcard template on colored paper. Even cheaper - write a personal note on the invoice/packing slip!
  • Offer a discount substantial enough to make it worthwhile to your customer and his friend. I could probably even go up to 20% and my logic is this - it costs more to gain a new customer. Why not pass those savings on to your customers? You'll possibly gain a sale you would not have received otherwise, and your customers will appreciate your gesture! 
  • Measure your results. Let me repeat - measure your results. Give yourself plenty of time - one quarter is not long enough. Maybe the coupon code, which is your most tangible means of measurement, isn't used as frequently as you'd like. But do your customers come back? Honestly, I've only had a handle of customers make referrals that I can track from the coupon. But I've seen these customers return, and I truly believe it's the "something that makes them feel special" which helps them remember me when they want to purchase a similar product.
I know there are sometimes fears about offering coupons or sales. My wisdom is - don't be afraid! I know the mental calculations of "loss" of revenue or cash flow, but those losses are nothing compared to the loss of a sale, or the loss of returned sale!

Do any of you offer loyalty programs? What works for you? What would you like to do but just haven't been convinced to take the plunge?

I love to hear from you!

Happy sales,


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Writing a Newsletter, Part One

I first began D'Lites by Dorene over a year ago, and my first marketing piece was my newsletter.  Today, my newsletter remains my primary marketing initiative.

Why?  In this day of social media, why would I spend my precious few available hours writing a newsletter?

My answer is that in this day of social media, a newsletter is more important than ever.

Consider the following:

1.) Emails still grab the attention of the reader.  According to this post by Step-by-Step Marketing:
  • Email has three time as many readers as Twitter and Facebook.
  • You're able to reach an older audience (translation, audience with more disposable income) with email who aren't on social media channels.
  • Your newsletter is in their email box, not "out there" in Never Neverland.
  • Email is still the method by which most people prefer to receive information.
  • More people are accustomed to buying through an email medium than through Facebook or other social media. (Isn't this what it's all about?!?)

2.) Emails provide a way for you to "talk" to your customer, to your buyers, to your constituents. Yes, obviously, I blog. And yes, I tweet. Your blogs should be a medium for customers, buyers, and others to get to know you personally.  Tweets are a way for the world to get to know you in 140 characters or less.  But a newsletter is a way for you to communicate professionally to your audience.  Your newsletter can be one page, two pages, or however many you choose to publish.  You are limited only by your creativity and your budget.  I like to use my newsletter to give in depth information about my fragrance of the month, about the growth of my business to those who have watched me grow, and to provide an updated listing of products and fragrances available.  

3.) Newsletters can easily become printed promotional materials.  I take my newsletters everywhere I go.  The printed copies go to my stores, craft shows/farmer's markets, are mailed to customers who aren't on my email distribution list, and are included in my orders.  What better marketing tool than to include information about my upcoming products with an order being distributed? Think about something you've received by mail order. What is included? Almost every order from mainstream companies include promotional materials.  Set yourself apart from the rest, or include yourself in their world, by including marketing materials of your own!  If the customer loves my product and my packaging (which I hope she/he does), she/he has the immediate opportunity to learn more about other products by perusing my newsletter! 

In essence, newsletters need to be a primary focal point of your marketing.  You only need to write a newsletter once a month, and the mileage you can gain from them is well worth the input.  In upcoming posts, I'll be addressing issues of how to write a newsletter, how to publish an online newsletter, and how to grow you newsletter list.  Please comment below on what you'd like to learn about writing a newsletter, about how to fit it into your already packed schedule, or how to use a newsletter for marketing outreach. 

Till then,

Happy sales!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Consignment Selling Lessons Learned, Part 1

You have a product you know is quality....friends help you and buy a have a few online sales...and then what? The business side of your brain knows you need volume sales in order to make a profit, and the realist side of you wonders how in the world you're going to make that happen....when, lo and behold, a retail opportunity presents itself to you.

To the "outside" world, it's retail. To the business owner, it's....gulp....consignment.

Many products actually make their way to market via the consignment path.  There's nothing wrong with that.  However, just as with any business practice and venture, there are best practices.  While I certainly am not in a position to give you best practices with regard to consignment selling, I can certainly share a few lessons I've learned over the past year my products have been in consignment stores:

1.)  Visit the store.  Does it bring in the type of customer who would buy your product? Does your price point fit with the other products? Visiting the store is my first decision making factor.  Before you commit to a consignment arrangement, take some time to visit the store, to see the other products being sold, and to watch the customer base.  Is the owner in it for the long haul?  Will your product "fit" with others being sold? Do the customers coming through the door fit your existing customer base?  Don't be afraid to say no at this point - for the good (on this point) the burden is on you. 

2.) Understand the pricing model.  Not every consignment contract is alike.  I've been in five stores, all with a variety of contracts from straight booth rent, to straight commission.  In one store, it's my responsibility to pay sales tax; in another it was an expectation to contribute to the marketing budget. Each contract arrangement is unique to the store but should still provide an overall profit.  Which leads to price....

3.) Your prices don't have to be the same in every store, but they should be in the same range. Since every store will have it's unique contract arrangement, you made need to adjust your prices accordingly in order to retain the profit margin. In my case of candles, I don't have the volume of a large national chain in which my sales would justify a $14.95 price point for the same product in Kohl's, Walmart, or Target. However, if a customer is shopping my product from store to store, the range of $16.50 to $18.00 for the same item feels reasonable.

4.) Don't expect the venue to do the selling for you. Some consignment ventures are established on strong business models, but not all.  Not all consignment ventures have a strong marketing budget.  While I don't pay to advertise my products in a retail environment, I do use social and electronic media to promote what's new in each store or to support their social media marketing efforts.  Because they did not buy your product to resell, you are the one taking the risk and should bear a portion of the burden for the sale.

That's a lot for one post! I'll follow up on the rest of the lessons I've learned from consignment selling in a later post.  I welcome you to post your feedback and experiences below.

Until then,


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