Cheers to a Year!

OK, I am BACKKKKK!

I know, I have been gone from blog world for a while now. I have a lot of excuses, I promise! 

First things first, I got married. yes, that is right, I got hitched on December first to the love of my life, and I officially gave up the Surname Krapfel last Friday. My new name is Sarah Beaver. My friends tell me that giving up Krapfel for Beaver is not much of a trade-off but I love him. At the very least, it is easier to spell. Below is a sneak peak of the best weekend of our lives.

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We also traveled to Argentina for 2 weeks; If you have not been, you must go once in your lifetime. The wine and red meat are the best you have ever tasted, and the snow-capped mountains in the background make for an ambiance like none other. Best of all, time together was shared and memories were made.

Then the Holidays came, and we all know that things get crazy around the Holidays. The mad dash to find the perfect gift for everyone, the decision about who’s family to spend Christmas with looms over your head, you are either stuck in a car for hours on end or a busy airport with millions of others running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you always eat way too much desert, drink way too much eggnog, and work always gets put on the back burner. I know, this makes it sound terrible. December is actually my favorite month for all of these reasons-hence why I decided to throw my wedding in the mix. I love Christmas-I love the decorations, I love the mad dash, I love the traveling, I love the families, and I love the joyous mood that hangs around most during the Holidays.

Next comes New Years, for some a Holiday that they do not look forward to, but for me, a time to reflect on the successes and failures of the last year, and set goals for the upcoming. To start fresh, whether it be at work, with your family, at the gym, at cooking, at a sport, at quitting a habit, or just to start fresh ready to take whatever comes your way. I love that about the New Year.

And that brings me to…the New Year. 2013, what is in store for Branding Bliss? What goals have I set forth for myself and my company. As we celebrate 1 year in business, there are so many things I can reflect on from the first year: my fabulous customers-I love you all!, my supportive Husband-I love you too!!, my suppliers, my friends, my luck really…But most importantly, rather than spending a lot of time in 2012, I am ready to face 2013 head on! I am ready for the challenges and successes it brings my way. I head out to Las Vegas next week for our largest Trade Show where I will attend educational sessions and visit each of my suppliers to pick up new products and trends in the industry. It is the perfect way to start off the year…and maybe I will even set a goal to BLOG more in 2013.

Stay tuned for updates from me at the show…

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Helenbach, Georgia

So it has been about a month since I wrote last. Sorry about that…life has gotten in the way! Our wedding is quickly approaching, our weekends have been a mad dash to and fro, and it seems everyone wants their promotional products yesterday! Needless to say, these are all great things, but they have put the blog on the back burner for the month of October.

Late September, Chad and I took a trip to the N. Georgia mountains, also recently known as ‘Georgia Wine Country’, although I am not sure I would brag about that if I were them. We both love our wine, and we thought this would be a fun time to go up with the leaves turning. We found a sweet little Inn that we decided to try it; This place was actually a highlight of the weekend with fresh breakfast each morning and only 11 cozy rooms. Let me preface this with the fact that we still had a wonderful weekend despite our letdown from the wine. I guess that is one way to know you have found a true partner for life, make the best of any situation and have fun!

Despite our grand plans to take a long hike on Saturday morning, we woke up to pouring rain. So after our breakfast and coffee, we decided to head into the town of Helen to check it out. What we found was unlike anything we had experienced or imagined.

 

A German town in the middle of N. Georgia. They were in full Oktoberfest celebration which helped pass the time. After touring around briefly, we posted up to listen to a little music and drink a German Beer.

 

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because this trip confirmed for me that people really will buy ANYTHING! The stores we traveled into had all kinds of “Swag” branding this town of Helen. I have never seen anything like it~even at the cheesy stores along the beach walks they don’t have this much crap. But, I guess even the town of Helen needs to brand itself…

Oh, and by the way, the wine was not very good..they still have some work to do if they want to give Napa a run for their money.

 

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Happy Holidays!

There you have it…I said it…before Thanksgiving, even before Halloween!! I said Happy Holidays!! Growing up in our house, it was considered a sin to speak of the Holidays prior to Thanksgiving. I adopted this policy as I got older, even though it got harder and harder for me as my Love for the Christmas season grew. Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Christmas!! I love everything about the season: the actual meaning of Christmas, the lighted trees, colored lights on houses, ornaments, Christmas cookies, candy canes, holiday music, Santa (yes he still comes to my house and I am 29), snow (albeit rare), cold weather (only for the month of December), family, holiday parties, I could go on forever naming why I love it! I even chose to have my wedding this December; Forever I will have the most special day of my life on the first day of December.

But why am I talking about the Holidays again? And why so early? Well, I happen to work in an industry where we are always looking 2 months ahead if not more. At least if you are not, I am! I always try to plan ahead so orders don’t get rushed (and cause me to lose sleep at night), but I am especially trying to plan ahead this year since I will be attending my own wedding and honeymoon the first few weeks of December. (Don’t fret, there will be someone standing by for me while I am gone.) It has also been my experience in the past years that stock gets low and production time gets longer and longer the closer December 25 gets, so why wait?

Holiday cards and thoughtful gifts are especially important to give to your clients during this season. Let’s be honest, everyone likes receiving a gift, and especially when it is not expected. It can be as small as a card in the mail, or as large as a custom etched bottle of wine; I encourage all of you to think Holiday early this year, and help your clients remember you as we head into 2013!

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Oh Holy City

So today I am writing not about marketing, and not about promotional products, but about the city I love to call home: Charleston, South Carolina. I was driving over the bridge this morning to pick up some of Chad’s friends from a beach house they rented on Isle of Palms (It was his Bachelor Party Weekend-and I stayed away until I was needed to taxi people to the airport Monday morning). As I drove into the sun rising over the horizon at 7:30am and saw the palm tree silhouettes against the sparkling sea as I reached the top of the IOP Connector, I fell in love with this city all over again.

My Love Affair started with Charleston years ago. Although I did not grow up by the saltwater, I quickly realized after living here a few years how much it clears my mind on a daily basis. The world could be crashing down, but yet it is nothing a walk on Sullivan’s Island, a run on the Cooper River Bridge, or a ride in the boat can’t snap me out of. This summer has been extra special because we have finally started exploring some of the treasures of Charleston that you cannot see from a car. We have traveled up and down the Intracoastal Waterway by boat as well as paddle-boarded and kayaked some of the creeks. Just when I think I have lived in this city for 8 years and seen it all, we discover something new.

I hate that sometimes I get so caught up in my everyday routine that I forget where I live until visitors are in town. I know that we live in a place that many dream of, vacation to, or never get to visit in their lifetime; I know that when I leave my house, I drive over at least one if not three bridges every single day; I know that the oysters are fresh, the beaches are sandy, and less than a mile from my house can I see water; I know that I can wear my flip-flops to a client meeting and they will understand; I know that the sunsets are unreal and the rainstorms are debilitating yet refreshing at the same time; I know that wherever I go, I will see familiar and smiling faces; And I know that Charleston will always be my Holy City.

 

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Back to school…a shopaholics dream or a marketing gimmick?

If you have been on Facebook within the past 168 hours (yes, that is 7 days), you have likely seen all the “back-to-school” photos of children dressed to the nines in their newest outfits, coolest backpacks, hair actually combed for the first time since they got out in June.  Or, You may have seen those of us that don’t yet have children complaining about the traffic on our work commute-school is back in, so half of the mother’s out there forget how to drive, school buses stop every 2 feet, and the elementary schools forgot to review the carpool line and make changes before the year started, forcing cars to back up in the street. Or, You have noticed all the stores around posting SALE signs out for “BACK-TO-SCHOOL” shopping, deals, & savings.

I can clearly remember back-to-school shopping as a child. My mom and I would pack up and drive to Charlotte, the closest decent mall to Hickory, and shop till we dropped for the hippest clothes for my back-to-school wardrobe…My fashonista self was not going to wear the styles from the previous year, even if they were still in good condition …my how I have changed now that I spend my own hard-earned $$ on clothes (My fiance jokes that I have not bought a new piece of clothing for myself in 30 years). We hit Wal-Mart on the way back in to town for notebooks, lined paper (college ruled, duh!), pencils, pens, trapper keepers, pencil boxes, etc etc etc the list was always long-I loved “office supplies” as well!

This was always something to look forward to, but I never thought about it from a marketing standpoint. I often wonder if the back-to-school marketing is necessary, or if it is $ that people will spend anyway? According to the NRF, back-to-school shopping is second only to the Christmas Holiday for dollars spent in a season. There are some interesting numbers posted as to trends in spending over the years: Where, When, What? And a quote from an article on the NRF website insinuates the sales and discounts are also attractive this year: “It’s evident that there are plenty ‘last minute shoppers’ this year and for retailers these next two weeks are of utmost importance when it comes to attracting families who still have apparel, electronics and school supplies to stock up on,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Given how much of an impact the economy is having on consumers’ buying decisions, retailers will remain competitive up through the final sale after Labor Day, rolling out web, in-store and even mobile promotions to entice children and their parents.”

Webadvantage.net had these 8 marketing tactics posted for ways to increase sales for this season:

Last Minute Online Marketing Tactics

1. Consider a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign or contextual advertising.If you’re a retailer now might be the time to roll out the back-to-school keyword focused PPC and contextual advertising campaigns.

2. Is it time for a MySpace or YouTube ad buy? Considering the primary audiences of these popular social media and networking sites, it might be worth investigating an ad buy on these sites to promote back-to-school merchandise or offers.

3. Do a back-to-school email marketing campaign. A Pew/Internet and American Life study shows that 72% of college students check email at least once a day. A back-to-school email promo with a last-minute deal or offering might be a good move.

4. Special affiliate promotions. Get your affiliates to help advertise special back-to-school promotions for products.

5. Co-marketing / co-promotion with other e-tailers. Work together with other partners or e-tailers to do co-promotions for products. For instance if you sell dorm furniture you might want to develop a promotion with a company selling textbooks.

6. Create a viral marketing campaign. Consider the success of Burger King’s viral marketing campaign that set up site where visitors could “Simpsonize” an image of themselves. Perhaps a clever video campaign or an electronics giveaway contest is a good way to drum up sales and promote your brand.

7. Advertise on coupon and deal sites. Put a back-to-school ad on sites like CouponCabin.com and OnSale.com

8. Optimize and distribute a press release. Announce a promotion or new product through a search engine optimized press release to get extra visibility online during the back-to-school season.

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Welcome Golfers, Media, Photographers, Visitors to the 2012 PGA Championship!

August also happens to be National Golf Month, how fitting that we also welcome this week over 50,000 people to Charleston & Kiawah for the 2012 PGA Championship.  Today starts the practice rounds for one of the “world’s premiere sporting events” and its first visit ever to South Carolina! We have been warned that our local economy is in for a spike this week and weekend, as golfers, their families, and visitors flood in to Charleston. Hotel rooms will be non-existent, reservations at restaurants will be scarce, and what is normally a 30 minute drive out to Kiawah Ocean Course will become a 2 hour drive. To have an event like this in our city is not only a compliment, but also a chance for us to show the world Charleston, our home.

http://soc.li/sQ9an0G

I leave you with the Top 10 Golf Products in our Industry:

Medium Optical Crystal Tee-It-Up Award w/ Base

Wilson Profile Lite Cart Golf Bag

adidas Splice Hat

Pitchfix(r) Golf Divot Tool

Chilly Pad Golf Towel

NIKE Golf Apparel UV STRETCH TECH SOLID POLO

The Potty Putter Bathroom Golf Game

Collegiate Series Premium Cabretta Leather Golf Glove

Links Travel Kit

Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls

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Food Marketing

Even the most basic of things like the food that we choose to eat everyday are subject to the marketing industry. Although it can be argued that all marketing and PR is good marketing, not all marketing is honest marketing! Be sure that when it comes to what you put in your body for fuel, you decipher between the marketing tactics and the truths!

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The Perfect Box

A recent meeting with a client got me thinking about the perfect packaging, and what exactly that entails. Does “The Perfect Box” actually exist, and if it does, what is it?

I started doing some research for the specific project and came across an article written a few years ago about the Tiffany’s Blue Box.

The packaging for this high-end jewelry store has not changed since the start of the company. The consistency with which Tiffany’s uses this color and this package no matter what the purchase has created what could be called the “Tiffany’s Experience.” Not only do you know that something special inside the box awaits, but also the act of receiving the box itself is an event, and a fun one at that!

An excerpt from an article on The Tiffany’s Box states:

” Tiffany’s iconic robin’s egg blue box, the Cartier red box or the Hermés orange box often make the receiver happy before they even look inside.  The Tiffany box seems to inspire the most devotion with people eager to get their hands on it.  “All the time people come in and ask for boxes,” says Tom Carroll, a regional vice president with Tiffany. ”

So, the key to the perfect box? I guess what goes into it always helps create the experience, but branding is a large part as well. Create something that is recognized without the name, and stick to it! Don’t change packaging over and over based on different products or offerings, or color trends. People will come to know your package as something larger than just a box.

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Oh Summer, I love you!

Today marks the office start of summer, the ‘Summer Solstice’ some of us like to call it. It is also the longest day of the year, which in Charleston today, means 15 hours of sunshine for us to soak up!

Thankfully, one of our customers, The Gusto Group, has planned a fantastic event on the heels of the Summer Solstice, so that hopefully this Saturday will bring 14.85 (close to 15) hours of sunlight for enjoying the Charleston Beer Garden.

As many of you know, Charleston has become quite the mecca for craft beers over the past few years; what can we say? We live in a beautiful city and we like to drink beer! Also on the rise is the food truck scene, which will also be represented at the event Saturday. So if for no other reason but to enjoy the sunshine and the Ashley River, get your tickets today and head out to the Charleston Beer Garden, Saturday June 23rd, at Brittlebank Park.

You can get your tickets HERE!

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