Good Bye February

February – Boy, has it been a hard, long month. With the U.S. covered in so much snow it has been like the world has come to a standstill. Less orders, less phone calls.  It has been a very wild ride for us here this month. We are hoping that March will be a more eventful month and that with the coming of Spring, our customers will start to think about engaging with their customers through the use of promotional items and corporate gifts. – I know that a lot of companies are feeling the same way. Each day I get an email from one of the organizations we belong to, and this month’s theme has been a “pep talk”.  Today’s email started out like this:  “Yes, there is magic in positive thinking.
The key to cultivating and maintaining a positive mental attitude is to take control of your thinking and avoid negative minded people. It's a challenging task to develop a calm, focused mind, but well worth the effort.”

 

If you think about this, it makes a lot of sense. Sometimes it is hard when so many negatives start coming at you at once. But if you just use the mindset that everything happens for a reason and use each set back as an opportunity for growth, in the end your attitude will get better and before you know it, your world will be rosy and bright. – Here is a thought that that same email left us with yesterday – and I like this thinking: The great inventor, Thomas A. Edison, was known for his positive mental attitude. In December 1914, the Edison Laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, was almost entirely destroyed by fire.


 Edison lost $2 million in equipment and the records of much of his life's work. The morning after the fire, as the 67-year-old inventor walked among the ashes, he was anything but defeated. Looking around, he remarked, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." Yes, there is magic in a positive attitude.
  

Corporate Gifts: Engraved Wine Glasses vs. Imprinted Wine Glasses

Why the proper shape of the glass makes drinking wine more pleasurable - Part 2 of 2

Shapes:
The shape of the glass is also important, as it concentrates the flavor and aroma to emphasize the wine's characteristic. The shape of the glass directs the wine itself into the best area of the mouth from the varietal.

 

Traditionally wine glasses have stems. A new trend in wine glasses is the "stemless" wine glass which comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. The Riedel – O wineglass has made this style a household item.

For most casual wine drinkers wine glasses can be divided into three types: red wine glasses, white wine glasses, and champagne flutes. Wine tumblers, like the Riedel – O (without stems), are also popular and are made for red, white and champagne.

 

Materials:
Wine glasses made of fused or cut glass can create a rough, thick lip, from which it is not as pleasurable to drink out of. Blown glass results in a better wineglass, with a thinner wall and a 'sheer' lip, and is usually required to impress non casual wine drinkers. These glasses are usually made of crystal or lead crystal. Lead crystal glasses' advantages are primarily aesthetic, having a higher index of refraction, thus changing the effect of light passing through them. They are also heavier. Since the advent of California's Proposition 65 rule it is required to label all glasses containing lead when shipping into the state of California.

Red Wine Glasses: Glasses for red wine are characterized by their rounder, wider bowl, which increases the rate of oxidization. Red wine glasses also have particular styles of their own, such as:
Bordeaux: tall with a broad bowl, and is designed for full bodied red wines like Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot as it directs wine to the back of the mouth.
Burgundy: broader than the Bordeaux glass, it has a bigger bowl to accumulate aromas of more delicate red wines such as Pinot Noir. This style of glass directs wine to the tip of the tongue.

 

White Wine Glasses:
White wine glasses vary enormously in size and shape, from the delicately tapered Champagne flute, to the wide and shallow glasses used to drink Chardonnay. Different shaped glasses are used to accentuate the unique characteristics of different styles of wine. Wide mouthed glasses function similarly to red wine glasses, promoting rapid oxidization which alters the flavor of the wine. To preserve a crisp, clean flavor, many white wine glasses will have a smaller mouth, which reduces surface area and in turn, the rate of oxidization. In the case of sparkling wine, such as Champagne or Asti Spumante’, an even smaller mouth is used to keep the wine sparkling longer in the glass.

 

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Corporate Gifts: Engraved Wine Glasses vs. Imprinted Wine Glasses

Wine Glasses 101: Part 1 of 2
Over the years CEShoppes has worked very hard to become a premier provider of decorated wine glasses. As part of this endeavor we have provided decorated stemware to clients for all manners and scales of events. Needless to say we get a lot of questions involving the etiquette and best methods of decorating wine glasses. This is a short intro to using wine glasses for events and as corporate gifts.

Types of Decorating Wine Glasses and Decanters:
Traditionally wine glasses have been engraved with monograms, commemorative date and names, such as weddings and anniversaries and more recently corporate logos. Wine glass engraving or 'etching' is accomplished by covering the glass with a 'mask' or 'film pattern', then 'sand is 'blown'" against the surface. Wherever the glass is not protected by the masked pattern, it becomes "etched" or engraved where the sand strikes the surface. This procedure is different than metal etching techniques where the surface is covered with wax or resin, a design scratched into it and the material immersed into acid. The third method of glass etching is actually a form of engraving. The operator imprints the pattern or design on glass with a high speed drill and uses a fine, steel bit to engrave the decoration or text. The drill can be used freehand, but is usually done with the aid of a stencil guide in order to trace over a pattern or design.

Wine glasses normally are 'engraved' when the value of the glass is above $5.00 and in smaller quantities or as special gifts. Wine glasses can also be imprinted with ink and is a less expensive method of decoration, which is why it is used for less expensive stemware and when it is necessary to decorate a large number of glasses with an identical logo or message. It is important to note that most commercial stemware decorators have a special color ink that is used for imprinting stemware to 'look' like it is engraved or 'frosted'. This method is very popular for decorating stemware for events and gives the stemware an upscale look. Because the process is priced per color it also allows the wine glass to be decorated on both sides at no extra charge, one for the event name and the other side for a date or sponsor logo or name. This process is called 'satin imprinting' or 'satin etch', even though it is not actually etching or engraving the wine glasses.

 

Next Installment: Part 2 of 2 - Why the proper shape of the glass makes drinking wine more pleasurable.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 4 How to Raise Money Now for your Business

This was a very interesting class. It has always mystified me how some people can just get financing for their business before they even start and some can’t even get financing after they have been in business for many years. Asheesh Advani, Owner/CEO at Addwin Holdings, helped to make sense of it all in his hour long seminar.

This presentation was not really a how-to seminar, but more of a why are you doing it, and what to expect when you do borrow money.  

Take Away Points:

·    Raising money at heart is making promises we feel good about and dealing with the consequences.

The gentleman behind me in the seminar learned this the hard way. He borrowed over $3million from friends and family and lost it all. He was upset that there was emotional impact from borrowing, in that many of those same people are no longer speaking with him.

·    Look to family and friends first if you need to raise less than $100K

·     Try to get smaller increments from a lot of people rather than1 person for the total amount.

·     When borrowing less than $25K, investors are more patient about getting paid back than those with more than $25K invested

·     When trying to borrow from family and friends: EDUCATE them on your product or service, don’t try to sell them. Sit down and explain it to them, show them a sample get them excited with you.

·     Structure a repayment plan for small investors rather than giving them a piece of your company.

·     Don’t look for venture capital unless you need to raise more than $500K

·     Never cold call an Angel Investor or VC – get an introduction first

·     Don’t present to either type of investor unless you have spoken to at least 3 other firms who have presented to them first so you can get a feel for what they are expecting from you in a presentation.

Overall, the entire Growth 2.0 conference was an incredible experience and I am looking forward to next year’s event.

 

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 3 Internet Power Marketing

The night before this class I said to DJ, “I bet we can teach tomorrows class on internet power marketing”. We have built websites since 1996 and get great results in organic search. We have heard many of the classes that our industry has taught on internet marketing and in most of those instances; – yes, we could have taught those classes with our eyes shut.  - However, Starr Hall is not your average internet power marketer. We were not prepared for the wealth of information she bestowed upon us in the 75 minutes she had with us. Starr is a powerhouse! She started off telling us how she, as a child used to help her grandmother at tradeshows. She actually was told to “Trip” attendees to get them to stop at their booth!

Whether you are a large or small business you need to have a policy and procedure for social networking. You need to have a plan with goals defined – How can you drive from California to Michigan if you don’t have a map? The same is said about social marketing. – I had never thought about a policy and procedure manual, but it makes sense. We have one for the business, so why wouldn’t we have one for social networking. This policy lays out guidelines for your employees as to what they can and cannot say. – Sometimes what they can and cannot say on their own social networking sites too. You want to increase your company’s exposure, but you don’t want to do it in a negative way. If an employee is posting about the wild crazy parties they go to every night and how hung over they are at work three days a week, it looks bad on your company image. So these guidlines should be spelled out in your manual.

Starr also talked about how to build responses in to your social plan and how to handle negative reviews. At some time in your company history, you will get negative reviews, and how your company handles them out in the social sphere will be very important to how your company is perceived. If you document how to answer these problems before they come up, you won’t be reacting, you will be proactive in your approach.

She also recommends setting goals for social media and this requires you to measure everything. How many emails you receive and  how many sales you produce from it, etc. Constantly try new things and measure the feedback. Find the places your company fits in and become a part of that community. You don’t need to be on every single social networking site. Your company won’t fit all of these sites, so seek out the ones that do and don’t worry about the ones that don’t.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 2 Building your Brand

After Jay Levinson spoke on Guerilla Marketing we broke out in to sessions. There were a total of 4 speakers on various business related topics per session- and three sessions throughout the day. The amazing thing about each class, there was standing room only! The first session I attended was about Building your Brand to Build Your Business. Normally, in the past when I have attended education sessions at industry tradeshows you get the same old ideas, just rehashed in a new fashion or not, but really it is the same old, same old and you are not incredibly inspired, like I was after the Growth 2.0 Conference.

It might be because industry tradeshows focus on the business you are in – You end up getting a narrow view of what is happening in your corner of the universe and lose sight of the much bigger picture. I think this is why a couple of years ago DJ and I started to attend events that were not industry related, but business related. In doing so, a new world opened up to us. The branding session was taught by Susan Gunelius, President of KeySplash Creative, Inc.

Susan’s main approach to us was to remind us that your brand is NOT a logo, your company colors, your products, a slogan or a company. A brand is a promise that sets expectations, and to your customers- meets those expectations in every consumer interaction and experience. A brand is how your customers feel about your company and she used some brands as examples. If you think of these three automotive brands, a single word comes to mind when they are said: Toyota – reliable, BMW- performance, KIA- inexpensive. She asked us to find out what our customers think of when they say our company name. How do they feel our company lives up to our promises and the way we consistently present ourselves? That is a very good question.

 

Feel free to post an answer to help us better understand what we should be doing to make CEShoppes a brand in your eyes.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 1 Guerilla Marketing

They say that you learn something new every day. So, I will tell you that I received a year’s full of learning last Tuesday at the Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference in Miami. It all started with breakfast and then an hour long talk with Keynote Speaker Jay Conrad Levinson, Chairman of Guerilla Marketing International. His ideas and his enthusiasm for the entrepreneur were just invigorating. He spoke about the difference between traditional marketing and guerrilla marketing and why guerrilla marketing works without spending a lot of money.  - One thing that I always wondered about and he made clear was that traditional marketing always measures sales performance. But the real truth of how a business is doing is measured by PROFITS –

In our industry, once a year a list of Top 40 companies is published listing their gross sales. I wonder how many of these top companies would be there if they showed NET PROFIT instead. I always thought that it was a crazy idea to rate companies on how much they sold. – It sounds good to say you sold $100million last year, but if you sold $100million and you lost $25million in the process, what makes your company better than mine, when I show a profit instead of a loss?  Mr. Levinson’s way of thinking makes much more sense.

He also talked about social media and how to embrace it as part of your marketing. No one thing, not television, nor newspapers, nor direct mail alone will grow your business. You need to use a combination of things to keep you in the public eye, as well as social marketing. And not just continually posting things about you, but really “Listen” to what is being said out there and contribute by engaging and participating in the conversation, so your marketing becomes a dialogue not a monologue.