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The Gift Professional's Guide to Building Long-Lasting Business

the report

In this issue www.basketwhiz.com

MARCH/APRIL 2011 $12.00


Do we cut back or push forward?

, s n o i s i c De cisions... de

In a down market, you can't afford to fall off of your customers radar by cutting back on your advertising, especially in an industry trade publication, like 'The Basket Whiz Report'. In fact, trade magazine readership actually increases when times are tight. Gift professionals are aggressively in search of new products or reconnect with familiar products.

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Space for Sale!

Visit www.BasketWhiz.com to place your ad order for future issues!

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Space for Sale! Visit www.BasketWhiz.com to place your ad order for future issues!

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Table of Contents

March/April 2011 4

8

Marketing Feature

3

Tough Call

4

WhizBang Training

7

Money Matters

8

Business Resources

10

SEO in the first Place

12

Industry Hint

14

Cover Story

16

Sales Feature

20


Table of Contents

2

12

14

22

24 Smart Business Favorites

22

Balancing Act

24

In the Mix of things

26

Socially speaking

30

Business systems

32

Marketing class 101

34

Vendor Spotlight

36

Conventions and Trade Shows

38

Pearls of Wisdom

38

Spot Article

40

Notable Notes

44


Editor’s Note

the report

DIRECTORY Editor-In-Chief & Publisher Kimberly Cole kimberly@basketwhiz.com Chief Financial Officer Jerry Cole Contributing Editors Carmelita Collier Shirley Tolbert Anissa White

Well here we are on the tip of spring and The Basket Whiz Report is bursting into bloom with its second edition. It is a wonderful feeling when spring is in the air, and for those in the gift basket business it is the start of what should be and is anticipated to be a very busy season. Throughout the pages of this edition you are going to find many informative articles to help your business flourish, and make this spring a most memorable and profitable one. So go ahead and give yourself a breath of fresh air and some time to relax by enjoying the contents that we offer you here. We hope that this edition of The Basket Whiz Report will help you shake off the winter blues, and fill you with the excitement and zest that being part of the gift basket industry is all about!

Art Director We are excited to announce that James Hartier, of TwistedBasket Paolo Dela Rosa (www.TwistedBasket.com) has joined us to offer designs in our Industry Hint column—for those that have not had the opportunity to know Advertising Team him—James, is the absolute most generous person! :). James is also the advertising@basketwhiz.com featured gift basket company. In the cover story we learn a lot about James’ background and we see why he seems to have an eye for design. Staff Writers We will also learn from our Vendor in the spotlight, burton +Burton Jim Aldrich (www.burtonandburton.com), how they have managed to ride the Lori Boswell “recession wave”...for the second time. Lynn Keeler Rodolfo N. Lentejas, Jr. We also want to thank all of the emails and calls we received after our Rikki MacCuish premier issue. All of your words were very encouraging and a sign SL Ruffdan that we are moving in the right direction to help those in our industry prosper in all facets of their business. Guest Writer James Hartier Kimberly Cole, MBA Editor in Chief/Publisher Industry Hint Designer The Basket Whiz Report James Hartier www.basketwhiz.com

The Basket Whiz Report, a Division of The Confetti Group, LLC 2214 Main Street, Porterdale, GA 30014 is published 8 times a year (6 regular issues and 2 bonus issues). One year subscriptions are free to companies in the industry and $39.95 to non industry subscribers. The Basket Whiz Report is a digital publication that is delivered by email on the 15th of the issue month. COPYRIGHT © 2011 BY THE CONFETTI GROUP, LLC. All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be stored or reproduced without permission from the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to The Confetti Group at: thebasketwhizreport@basketwhiz.com or call: 1-866-635-9990.


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1


Words to Motivate and Inspire

Each day brings with it new opportunities, new discoveries, and new challenges. As a business owner, you should get excited about the daily possibilities that exist for you and your business. Do your best not to be afraid of tomorrow. Instead of letting the fear of tomorrow’s unknowns cause you to retreat, use that nervous energy to grab a hold, to dig deeper, to tackle, and to overcome. Think of each tomorrow as a precious gift. In it may be exactly what you need to make your business better and better.

Ad Space for Sale Readership: Gift Basket Companies Florists Event Planners Wedding Planners Gift Shops Balloon Designers Gourmet Food Shops 2

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Marketing Feature

Getting the Most For Your

Marketing Dollars

By: Lynn Keller

How to utilize all that you are paying for in your marketing campaigns, and how to make use of the freebies. A smart and successful business person never loses sight of how to get the most for their marketing dollars. Successful marketing starts by implementing one of the segments of the business systems, which is building the marketing portfolio. Then once this is in place the comparison marketing shopping must begin.

So then this means you want to find a company that can get your links to the top sites. Be sure to hire a company, who is experienced in helping you to get linked with top social media sites. It may cost you a bit more to hire the services of a top notch link building firm, but in the long run you are going to be getting more for your marketing dollars.

This means that for every marketing dollar you are going to spend, you need to determine where are you going to get the best results for the least amount of money. Let’s look at an example for this.

Then there are some marketing services that you can take advantage of that are not as time demanding and you can do yourself. These will also give you marketing exposure without it costing you anymore than a little of your time. For example, writing some As part of your online marketing planning, no doubt informative articles and submitting them to major you have learned from your market analysis that you free article directories. Add to this some well written need to reach the online social media. This can be a press releases, where there are also free submission long and daunting task and your time may be better sites. Then there is some blog posting you can do as spent elsewhere. If this is the case, then you may well. want to use the services of a company that will get your online business listed on all the major social You will soon discover many small marketing media sites. freebies that you can take advantage of. By setting just a few hours aside each week to spend on these, The first step to get the most for your marketing you will soon find that it helps to compliment your dollars here would be to educate yourself. What are major marketing campaigns in a significant way. • you going to get from this expenditure? You first need to know what it is you want. In this case you want to have contact with the major most popular social media sites.

FREE PRESS RELEASE SUBMISSION SITES www.prlog.com www.prfree.com www.pressreleasecirculation.com

FREE ARTICLE DIRECTORIES www.ezine.com www.articlebase.com

www.BasketWhiz.com The Basket Whiz Report

3


Tough Call By: Lynn Keller

Being Compared to the Big Box Retailers Throughout the life of your business, you are always going to be faced with tough situations which just simply won’t go away until you address them. One of these is going to be that group of customers who compare what you have to offer with what the “big guys” offer, like the large department stores and bargain chains. Here is a common scenario of this particular circumstance.

in such as sports or hobbies, and learns the young fellow is a hockey buff. Judy then proceeds to show the customer a selection of perfect gift baskets for this boy.

Judy S. has a gift basket business that caters to unique children’s gift baskets. These baskets come in a variety of sizes and for different age groups. Her first customer of the morning is a lady looking for a gift for an 8 year old boy.

So how does Judy respond to this? Here are several responses that Judy could offer. In your opinion which of these would you think would be the most appropriate to convince the client to make the purchase?

After a pleasant greeting from Judy, she then determines what the customer is looking for. The customer explains she is looking for a gift for a 8 year old youngster who basically has everything. Judy’s first question is what is the boy interested

Response #1: Judy becomes somewhat defensive, and basically tells the client that may be true but its more convenient this way.

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The client takes a quick look and retorts that she can find most of those items found in the gift basket at any of the major stores at less cost.


Response #2: Judy agrees that the big companies do sell similar products, but there are some major differences between what Judy offers. Her contents are well researched to be sure that they fit the age group and the particular interests for a child at that age level. Then in addition to this the products are the most current. Then many of the gift items in the various baskets can be personalized. The edible items are made of the best quality and are fresh. With careful comparison the customer is sure to find that if she purchased similar items separately she would see the differences, and not only would it take her a

great deal of time, there would be the wrapping and packaging materials that she would have to consider. Response #3: Judy could agree with the customer and ask the customer what she thinks the cost would amount to if she purchased each of these items separately at a chain store. Then Judy could offer the gift basket for the same price. Whenever you have a tough decision to make, always be sure to keep your cool and think it through carefully before making any response. •

We want to hear how you would respond. Please take our survey. We will post your answers in the next regular issue of The Basket Whiz Report.

Here is our Facebook page link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ BasketWhiz/152999208073914

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5


THIS

SPACE SPACE for sale

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WhizBang! Training B B y

ob and

Advertorial Susan Negen

A 14 Point Website Checklist

Whether your store is brick and mortar or online-only you need to have a from every part of your site. Make it easy to find and not tricky. Your site polished, professional web presence. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a visitors do not want to guess. Facebook Page alone will cut it! Without good website you are guaranteed to miss a crucial part of the buying public. 9. Create Internal Links to Other Pages within Your Site An internal link is a link to another page within your own site. Adding internal Your website doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, but there are some links in your text is a great way to keep people surfing around your site. You basic things it must do to be an effective “online salesperson” for you. can move them to the most interesting pages on your site or to your online store so they can buy. These fourteen elements will give you a good, solid foundation for building a great website for your business. 10. Make Sure External Links Open in a “New Browser Window” If you list links to other websites that your visitors might be interested in 1. Have An Updated, Professional Design. (which is a great idea) be sure that when they click the link, a whole new The web is a very visual medium and the “look” of your website gives an browser window pops up so your site stays open in a window underneath the instant impression to the visitor. If your site looks unprofessional, it gives new one. that impression about your entire business. You website should look clean, updated, and professionally designed. It doesn’t need to be fancy, or flashy, 11. Avoid Pages with Little or No Content or ultra-unique. In fact it’s probably better if it’s NOT! If you don’t have anything to put on a page, take it off your site! A web page with just a single sentence or with “under construction” is a bummer for your 2. Pick Fonts That Are Easy to Read & Use Them Consistently visitor. The most important thing is that your visitor can actually READ the text on your website. When selecting fonts, consider the font style, the font 12. Give the “Title Bar” on Each Page a Good Name color (contrasted to the background color) and the font size. Choose the The title bar is the bar at the very top of the Internet window. It should have combination that will give you the best readability. a title in it that describes the page. Something like, “SuperScraps: Grand Haven’s best store for scrapbook supplies” for a company information page. 3. Have a Strong Headline Your website home page – and each and every other page in your site – 13. Have Current Content – Frequently Updated needs to have a strong headline. Your home page headline should tell quickly Old information or long past events listed on your site and clearly what you do and why the visitor should keep on exploring your take away from your credibility. And if you don’t site. Your store name is not a headline, and “Welcome!” is not a headline. have the newest information on your site, you’re missing great marketing opportunities. 4. Avoid “Cutesy” Designs or Animations While dancing dogs or falling leaves may seem fun at first, they usually end 14. Put Your E-Newsletter Signup on up distracting and detracting from the message you are trying to convey to Every Page your visitor. Some are downright annoying. You should be asking for the email addresses of every person who comes to your site and 5. Use Common Words, Not “Industry Speak” and sending them an e-newsletter or doing some other Don’t Use Abbreviations kind of email marketing. This is a tactic that no You know what happens when you assume that everybody knows what you retailer can do without! Your signup box mean when you say SDU or RFP or CRM don’t you? should be on every page of your Be sure to write all your web page copy with a generic customer in mind – website. write conversational, customer-focused copy that explains clearly what you mean. Whew! There you have it – 14 points that will create a solid 6. Have Your Contact Information on Every Page foundation when you’re Your contact information, location, and store hours are probably the number building your website. one thing your customers are looking for when they visit your site. Make sure they can find them. Want more retail tips? Get FREE 7. Use Easy to Understand, Consistent Site Navigation business building Make it as easy as humanly possible for people to surf around your site and ideas delivered to find what they are looking for. The idea is NOT to be so clever that no one your “inbox” every but you and your web designer can figure out the navigation. week. Sign up for your “WhizBang! Tip of the Week”. 8. Make the Return to Home Page Easy and Intuitive Be sure there is an easy way for the visitor to get back to your home page

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7


Money Matters

Planning and Implementing a Budget Part II – Implementing Your Budget By: Lori Boswell

Your business budget should serve as your spending plan for the year. To successfully manage your budget, begin by breaking down the projected revenues and expenses on a monthly basis. For example, if you sell ten times as many gift baskets during the holidays, then your projected revenues and expenses should accurately reflect that for those months. Likewise if you have a payment due on a quarterly basis, you will make sure you plan for that during those months. To manage your budget you will need to track your expenses and income and review your budget often, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis. Track the difference between what you actually spend in each category and what you planned or budgeted to spend. At the end of each month compare budgeted vs. actual revenue and adjust accordingly. If you are using a budgeting software program, you can easily produce income statements as well as profit and loss statements. Analyzing these statements on a regular basis can help you more easily manage your business.

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If the actual revenue exceeds your projections, identify the cause to determine if your budget needs to be adjusted. However, if you did not earn as much as you anticipated, identify the reasons and develop a strategy to either increase your revenue or decrease your expenses. Regular budget management allows you to easily determine what parts of your budget are going as planned and what parts need adjusting. The most important thing is to realize that your budget is not set in stone. It is a fluid document that will change as your business changes. Taking the time to prepare a budget is a good business investment. A successful budget not only provides the business owner with a timely picture of income and expenses, but it also provides information that will help you plan for shortfalls and busy seasons while providing the opportunity to reflect on the execution of the business plan. A successful budget is the cornerstone to any business. By reviewing your budget to actual and comparing your progress to your business goals, you can make any necessary adjustments to ensure you are staying on track with your plan.•


Money Matters The Gift Basket Company Budget January 1, 2010-December 31, 2010 Category

Budget

Actual

Difference

Net Sales

400,000

435,000

-35,000

Cost of Goods Inventory as of January 1 Purchases Total Merchandise Handled

100,000 100,000 200,000

100,000 120,000 220,000

0 -20,000 -20,000

Less Inventory December 31

125,000

75,000

50,000

75,000

145,000

-70,000

325,000 500 325,500

290,000 700 290,700

35,000 -200 34,800

60,000 5,000 20,000 2,000 4,000 9,000 1,000 10,000 111,000

40,000 5,000 22,000 21,000 6,000 7,500 900 9,000 111,400

20,000 0 -2,000 -19,000 -2,000 1,500 100 1,000 -400

214,500

179,300

35,200

Revenues

Cost of Goods Sold Gross Profit Interest Total Income

Expenses Salaries Rent/Mortgage Office Supplies Insurance Advertising Dues Repairs Taxes Total Expenses Net Income

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9


Business Resources

Boost Your Website’s Visits:

Get the Link Whenever possible you should be constantly analyzing your website to ensure that its performing at its best. Your website is your virtual storefront, so naturally you need to get its name out and ranking high in the search engines. One of the ways to do this is by working on getting backlinks to your site. If you have done some basic studying in optimizing your website then chances are you have put some effort into accomplishing this. This is where you have been able to get your site listed on other sites, so that their visitors will click on your link and pay a visit to your site. The more links you have like this the more potential traffic you will receive. If you have been doing this and have lost track of just how many backlinks you have, there is a free tool on the web that will check this for you. Simply go to www.backlinkwatch.com and type in your website’s url. It will then give you a full report as to the types of backlinks that you have generated so far. •

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Ad Space for Sale www.BasketWhiz.com

Ad Space for Sale Readership: Gift Basket Companies Florists Event Planners Wedding Planners Gift Shops Balloon Designers Gourmet Food Shops

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Ask about our enhanced ad options!

Ad Space for Sale www.BasketWhiz.com

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11


SEO in the First Place

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR SITE IS HACKED? By: Rodolfo N. Lentejas, Jr.

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The most frustrating, if not devastating moment, for a Web site owner is when his site is hacked. Hacking per se is a violation of the basic principle of personal or corporate privacy. For business owners, hacking is a serious threat against the corporate image of their business entity. In fact, it can paralyze vital operations online. For private netizens*, hacking is a serious intrusion of their online “space.” Possible reasons of hacking To get a better understanding of hacking, it is important to know why in the first place people hack Web sites. There are many personal and social motivations why hackers intrude and deface Web sites. The old and still the primary reason why hackers hack Web sites today is basically to steal credit card information. However, in today’s growing and declining social morality, hacking is not just used to create a social disorder, but to correct social wrong-doings. In the old days, hacking is a simple breaking into password protected sections of the Web sites. In the these days, however, hacking is modernized in that hackers now inject malicious code into Web sites to steal information or deface Web sites altogether. Signs of Web site Hacking The good thing about hacking is that there are signs that will let you know whether or not your site is indeed hacked. There are many signs of Web site hacking, but the common signs you need to know are the following: Google tells you that there is a malware in your domain, your site redirected to another site, or your homepage is not your own.

manually take a screen-grab of your Web site by using your computer (hit “print screen” on your keyboard and save the image in your image editor). For easy and instant screen-shot, I suggest you download the latest version of Pixlr Grabber for Firefox and Google Chrome. Save the file as you will use the image later on. 2. Change your password. This is the most important rule when your Web site is hacked, i.e., prevent further damage by changing your password immediately. If you are able to login to your Web hosting control panel, then you have to come with new a password and change it immediately. 3. Upload the backup copy of your Web site. There is a greater risk of losing important content of your Web site. As a precautionary measure, upload a backup copy and download any pages that may have been added. Using your new password, login by File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and upload the content. 4. Contact your Web host. If you are able to restore your Web site, you have to contact your Web host immediately to let them know what happened. Now be sure to include in your correspondence the screen-shot you saved earlier. You also have to include in the email the pages that were added to your Web site, if any. Prevention

Although your Web host can restore your account to its original form, still you have to implement safety measures to prevent hackers from getting into your Web site again. The most powerful preventive Things to do when your Web site is hacked measure against Web site hacking is to keep If you are running a large business and your Web site your software up-to-date and observe the 30-day password rule. By keeping these two important rules, is hacked, the natural human tendency is to panic. But panic is never the solution to a hacked Web site. you are guaranteed that your Web site will never be hacked again. The very first thing you need to do is take control of the situation, lay down your initial steps and Whether or not you are running your own corporate implement them. As a business owner running your Web site or an ordinary netizen having a private own Web site, you should be well-informed of this space on the Net, your privacy is all that matters to situation. However, the following steps may help you you. It is your private space online. As expected of get back on your feet: you, protect it as you should to your home.• 1. Take a screen-shot of your Web site. You can The Basket Whiz Report

13


Industry Hint

Here are some great design ideas for Admininstrative Assistants Day, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and New Baby Gifts... Featuring designs by James Hartier of www.TwistedBasket.com

Show Us Your Springtime designs on our facebook page!

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Cover Story

by Rikki MacCuish

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Cover Story Carolina’s foremost gift basket design companies, and Hartier has worked hard for this title. He’s combined his artist’s vision and financial minimalism to create a one-of-a-kind custom gift basket business, catering to every occasion whether it require kosher, suit the guys’ football night, or help someone get well soon. Hartier’s knack for creating gourmet bouquets that are stunning to the eye and pleasing to the palate have brought him much success. So what if it requires 17 hour days?

and weekends. Once he’d moved to New York City he continued at Parsons while also working for a design firm during the day. Upon leaving Parsons he started at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying and tutoring fashion design, illustration and fashion merchandising. Working in the fashion industry was glamorous and exciting but Hartier began to burn out. He left the industry for good in 1992 and set his sights on gift basket design.

“I was traveling more than I If you need a little inspiration Hartier was born in Massachusetts, was at home, which took its toll on me personally, socially and during this damp, gray season and before he was 17 years old look towards founder and owner had also lived in Denmark, Maine, emotionally,” Hartier explains. “I temped at a few gift basket of The TwistedBasket Company, Delaware and Pennsylvania. companies on holidays for fun and James Hartier. His words will He graduated from high school just to do something creative . . . I put a bounce in your step, and early and moved to the hustle moved to South Carolina and after hopefully get you moving in the and bustle of New York City just five years I wanted to start creating right direction. before his 17th birthday. again—thus TwistedBasket was Few share his honest passion and James was inspired by the women born.” enthusiasm for life, design and in his family, his mother and aunt, James had always shown an creativity, as well as his confidence as well as his grandparents. entrepreneurial tendency and to take things outside of the box setting up his own shop seemed “There was never a gender (no pun intended). A designer like a natural choice. For Hartier oriented doctrine enforced as from the get-go Hartier has spent it has been a blessing, though his life dedicated to creativity and far as what I should do, should stressful at times, as many in the personal growth, taking his talents be, should feel or should act,” industry have experienced. As says Hartier about his supportive from the fashion industry to the gift basket industry and eventually family. “Due to their support I won he explains work can go from extreme joy to extreme stress but several gold medals for my fine entrepreneurship. being able to work flexible hours art work in a national scholastic TwistedBasket, Hartier’s custom and experiencing the spiritual joy competition, which led me to gift basket business currently preview art and design invitations he gets from being able to convey occupies three bedrooms and his clients’ personal sentiments to I never knew existed.” three walk in closets in Hartier’s their recipients is what keeps him It seems James’ path was drawn Greenville, South Carolina. going. for him. Not only that, but he He does have two part time As if he weren’t busy employees, but besides that James was a hard worker, dedicated to enough, Hartier also founded design and learning. At 16 years has the place to himself. GiftProsOnline.com, a forum for old he started at Parsons School TwistedBasket is one of South of Design, taking classes evenings gift basket industry professionals (Continued on next page)

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Cover Story and designers. Through this free service James offers advice and a community for those in the industry to bat around ideas and techniques for design and business.

give back as much as he can.

And one thing you can never give enough of is advice. It can be daunting starting a new business or even trying to grow your current business. At what “Our forum is truly one for business and assistance, point does it get overwhelming, and where does and not a chit chat board to moan and groan the fun part begin? Having been a part of one of about this or that, gossip or demean anyone in our the most high profile industries, fashion, as well as business,” he reassures. “It’s been a revolutionary step having been a part of the gift basket industry Hartier above the standard forums out there!” does have a few words of wisdom. Besides getting himself out there through social media and his online magazine GiftPros: An Online Magazine for Professional Gift Basket Designers, Hartier stays hard at work drumming up new business and staying in contact with clients. He explains his recent move to doing corporate gift baskets has added a whole new level to his business. “I recently jumped into corporate America and have never been busier,” he says. “I’m glad the progression happened as it did; I would not have known what or how to do this niche when I first started.” While Hartier offers a variety of gift baskets for order through his website www.twistedbasket. com, he specializes in customizing packages to suit his clients’ needs and dreams. He’s dedicated to customer service that is above and beyond the standard experience, utilizing his design background to create unique gift baskets to suit many occasions. When it comes to marketing, Hartier finds it’s word of mouth that keeps him most busy. He also finds emails, cold calls, mailers, postcards, flyers and personal drop-ins to be effective in building and retaining business. Staying active online, through his forum and providing his online magazine keep him current and in touch with other industry professionals and the gift basket and design community. While owning your own business is no walk in the park and, as one could imagine, 17 hour work days can seem excessive Hartier shows an infectious enthusiasm for connecting with professionals in the community and for the business that allows his creativity to flow. He remains humble about the gift of creativity he has been bestowed and continues to 18

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Learn before you open your business, know exactly what to expect, know how to design and what to start out with” “Take everything you hear with a grain of salt, sift through it and take what may apply to assist your pursuits,” he begins. “There is no one magic bullet, magazine or forum that will accomplish any of this . . . my top choice today for newbies, is to get your hands on vintage Rave Reviews and Gift Basket Review. These resources combined have a decade’s worth of information, techniques and answers to questions that will guide anyone towards their ultimate goals in this business.” As for becoming an entrepreneur Hartier decided to do things a little differently. He operates on a cash only basis, and doesn’t operate a credit card machine. As crazy as this may sound in today’s world of everything-on-credit he enjoys running a debt-free business. While operating in this way also has its challenges, such as maintaining cash flow with late paying clients, he enjoys knowing that any money he gains is his. He gets first say in expenditures, not his creditors. In the current state of economic crisis in the United States, Hartier is content to admit that it has not affected him financially. In fact, with his gain in corporate sales, he is busier than ever! Perhaps it


Cover Story his life by: “You must be like a rubber band . . . you’re most useful when you stretch.” –George W. Cummings, Sr. In this quickly modernizing world of constant change it may seem hard to keep up with the flow of things. But it all starts with the person. When asked if he had the chance to do anything over again, what it would be he says he would look at life a little differently. “I would not hold other people in awe, or put people on pedestals . . .be careful who you trust and befriend, for you never know someone’s personal agendas,” he says. “I wouldn’t do what I did when I started, which was buying product based on just what I like because it doesn’t matter what we like or even if we love what we design. If it doesn’t sell you don’t have a business.”

was his upbringing, moving from place to place, constantly placing himself out of his comfort zone but Hartier has a very modernized way of doing business. He’s completely open to change. “Vendors and pricing this past year have been quite a challenge, which naturally if you don’t go change with the changes and can’t bounce, you won’t have a business for much longer,” he explains. It’s easier said than done, for many people.

Hartier’s refreshingly realistic approach to life and business is an inspiration to anyone, whether in the gift basket industry or not. His words of wisdom work for any kind of new business, student or artist. In the light of upcoming Valentine’s Day, Hartier explains he’s doing things a little differently this year. “I’ve forced myself out of my comfort zone and have moved in the direction of designing based on sales,” he says. “It’s all about growth, pushing past your comfort zone and striving to not beat your competition, but beat your own last success, sale or acquired account, and exceed it.”

Hopefully this has brightened up your mid-winter’s While he recommends change if necessary, Hartier also has a firm belief in getting proper training before day with a few new ideas and personal goals to attain to. Learning through others’ advice and past mistakes throwing yourself out there. is an excellent way of avoiding them yourself, and “Learn before you open your business, know then climbing up that ladder to personal success exactly what to expect, know how to design and faster. Among the advice Hartier gives, being what to start out with,” he advises. “Learning as open to change and education should be anyone’s you go is a terrible waste of money and will cause personal and business goals in an evolving world and great frustration with little return . . . everyone industry. must experiment with every method of design and If you can roll with that you’re on a good path. As construction to see which suits you and your new Hartier says life is good. found style the best—the more you learn the more your style will evolve.” “I wouldn’t change it for the world!” • Hartier references a popular quote, one that he lives The Basket Whiz Report

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Sales Feature

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Sales Feature

Sales Trends by Lynn Keeler

A savvy business person will always stay informed about the industry trends they are involved in. With the gift basket industry it is imperative that you follow various types of trends. For example, you need to know what the trend in the current economy is like. This is going to tell you whether you need to focus more on basket creations keeping the cost in mind. There are two ways that you can make following trends work for you. Of course you want to know what the trends of the gift basket are, but it may be more difficult for you to gather enough information from this one industry to help you make decisions. The information that you are going to gather about the gift basket industry is going to come from what your competitors are doing. You will find that in most cases its common to pick the top competitor in an industry and simply follow the leader. This is of great value, but what happens if the leading competitor is wrong? So the moral of the story when it comes to sales trends, is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Your business of gift baskets is providing a service for the public by way of gifts. You need to determine how the public feels about the economy in the

present and in the near future. The best way you can determine this is look at the major industries in other areas that service the public with products as well, and what are the trends there. For example what are the trends in the 2011 car industry? Are sales going up in new cars or used cars? Are people buying economy cars or are they going back to the larger more luxury type cars? Then you can do the same for the fashion industry, and look at the trends of the real estate industry as well. These trends will tell you the mindset of your potential customers. If the public in general is being very cautious about their purchasing in these industries that we mentioned, then they are going to be looking for the bargain gift baskets when it comes to their gift giving needs. However, if the people seem to be more relaxed in their spending in these industries then you can feel a little more comfortable in preparing gift baskets that are a little more elaborate and luxurious in nature. So go ahead and start training yourself on how to study the industry trends, and how they could be of an advantage to you in helping your plan your sales marketing program. • The Basket Whiz Report

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Smart Business Favorites Mom’s Originals www.momsoriginals.com Sourcing unique and quality products to make up gift baskets can be a time consuming task. To make this a whole lot easier however there is momsoriginals.com. Here you are going to find delicious treats that will add the final touches to any gift basket that you want to offer, that speaks of only the best in quality, taste and looks. Although you will find several delectables here to choose from, you will most certainly not want to pass up the best of the best which is the gourmet pretzels. These are ultra fresh pretzels that are coated with an exquisite layer of caramel, then hand dipped in the finest chocolate, and rolled in pecans or walnuts. Then as if that isn’t enough, white chocolate is generously drizzled over them Finally they are each carefully wrapped for preservation and presentation. You may want to pick up a few extra when stocking up your gift basket inventory, as no doubt you will be tempted several times over just to try them out

Caramel Cob www.caramelcob.com There are two things that one should never pass by in life. One is popcorn and the other is caramel. Now when you can have the best of quality of both of these combined together in one delectable treat, there is just nothing left to be desired. All of this goodness is wrapped up in a soft and chewy caramel cob that is mess free to eat, and never any worries about what to do with the leftovers because there are none. This is a treat that is enjoyed by any age and any gender right down to the last morsel. So go ahead visit carmelcob.com and order your caramel cob now, but be sure to buy plenty of extra because you won’t want the disappointment of not having enough to go around.

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Smart Business Favorites Blumebox www.blumebox.com HootSuite When there is that special occasion to be planned www.Hootsuite.com for its always extra special when you can add to the If you are looking a solution to help keep your enjoyment of the event, with something unique. business organized and enhance your marketing This is an opportunity that blumebox.com will give efforts then Hootsuite.com is what you need. This you. Here you will find a gorgeous, affordable and is a site that makes connecting to numerous social most unique centerpiece to put the final touch to websites an easy task, because its all done from one your table setting. Here you will be able to choose easy to learn, and easy to use website. It is comprised from an elegant easy to assemble blumebox that will of one simple interface called a dashboard. From hold anywhere from an exquisite bouquet of flowers here you can schedule your updates to the major or a simple bloom. If you want to be the talk of the social networks that are so important for your crowd as the next hostess “in the know”, then you business. Often the reason that social network really need to visit blumebox.com to see all of the marketing campaigns fail is due to the time wonderful centerpiece collections that are sure to be constraints that the business owner has. They are the center of attention at your next event. simply too busy to keep up with the task of getting the word out about their business through these social venues. By adding Hootsuite.com to their supply of marketing tools, this is no longer an issue. Body Luminosity www.bodyluminosity.com If you have grown tired of using beauty care products that just don’t seem to do what they promise, and above that contain a lot of unnecessary chemicals just to preserve their shelf life, then you are going to enjoy shopping at bodyluminosity.com. Here you are going to be most pleased with the fine selection of all natural beauty care products that are not only safe to use, but are most effective according to their purpose. You will find an array of bath bombs to soap duos, or for those quiet moments some exquisite salts and soaks. Just visiting the site of Body Luminosity will start you on a wonderful journey of how to pamper yourself the affordable and luxurious way.

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Balancing Act

Can I do a do-over of my Life? Rewriting your destiny by SL Ruffdan

No one wants to feel that their life is a big disappointment. The way that we view our lives has everything to do with how fulfilling it is to us. Instead of looking for a “do over” and wondering if an unsatisfying life can change, take stock, and do whatever it takes to get out of that rut.

Also remember that your business is a reflection of you. If your life is stagnate, chances are your business will be the same way, and that would definitely be bad news. However, the good news is that your life and your business don’t have to stay in that frustrating state. Your business and your life can be so much more. Introspection, or evaluating your life from the inside out, is 24

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great and it is a very important step on the path to a rewarding and gratifying life. Introspection allows you to get a really good look at yourself, your hopes, and your expectations. In doing that, you can start to progress toward making a better tomorrow for you and your business. To make it happen, you need a plan of action like the Five R’s. Following the Five R’s could propel you into the best life that you have ever lived: Recognize - Realizing that your life is not all that it can be is a powerful step toward its improvement. Pinpoint the areas of your life that you would like to see change. Reevaluate – Really examine the disconnects between your current life versus your potential destiny. Accepting less from yourself

or from the world of opportunity that awaits you should not be an option. Reinvent – Be prepared to change and expect things to happen. What worked for you in the past may not work for you today or tomorrow. Doing the same things will cause you to get the same results. Reorganize – Make an effort to look at things from a different perspective. Take a fresh approach to problem solving in your life. Be more strategic in your thinking and incorporate changes in your daily life that will advance your personal agenda and your business. Rewrite – Paint a picture in your mind of your perfect life. Each aspect of it should be defined, not by what it looks like today, but by what it can and will be tomorrow. Believe that everything that you have envisioned can happen and take positive steps for making it come to pass. As long as you have breath, you have a chance to “do-over”. Your can be better than you ever expected. Keep your energy and thoughts positive, and a brighter and more satisfying life is sure to be your destiny! •


5 To Try: Recognize – Take stock of your life and identify areas for improving. Re-evaluate – Examine the disconnects between where you are and where you want to be. Reinvent – Prepare yourself for making positive changes. Reorganize – Create strategies and daily activities that will help to move your life and your business forward. Rewrite – Believe life can change and take steps toward making a better tomorrow and a better you!

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In the Mix of Things

Take Charge of Your

Marketing‌ Finding Your Way around the 4P Marketing Mix By: Jim Aldrich 26

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It was Henry Ford, who once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t …..Your right.” While applicable to life in general, this quote also serves as a call to action for those in the gift basket businesses. Your success is directly proportional to your ability to act. In my first article, you were provided with a general introduction to the 4P Marketing Mix. Now it’s time to get down to business. Beginning with this question: Can this model guarantee you success in the gift basket industry? No, but the 4P Marketing Mix is an approach to marketing that offers you the best chance for that success. A cautionary note: creating and implementing a successful marketing plan takes effort. The success of your business can be directly linked to the amount of effort you and your team put into following the information contained in these articles. What you are about to undertake should be fun, insightful, and relative. Now let’s get to work.

take to market. My imaginary company was started in 2001. Early on we adapted the 4P marketing mix into our planning process and it has worked. You1st has a successful niche for itself; theme based gift baskets. Currently our line consists of twelve baskets. Nothing fancy just a nice mid range selection The product line is distributed three ways; 1. A quarterly print catalogue sent to proven customers 2. A web site 3. Select retail outlets located in key areas of the United States The management of You1st is cautionary. They mother their product line with a hands on approach. Over the past year a slow slippage of sales has been occurring. This has been seen as a sign to management that they need to add a new product to their line.

There is an excellent illustration of the 4P model you can review here: (http://www.netmba.com/ After much round table discussion, the management marketing/mix/). Basically there are four areas within team has identified our new gift basket product and the illustration; selected its contents. We are now ready. [[ Product [[ Price [[ Place [[ Promotion In the center of the matrix is a fifth area, target market. This area is of equal importance as the others. I’ll return to this topic in a later article. At that time I’ll work with you on how to identify and use it in your planning, but for now I just want you to be aware of its importance. Over the next few issues we’ll take a closer look at these, but for now let’s focus on Product. My Imaginary Company Now we begin the fun part of this article. I get to own my own gift basket company You1st. Suddenly, just like a super hero I become a gift basket businessman complete with an imaginary product to

After time spent coming up with our new product, a mid priced gift basket created as a gift for administrative assistants on Administrative Assistants Day, we’re ready to start the planning. With planning, we will have something new to sell at the gift shop. Our goal: to have the right product, at the right price, for the right target market, and at the right time is of prime importance. Among the considerations we need to keep in mind when defining our product are these: [[ Brand name [[ Functionality [[ Styling [[ Quality [[ Safety [[ Packaging [[ Repairs and Support [[ Warranty

(Continued on next page)

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In the Mix of Things [[ Accessories and services Now I want to take a closer look at the role of our Administrative Assistants Day product within the 4P Product matrix. This exercise requires direct involvement in answering the associated questions. Brand Name: [[ Is a known brand name attached to the product? Through branding the Your1st name has become associated with quality, innovation, and pricing. [[ Has your company been successful in the branding of its own identity? Yes! [[ Is your product significant enough that it will sell with or without a brand name? If marketed correctly our Administrative Assistants Day gift basket will sell no matter whose name is on it.

Quality: [[ Describe the quality of your product. It is determined that the Administrative Assistants Day gift basket should not be skimpy. It would be far worse to give nothing than to give something that screams “cheap” [[ Although price dependent, what is the market segment of your product? (High, medium, low) Medium Safety: [[ Does your product meet or exceed established safety standards? Yes [[ Do you make this information available to your target market? Yes, we enclose safety information in each of our gift baskets.

Packaging: [[ Is your product presented in an attractive manner? Designed primarily for women the Functionality: design task is given to our art department for [[ Can you easily describe the products finalization. function? Yes, it serves to acknowledge the [[ Whether sitting on a shelf or being seen in importance of our administrative assistants in a photo on the internet what message does the success of Your 1st. the packaging of your product send to your [[ Is it obvious what the function of the product target market? We want it to say “You’re Great is? Content will self define the function of the – we couldn’t do it without you!” gift basket. [[ Are there competitors products with similar Repairs and Support: or the same function? No, ours is a unique [[ Do you have a clear repair/replacement niche marketed product. policy? Yes! [[ What function separates your product from others? Celebrating administrative assistants. Warranty: [[ What steps does your company take to stand Styling: behind your product? You1st maintains an [[ If you saw the product in its ready to active customer service department. We pride sell form would it attract your attention? ourselves on getting the customer need met Yes, with a clear message directed toward the 1st time. administrative assistants and the content of the basket makes it hard to be confused Accessories and Service: about its purpose. [[ Do you have a proactive plan for customer [[ How is your styling choice different from service? Yes, see above. others? Ours is very direct. We want there to [[ Are there add-ons you can market with this be no question who the basket is intended product? We are exploring linkages with for. manufacturers of the items in the basket. The planning stage for the Administrative Assistants 28

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Day gift basket continues. Your1st continues to collect facts, information, and mock baskets. Additional company resources are called upon to provide design, copy writing, marketing materials, etc. It should be noted that the planning process does not end simply because you’re ready to move on. Throughout your use of the 4P method new information and insight may surface. This valuable content needs to be included throughout the process. As we move into our second phase: pricing, the importance of the planning phase becomes more apparent.

Ad Space for Sale www.BasketWhiz.com

Now it’s your turn. It’s time for action. Use the above questions; answer them forthrightly and in detail. The success of your new product is dependent on what you do. In my next article I’ll give you some tips on how to price your product. •

All ads can link back directly to your website!

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Socially Speaking building your

business tool?

By: Jim Aldrich

The Basket Whiz Report wants you to be on the cutting edge of receiving relevant marketing information. One of our approaches is this series of articles discussing a major marketing option for your business: social media. What it is, how it’s used, and specific ways to begin using this tool. In this second article I want to provide you with some reasons why your gift basket business needs to participate in social media. Let me begin with a brief story about a once successful businessman. Let’s call him Snidely, and his company is Snidely Inc. Snidely, Inc. had been in business for decades. Although employing nearly a hundred workers, Snidely had always been a take charge kind of guy. Snidely Inc. was a one man company (him). The success or failure of Snidely Inc. was solely dependent on the decisions he made. Snidely Inc had a profitable distribution system, a few select products, and a cozy place among his competition. Snidely was never one to venture into unknown territory - his motto “if it worked before, it’ll work again.” No internet, no marketing gurus, nothing out of the ordinary. During the past few years profits began to slowly slip. Snidely figured this was simply because of the bad economy. Suddenly, with each passing month sales went into a tailspin. He now faced downsizing, a reduction of his product line, and a loss of confidence.

The outcome: Snidely Inc no longer exists. Successful businesses have discovered the power of incorporating social media into their overall marketing approach. Whether it’s a blog on their website, using widgets, pod casting, a Wiki, a creative video on YouTube, customer service delivered via Facebook, or instant messaging on Twitter these companies are using social media. Let me stop for a moment and try to put a face on some of the terms just used. A Blog: Usually a separate area of a website consisting of written content. This content is usually maintained by an individual with regular entries. Among the types of content used in a blog are news, views, and commentary, Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and eve message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. Widgets: Often referred to as a “gadget.” Within the web development community, a widget is a piece of self-enclosed code which can be embedded into a website or program to perform a specific function. Many websites take advantage of widgets to increase their functionality and customizability. These may include forms, questionnaires, surveys or other small pieces of code. Pod Casting: Strongly related to the iPod a pod cast is a series of episodes on a specific topic. YouTube: A community based site where the sharing of video is primary.

Those close to him tried to suggest that Snidely look into some of the more modern marketing approaches like a web site and using social media. “no way” he Facebook: Another community focused site members retorted, “remember if it worked before, it’ll work can establish connections within the site and again.” communicate a variety of content.

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Socially Speaking Twitter Offering social networking and micro blogging, members can send and read messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters As you can imagine, these are powerful tools for getting your message out. Are these communication tools being used? Thanks to an online report written by Peter Kim and published some three years ago (http://www.beingpeterkim.com/2008/09/ive-beenthinki.html) here are some examples of big name companies using social media. Coca-Cola: Blogging Online video Social networks:  Facebook

applications. Virtual Worlds Widgets

Ford: Blogging Microblogging Social networks:

Facebook Wiki

McDonald’s Blogging Podcasting

Social networks

Wal-Mart: Blogging Social networks:

Facebook Widgets

A review of this and other information of the use of social media by businesses show a rapid increase in its use. What does this mean to you within the gift basket industry? Let’s find out. As I wrote in my first article, the world of the internet has changed; going from an impersonal marketing model to a highly personalized multifaceted model. However, you choose to communicate with your customer base, communicate you must Simply having a web site no longer cuts it. You need to go where they are, speak a language they understand all while broadening your customer base. Social media can be vast and intimidating. So where do you start?

Most likely your gift basket business isn’t on the scale of the companies referred to above. So you must be selective. Go with those approaches that are the easiest to implement while being successful. My top three: [[ Facebook [[ Twitter [[ Blogging These choices are based upon cost, start up ease, and potential for success. Here’s a look at each one: Facebook: Cost: Usually zero, unless you choose to advertise Start up ease: Facebook can be a bit cumbersome. The more you use it the more it makes sense. Success Potential: As the largest social media vehicle in the world, Facebook must be doing something right. Twitter: Cost: Like Facebook the cost of Twittering is zero. Start Up Ease: Again, like Facebook, Twitter has its own language. But with the number of guides that are available you should be OK. Success: If used as intended Twitter can be very successful Blogging: Cost: Zero, unless you choose to use expensive software. Start Up Ease: Perhaps the easiest of the three Success: have a successful blog requires some time and marketing. A word of caution: Entering any of these social media markets will require an investment of staff time. Time well spent I may add. The next article will examine Facebook in depth. I’ll walk you through what needs to be done to set up a Facebook account, what your Facebook page should include, and how to get the word out. •

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Business Systems

Marketing by Lynn Keeler

Business Marketing System In our last issue we did an overview of the basics of what the business system entails. Your business will flourish provided there are no weak links in any of the entities that make up the business system. We also said last issue that we would discuss some of the individual sectors that make up the business system, and this issue it will be the Business Marketing Sector.

trends are for the future. The more dedicated and detailed you are with your market analysis, the more dependable information you will have to rely on. Think of it as the foundation for your marketing portfolio.

When doing your analysis, you are looking for answers to these questions. 1. Who are my potential customers? 2. Who are my competitors? 3. Is the market flooded or is there still a vast need? Business Marketing: Here is where you will begin to build your marketing 4. What do I need to do to get my share of the market? portfolio. Basically the portfolio is your organization folder for all of your marketing plans. Building your Now you would need to expand on each of the portfolio is easy to do if you take it step by step. questions and gather as much detail as you can. Once you have gathered all of this information it will Step One: Market Analysis take you to where you are ready to start step two. You are making a plan of how you are going to market for your business so the first thing you Step Two: Market Plan want to do is a market analysis. This analysis will Based on all the information you have from step one give you the information you need to start building you can now focus on the different areas where you your marketing ideas around what is working in can market your gift baskets and accessories. the business industry now, and what the potential 32

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Business Systems

Portfolio Your potential customers: will tell you where you need to focus most by utilizing your marketing material

outlets. On land you have events, and direct marketing.

Step Three: Budget In this step you now have to determine what the cost Who are your competitors: is going to be to implement step two. Once you have this information will give you the chance to determined the cost, then you need to budget your scrutinize what your major competitors are doing, finances to see how much money is available to allot and what is working for them. You can then streamline some of these tactics to fit your marketing to your marketing portfolio. needs. If it turns out that you have more money than what the marketing costs have worked out to, you can Is the market flooded: either expand your marketing plan now, or reserve The great thing about the gift basket industry is the money for your next marketing campaign. If that it provides a consumable product so there will always be a need. The key here is that you make it a you have less money than what is required, you will need to streamline your marketing plan to meet the priority to fill your customers needs. budget. Your share of the market: In the next edition of the BasketWhiz we will talk This is where you now start looking at where your about the business strategy sector of the business potential clients are, and what information do you systems. • need to give them to make them want to buy from you. For example, on the internet you have resources such as social media, direct mail and information The Basket Whiz Report

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Marketing Class 101

part 2

Getting ranked on google by: Lynn Keeler

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Marketing Class 101 No doubt if your online gift basket business is established online, you are caught up in the never ending Google battle. This is the saga of getting your site indexed on Google and other major search engines as well, then moving up in the ranks, and then finally holding your position. In other words getting ranked on Google is a never ending battle. Added to this pressure is the fact that you most likely have been spending hours on trying to figure out how to do all of this, and then just when you think you have it mastered Google goes and changes the way they do things. The first favor you can do for yourself when it comes to search engine ranking is to stop getting yourself confused. There is a mountain of information on the internet of all types of sources of information on how to get that Number One ranking. Problem is, its all different so who do you believe? Your best source of information is You!. You need to educate yourself in respect to what is Google all about. Once you understand Google then you will know what they want first hand. Although admittedly, Google seems to be cloaked in a shroud of secrecy when it comes to how they want site users to perform. In any event there is much you can learn. Start by understanding what kind of service it is that Google provides. It is simply providing information to the world about who provides what on the internet. If someone comes to Google asking where to find the best gift basket providers, Google’s job is to give them the name of the best provider that they have information on. There is the key!. Give Google the best information about your business, so it can pass it along to their customers who are the information searchers. It doesn’t stop here though. There is still a problem. There are many people that need to get the same information out, so how does Google know who to pick as the best? For example lets say there are 50

gift basket businesses on the internet, but there is only one #1 spot. How are you going to get that spot? Here are two exercises you can do to help you get started. your assignment:

Exercise #1: Do some home studying about Google to see what they consider as good content. You can determine this by reading all the informa tion that Google provides at their various educati on sites, not by what others are writing about their perception of Google. First hand knowledge is the only knowledge you should rely on. http :// www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/an swer. py?hl=en&answer=70897 Exercise #2: The second thing you need to do is be hon estly creative. You now know that your content on your site is what needs to please Google. You nee d to convince Google that you are the best, by finding your own unique words about what you offer. This is not done by taking your top competi tors information and simply rewriting it. Use the right keywords that describe your business. Goo gle has a keyword search tool that you can use to help you find the most important keywords.

Google Adwords

Very recent changes in Google give all indications that they are going to be scrutinizing site content for unique, informative and pertinent content when they are now establishing who is going to appear where in their listings. If you put forth a great effort into doing things the “Google Way”, you could soon see your gift basket business in the number one spot! •

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Vendor Spotlight

burton +

BURTON™ Interview By:Jim Aldrich

A continuing feature of the Basket Whiz Report is our interviews with leading Vendors in the gift basket industry. For this issue we have selected burton + BURTON™, a family owned wholesale only business. Named after its founders, the wife and husband team of Maxine H. and Robert E. Burton, burton + BURTON™ prides themselves in offering their customers “The Best in Service, Selection & Satisfaction®”. The beginnings of burton + BURTON™ date back to 1982. At that time Maxine Burton was working under the name Flowers, Inc. Balloons® as the balloon division of a retail and wholesale florist (Flowers, Inc.). Over the following decades, the company has become the nation’s leading supplier of balloons and coordinating gift products. The name changed to burton + BURTON™ in January of 2003 to reflect the combining of the two divisions, Flowers, Inc. Balloons® and Burton & Burton®. Our interview began with our talking with Steve Rose, the marketing communications coordinator of burton + BURTON™ from his office in Bogart, Georgia. We began by asking Steve to tell us a bit more about how burton + BURTON™ came into being. Steve: Before burton + BURTON™ ,Maxine’s husband, Bob was involved in the wholesale floral industry selling flowers. Maxine was working in an 36

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associated industry while keeping her eyes peeled for an opportunity that both she and Bob could partner in. It was while attending a trade show in 1982, that Maxine saw a floral balloon arrangement. With her creative mind at work she thought “this would be perfect if we were able to print a message on the balloon, such as Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary then combine the balloon with the floral arrangement.” This approach worked well for some 20 plus years, but as Flowers, Inc. Balloons® expanded it became apparent that the old brand had outlived its usefulness. It was in 2003 that Maxine and Bob renamed their venture burton + BURTON™. BWR: What do you consider the greatest achievement of burton + BURTON™? Steve: Although there are several, I think right now it’s our longevity in the market. Today we are going through the second recession in the history of burton + BURTON™ and like the first one in the late 80’s we have survived without having to do layoffs, go into debt, or close anything down. We’ve been able to stay strong and we’re pretty proud of that. BWR: How was burton + BURTON™ able to survive? Steve: We did what a lot of people did, we took a hard look at expenditures, we cut costs. In the good times we weren’t as attentive to watching every penny as we might have been. So we began to


reduce some of our frills, like some of the perks for customers, advertising realignments and in general taking a hard look at expenditures and how we could better control them.

dislike and then act on that feedback.

What we have discovered that when we made very carefully chosen expenditures these had a long-term positive effect. For example we invested in upgrading the processes used in our warehouses by adding a bar-code system and a voice-order packing system.

Steve: It is their initial reaction that provides the impetus for change. Maxine then meets weekly with a team of people to set directions.

BWR: How large is the burton + BURTON™ warehouse system? Steve: Right now we have four warehouses here in Athens covering over 350,000 square feet supplying over 15,000 products to our customers. BWR: How many employees do burton + BURTON™ have?

BWR: Are burton + BURTON™ decisions made solely by Maxine and Bob or is there a group process?

BWR: What advice would you give to others wanting to succeed in the gift basket industry? Steve: My first thought is to stay diversified. We have a wide variety of product lines, including floral products, gift basket products, balloons, home décor items to name a few. So if gift baskets are down a little bit we can look to other areas of our business to be up. BWR: What is your best selling gift basket product?

Steve: We have around 300 employees. We like to think that we’re the largest in the industry.

Steve: Right now it’s our traditional dark wood balloon and floral gift baskets. We are adding to BWR: Do you manufacture your own products, or is the long time favorite, the wooden gift basket, with this contracted out? other ways to display an arrangement such as tin containers, ceramics, and other materials. Steve: No, burton + BURTON™ manufactures almost everything we supply to our customers. BWR: Why has burton + BURTON™ remained focused on the wholesale end of the industry? Steve: We started out as wholesalers and made the kind of old fashioned decision to not compete with our retail customers. BWR: Let’s change direction for a moment if we can; while it’s not something that most businesses are proud of, they all make mistakes. What do you consider to be the most important mistake made by burton + BURTON™? Steve: That is a good question, but in hindsight I would say that not paying as close attention to our expenditures as we could have has had the biggest effect on how we now do business, BWR: How does burton + BURTON™ assess the success of a particular decision? Steve: A lot of it has to do with the involvement of Maxine and Bob; they are hands-on people who are constantly listening to their customers. Whether in one of our four showrooms across the country, at trade shows, in their travels overseas they seek out information about what’s going on. They are hearing direct from the lips of customers what they like or

BWR: How does burton + BURTON™ select a product to add to your line? Steve: A lot of that decision is Maxine’s gut feeling; she’s been in the industry so long, she’s kind of an icon. People trust her, she’s got good instincts. Our staff also pays close attention to world-wide trends by checking out information about the pop culture found in magazines, movies, TV, and any other source. BWR: What are other reasons for burton + BURTON’s success? Steve: I think another reason for our success is that it’s a family owned business, everybody who works here is from this area. If you go to any of our showrooms around the country you’ll encounter a person who, in many cases was born and raised within five minutes of burton + BURTON here in Athens. Southern hospitality, great customer service comes naturally because we are all either related or grew up together. We’ve hung our hat on this value for nearly 30 years and it extends to our customers as well. If you are a part of burton + BURTON in any way you are family. BWR: Thank you Steve. • The Basket Whiz Report

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Pearls of Wisdom

E

xpectation

The act or state of looking forward or anticipating

“The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

Oprah Winfrey Jack Welch

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

“If you want more, you have to require more from yourself.”

Dr. Phil Henry Ford

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

Conventions And Trade Shows Boston Gift Show Boston, MA Mar. 27-30 American Craft Retailers Expo Las Vegas, NV June 4-6 NASFT Summer Fancy Food Show Washington, DC Jul 10-12 Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market Atlanta, GA July 13-20 California Gift Show Los Angeles, CA Jul 19-25 LA Mart Gift Show Los Angeles, CA Jul 19-25 Orlando Gift Show Orlando, FL Jul 23-26 Philadelphia Gift Show King of Prussia, PA Jul 24-27 Oasis Gift Show Glendale, AZ Jul 28-30

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San Francisco International Gift Fair San Francisco, CA Jul 30- Aug 2 Pittsburgh Gift Show Monroeville, PA Jul 30- Aug 1 Las Vegas Gift Show Las Vegas, NV July 31- Aug 3 2011 National Gift Basket Professional Convention Columbus, OH vAug 4-6

Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas, TX Sep 10-12 Atlanta Fall Gift and Home Furnishings Market Atlanta, GA Sep 10-12 Las Vegas Gift & Resort Merchandise Show Las Vegas, NV Sept 20-23

Salt Lake City Gift Show Salt Lake, UT Aug 4-6 Celebrate Convention and Trade Show Ontario, Calif. Aug. 4-7 Minneapolis Gift Show Minnetonka, MN Augt 5-9 Western New York Gift Show Henrietta, NY Aug 7-9 Seattle Gift Show Seattle, WA Aug 13-16

Know of more industry trade shows? Would like to advertise your trade show? Email: thebasketwhizreport@basketwhiz.com The Basket Whiz Report


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Spot Article

Quick Hit Guide for:

Product Photography by James Hartier of www.twistedbasket.com

color/contrasts & background space for my photos. Composition is what you have in your picture, and how you display it. This can also include angles of view, perspective, color, lighting effects, contrast and of course, your design. The background can make or break a close-up picture, so use the “KISS RULE”…[Keep it sweet & simple] Try to compose your picture so there is less background, and The elements to great photos… Read your Manual not have anything distract from [and great designs] … are your subject. It should also not Unfortunately, most people do not composites in shape, symmetry/ be overly distracting, such as read their manual…and if they do, asymmetry of form, texture/ it’s only when a problem arises or pattern, line/angles, light, balance, overly theatrical with props, or when editing, to photoshop a feature doesn’t seem to work for contrast, perspective, color and space. I tend to concentrate on your finished design over an them. Take the time to learn and experiment with all the features of composition form & line whether existing background image for visual effects. You’re not selling your camera. Taking the time now symmetrical or asymmetrical, textures/ pattern, product balance, the background, or props, so will save you much time later. A picture is worth a thousand words, and can be worth thousands of dollars in orders. So, pay close attention to every design photo displayed on your website! Buy the best digital camera that you can afford.You can actually shoot professional quality product images with virtually any digital camera if you take the time to learn.

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A good product photograph is much more than a simple point & shoot operation! Your pictures must speak to the customer for you. By taking the extra time to make each and every photo a virtual showcase for your product, you make the potential customer want to see more of your designs. Ultimately they will buy your products.


concentrate on your design! You want your designs to stand out in your photographs, and compel the online shoppers to buy! They aren’t shopping for or buying the backgrounds, props, or additional visuals. Camera manufacturers put a lot of thought into the settings for each of the different modes, and they tailor the settings to what will work well with their camera. So don’t be afraid to use the pre-set scene icons of your camera. Here is a basic overview of each pre-set and when to use it. Learn the way your photos look by experimenting with all the pre-set modes on your camera. Practice. Practice. Practice. Before you set out to take some serious close-up product photos for your website, brochures or mailers, practice using all the different features, settings and lighting set-ups, and find which combination suits your needs. *I shoot all my design photos utilizing the Tungsten Setting, Tungsten bulbs, [particularly tungsten halogen bulbs, which is my choice of bulb at 500 watts each], are among the most popular for use in indoor photo shoots. Tungsten focuses light only where it’s directed, which can be used to your advantage in a controlled setting. Beware…Tungsten burns extremely bright & extremely hot…so make sure your design isn’t sitting in front of the lights any longer than it needs to take your photo! [Do not leave Tungsten lights on unattended- It could easily cause a fire if it isn’t mounted on a stable platform or stand] Below are some basic tips for the most popular presets you’ll use!

(Continued on next page)

Landscape This pre-set works really well when you’re photographing a large grouping when you are further away, like a collection of baskets grouped together for brochures. The camera automatically picks a smaller aperture, giving your image more sharpness. Use a tripod, the added support and stability will help aid you, so that the design grouping turns out as sharp as possible. Full Sun You’ll want to use this pre-set if you’re taking pictures in the middle of the day, particularly in the summer. The camera automatically picks a faster shutter speed, allowing less light onto your image sensor. This results in a more evenly lit picture that isn’t too bright or washed out. Incandescent There are two kinds of indoor lighting situations. Incandescent pre-set is designed for pictures taken indoors under ordinary light bulbs. As you are probably aware, most of these bulbs produce an orange tint or glow, which can make your pictures look a little strange. When you pick incandescent pre-set, your camera removes the orange tinge, and your photos look much more natural. Fluorescent You’ll want to pick this pre-set when you’re shooting under fluorescent office lights. These lights tend to create a pinkish/bluish tinge when you aren’t shooting in the right pre-set. Just like incandescent pre-set, your camera will compensate for this by creating an image that has no strange color distortions. Macro This is probably the most important of the pre-sets you’ll use to take pictures of standalone gifts, single product items and most of your design photos. Get as close as you can to your subject when you use this pre-set, and really do your best to fill the frame.

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Spot Article Set up a permanent place for photographs. If you don’t…you won’t ever find or have the time to set up to photograph as you need it….taking product photos of everything you do should be just as important as the mechanics needed to create your design… think of it as the last step of your design process….you wouldn’t send out a gift without a bow…. so don’t let your designs leave without a photo….it’s that simple. It only takes a couple of minutes…so just get into the habit of doing it. You don’t have the space you say? You found space for your design table, your inventory, your ribbon, your containers, and so on and so forth….so find the room for your photo area….it’s a must, and you’ll be happy you did in the end. Use a Tripod –a tripod is extremely useful, even if you’re just shooting with a compact camera. Keeping your camera still not only improves your shot, but it allows you to play around with different settings without losing your composition. Using a tripod will aid in keeping a sharp focus….even if you think you have control! When you’re taking photos of your gift designs, a little camera shake can end up blurring major details. Flash, to use or not to use….many debates on this, but since I was asked to write how I do mine, I do not use flash. Using the on-camera flash creates uneven lighting and unflattering glare, blur, resulting in a visually distracting photo. Flash will also wash out your color 42

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& design detail! Basically the idea [most of the time] is to get the product fairly evenly lit, avoiding harsh shadows, and avoiding packaging glare, so make sure you set up in a room with bright lights. [If you have the option, use optical zoom over digital zoom, optical retains clarity better than digital.]

[straight from your camera] when editing your photos, [Editorial prints should be set at 300 DPI] you can always reduce them later…website Photos are displayed at 72 DPI. I use Easy Thumbnails for mine…it will not destroy or distort the pixel data. This program is a free download

I use Photoshop, if you can’t afford I take a lot of pictures. With so this software get an “equal to” many factors involved in taking graphic program such as Gimp, close-up product photos, taking also a free download where you multiple photos of the same can use their tool features to design, will increase my chance further bring out details if your of getting that one great photo. I shot is lacking in some aspect, usually take 4-8 photos for each or you have that almost “near design. Remember the camera sees perfect” shot. things you may have overlooked, missed or need to fix. It’s always Keep in mind; these editing best to get a good selection and features don’t “magically choose the one you want, rather transform” your photo from bad than not getting the shot and to fantastic…. You have to have having to re-shoot. Avoid shooting a decent photo to begin with. If from strange angles as well. For it looks like garbage to begin example, you’re photographing with, it’s just going to look like baskets or single items, then shoot enhanced garbage when you’re from front-on to the item so that done. there’s no distortion due to angle perspective. If your lighting isn’t great, you can use the programs editing Editing your images afterwards features like brightness/contrast, can be almost as important as levels, and color balance, hue taking the images. If the light and saturation sliders to more wasn’t quite right, it can be effectively capture how your look fixed to a certain extent. With was in real life. Once you get most of my images, there are the hang of your camera and all always a small degree of editing its features, and learn an editing enhancement involved, almost program, you’ll be able to correct always correcting the white your photos in less than two balance, using auto contrast, minutes apiece. boosting colors by increasing the To crop or not to crop….it’s a saturation, adding a frame/ border matter of personal style…I will and finally using an attractive font add one point to think about to title the design. when cropping your photos…. make sure all photos on your *Always work on full sized photos website are equal in size…


desire better product photos! You certainly don’t want your photos Above is a photo of my humble photography area. It is very inexpensive: to look like a carnival exploded! If you lose the designs focal point • Curtain Rod you’ve pretty much lost the hope • White or colored Kraft paper 4 feet wide at least 9 feet in length of its sale! • 2 sets of workshop double head halogen lamps 500 watts each- total of 2000 watts Another issue that aggravates the • 2 silver hooded clip on lamps 100 watts each- total of 200 watts average internet shopper, is to have additional gifts or products picture. Prevent customers from its visually distracting and around your gift design, then unappealing to have every photo a having doubts or confusion about state…*items not included. Once different proportion…having your your designs …except for stacks, again people are drawn to the photos all uniform in size, is more there is nothing more distracting image first, and thinking that’s professional and more pleasing to & misleading than having 8-10 what they wish to purchase, don’t the eye. Product photos should products in a basket, then having aggravate them by misleading the exact same products cluttered product photographs. Have only always remain consistent… up around the design you’re about exactly what is to be purchased your designs will look more professional when every photo has to photograph…most people in your design photos, and leave never read product descriptions something in common with each the props, additional staging, and other, such as crisp clear shots of and purchase based on the design tricks for the theater! photos….duplicating the product Here is a simple photo of my each design, same background, same size shots, same position of twice in a photograph makes humble photography area. It’s very shots [vertical or horizontal], same it appear to have more than it inexpensive and easy to create! does…and in my opinion it tends You can alter the measurements to style presentation, same frame or border, and same font for titles if to misrepresent the design and suit your own needs. looks rather low rent & cluttered! Curtain rod and rod brackets…4 you choose to add them. Get Rid Of Anything That Isn’t But to each their own, and I’m feet in length or more • simply trying to help those who Absolutely Necessary in your Create Your Own Photo Center!

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Notable Notes

Our goal is for you to take what you have read in the pages of The Basket Whiz Report and implement many of the business tips presented in your own business. Here is a list of notes (or To Do list) to take away from this issue. Feel free to add to this list! Tell us what you plan to do on our facebook page! oo Study trends in the gift basket industry and incorporate some of the tendencies in my own business (Sales Feature) oo Develop a check list to define our product line to make sure they are in line with our standards—include in my marketing plan. (In the Mix of Things) oo Decide how my products will be distributed. (In the Mix of Things) oo Create a system for ongoing marketing. (Business Systems) oo Set up a permanent photo station (lights, tripod, background paper, build frame), learn how to properly operate my camera, learn how to edit my photos for the web and marketing materials (Quick Hit Guide for Product Photography) oo Put preventive measures in place to keep my site from being hacked. (SEO in the First Place) oo Evaluate current expenditures and eliminate any wastes. (Vendor in the Spotlight) oo Decided how to maximize my marketing dollars and include in my marketing plan. (Marketing Feature) oo Come up with ways to increase my cash flow. (Spot Article: The Importance of Managing Your Cash Flow) oo Check out vendors in the Smart Business Favorites! (Smart Business Favorites) oo Look into setting up a back link program for my website(s). (Business Resources) oo Really study how I can get ranked higher in Google and Yahoo. (Marketing 101) oo See what my website is missing and make corrections. ( Advertorial by WhizBang! Training) oo Stay motivated and encouraged. (Words to Motivate and Inspire and Pearls of Wisdom) oo Manage my budget and make adjustments. (Money Matters) oo Be willing to share with other gift professionals, continue to learn, identify challenges in my business and deal with them, get out of my comfort zone. (Cover Story) oo Have no regrets—just move forward. Follow the Five Rs. (Balancing Act) oo Check out upcoming conventions. Make plans to attend. oo Answer the survey: How do I handle being compared to the BIG BOX Retailers? (Tough Call) oo Like US on facebook by June 30, 2011 and become eligible to win a hand scanner!

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Notable Notes!

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March April 2011