Guest blog written by Debbie Hatswell, Story Mama

In a perfect world, we would all have been sitting down with our designers in about April to talk about themes and festive strategies. The designer would be providing a lovely suite of pretty things to choose from and we would have locked away our gift guides into some fancy magazine software ready to distribute in the coming weeks.

christmas gift guideDon’t know about you, but I am not quite that organised and our finance director says we have to create our gift guide on a pretty tight budget, which means we are doing what we can ourselves.

Here is how to create an online Christmas Gift Guide on a budget:

1. Inventory Management

There is no point heavily promoting an item that is going to be difficult to keep in stock or re-order. Customers will be annoyed by clicking on an item they want to buy only to find it is out of stock. So select the products you are promoting carefully. You also might like to consider whether you want to bundle up some gift items together so that customers feel they are getting something unique and valuable.

2. Format

There are some fantastic online tools that can be used to create a gift guide. Have a think about utilising your own website. We like to keep a bit of flexibility in our gift guide, and by using our own site we can substitute alternative items into the guide at short notice if something has gone out of stock for a couple of days so we do not miss out on sales. If you are using your own site for you gift guide, don’t forget to make it stand out.

At a minimum in your guide you should include a professional image and product benefits or review and include a clickable “buy now” call to action. Consider carefully your target market and the categories they may like to shop by. Is it by age? By Gender? By Price Point?

Some other tools you may consider using are:

- Mailchimp

- Issuu

Don’t forget to think about how your customers will be viewing your gift guide. It will need to be mobile friendly.

There are some great free design tools that can help your gift guide look professional like Canva and PicMonkey.

3. Keep it both trackable and clickable

Measuring visits to your site/ products and the return on your investment will be an important measure of success and what to repeat for next year.

4. Shipping & Timing

Make sure your customers understand how you are getting your products to them, and include Christmas shipping “last order dates” on your website. Consider the latest your most geographically remote client can order, and base your gift guide distribution dates on this. For us that means Early November.

5. Distribution & Promotion

For e-commerce, e-mail still has a higher conversion rate than social media, so ensure you are sending your gift guide out to your list. Remember that every retailer increases their rate of e-mail to customers at this time of year so have a good think about your subject line, your offer and call to action and how you can stand out from the crowd. Social Media and paid promotion can also be used to drive traffic through to your gift guide.

So that is how we create a gift guide on a budget. Hope that helps you create your own Gift Guide and that you have a successful Christmas season. You can take a look at our online Christmas Gift guide here for inspiration here.



christmas gift guideDebbie Hatswell is the Director at Story Mama, an online bookstore specialising in picture books for children. Story Mama helps time poor parents and early childhood educators discover recommended picture books for children ages 0-7. You can find us at


Christmas image courtesy of suphakit73 /

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What I tell myself every day.

Copy of Want to make money when you sell your

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Lesson 1 was about choosing the right name for your business. What I didn’t have time to mention but am often asked is “What if I just use my own name?” It is definitely an easy option at the beginning of a business as it doesn’t require much creative input at all.

business nameThe pros – perhaps one of the biggest reasons people want to use their own name is that they don’t have to register it with ASIC. Another advantage is that many businesses start off by word of mouth or with low budget advertising. It can often be easier to remember someone’s name than an impersonal business name. Finally, most of you who read this blog and are starting or have started a business will be doing it on your own and possibly from home. You will be the only person answering the phone and all inquiries will come straight to you.

The cons – the best way of protecting a business name is to register it as a trade mark but a trade mark needs to be capable of distinguishing your goods or services from those of other traders. Registering a name is difficult and you may have to supply evidence of use of the name to show it has become distinctive. Plus, there can be difficulties if someone else has the same or similar name and uses it for the same or similar goods or services. Thinking even further ahead, your business name will become a valuable asset and one day you might decide to sell your business. So, do you really want someone else using your name? Worse still, what if you sell the name with the business and then want to start up a new business under your own name?

Some real life situations

In 2010, Collette Dinnigan, the famous fashion designer, sued Colette Hayman of Colette Accessories for use of the “Colette” name. Hayman countered by trying to remove some of Dinnigan’s trade marks and it all ended up in a big, expensive, legal battle. The parties ultimately settled, each being able to use their own name, but it isn’t an ideal situation for either one.

business nameThen, just recently, Bob Jane, the Australian former race car driver, and founder of Bob Jane T-Marts was held in contempt of court for using his own name in relation to a new tyre business. Some years before, he had left the family business and his children had obtained a court order to stop him using his own name because it infringed their BOB JANE trade mark. The marks used by the family even have Bob Jane’s face on them!

business nameBut you really want to use your name? Then do it but at least you know the risks. Also, consider registering your signature as a trade mark with or without a logo like .



Sonal Moore of Moore+Moore IP is a mother of two almost grown up daughters and has been advising in the intellectual property area for 30 years. Her firm has no website (because there are not enough hours in the day) but you can find her on LinkedIn or at [email protected]. She is passionate about helping start-up businesses navigate the world of copyright, trade marks, patents, terms and conditions and the Australian Consumer Law.


Superbrands image courtesy of endcy /

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getting the most from your charitable donationI was recently involved in the sourcing of donations for the Silent Auction at my local primary school trivia night. Whilst I was overwhelmed by the number and quality of donations received, I was surprised at the number of companies that didn’t make the most of the opportunity to gain more exposure for their business. I realise many companies probably just used the opportunity to do a good deed and maybe clear some of their discontinued or deleted stock from their warehouse. As a marketing professional I saw the missed opportunities to leverage more business. Following I have put together my top 5 tips to get the most out of your charitable donation:

  1. Offer samples with your donation – People like to touch and feel a product. There is no point offering a gift voucher if the people attending the event don’t even know what your product looks like. Supply the organisers with some samples for display or make up a display sheet with products shots.
  2. Offer a promotion code – Why not use the opportunity to gain as much exposure as possible by offering everyone involved in the event a special promotional discount. Ask the organisers to distribute flyers with a special promotional code to all attendees to be redeemed in person or online.
  3. Logo with web address – Most event organisers are happy to acknowledge your support of their event by including your logo in material to promote the event, given to attendees or on an electronic presentation. Have a special logo designed that includes your web address. This will make it easier for people to find your business after the event.
  4. Social Media – Ask the organisers to acknowledge your support via social media. Get them to tag your social media account in the post or take a photo of you handing over the donation that can be uploaded.
  5. Advertise your support – It is no point donating your time or products to charitable causes unless you advertise that support. Use social media and your client communications to advise current and prospective clients of the great work you are doing in the community.

Supporting charitable causes can not only raise your credibility amongst your current clients but can be a great way to get your product or service in front of hundreds or thousands of prospective new clients.


get the most from your charitable donationsCindy Parker, B.Bus Marketing Consultant, Four P’s Marketing Solutions

Cindy Parker combines 18 years of marketing experience with a Bachelor of Business degree to help small/medium business owners maximise their profit. Cindy has worked in the marketing departments of Australian owned and multinational companies within the Medical, IT, Financial Services and Beauty industries.

Four P’s Marketing Solutions assists small business with easy and cost effective marketing activities including website text , PR activities, powerful promotions, plus logical and easy to implement marketing advice.

For further information, contact:

Cindy Parker | Ph 0417 035 007 | Email

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Giveaway Monday – Review of a product for mums in business

Va Va Voom is an graphically appealing workbook/how to guide that has been written for those who are considering a career as a Virtual Assistant (VA) or who are already running a VA business and are not sure how to take it to the next level. It is written by Rosie Shilo, who runs one of the most widely respected Virtual Assistance and Training networks in Australia.

virtual assistant manual / workbookHaving established myself as a VA 12 months ago, following many years in sales and marketing and running my own businesses it was not a book I had on my must read list but it did give me further insights and I enjoyed reading it. I would consider it a “must read” for anyone considering establishing themselves as a VA. I particularly liked the modularity of the book. Read a section, absorb the lovely images and complete the workbook section to personalize the information. It would also work as a how to work from home as a “mumpreneur” book.

There are great tips throughout the book from people who are working in the Australian industry and it realistically addresses even the tough issues involved in establishing a work from home business.

At only $28 this book is a worthwhile investment for anyone starting a work from home business and a must have for those looking at becoming a Virtual Assistant.

virtual assistant manual / workbookA little more on Rosie Shilo, Virtually Yours

Rosie Shilo is the owner of the widely renown Virtual Assistant Network, Virtually Yours, a network for over 150 Australian Virtual Assistants. This passionate woman who has been described many times as ‘awesome’ is a true asset to the Virtual Assistant industry and her desire to see the industry grow and develop shines through in everything she does.

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virtual assistant manual / workbookReviewed by Louise Kerr, Dynamic Virtual Assistance

Dynamic Virtual Assistance provides a customised executive assistance service to busy professionals, especially those who work alone providing services to clients. Giving them back time in their day to concentrate on improving their service or to take much needed family or personal time.

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The giveaway:

This gorgeous hardcopy book includes heaps of advice about setting up your virtual assistant business and what to consider to ensure you are working with the right clients and getting them to LOVE you for your AWESOMENESS!

It is a book and manual in one – activities are included to help you along the way. Feedback and tips from many business owners are included so you know EXACTLY what they are looking for in an awesome VA! Valued at $36.30.

For your chance to win, simply comment on the blog on why you absolutely have to win this by Friday 19 September 2014.


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