Guest blog written by Nicole Matthews, Giftivate

It seems that Santa is not the only one wearing a hat during the festive season.

Christmas gift wrapping ideasAs women, mums, business owners (…and the list goes on), at Christmas time we often find ourselves the ‘owner’ of the gift selection and wrapping process for those many others whom we connect with – family, friends, customers, childrens’ teachers, pets and perhaps even for our hairdresser, or for those significant others who make us feel special throughout the year. Some of us LOVE the whole festive gift giving, shopping and wrapping process, and for some it may be another one of those actions on our lengthy To Do lists that we may shy away from, or even outsource.

Either way, here are some gift wrapping tips I’d like to share with you to help make this Christmas a celebration – for you, your customers, and your business:

1. Simplicity

Akin to choosing the actual gifts, often the best place to start for gift wrapping is simple. At one end of the scale, ‘super simple’ may be purchasing gifts online and ticking the box at the checkout to say ‘yes, please wrap the gift/s for me and deliver to that address’. Done, sorted!

However, if you will be physically wrapping the gifts, then it’s ideal to start with a theme for the current festive season. It needn’t be based on the latest and greatest styling or colour trends; it just needs to be simple in that it reflects you/your business/your brand.

2. Appropriateness

Now recalling our many hats, spend time ensuring that the gift wrap you choose is appropriate to those who will be receiving your gifts. As you will have done in your gift selection process, consider the demographics of your customers and their interests. This does not mean different gifts/wrapping paper for each customer, but it may mean having a few options. And think about the gift and its wrappings as being an extension of your brand. You may not wrap a business gift in the same paper/theme/style as you may wrap your children’s gifts. Not everyone may appreciate a certain cartoon Pig adorning their present!

3. Quality

Keeping in mind your budget, I’d suggest that the quality of your gift, and the way that it is presented of paramount importance. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune, but instead taking the time to ensure that there is a “fit” with your brand. You may simply be giving chocolates, but ensure to consider the chocolate brand and it’s quality too. You may even buy the chocolates in bulk, but remember to package them in an interesting and thoughtful way for each customer. Similarly the gift packaging (paper/giftbags/ribbon) you use sends a message to the receiver. Low quality packaging and trimmings can dilute the whole experience for the receiver. Take the time to source and use good quality materials, and scrub up on your wrapping skills if necessary.

4. Personalisation

As a business owner, when you delight your customers with their Christmas gift, you could also take the opportunity to tailor the wrapping paper. You may do this by tapping into the personality of your brand and perhaps selecting gift packaging in the colour/s related to your brand or, alternately, you could create customised gift wrapping paper for your customers. You may like to have your logo, an image related to your business, or even a photo of yourself as your choice of wrapping paper for Christmas this year. Children need not be the only ones having fun creating their own personalised Christmas wrap this Christmas. As mums and business owners, we can do this too!

So, I hope I’ve helped by suggesting some areas to consider as you prepare, or continue your planning, for Christmas 2014. Happy hat-wearing, happy shopping , happy wrapping, and enjoy the celebration of Christmas. Click here to take a look at some gift wrapping ideas.

Christmas gift wrapping ideasNicole Matthews is the founder of Giftivate, an online website specialising in the production of personalised gift wrap. Giftivate offers a FRESH, FUN & EASY way to turn images into premium personalised gift wrap suitable for Businesses, Individuals or Fundraising. Christmas planning workshops also available in some locations. 

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Branding | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

This post brought to you by Bitdefender. Independent review by Amy de Putron, Motivating Mum Marketing Teamanti virus review

I have been asked to trial some antivirus software and write a review for you. As a total non-techie, at first I panicked, but then I realised I could certainly offer a valuable run down of how easy it is to install and use from the perspective of a mum in business, operating from home, because this is what I do.

The software in question is Bitdefender Small Office Security. According to its slogan – “It’s Powerfully Simple” and simple is what I need. This is not a technical review but one that should help you decide if this is the product for you, if you are like me and know very little about viruses and antivirus software, and just need peace of mind that you are purchasing a reliable and trusted product that is easy to use.

The product specifications state that Bitdefender Small Office Security is suitable for small businesses with up to 250 users. It will protect Windows workstations or servers and Macs with highly ranked security technologies and easy to use remote management. It will allow you to gain time and boost your security with its ability to remotely deploy, control and monitor protection for all computers. From the web browser, even non-technical users (e.g. me) can administer security with ease.

From the Bitdefender website, once I worked out that I needed the cloud console rather than the on-premise console, which delivered a highly technical set of instructions which sent me back to check if I had clicked on the right thing, I was in business. Login details were immediately emailed to me and I was able to begin the installation process. Once installed, the screens used to monitor the software are fairly clear and simple. Make sure you login into your Control Centre online and read the Essential Steps and manage your business’s settings. You will have to set up the scheduled scans here for example.

After running a scan, Bitdefender picked up a couple of suspicious files which were automatically quarantined. It is easy to run scans and monitor any nasties that the software is picking up. My computer has been running well and has not slowed down at all. I am not getting any annoying windows popping up on my screen which I have found can happen when your computer is not protected properly.

This product apparently employs technologies which consistently rank first in major independent tests from AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and Virus Bulletin and Bitdefender was this year’s Best Anti-Virus winner in PC Magazine.

I’d say you have nothing to lose by downloading the free 30 day trial and seeing how it goes. For $249 you can protect up to 5 users – not a bad investment for peace of mind that your business is well protected. Bitdefender also offers, free local support by phone or email, local time.

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Biz Product Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Giveaway Monday – Review of a product for mums in business

You’re on the road to building your business, your head is full of ideas and you’re aware of what you need to know to become an expert in your field. You know you need to self-promote but how do you do it when there’s so many avenues to consider.

PR and social media for small business“From Unknown To Expert” clearly outlines the varied areas of PR and social media with no fuss explanations, covering branding, writing your bio, blogging, networking and many aspects of media. Of particular interest to me is the section on social media of which there are many options. Social media can be overwhelming, however Catriona Pollard demystifies this.

It has taught me how to set my pathway for my field of business. All the advice here can be adopted to whatever your field might be, using the Action Steps at the end of each chapter. The Action Steps are key, so use them.

No page unturned, my thoughts are clear allowing me to confidently strategize my next moves in planning business success.

PR and social media for small business

 

A little more on CP Communications

We are a public relations and social media agency providing strategic and creative solutions for clients driven by excellence.

From Unknown To Expert is your step-by-step guide for becoming a recognised expert using clever PR and social media.

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

 

PR and social media for small businessReviewed by Lindy Dorne, Greater George

Greater George is my business in the making. I will be producing soft homewares and café wares – for the love of quality with a point of difference.

E: [email protected]     M: 0418 873 968

 

The giveaway:

We have 3 x copies of  ”From Unknown to Expert” to giveaway, worth $27.95 each. To win, simply comment on the blog what you find most overwhelming in your business by this Friday 28 November.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Biz Product Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest post written by Susie Campbell, Little Black Book

For free? Gotta’ be a catch you say? Nope. My motto is; don’t pay for anything unless you have to. Let’s face it, when you are new to business, everyone around you seems to be so much more efficient, have all the latest business gadgets and technology, seems to be in every magazine and just seems to be cutting it. You on the other hand, are about to launch and have a long list of all the ‘must haves’ which all cost an arm and a leg. But you need them, right? Wrong.

free marketing ideasBasically, you think that is the way to do it because the majority do it that way and your competitors have done it that way too. So throw out all those preconceived ideas and let’s try something different…stay with me!

First write that list of ‘must-haves’ and then cross out ‘must have’ and write ‘useful once I have my first (x) clients/turning over (x) amount’. You must now start your business on half the budget you allocated or better still, an almost zero budget. Come on, you are a mum and/or small business start-up, you want to run your own business, but you have virtually no spare cash to invest. Don’t let it stop you!

It is possible and I am open to anyone who fancies giving it a go, to challenge me! Service or product based businesses; the opportunities are endless. It is all about being creative; thinking a wee bit differently from the crowd, being driven by the fact that you have no money for all the usual business paraphernalia and by applying a bit of brazen cheek and asking for things! Swap, barter, trade, borrow…can’t afford a website, no problem. It can wait or you can find someone who will do one for you in exchange for your skills. Can’t afford to pay for ads on FB, no problem, swap posts with some businesses with the same target market. Need retail premises? No problem, stick your products into another store with products to compliment yours and pay them a commission or leave them on consignment. This is all about building and promoting your business now, to generate enough money to be able to afford the things you ideally want, later. And hey, you may find that you never need the things you thought you wanted and now have more cash to spend on growth! And why stop at playing with the small fish…you too can play with the big boys when you learn to think big!

I will leave you with this – I do not have a website, nor a Facebook page, however I have a growing business which I started less than a year ago and have clients across Australia and have not spent a dollar on advertising. I have a computer, a mobile phone, a mouth and a mind. Use em!

free marketing ideasSusie Campbell from Little Black Book

Marketing support and the use of some good old natter, to create lasting business alliances.

Contact Susie:  [email protected]                          0415 448 007 

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Marketing & PR | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This article is brought to you by Nell Casey, Melbourne small business copywriter

Are you one of those people who’ve been prepping your business for the Christmas season since August? Yep, me neither.

Prepare Your Online Store for the Christmas SeasonBut it’s not too late. For many businesses, 20% of their annual sales happen in December. And with some extra prep now, you could push that number even higher.

So in the interests of a super-successful December and a January spent sipping cocktails by the pool, here are my top tips for getting your website or online store ready for the Christmas season.

Give Your Website a Facelift

Many people (like me) do most of their Christmas shopping from the safety and comfort of their couch. When those people come across your website, you want to make sure it’s all up-to-date and showcasing you at your best.

Have your best products featured front-and-centre on the home page. Get some new product photos taken if you need to.

Go over all your website content to make sure it’s correct and up to date. Could your About Page be rewritten? Are your T&Cs still current? While you’re at it, add details of your cut-off times for Christmas shipping and any special conditions you have for returning gifts.

Make It Easy to Grow Your List

If you haven’t already started a mailing list then make that a priority this shopping season. With so many new customers coming to your site in November and December, it’d be great to be able to keep in contact with them in the future.

Decide on Your Blog Contingency Plan

Christmas shopping + busy time of year = no time to update your blog. Keeping up with your blog posts at the best of times is hard, but during the Christmas madness it’s almost guaranteed to be relegated way down your list of priorities.

Put in place a plan now on how you’ll manage your blog. You could pre-write and schedule a bunch of posts to keep you covered (recycling old blog posts is also handy for this). Or just place a little message on your blog letting visitors know that you’re taking a mini-break and will be back to producing awesome content in January.

Put On Some Special Promotions

With so many similar stores out there, you want to offer something to make yourself stand out. It might be tempting to discount your prices to drum up sales, but I don’t really believe in competing on price.

Instead, think of other things you can offer to your customers. What about free gift wrapping on orders? Or special gift bundles that you don’t offer at other times of the year? You could also provide an extra-long returns period for all those people shopping for gifts for others.

The great thing about all of these tips is that they’ll help your website stand out and get more sales beyond December.

What are you planning on doing to attract more sales on your website or store this holiday season? Are there any other things you’d love to know about making your website stand out to increase your sales?

 

Prepare Your Online Store for the Christmas SeasonNell Casey is a Melbourne small business copywriter, who’s passionate about helping businesses grow their online presence to get more in-real-life customers and fans. Find out what she wants for Christmas (and other, more helpful things) by connecting on Twitter.

 

Image courtesy of digital art / www.freedigitalphotos.net

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Selling & Retail | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment