The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

E-Newsletters, Part 2 March 29, 2010

A long, long time ago, when I first started my blog, I wrote a post on E-Newsletters. it was a post talking about the basics of e-newsletters: what they do, and what options there are out there. It remains one of the most popular posts on my blog, and I often refer to it.

But, honestly, I’ve kind of been slacking in the e-newsletter department. I don’t have one myself, because I work for so many different people, and most of the people I work for have one. But I recently starting having conversations with Dave Charest, who’s a bit of an e-newsletter expert. So, I interviewed him. This is e-newsletters, level 2-what goes in them, how often to send them, autoresponders–all your questions answered.

RC: So… I have signed myself up for e-newsletter software, and I have a signup box on my website. Now what??

DC: First off congratulations. You’ve taken the first step towards taking advantage of an often overlooked yet very powerful marketing tool. I’m often disappointed at how ineffectively people use e-mail marketing. I’m not sure exactly why that is. But it seems to be a combination of factors: perceived lack of time, lack of knowledge and just copying the old school methods.

So what happens is we just end up using e-mail marketing as a form of advertising that eventually just turns into spam. But in actuality if used correctly email is an extension of the work you do, whether it be your art, your theater, your business or what have you. And as an extension of your work is should be built around your personality, or brand. Precisely how you use your email marketing is going to differ based on your particular goals. But the first step is looking at your approach to email marketing a bit differently. So what we really need to do is stop thinking of email as though it’s some type of spam device, because it’s not.

Whether you’re trying to sell tickets, trying to sell a product or just trying to keep yourself top of mind it’s very, very, very, very – I’ll say it one more time – VERY, important to understand that someone has essentially given you permission to contact them. It’s like getting someone’s number at the bar. There’s a level of commitment there that’s much stronger than someone signing-up for your Facebook page, or somebody reading your Twitter stream or checking out your blog from time to time. The power comes from the fact someone has taken a step to say,  “Yes, I want you to keep in touch.” Which in dating terms means, “I’d like to get to know you better.” So it’s better to move away from this notion of email as a tool to just advertise, but rather as a way to make deeper, personal connections to people who are truly interested in what you do.

In fact, if we follow this dating thread, I would go so far as to say, think of email marketing as a way to make love to your audience. That paints one heckuva picture doesn’t it? But think about how this would change your approach, your tactics and your overall strategy. What if your ultimate goal is to get your audience in bed? Where “in bed” equals buying tickets for your event, donating money, buying a product or taking some type of action that you want to your audience to take. Now it’s really easy to see that if all you’ve been doing is sending ads to your audience, it’s the equivalent of saying, “Hey, sleep with me.” But you haven’t actually worked up to that point in the relationship yet. I’m sure we can agree “Hey, sleep with me,” although it may work a small percentage of the time, is probably not the best place to start, right? But it’s also no secret to the involved parties that eventually that’s where we’d like to end up.

So e-mail marketing, or all marketing for that matter, becomes a dating game where you’re trying to build up to that point in the relationship. So this means you have to start at the beginning. You need  think in terms of getting to know each other and building a certain level of trust. If you work at it from this angle, you’ll find yourself smiling a lot more. =)

RC: How often should I send an email to my list?

DC: It’s best to establish a regular frequency. A frequency based on a couple of factors: 1. What are you able to keep up with? 2. Do you have a project coming up?

1. What are you able to keep up with? At a minimum, once a month is a realistic goal. If you can’t do that, you should at least set a regular frequency. Even if that means every other month. You want to avoid becoming the person who only calls when they want something. That’s a very selfish relationship. You’d rather become a regular fixture in the routine of your audience. You want to offer them something with the e-mail they’ll actually enjoy. Something they’ll look forward to receiving. What that thing is, of course, depends on what you do.

2. Do you have a project coming up? When you have a project coming up you’ll actually want to think about keeping in touch a bit more frequently. You’re trying to build excitement for the event itself. It’s a bit like foreplay. So a regular frequency of at least once a month so you continually build trust is a good place to start. Then you’ll want to keep in touch a little more frequently when you have something coming up.

RC: What are some good things to include in my emails?

DC: There’s basically two types of messages that you want to be thinking about. Many times these messages also overlap. So we’re talking about: 1. Company based messages 2. Project based messages

1.  Company based messages These e-mails reveal things about your business, about your theater company, about your work as a whole. They’re about who you are and why you do what you do. Examples would be: How you got started? Who works with you? How other things you do relate to your work?

2. Project based messages Project specific e-mails people to learn about a particular project you’re working on. This helps create desire and build anticipation while also offering some education. Examples would be: Why you doing this project? What is the purpose of this project? Does this have some type of greater connection to the world as a whole? How can your audience benefit? These types of questions form the basis for e-mails that can help you strengthen the connection with your audience.

RC: Should they be the same every time, or should I vary them? (ie: each month have one tip, one profile of an employee, but have those things be variations on the same theme.)

DC: Variations on the same theme is a good way to look at it. The big thing though is not to put too much in one email. It’s best to keep each email restricted to one topic and one action you’d like your audience to take. Essentially you’d like to start training your audience. You want them to look forward to receiving your e-mails. And you want to get them in the habit of taking an action. Over the long term there’s a patterning that happens. It’s a form of content marketing. Over time you can gain influence with your audience. Also by repeating the same themes others are able to repeat them. Which means they can help share your story. But the first step here is creating content people look forward to opening. If they don’t open, it doesn’t work. In dating terms, would you rather the person take your call or let it go to voicemail?

Again, if used properly email marketing is really powerful and completely overlooked. But if you put in work the payoff is huge. That’s really how you have to look at it.

RC: What’s an autoresponder? How and when is it useful?

DC: Autoresponders are messages you can set up in a sequence at specific intervals. They’re phenomenal for the simple reason that once you write them they last forever. Which means you get the benefit over and over by doing the work once. Autoresponders are perfect for those company based messages. Once someone gets added to your list you can start building that trust right away by sharing information about your company. Ideally, the first message someone receives from you should never ask them to buy tickets. Autoresponders help you build up to that. Remember we want to build up to it. This is all foreplay.

RC: What role should back story or narrative play in your emails?

DC: Again, you definitely want to reveal your history. Other things like,  what you’re doing? What’s the process? But you must reveal this information in a way that’s interesting to the audience. So back story and narrative play a very important role. Email marketing is the show before the show. You can use it at an extension of the story. As a way to prime people for the main event. Stories in general are powerful. It’s the way we communicate. It’s the way people remember things. It’s also great if you can work your audience into the narrative. Or at least give them a sense of what it’s like to see your work or use your product. Think about when you start dating someone new and your friends ask, “What’s he/she like?” You tell the story don’t you?

RC: Should I plan out my emails in advance, say for 6 months or a year?

DC: Ideally, yes. With email marketing you can set things up advance. Which is helpful because you’re often pressed for time. You’re doing multiple things and wearing many hats. But if you spend a bit more time on the front end and you’re paying attention to what you’re doing, reassessing what’s happening each time, it’s going to get easier and easier and faster and faster. You want to work towards a situation where you have a repeatable system.

You can also save yourself time by doing what I call “double duty.” If it’s your business, questions you get asked can become emails. But in the arts there’s a kind of built in magic factor. So you can actually use much of the research your production team is doing. There’s all this work being done that’s just sitting there when it could actually be used for marketing. So those are a couple of ways to take advantage of work you already do to save yourself time.

But also be sure to ask for feedback. Once you open that dialogue with your audience they become more invested and they’ll give you ideas for what to include. The trick is to remember the focus is them not you. So listen and give the audience what they want. What’s more interesting the guy/gal that asks about you or the one who talks about themselves all night?

RC: A lot of my clients use e-newsletter software as an alternative to email. They basically only send out emails when they have something to promote, like a show. What are your thoughts on that?

DC: What’s more important is what happens in those moments when you don’t have something to promote. It’s a lot like that friend who calls you only when they want something. You don’t really look forward to those phone calls do you? You see the number and think,  “great what do they want?” But when you’re giving, sharing and entertaining on a consistent basis, when you’re offering value to your audience, that adds a great strength when it comes time to ask for something back. Overall, the big things to remember are:

Your audience wants to get to know you, what makes you tick and why they should make love to you. =) Want to find out how to make marketing a simple part of your process rather than icky afterthought? Sign-up for Wicked Smaht email updates.

When not acting, playing music, or being a lovin’ husband and Dad – Dave inspires creative people to embrace the human condition in their marketing for better results.

Also, listen to a podcast I made with Dave on managing your time with social media.

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How to Measure Effectiveness of Your Marketing Campaigns (Guest Post by Gagandeep Singh) December 7, 2009

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is imperative to determine how successful it is. But still, most business owners don’t track their marketing campaign results and keep on spending their money, without knowing whether the campaign is effective or not. Measuring the accurate performance of any marketing campaign is very difficult but with the following tips you can easily collect enough information from your marketing campaigns to take informed decisions.

Select Metrics: First of all, you need to specify which metrics you will use to measure the success of your campaign. These are determined by the objective of your marketing campaign. For example, if the objective of your marketing campaign is to increase blog readership, then number of subscribers should be used as metric. But if the objective of your marketing campaign is used to promote your Brand, then you could use surveys as a measurement to know about the improvement in popularity of your Brand after the campaign.

Predict Results: It is impossible to predict the results of a marketing campaign unless it is completed, but you can speculate what results which you think can be achieved at the end. Many business owners just say, “we want to increase blog readership, let’s place ads.” This is a very unscientific approach which could create difficulty in measuring effectiveness at the end. Be specific with your predictions. For example, say “we will increase blog readership by 30%.”

Divide and Measure: Each marketing campaign targets various locations and uses different sources like online ads or local newspapers to promote. Divide your Marketing Campaign on the basis of locations and then divide them further in to various means of Marketing and measure the results. This technique can provide you with lot of hidden information.

Here’s an example: you are promoting a product in Place X and Y, both online and offline. After seeing the results, you conclude that online modes of marketing work better in Place X, and in Place Y, offline ads convert very well. So in the future you won’t be wasting money on Offline Promotion in Place X or on Online Promotion in Place Y.

Calculate ROI: ROI also defined as Return of Investment. It is measured by Value of Customer divided by Customer Acquisition cost Multiplied by 100. For example, if your marketing campaign costs you $5,000 and you acquire 10 customers where each customer generates $1000 in profit for you. Then Your ROI would be 10,000/5,000 * 100 = 200%. Higher the ROI, the more effective your marketing campaign is.

Eliminate Unmeasurable Actions: Each marketing campaign contains some parts which can’t be measured directly. For example, if you place an ad on a billboard, you can’t count how many people saw that billboard. To help track this, issue a discount coupon code for your customers and track the success of such ads with the help of these codes. The success of any such ad would depend on the number of times a coupon connected to that ad would be used.

Test, Tweak and Retest: Keep on analyzing results of your campaigns and then make required changes. Sometime a tiny change in headline can make drastic improvement s in your ROI. So keep on testing your campaign unless you achieve desired results.

Gagandeep Singh is an Internet Marketing Executive for Fortepromo, which helps Small Businesses promote their brand with high-quality promotional items.

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Creating an email signature October 7, 2009

Last week, I got an email from Simon. This, in and of itself, is not strange, given that we work together. A lot. What was new was this spiffy signature:
simon sig

I took a screenshot and converted it to a .jpg, so you’ll have to believe me when I say all links are clickable.

Email signatures are a powerful tool. They’re like the digital equivalent of a business card. As we become more and more active online, there are more and more places to connect with us, or points of entry. You might meet someone on LinkedIn that you didn’t know through Facebook, or vice-versa. So it’s important to allow your clientele to connect with you in whatever way they like the best.

So, first of all, if you don’t yet have an email signature, create one. Most email programs will allow you to do this, even the web-based ones like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail.

Your signature should include any below that are applicable:

  • Name, position, company
  • Logo
  • Address (ONLY if you have an office, not your home address)
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Blog URL
  • Ways to connect with social networking: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

I came across a cool little program that writes the code for you, called Sig22.

Special thanks to the lovely and talented Janet Baxter, who sent me this article from CNN Business on how to create a digital business card.

Maybe if you ask him nicely, Simon will tell you how he did his.

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Why social media? August 24, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,E-book,Touchpoints — Rebecca Coleman @ 11:42 am
Tags: ,

(the following is an excerpt from my e-book: Guide to Getting Started with Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations)

Marketing is creating relationships built on trust.

The days of heavy‐handed, high‐pressure sales tactics are gone. The advent of Television, mass print,
and the internet made it easy for advertisers to get their products under our noses. But after many years
of being bombarded with literally thousands of ads per day, we have developed the ability to tune it out.

I see us returning to the day of the door‐to‐door salesman. In the ‘50’s, housewives often bought wares
from a familiar salesman that came around at regular intervals. There was a trust between the buyer
and the seller that was built on personality, and getting to know each other (for the seller, getting to
truly know his housewives’ needs).

While I’m not advocating you start trying to sell your artwork door‐to‐door, I am encouraging you to
jump  into  social  media  because  it  is  a  very  powerful  form  of  relationship  marketing.  Relationship
marketing works because if you get someone on your side, they will bring others to you. Think about
products that you use in your own life. If you really love something, and are finding that it makes your
life easier, won’t you tell others about it? You become, in essence, an ambassador for that product. And
if you tell a friend and convert them, and then they tell someone… well, you get the idea. Social media
makes this process painless, easy, and, immediate.

Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that word‐of‐mouth is always your number one form of
advertising. And the joy of social networking is that you have the ability to reach new, and perhaps
untapped, markets, all from the comfort of your own computer.

I recently came across this great YouTube video, created by the fine folks over at 22 Squared, which illustrates this point perfectly.

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Lessons learned from Wine country… May 25, 2009

Posts have been a bit sporadic this past week. Part of the reason for that is because I took a few days off last week (and

The Naramata Bench

The Naramata Bench

by took a few days off, I mean, I took my laptop and blackberry with me, and still ended up doing a couple of hours of work each day–come on summer!), and my sweetie and I headed up to Penticton for some exploring and wine tasting.

If you visit the “Naramata Bench”, just a 10-minute drive from Penticton, there is a long and spectacular road with some two-dozen or so wineries. It is literally one winery after another, and some of BC’s best-know wines come from this region.


Kettle Valley Winery

We first wanted to visit the Joie Winery, but they didn’t have a wine shop, or tastings. We then ended up at  Kettle Valley. For $4 each, we got to taste an ounce of four different kinds of wines–two red, and two white. We didn’t love the wines enough to buy one, but we did participate in a Gewurztraminer slushy, which was extremely civilized on a hot day.



Detail of the Therapy sign

Next up: Therapy Vineyards. Located just up the hill from Kettle Valley, the experience couldn’t have been more different. Kettle Valley’s tasting room was a converted garage. It was a nice a garage, but it was still a garage. Therapy had a specially-built wine-tasting room and store. Tastefully decorated with a long tasting bar, here we got to sample a flight of 7 wines for $3. Therapy uses lots of clever names for its wine–Freudian Sip, Super Ego, and thier most popular, Pink Freud. The gal who poured our wines was able to tell us all about them in a very conversational way, without sounding like she was reading it off of a script. And she was a genuine wine enthusiast herself, telling us about her collection. The experience was very, very positive, and we left with bottle in tow.

At Therapy Vineyards

At Therapy Vineyards

So, why am I writing a blog post about wine tasting on a blog that deals with business in the arts? BecauseDSC_0118 these three wineries were stunning examples of enterprises that we can all learn from.

Joie is quite a successful, critically-acclaimed winery. My feeling is, they think that they don’t need to be so open to their clientele. They feel that business is good, they have a beautiful website and successful sales. For them, that’s enough. At Kettle Valley, I felt like they were maybe just going through the motions. You know: “you should really have a tasting room. It can help to boost sales.” But it felt quite cold and mechanical, without heart. Therapy was doing it right. They were open, conversational, and really let us see behind the scenes. And the result was, we bought in (literally). I will recommend this wine to my friends, I would highly recommend you visit the winery if you are ever in the area, and, in a sea of labels at the liquor store, that one will stand out for me because of its clever marketing.

I know you hear me talk ad nauseum about how all arts businesses should be involved with social media. The reason why is because it helps your clientele to get to know “the real you.” And when they do, they will buy in. And beyond that, become your ambassador. My experience at Therapy was so positive, I now consider myself an ambassador for them. All they are out is some employees’ salaries and 7 ounces of wine. And how much business will they get in return? That’s the hard part to prove, but I can guarantee you it will be more than the business that Joie or Kettle Valley will get from me.

Oh–and one more thing I learned–I apparantly get quite chatty after tasting 7 different wines.

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State of the Union: Social Networking March 23, 2009

Okay, so I’m no Guy Kawasaki. I’m not even close to Seth Godin.  But some interesting things have happened over the last few weeks, and I wanted to share them with you.

imagesFirst off, Twitter just celebrated its third birthday. Originally used as a device for co-workers in the same office to talk to each other, Twitter began in March, 2006, at a company in San Francisco called Odeo. At last count, Twitter users worldwide are thought to be somewhere in the range of 6 Million.

facebook_badgeSecond, if you are a Facebook user (Facebook is the number 1 social media application in the world, right now), you’ll notice that they have rolled out a new interface. This is partly because Facebook tried to buy Twitter in November last year, and was unsuccessful. So, they have changed their interface to be more Twitter-like.

myspaceThird, I have given a couple of talks on social networking over the last couple of weeks, and I have been asked the question “what about My Space?” My response is always the same: if you are a musician, you should have a My Space page if you are a musician, otherwise….

What does all this tell us? Well, first of all, Facebook would not have tried to buy out Twitter, unless they saw them as some kind of threat. Their current redesign is further proof that they are worried about Twitter’s rapid growth. My Space is a good example of this. In June 0f 2006, My Space was the most popular social networking site on the internet, but it was eclipsed by Facebook in April 2008. My Space is now primarily used by musicians, which I think it is perfect for. Facebook, meanwhile, is sweating over Twitter’s growing popularity.

I have talked to a lot of people about Twitter over the last few weeks. Most people say the same thing–they feel like they should be on Twitter, because it’s so popular, and they hear about it all the time, but I also hear that people are unsure what to do when they join. Often they feel overwhelmed by the amount of noise going on, and are unsure about Twitter’s value to them.

Whenever I get a new follower, I like to check out their Twitter page, and if they seem like someone I have something in common with, I’ll follow them back. I’ve been super busy these last two weeks, so yesterday, I batched the nearly-100 new followers I’d gotten over the last couple of weeks. When I look at someone’s profile to see if I want to follow, I’m looking for a few specific things: a picture, a fully-filled out profile, a website. I will also glance at their last few tweets, and see if any of them present value: links, blog posts, information.

It was a bit of a wake-up call: not that many passed the test. It started me wondering: if someone stumbled over my Twitter page, and judged it on my values, would they follow me? Maybe. Maybe not.

Twitter is young, and there has been a lot of talk about how to take it to the future. Monetization, for example. For me, it’s my goal to use my social networking ability and my skills as a marketer to help people to begin to create a social media marketing plan for themselves or thier business, because this is an area that I see is sadly lacking.

So stay tuned… plans are in the works. And you’ll be the first to know.

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How Artists are Using Social Media February 20, 2009

Here in Vancouver, there’s  a local gal who is an actor and a social media enthusiast, called Monica Hamburg. While our paths have not crossed at auditions (that I know of), they have crossed on Twitter.  A while back, she posted a survey on her blog, Me Like the Interweb, to see how and why artists are using Social Media.

It’s fascinating. From the introduction, in which Monica talks about a favorite subject of mine, nicheing:

Innovative and ambitious artists are choosing to carve out their niche, realizing that although there are many artists out there, someone with true talent, drive, determination, and the will to learn can find their place, find their fans, and hopefully a way to make their work successful (in whatever way that is measurable to them).

You can read the entire post here.

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How many posters should we print? February 9, 2009

I was asked this question in a phone call from one of my clients last week.

“500?” she asked. I nearly choked on my coffee.

There’s a marketing revolution happening, folks. And the news is mostly good, and a little bit bad. Truth is, the tried-and-true, traditional methods of marketing our theatre productions, like posters and postcards, and ads in newspapers, aren’t working anymore. Part of the reason for this is that, we are so constantly inundated with advertising, that is is almost impossible to break through. Granted, an eye-grabbing graphic or title might help, but at the end of the day, what is going to sell tickets more than anything else is relationship selling.

The good news about that is that it is much, much cheaper than traditional forms of advertising. The bad news is, you will have to make a deep investment of time, and that can sometimes be a big challenge for already-overworked non-profit theatre companies. But the payoff can be really, really big.

In this day and age of spam, impersonal form-emails and auto responders, a personal touch is almost rare, and therefore stands out more. It’s like we’re going back to the days of the door-to-door salesman. A thirty-second “elevator pitch” paired with the backup of printed material (like a postcard, business card or flyer) could be the shortest distance between you and a ticket sale.

Online social networking via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs is another way to create relationships and reach your audience.

So… how many posters should you print? If you are a small company, and doing a show that is less than a three week run, in a theatre that seats under 200, only print between 100-200 posters. They are not your greatest form of advertising, another touchpiont, yes, but at the risk of getting torn down, or just not noticed. The return on your investment is not going to be great.

An investment of time and passion, on the other hand, could pay off big time.

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Back to Basics February 1, 2009

It’s weird, y’know? I spend all my days doing marketing of some way, shape or form. But sometimes, when you are doing something all the time, you get your head so involved in it, that you loose perspective on the very basis of why it is you do what you do.

I’m writing this the morning after having a meeting with Simon and some of my clients, the fine people at Itsazoo Productions. See, Itsazoo has a production coming up in March, and while I’m doing the PR for them, they wanted to get a sense of what else they could do on a grassroots level from someone who’d been there. Simon was recently part of a team that did a very successful production called The Twenty-First Floor at the PAL (which is where Itsazoo is producing Death of a Clown).

When you are learning about marketing, here is lesson number one: word of mouth is always, always, always the best way to sell tickets. We are so inundated with advertising these days (it’s everywhere), that we have learned to tune it out. It is for that reason that you need to have multiple touchpoints to get the word out about your show. But a 30-second chat with the person beside you on the bus, followed up by a flyer or postcard, is going to increase your odds of selling a ticket dramatically.

We love what we do as theatre artists. We are passionate. And when you really, really love something and believe in it, selling it becomes oh, so much easier and convincing.

So, the next time you are in a play, take a stack of postcards with you everywhere you go. Take a risk. Talk to a stranger about what you do. And you might be surprised at the result.

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How do you thank your clients? December 12, 2008

As the year winds down, I am finding myself embroiled in Excel spreadsheets of names and addresses. It’s that time of the year–to say thanks to your clients.dsc00071

I struggled a lot with what my Christmas/end of the year communique was going to look like this year. Last year, when I was just launching my business, I wanted to send something out that could also work as a marketing touchpoint. Not a sales pitch, just a reminder of my existence.

This year is different. I feel like I have had a pretty successful first year in business, and I feel equally proud of my work, and grateful to those who gave me business this year. So, it’s time to say thanks…

There’s a variety of different ways to go about this, but I’d encourage you to take a more old-fashioned approach. E-cards are all the rage, and anyone who knows me knows that I would rather send an email than do anything else, but even I am sending snail-mail cards this year. Each card will have a hand-written, individualized comment for the ‘personal touch.’ I am planning on sending one to anyone with whom I did business this year.

There will also be a little something in each card. For me, it was important to send more than ‘just a card’, but my level of success is not so wild yet, that I am able to afford those branded flash drives I have been drooling over (and now I have a logo to go on them!). I considered branded Post-it Notes, but they only came in quantities of 500, which means I’d be giving away Post-It Notes to people on the bus for the forseeable future, so I nixed that one.

There are a vast array of cool products that you can get with your logo on. Check out Imago Marketing. It’s like  a candy shop.

As for me… well, you’ll just have to wait to get your card in the mail…

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