2017 Marketing Trends to Watch

Looking ahead to the new year, staying up-to-date on current social media marketing trends is imperative to launching a successful campaign. Not only does it help streamline the process, but creative juices start to flow in ways that were not once expected. Today we will look at some campaigns that are being executed by big businesses that could be attempted on a smaller scale.

Delta Dreamhunt

https://youtu.be/ANfBipBvfeU

As the commercial shows, Delta sent out a bunch of clues that lead to geo-targeted locations that contain Snapchat filters. Once you reach the secret location, you send a snap to the Delta account and you are automatically entered for really cool prizes. How can your small business try something similar?

If you’re a restaurant or a bar, have days without specials (like Fridays and Saturdays) and implement a “Snapchat Special” instead. When customers come in, they snapchat a selfie of them with their meal or drink including the restaurant filter to the business’s account, and they could win a $50 gift card. For $50, you pay for the entire campaign after a few posts on Facebook to let people know about this opportunity.

Entertainment for All

Social Media 2016

As a small business, utilizing guest interaction on Instagram is such an important feature. Walt Disney World does a perfect job in this department. For the biggest entertainment company in the world, they leave their Instagram up to the guests. When guests tag or place on a location on their photo, Walt Disney World finds it and asks for permission to post it on their page with photo credit. In doing so, followers of their account get a beautiful, yet realistic view of the theme parks because they are through the eyes of other guests.

Find out what people post on Instagram and attack it with campaigns that force interaction on the app that normally only is interacted with a simple like or comment.

The Cold Detector

https://youtu.be/2dJkbvKQPQE

Here’s a fun one: apparently Germans don’t miss work no matter how sick they may be. This interactive sign was put in a busy location to speak to passerbys when they are sick. If someone coughs or sneezes close enough to it, the sign suggests a medicine and where to purchase the medicine. This technology reacts to what it believes you have based on the sounds you make and additionally shows visual imagery of what the product looks like.

Obviously, this might be a little more difficult to utilize as a small business. But keep up with trends and technology, and know that the future is here. The important aspect of this case is that its interactive. Consumers love interaction, especially interaction that doesn’t seem like a gimmick. Be honest and real with them while interaction, and they are more likely to respond.

2017 is Coming. Are You Ready?

IT IS TIME. Specifically, it is Mid-October and our minds have to be on 2017 already.

Yes, it was just yesterday when you were in the city celebrating what would turn out to be the weirdest year in American history. But now we can hope to turn the page on something brighter and more important: future business plans.

“But why make the push when the busiest time of year is headed right our way?”

Before you know it, the new year will be here and the budget will have to be finalized for the entire year. Start now and realize where adjustments can be made throughout the remainder of 2016 in order to monetize every dollar and every investment necessary.

“From a marketing perspective, where do I start for my business?”

Many times one of the last aspects to be covered in the annual budget, it is still extremely important to place weight to the marketing plans for 2017. Especially with the extreme evolution of social media usage just over this past year, allowing for enough to cover all changes that take place in the medium is imperative to success.

Think about it for a moment: In just this year, Facebook started to place more focus on friends and family posts, Twitter discounted @names and images out of the 140 character count, Instagram adds stories to compete with Snapchat, and Snapchat lowered the importance of its Discover feature as of this past week. Some of these alterations came as a huge surprise while others will go by unnoticed. But either way, the way things are changing is quick and not even the biggest advertising companies in the world can always keep up.

So be prepared. Get on these platforms, keep up with their blogs, and talk with professionals about what can be done to see what may be coming and how to best utilize new features in the near and far future. Plan what you want to do now so that when these changes come, you can make a big swing and hit the home run before anyone else in your field.

In a year from now, this article will be just as relevant as it is now as the world is only moving faster and if you haven’t started to plan for 2017, you’re already behind.

#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Donut Drop

 

Located at 835 E Algonquin Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173, The Donut Drop is the go-to place for all your donut and coffee needs. Charlie and Lilian, owners of the year-in-a-half old hole in the wall, had a choice: Do we get married or open a donut shop?

The decision pervaded them and after much deliberating between the couple, a donut shop opened in Schaumburg in January 2015.

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Donuts and Entrepreneurship > School

Charlie and Lilian met in college and have been together ever since. After pursuing careers in their respective degrees, they decided to leave that all behind in pursuit of something bigger: To be your own boss. Such a grueling effort would need to be placed for this to work so Charlie and Lilian worked under his uncle at Gurnee Donuts to learn the secrets of the trade and boast the best donuts in the state. Using similar recipes but grasping newer techniques, The Donut Drop is always willing to try something new with their products.

Self-coined the “hidden secret shop”, the location has its positives and negatives: “It’s good and bad because there are a lot of things that we need to go through and work with just to get ourselves out there,” says Lilian. “Most of our business is word-of-mouth. We depend on quality.” And how that rings true every time you order a fresh donut made the same day you walk in the door.

Guests that come in relay that message right back to the owners every day: “The biggest win is getting all the compliments!” recalls Charlie. “You don’t go into this business for the money. 99% of the people who come in love our donuts and there’s almost no complaints. We tell each other stories because we’re not always selling at the same time and we will hear about someone who just raved about our donuts.”

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Freshness is Important

Only sold fresh daily, there’s no surprise why people have no qualms about the quality. Their business motto, “Donuts that Deliver” proves this truth by explaining how they will not only deliver at least 2 dozen donuts to your door unlike most of their competitors, but the donut’s taste delivers as well. You know that everything you order was made that morning and will leave you coming back for more or at the very least, calling them for more because you not only can ask for delivery, but you can reserve a specific donut for pick-up.

“It’s a first come first serve basis,” says Lilian. “If you call in and ask for a donut, we will keep it saved for you. We have people coming in from Wisconsin who call and make sure we have the donuts that they want since they’re coming from a far distance. Some people drive from afar and we appreciate their business.”

And everyone appreciates their hospitality. With call-in reservations, delivery, and daily-made donuts, it doesn’t seem like it could better, right? Wrong. They even offer air pot rentals for coffee. Charlie shared: “Those little ‘Box o’ Joe’s’ don’t last long. They are very expensive to purchase and get thrown out at the end of the day. You save money and the environment! With our air pot rental, you can either drop it off or we can pick it up for a fee but otherwise, there is really no cost. The businesses have told us that their coffee is still hot at the end of a long day.”

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The Future of the Drop

With so many unique opportunities for its customers and delicious, creative flavors that The Donut Drop continues to aspire to create, the road ahead is looking bright. But the couple does not plan on coasting down that metaphoric road.  With huge ambitions to someday include a drive-thru with a TV monitor that allows the customer to see the live display of what is left, to include a mobile truck or cart that can be in the city, and to eventually expand, there is still plenty to do for the donut hole in the wall.

The Donut Drop clearly cares so deeply about their customers and has had them in mind for ideas already implemented and beyond: “The whole point of the display of our donuts is that it is in front of you instead of behind us so you can see each and every one of them. It’s kind of like a candy store. Each donut is their own shape and size and if someone wants something a little bit larger, absolutely! That’s yours!”

A year and a half later, it seems that the couple definitely made the right decision when they poised that question about marriage or a donut shop several years ago. But that’s not the end of their story. In October 2017, the donut lovers plan on putting on their donut rings and tying the knot.

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Be sure to check out The Donut Drop online HERE

The Grudge Match of the Year

This week revealed one of the most surprising, yet greatest social media updates of 2016. Instagram Stories have arrived to compete with Snapchat’s ever-growing success.  Only time can actually tell us how much this will affect Snapchat, but as it currently stands, Snapchat’s willingness for change and innovation proves that it can (and will) respond and build upon its simple communication and raw material.

With the young Instagram Stories’ release, let’s take a look at how this affects Instagram’s overall experience and the competition it gives to Snapchat.

Brands

For brands, Instagram Stories is absolutely fantastic. According to Ad Age, “Nike, for example, generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story that it posted on Tuesday, the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike’s best video got 66,000 views.” Receiving ten times more views than its competition, Instagram is simply able to utilize its built-in audience and keep them on the app longer as the article goes on to say: “Instagram updated its numbers last week, saying it has 300 million daily users, and Snapchat has about 150 million, according to sources familiar with the company’s internal figures.”

Secondly, stories from brands are more accessible on Instagram than Snapchat due to follower counts and how Instagram keeps the stories at the top of their timeline.

Users

For users, the impact may be smaller than expected. Currently, many of the stories have normal users posting their snapchat username in order to gain more followers and continue their usage of the snapping app. Confusion is strong as people play the knock-off card on Instagram and wonder why it would be used in such a way. Secondly, the issue for Instagram comes from only being able to horizontally access five stories at a time, having to scroll to see more. This is less accessible than Snapchat and might deter people from continuing their search for more stories. However, it takes away the less candid, more sophisticated aura that Instagram has touted for so long. This mish-mash of sophistication with realism is a nice twist for an app that intends to stay relevant thanks to its parent company, Facebook.

Something else that some people night not even notice is how much better the image quality is on Instagram (Especially for Android users). On Android, Snapchat doesn’t use your phone’s camera directly. It will grab a screenshot of what your camera sees rather than physically take it’s own photo leaving a much lower quality shot.

Snapchat's photo quality kinda sucks
Photo composed by user “pjmccartney” on Reddit

Who Wins?

As it stands however, Snapchat should be on its toes, but does not have anything to worry about in the short-term. As influencer Gary Vaynerchuk has pointed out: “Plenty of users will remain on Snapchat simply because they want to maintain their audience, they have a preference for Snapchat’s UX (user experience), or they’re spiteful about Instagram Stories being a ‘copycat.’ Snapchat has built a huge following and, while Instagram will probably take a bite out of it, Snapchat will still hold its own.”

Although this social media war should be interesting with willingness to change affecting the outcome, the real winner will continue to be brands.

 

Pokemon Go & Your Business

“Gotta catch ‘em all!”

No, that is not just a lyric from a smash television show that suddenly became relevant again, but it’s a phrase that every business should take to heart as the Pokemon surge continues to spike Nintendo’s market share up $20 billion as of the writing of this post.

As zombified light-faced consumers walk the streets of your local coffee shops and town squares, turn them up from their augmented reality filled screens and figuratively knock ‘em out with some great deals and opportunities that make them coming back to your business.

Here are a couple great ways to take advantage of the Poke-craze and sell ‘em and keep ‘em:Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 4.43.02 PM

Put up a few lures!

In the game, there is an item called the lure that can be utilized to bring more Pokemon to your Pokestop for 30 minutes. Now, if that confuses you, then you need to join the madness and open the app! When lures are placed, virtual purple confetti fall from the Pokestop leading trainers to your direction to capture the locals.

Give deals to trainers who come on by!

Many businesses have placed signs out front and offer discounts for local players. For instance, since getting more lures cost money, have trainers place the lures for you, have them show you that they actually did it, and give them a free drink or half-off their next purchase.

Make a game out of the different teams!raymundospokego

For those unaware, the game consists of three teams: Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red), and another one (Team Valor [Yellow]). To bounce right off of Idea #2, creating discounts, deals, or games out of the teams is an effective way to bring together the online and real world for the craze that continues to sweep the nation.

Have fun on social media!

Businesses have already made posts on Facebook, Instagram, and more to commemorate the success of the little application. For example, for our client Raymundo’s, we posted a photo on Instagram of the Pokemon Alakazam ready to eat some of their delicious gelatin. The kids and adults alike eat that up! (Every pun intended).

The moral of the story here is, as Hillary Clinton would say, “I’m trying to get them to have ‘Pokemon Go to the polls!”

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The Unofficial Rulebook of Social Media

Y2K came and left in more or less a drunken murmur. Sixteen years and multiple “end of the world” warnings later, we have found ourselves in the middle of the Social Media Age.

If you’re reading this at all, you probably clicked on it through a link on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Crazily enough, those are the EXACT platforms that I’m going to cover today! What are the chances?

To begin, yes, you probably know plenty about each platform to make it through your day-to-day life happy and carefree. BUT what if you want to promote an event, a show, a business, or a random cat video? Knowing how, when, and where to share content like this is necessary in order to have a successful presence online.  

Think of it this way, your social media presence is an online portfolio (at this point, the word “online” is redundant) for your friends, family, and potential employers to view who you are, what you stand for, and what poorly landed jokes you think are actually funny. If anything, they know more about you due to this online presence than they know about you in real life, unless you’re constantly physically seeing all 1,038 friends you have on Facebook.

So without further ado, let’s look at each platform in more detail.

Facebook

Ahhh, the epitome and crux of the ever-changing digital media age. Oftentimes ahead of the game, Facebook evolves faster than the consumer wishes, changing preferences and layout seemingly on a whim without care for the angry user.  

Facebook is the foundation for everything else that occurs, linking the other channels together in one cohesive place.  Taking advantage of this opportunity is paramount to its usage and effectiveness, but understanding how to utilize it appropriately is way more difficult.

Many could argue that there is no right or wrong way to use Facebook, but those people are the same people that think the tomato is a fruit.

Facebook is the modern day scrapbook. For those who don’t know what a scrapbook is, it’s what couples in the ’90s sometimes made each other in a relationship to remember all the memories they had with each other breaking up, leaving a book of broken memories gathering dust in a rarely opened cabinet.  

As a scrapbook, it is a place for pictures, text, news, and trends to work together in a synthesized way. So don’t post just text. Don’t post just pictures. In fact, Facebook is much smarter than your scrapbook. It knows the difference between each of these posts and will give some more power than others (yes, not all posts are created equal). Videos have the most pull, as they keep users on the app longer than pictures and words do. Pictures have less of a say while simple text posts have the least power.

“So do I always just post videos on Facebook?” Absolutely not, self-rhetorical question. A variety of posts and interactions allow for a more synergized experience for yourself and your friends as they navigate the never-ending newsfeed and sneakily creep on your personal timeline.

As for businesses or those intrigued by selling their personal artwork on Facebook, think of it in the same way! As a community scrapbook, readers do not want to be seeing those ugly looking hot dog ads that cover half of your favorite magazine up. Annoying ads like that don’t belong in scrapbooks, even of the digital variety. Yes, ads are ever-important in building brands and selling services, but avoid clickbait in these scenarios that involve “Buy now, Click now!” promises. Those promises make people sad and we do not want to make people sad.

What this all means:

  1. Steer away from “Buy now, Click now!” posts.
  2. Use pictures and video as much as you can while keeping simple text posts to a minimum.
  3. Vary the types of posts and interactions.

Twitter

Say something meaningful in 140 characters or less…AND GO. Just the previous sentence was 60 of your maximum 140 characters! So how do you create the perfect tweet that will reach the far ends of the site through constant retweets and the freshly termed “likes”?

Be honest. Honesty is key. Your followers are followers because they already know you to some degree. At the same time, DON’T tell them when you’re making lunch or taking a walk. Instead…

Be funny. Take those monotonous moments and make them silly or add something you thought about that experience. It goes right along with honesty. The simple moments in life are often the funniest.

Be real. This goes right along with the first two, but must be reiterated more directly. Twitter’s voice is rawer than Facebook’s. Take advantage of that openness and interact with people who matter to you. And every once in awhile, take part in a “Twitter-rant”, which allows you to blow past the “140 character rule” and instead, post a string of related tweets about a single subject that holds mighty importance to you. #Realness

And finally…

Be trendy. Hashtags and trends are way more effective here than on Facebook as it currently stands. Follow the current trends and make a statement. You have a voice that can reach farther than it could just 15 years ago so do something about it. Let people know what you think.

What this all means:

  1. Use hashtags.
  2. Speak succinctly and with your own voice.
  3. Be trendy

Twitter


Instagram

Aww, it’s Facebook’s baby brother! Although the photo editing and posting application has been around for quite awhile now, it recently has been placed under the Facebook brand, thus leading to changes to the medium like the classic algorithm that shows the user what the site believes would rather see over pictures most recently posted.

While Twitter and Facebook are made for multiple posts a day, Instagram must be checked to one, MAYBE two, posts a day. Albums are for Facebook and memes are for Twitter. Keep pictures engaging, interesting, and most importantly, YOU, with a relatable or catchy caption that could only be found in the country’s best magazines.

If you’re a business, show behind the scenes moments here. Pretty those pictures up with filters and additions, but at the same time, don’t oversaturate it. Not only does that specifically deal with the “Saturate” feature on the app, but it deals with all aspects of the pictures. Setting “Shadows” to 0%, “Warmth” to 100%, and “Sharpen” to 100% on a Lo-Fi filter does not automatically make your picture better, but surprisingly gives your face a creepy “Donald Trump Orange” vibe to it (sending color idea for  “Donald Trump Orange” to Crayola currently — patent pending).  

Connect your photos to Facebook sometimes! Your friends on Facebook will learn you have an Instagram and you will suddenly gain followers!

Use hashtags and your location! There’s a nifty little button on your personal page that shows where you have been and how many photos you have posted from each location. It is the best.

What this all means:

  1. Show some behind-the-scenes moments for your followers.
  2. Use hashtags.
  3. Use filters carefully and sparingly.

Instagram


Snapchat

This is going to be big! I mean, it’s already beginning to take over the social media landscape in an aggressive way, but here’s a way to truly tell a story in the most literal sense.

In the same way that Instagram can give you the behind-the-scenes glance, so can Snapchat. With followers on this live video and picture application, you can make something so simple, fun and engaging. And now with geofilters taking over more and more, you can show off an event or a location or a business that you’re currently at! Snapchat is constantly involving from its humble and risque beginnings into a beautiful app of location sharing and puppy filters.

What this all means:

  1. Post interesting content with a variety of video and photos.
  2. Take advantage of filters and especially geofilters.
  3. Jump on this bandwagon NOW! It is only growing in its prominence so learn how to utilize it today.

Conclusion

Social media now, for better or for worse, defines us. You cannot escape it if you try. By ignoring social media’s presence in our lives, you’re ignoring a gigantic portion of what makes us human and how we communicate and interact with others.

No matter which medium you prefer, remember these simple tips and most importantly, don’t add your boss on snapchat. Don’t. Please, for the love of God, do not do it.

You won’t believe what this article says about Clickbait!

Clickbait, for many, is the bane of the internet where traditional journalism goes to die.  It feeds on our inherent need for surprise, excitement, and uncertainty, as we click the link to learn what we already knew about the top five reasons to brush our teeth, but it seemed like a good refresher from such a credible source like Buzzfeed or Upworthy.

For those unaware of what clickbait is, it is defined as: “(on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.”

Yellow journalism

By nature, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, journalism has been enacting forms of clickbait in its own way since the nineteenth century, but instead went by another name: “yellow journalism”.  That term comes from the wildly successful “Yellow Kid” cartoons that appeared in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which was the main reason consumers bought the newspaper in the first place.  “Yellow journalism” is an antiquated clickbait that sensationalized articles to sell newspapers.  Interesting that one of the greatest journalistic honors, The Pulitzer Prize, is named after a man who pioneered clickbait.  So before judging it so quickly, look at the system’s history.

Why Clickbait is BAD

But if clickbait finds itself in the annals of journalistic history, then why is it so condemned? There are two reasons for this affront.

  1. We know it’s an advertiser’s devilish scheme for clicks.

Many ads get results (and money) simply by how many times people click on the link.  Those people do not even need to spend more than five seconds on the page without earning a click for the advertiser or blog page.

  1. We know it preys on our mind’s simplest instincts.

Our mind is made to categorize and simplify information into nicely separated compartments to process swiftly and effectively.  With an article like “Here’s why eating chocolate is actually the best thing to happen to you”, our mind knows what to expect, yet it leaves room for surprise even though you already know that the article is just going to tell you that a study done by a start-up research company finds that eating chocolate cures cancer.  Even though we realize that an article is clickbait, we want to know more and our mind and body accept that.

Two years ago, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote an article to explain why Buzzfeed doesn’t do clickbait. He argues the origins of clickbait begin on a later date: “Clickbait actually has its origins in old media, not the web, and specifically in the don’t-touch-that-dial antics of television and radio.” This matches his more specific definition of clickbait which explains that it’s a headline that under delivers on its article’s intent.

How silly, Buzzfeed, how silly. Instead of lying about Buzzfeed’s ENTIRE internet purpose, he could have instead spun clickbait in a positive light.

Why Clickbait is GOOD

  1. It reaches an audience and does not live on a headline alone.

Ben Smith briefly points this out within his piece from 2014, but should have focused on it more directly.  As he points out, “You can trick someone to click, but you can’t trick someone to share.” The article’s headline may earn views and clicks, but Buzzfeed’s success is much more predicated on its ability to earn shares and likes across social media platforms.  Accept the clickbait nature of Buzzfeed and continue to utilize it effectively.

  1. Journalistic history stands on entertainment and eye-catching titles and now we stand with a different term to explain the natural evolution of the industry.

Just like fancy movie trailers or pretty book covers, the average reader does judge an article by its headline.  If content is non-existent, that headline and article will die a slow death in the slums of the internet.  Readers might miss a piece that could actually have relevance to their needs or wants.

In both cases, clickbait finds itself negatively connoting headlines that have nothing to offer.  For advertisers, writers, bloggers, and the starving artists, finding balance with what clickbait actually is and how to use it or not to use it is the game that must be played.

Interestingly enough, the ironic clickbait nature of this article’s title will probably spawn less clicks than one that is not about clickbait, but if you don’t believe me, check out the research done on the issue here.

#Hashtag

The pound sign. The number sign. Tic-tac-toe board. The “#” symbol has gone by many names throughout its 50+ year tenure, admired from afar as an arbitrary button on antique touch tone phones. As useless as it has been since its humble beginnings, the hashtag has recently solidified itself in pop culture and social media as an interactive tool to microscopically view the vast, infinite regions of the internet.

When Chris Messina, a simple Twitter user, suggested in 2007 on the website: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg)”, the game was changed. Trends and news stories would skyrocket across the World Wide Web in record time, reaching audiences at the very moment that a story would break. It took a simple search of a hashtag to view its analytical results on engagement of fellow tweeters. Although Twitter founder Evan Williams thought it was too technical, he was quickly proven wrong as users found a way to create a more personal conversation on an impersonal platform.

Today, the hashtag ranks among social media professionals’ list of most religious symbols, right behind the holy cross and breadsticks. Marketers and advertisers intend to take advantage of this trend within a trend, as corny hashtags appear across every major television network as a plot twist strikes (ie. #WhoIsA, #OhNoJonSnow, #TrumpSomehowLeadsGOP).

A simple Instagram post proves the importance of the all-praised hashtag. With only just reaching double digits on Instagram, our account cannot be viewed as “Insta-famous,” the phrase self-coined by Instagrammers with 10+K followers on the app who live relatively normal lives but filter their lives with “Lo-Fi” or “Mayfair” or “Perpetua.” No one jumps at the chance to look at what a marketing firm does unless you’re creating provocative ads for Nike. However, the point is that we don’t pride ourselves in the number of followers we have, yet.

But with only 10+ followers on the platform, we turned over 60 likes on a single post. “But how?!” you ask, “I somehow skipped over the rest of this blog post so I have no idea how that could be possible!” One word: hashtags.

Eliix Chicago Instagram Test m
Ah, Chicago, she’s a beaut!

On top of simply being a perfectly edited and snapped picture taken by yours truly (#humblebrag) , this photo contains multiple hashtags that people across the country, NAY, the world would be interested in searching on the application. #Chicago, #WillisTower, #SearsTower, and #Business are all hashtags that garner interest among different groups of people. When people look them up, they see a colorful image that they then click on, enjoy so much, and go on to like it.

The most evident and important thing here is that knowing your audience is key. Understand what they want to see, show them exactly that, and engage with them afterward. These likes turned into several follows which grows that slowly moving presence and leads to better interactions down the road.

Similarly, though, it is necessary to mention that sometimes less is more. You don’t need 10,000 likes if only half of them care about your product or service, whether it be on a personal or professional account. Take the cut and market to the 5,000 who care because then you will have real relationships on a site that we sometimes try to sell something that isn’t truly there.

#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Want to make someone’s day or week? Flowers!

Brianna’s Flowers is located at 102 W. Lake St Bloomingdale, IL. with a perfect corner location the store is visible to everyone who passes through the town. Brianna’s Flowers has flowers for every occasion such as Grandparents Day, Labor Day, Weddings, Birthdays, the list goes on. They even have arrangements that celebrate Woman’s Equality Day. Needless to say they have it all. Brenda Nicolin, the co-owner, apart from her husband, of Brianna’s Flowers was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the business and how Brianna’s Flowers became the company it is today.

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How did the business get started?

Brenda’s husband Jerry started at the flower shop as a part-time delivery person. The previous owner of the shop ended up having to lose the shop. So Brenda and Jerry had to decide if it was worth their consideration to take over the business and run it. Brenda had said how it seemed to have a great location, and the floral designers were dedicated. The shop seemed to have plenty of customers, etc. So they thought outside of the box and decided to give it a try and took over Brianna’s Flowers on March 11, 2011. Since then the flower shop has been doing very well and they are now almost at their 5 year anniversary date!

Are you happy with the location of the store?

“I LOVE the location of the store” says Brenda. “Every single day they have a customer stop in to buy flowers and say ‘I have been driving by your flower shop for years now – and just decided I’d finally stop in and check you out!’ Once you visit our flower shop – hopefully you WILL come back again!”

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What was the biggest win for the company?

Brenda said that the biggest “win” with Brianna’s Flowers was the fact that they pretty much started with nothing and developed the flower shop into a successful and thriving business. Brenda explains, “Flower shops have suffered in the poor economy. The flower wholesalers have raised prices tremendously to the flower shops because THEY were getting less business. That is why many, many flower shops also have had to close down in the past 6 years.” The location of Brianna’s Flowers has helped them a lot, Brenda said. “It makes a big difference when a small company is more visible from a major street/intersection.”

Lessons Learned from owning a business?

The biggest lesson learned was that you CAN start your own business with a ton of work and passion. Brenda had said that getting Brianna’s Flowers back up and running well was not easy. The building, grounds, and vendors were not taken care of when Brenda and her husband took over the business. So they felt as if they were starting from scratch. Because of this they then had to “regain” the trust of their vendors and previous customers. They also had to buy furniture, vases, and products needed for the store like the cooler, etc.

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If you had an extra $100,000 how would you spend it?

Brenda said there are many things she would do. She would revamp areas in and outside of the flower shop. She would also try to do more with Brianna’s Flowers L.O.A. (Love One Another) Project. It has always been a dream of Brenda’s to help those less fortunate. She would love to start a “stop off location” for people struggling to find a place to live or are in need of a job. It would provide them with a free shower, free meal, free clothing that they can choose from and a bus ride to a nearby facility that could house them and teach them a trade. She feels many people just need a break in life, and she would be honored to help with something like that! [Editor’s note: What a wonderful woman!]

What is your business motto?

Brianna’s Flowers business motto is simple: Provide customers with the best, freshest flowers and plants they can – for the best price they can – in a comfortable friendly atmosphere. They have many people tell them how they would like to bring in a lounge chair, set it up by the coy pond and just relax there for a couple hours. They don’t care if a customer purchases one flower or a dozen flowers, all customers get treated the same at the store, with respect and courtesy.

Favorite quote?

One of Brendas favorite quotes is actually on a chalkboard in the shop: “Life is all about Plan B”

What do you love most about your job?

Brenda says that the best part of owning a flower shop is that you are providing people with a happy, positive product. In this fast, violent, computer based world we live in – getting fresh beautiful flowers ALWAYS makes people smile. Brenda likes the way their product is given to family and friends when they are happy and when they are sad – and always helps make people feel better and like someone cares. She says it is very satisfying to her husband and herself when a customer calls their shop after receiving a flower arrangement and tells them how wonderful it is and how much they will enjoy it.

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#SmallBusinessSpotlight: Cookie dough that really is OK to eat!

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Cookie Dough Creations located in downtown Naperville, IL is a place every visitor or local of Naperville makes sure to stop at when shopping around the town. What makes the store as popular as it is, is the fact that you can go into what looks to be an ice cream shop and come out with a scoop of edible cookie dough. The cookie dough contains no raw eggs, but loads of real butter and natural ingredients. So it’s safe to say its much better for you than eating out of the Tollhouse cookie dough bin.

What the business does

Selling cookie dough on ice cream, in shakes, or just in a bowl. Cookie Dough Creations also sells fresh baked cookies using their “traditional Midwestern recipe.” On top of the cookie dough, ice cream, shakes and cookies they also make cheesecake topped with a layer of raw cookie dough.

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History of the company

Founded in 1994 Cookie Dough Creations was brought to life by Jim Bewersdorf. He was a software salesmen and he felt like he was sick of the corporate world so he made a change. He started making cookie dough pies out of his home and selling them to restaurants. Restaurant owners fell in love with his gourmet pies due to the fact that they were so unique. They had never before seen a gourmet dessert made with cookie dough. Soon Bewersdorf’s “Cookie Dough Ice Cream Pie” was being sold in over 100 restaurants. Soon after that in 1995 he opened his doors in Naperville and the rest is history.

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Customers Favorites

The Cookie Dough Sandwich and White Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake are said to be two of the best things to get at CDC. The cookie dough sandwich was featured on Al Rocker’s Food Network TV show “Rocker on the Road” as one of the best dessert sandwiches in America.

Editors Note: Some of the team went their just a couple nights ago to try this out and it was amazing! Make sure to try the Bourbon laced mocha ice cream with the oreo cookie dough!!!