Yes, Small Business Owners, There is a Holiday Season

It’s our favorite time of year at CCC. The holidays bring so much joy and cheer — fun festivities, beautiful decorations and spending time with family and friends. How do you take part while still running your business?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... Are you in the holiday spirit?

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.”

Choose your favorite parts

You can’t do everything, so you have to choose. Which parts of the holidays do you enjoy most? Festive activities? Attend local shows and community events. Decorating in style? Spend time making your home shine. Buying the perfect gifts for loved ones? Dedicate your time to shopping for those you hold dear. Whatever areas you choose, be present. Don’t be worrying about your business or what you’re not doing while enjoying your favorite parts of the holiday season.

For example, I decided not to decorate this year. I’m not a Scrooge; I wanted to focus on taking advantage of all of the fun activities this time of year — ice skating, craft/art shows, tree lightings, parades, etc. — and shopping/baking for others, which I love to do. There’s no wrong answer here. Just make a decision and run with it!

How to Guiltlessly Take Time Off to Enjoy the Best Holiday Season Ever

Be smart about running your business 

Yes, you need to continue to run your business during the holidays, but scale back when possible. Commit to specific projects or tasks and focus on completing them within specified time periods. Don’t try to double your growth or take on herculean tasks — especially at this time of year. It’s OK to focus on outside interests and not obsess about your business once in awhile. You may even find that it will make you a better business owner, boss and person.

I’ve been busy this week finishing tasks and meeting deadlines in addition to handling a normal workload. However, I haven’t started new projects or worried about tackling to-dos that can easily be moved to next week, so I can enjoy the wonders of the season.

Time to set limits: Business owners suffer tech overload

Set boundaries and let others know about them

Are you working limited hours throughout the season or on specific days? Let clients and prospective customers know up front, and work with them to plan accordingly. You may be surprised that others want to enjoy the season too and understand that you’re closing up shop to attend your kids’ concert or preserve your family’s tradition of a special day out together. Remember to update your Facebook page, website or other domains where you list hours of availability.

As a small business owner, you may feel the need to check in, which I understand. You can do that without spending the day glued to your phone or working away in another room while everyone else enjoys the festivities. Don’t spend this magical season watching everyone else reconnect, recharge and have a good time. You’ll enter the new year with a case of the holiday blues instead of relaxed, rested and ready to go.

How do you balance your business and life during the holiday season?
What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Enjoy the magic and wonder of the holiday season!

Happy Hanukkah * Merry Christmas * Happy Boxing Day * Happy Kwanzaa

CCC’s Head Elf,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your holiday traditions, marketing needs or otherwise):
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5 Cool Gift Ideas for Creative Professionals

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While some people stress over gift-giving, we enjoy the process of finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. (It even sharpens our marketing skills!)

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2gWkJS8

If you’re buying for a creative professional, check out our ideas for the mad men or women in your life.

Moleskine Notebooks
Creatives love notebooks, and these are the cream of the crop. Of course you don’t have to buy Moleskine, but they do offer special, themed and creativity styles along with personalization. Looking to splurge? Consider the Smart Writing Set.

Starbucks (or enter favorite coffee shop here) Gift Card
Coffee shops are a second home or office for creatives. There’s just something about the atmosphere that gets the juices flowing. A Starbucks gift card is a charger for a creative and may lead to a breakthrough that changes your recipient’s life. Remember to take some credit if that happens!

Cool Travel Mug / Coffee Mug 
Notice that we said cool. Creative types are typically coffee fans, so they need a cool travel mug when they’re on the go and a traditional mug at home or in the office. Think about your recipient’s tastes — favorite shows, authors, teams, movies — and don’t forget about the aforementioned coffee shop. Pick up some cool swag from your recipient’s favorite coffee shop and include a gift card. Win-win!

Active Lifestyle Accessories 
Maybe it’s the constant brain activity or coffee consumption, but creative types are usually active people. Whether it’s bicycling, running, hiking or globe-trotting, your recipient probably has a favorite active or outdoor activity. Whatever it is, there’s plenty of equipment and accessories that fit in a variety of budgets.

Bring the Juice
If coffee shops are chargers for creatives, then they’ll need plenty of battery power for their electronics. Mobile chargers are a must for creative professionals, because they’re always on the move and take their gadgets with them. Keep their specific needs and tastes in mind (along with your budget), and find the item that’s perfect for the creative guy or gal in your life.

Bonus: Vacation
If you really want to splurge, every creative professional we know would love a vacation! It doesn’t have to be grand; book a night at a nice hotel or a quick weekend getaway. Give a break from the routine with an experience your recipient will always remember — a spa day, sky diving adventure, swimming with sharks expedition or a trip to your recipient’s favorite author’s museum or hometown.

What ideas would you add?

Do you enjoy the gift-giving process or does it stress you out?

p.s. If you’re still stuck on what to buy the creative person in your life, let us know. We’d be happy to help you out with some suggestions — no strings attached!

p.s.s. Is your creative professional overwhelmed with work? Perhaps our marketing, writing or social media services would help. We do offer gift certificates!

CCC’s CCO (Chief Creative Officer),
Jaime

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Enjoy the Most Magical Time of the Year

It’s Christmas — the most magical time of the year! 

Merry Christmas from CCC!

Enjoy it! Unplug if you can. Have conversations with friends and family and give them your undivided attention. Catch up with relatives you haven’t seen. Relax. Have that slice of pie or glass of wine that you might normally skip. In other words, have fun and enjoy the most magical time of the year!

I’ll be chowing down on lasagna, homemade applesauce and peanut butter cream pie. Watching my family open their gifts (that I tapped into my marketing know-how to pick out). Laughing a lot. Discussing off-beat topics. Enjoying the wonder of my nephew’s first Christmas.

Thank you to all of our soldiers and first responders who spend the Holidays away from their families. We appreciate your sacrifice!

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Merry Christmas!
Jaime & the CCC crew

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6 Things All Businesses Should Do Over Christmas

It’s that time! The Holiday selling season is upon us…

Christmas is a stressful time for both businesses and customers. Businesses worry about losing customers during this hectic season, and customers worry about getting everything done on their lengthy to-do lists. Sure, some businesses will pick up customers as everybody is in a mad rush to buy presents. However, others can lose out to companies with better marketing strategies if they’re not on the ball.

Here are things all businesses should do over Christmas:

Offer A Discount

You might not think that offering a discount is a smart move over Christmas. After all, you have the potential to make a lot more money here. However, there’s nothing really stopping a customer from heading to a competitor for their needs. If you offer a discount, you’re giving them an incentive to continue coming to you. You could even offer the discount exclusively to loyal customers to show them you care.

Send Free Gifts

Why not get in the Christmas spirit and send your customers free gifts? You could send them a free thank you gift off your own back, or send them a free gift with their order, whatever you feel most suitable. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas themed gift to be effective. You could even make it a sample version of one of your products, or a voucher to use against a service you offer.

Run Competitions

Run competitions over Christmas to get people interested in your business. You can do this both offline and online, or one or the other. Do it wherever you feel you’ll get the most response. Holding competitions online can really help you to expand your reach and exposure. People love the opportunity to win stuff, so create a fun Christmas competition for them to get involved with.

Send Cards to Customers

Sending cards to your customers both old and new shows them that you value them. It also helps to keep you in the forefront of their minds, so that they don’t completely forget about you at this time of year. The most effective way to do it is to send business ecards. Then you can send a discount along with the card and monitor your efforts too. You’ll be able to see exactly how many people interact with your ecard, and it’s more eco-friendly!

Create Christmas Landing Pages for Your Site

Creating Christmas landing pages on your site shows that you keep it up to date. A page like this will be more engaging to Christmas shoppers. People start Christmas shopping as early as September these days, so don’t waste any time!

Promote on Social Media

Don’t forget to use social media to promote your Christmas offers and engage with shoppers. Don’t shove your offers down their throats, but make sure your online marketing strategy is on point.

All businesses should make sure they do these things over Christmas. If you do, you’ll increase your revenue and be much more successful in retaining your clients (and even adding new ones). Make sure your marketing is in the Christmas spirit, and you’ll have a great start to the New Year!

Holiday Marketing Feedback

Are you looking forward to the Holidays?

How early do you start your Holiday selling (or shopping) season?

Do you prefer printed cards or ecards?

Happy Holiday selling,
Jaime

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Love — and Marketing — is in the air!

Holiday marketing: you either love it or hate it. As a consumer, it’s nice to take advantage of a sale, but as a marketer, it can get downright embarrassing. How many more car commercials about President’s Day sales that have no tie-in to the brand can we watch?

Love -- and coffee -- is in the air at Starbucks!

Love — and coffee — is in the air at Starbucks!

Some brands get holiday promotions right, and it may not be ones with a readily available tie-in at first glance. For example, Starbucks has decided to hold the world’s largest date on February 13th. The worldwide coffee giant is serving a special pairings menu at participating cafes for you and your beloved. Don’t have a beloved? No worries, the company has partnered with Match.com, so you can find that special someone. As a place where people come to meet, this partnership is genius, although I never would have told you that before. Kudos to Starbucks for understanding its brand and consistently finding new ways to grow.

Durex Valentine's Day ad

Durex delivers a tongue-in-cheek message to its competitors.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the above ad from Durex around Father’s Day. The world’s number one condom brand has a history of bold, tongue-in-cheek advertising. Durex takes its products seriously. Itself? Not so much. Considering what its product is intended to do, the company may not ever come up with a better ad.

Chime in with Love (or Hate)

What brand’s holiday-related marketing do you love?

Do you find yourself looking at marketing as a consumer vs. marketer/business professional?

Any fun Valentine’s Day plans?

Share the marketing love,
Jaime

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Almost)

Merry Christmas from CCC!

A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
gave the lustre of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers* they came,
and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!
Now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricanes fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
so up to the house top, the coursers, they flew
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.  

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. 
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight — 

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

-Clement Clarke Moore**

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of our loyal readers and supporters! Thank you for all of your likes, comments and shares in 2014. We appreciate every one of you and look forward to a tremendous 2015.

How are you spending the Holidays?

*What’s a courser? A swift horse, a charger.
**Some scholars now believe that Major Henry Livingston, Jr. wrote this popular poem.

CCC's head elf

Your favorite elf,
Jaime

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Christmas: A Tradition Like No Other

Merry Christmas, baby!

Merry Christmas to you and yours from Clearly Conveyed Communications! A heartfelt thank you for reading the musings on the CCC blog while taking the time to like, comment on and share our posts. We appreciate you, dear reader!

So it’s another Christmas Eve, and I find myself taking comfort in Holiday traditions, some new and some old. Every year for what seems like eons, we’ve converged on my great Aunt & Uncle’s home with scores of other family and friends to celebrate another year. It’s fun, loud and slightly chaotic, but always a good time. This is in direct contrast to the peaceful, soothing Christmas Eve service I look forward to every year at the church I grew up attending. Singing Silent Night in a candlelit church is an amazing experience that always leaves me with goose bumps.

Other traditions in our household:

  • A Christmas Story — my favorite Holiday movie which I have to watch each year (preferably more than once). I finally picked up a copy last week, so now I can watch it the whole year through. This is a Holiday must. I triple dog dare you!
  • Leg Lamp Cookies — one day I saw a leg lamp cookie cutout and it was on. Now I bring Holiday delight to Christmas each year in the form of the best lamp ever. (I even blogged about it –> What Making Leg Lamp Cookies Taught Me About My Business)
  • Nativity Scene — my little kids nativity scene is one of my favorite decorations (bottom right hand corner of above pic). I bought it when I lived in my first apartment, so it’s been a part of my life for a *few* years now. Makes me smile whenever I see it.
  • Christmas Cards — I love cards! I know it’s old school, but I still send people cards and love to receive them. It’s a rarity today to receive a handwritten card, so I even send them for my business. They’re a lot of work but worth it!
  • Christmas Tree — I love my white tree, it’s bright light and all of the ornaments I hang each year. From Big Ben to Cabbage Patch Kids, homemade and store bought, all have special memories. This tree will always hold a special place in my heart.

I’ll leave you with this… If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. We’re the ones with the leg lamp in the window.

leg lamp

It’s FRA-GI-LE. Must be Italian!

What Christmas traditions do you enjoy?

p.s. We appreciate ALL of our readers. If you do not celebrate Christmas, a belated Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or enjoy the Holiday season however you choose to do so. Cheers!

Santa’s top elf,
Jaime

In the Holiday spirit, connect with us!
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Go On Holiday, And Take Your Business With You

Wednesday was Boss’s Day and tomorrow is Sweetest Day; Monday, we celebrated Columbus discovering America (and railroading the natives out of town) while our Canadian friends were being thankful. Halloween, one of the biggest retail holidays of the year (second only to Christmas in money spent), looms large at the end of the month. Who am I going to see at my door more this year — Miley Cyrus or Anastasia Steele?

Griswold's House in Christmas Vacation

Holidays are excellent marketing opportunities for your business. Just don’t take it too far.
Pic credit: Hooked on Houses (CCC)

What does this have to do with your business? More than you think, actually. Holidays, from the sincere to the commercially created (thanks Hallmark!), present excellent, and often missed, opportunities to successfully market your business.

This is your chance to be creative and think of unique ways to tie your products and services into a holiday or special day. Keep your business’s voice in mind as you come up with a campaign. Is your tone cheeky? Conservative? You don’t want to stray too far from your regular marketing efforts or the association will seem far-fetched or forced. We’ve all seen one too many President’s Day car commercials which have no point beyond an obscure ‘Lincoln’ reference.

A few holiday-related marketing efforts have caught my attention. One such effort was from Durex, the condom manufacturer. As you would expect from a company in its field, Durex likes to have fun with its subject matter, in order to erase some of the taboo associated with its product. This Father’s Day ad is eye-catching, spot on tone-wise and priceless.

Father's Day Durex ad

Happy Father’s Day from your friends at Durex — especially if you use their competitor’s products.
Pic credit: Adweek

Another effort that stood out to me was from the leader of the digital world, Google. The search giant put together an impressive Mother’s Day effort, showcasing how many of its products and services could help you celebrate this sentimental holiday. A special landing page brought everything together, including this fun video (remember, YouTube is owned by Google):

Holiday Talk

What’s your favorite holiday-related marketing effort?

What holidays or special days can your business associate with?

What’s your favorite holiday or celebration?

Happy Holidays!
Jaime

Every day’s a holiday on social media… 
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Thank You, Soldier

Thank a soldier today.

Thank a soldier this Memorial Day (and every day).
Freedom isn’t free.

As we head off to enjoy a long Memorial Day weekend, remember what we’re observing on Monday. Memorial Day isn’t just the official start to summer, or a day to barbecue, swim and enjoy with family and friends.

It’s a chance to remember, honor and pay respects to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country. From a beach in Normandy to the deserts of Iraq and everywhere in between. While patrolling in Korea to responding to a natural disaster in New Orleans. Here one day, gone the next.

Fathers…
Mothers…
Brothers…
Sisters…
Sons…
Daughters…
Best friends…
Fraternity brothers…
Sorority sisters…
Cousins…
Aunts…
Uncles…
Teammates…
Co-workers…
Human beings.

They all left behind families, friends and loved ones who miss them dearly. Be thankful for those in your life, and the freedoms we exercise every day – often without giving them a thought.

9/11: A Day We'll Never Forget

Freedom of speech, religion, to assemble and protest peacefully. The right to wear what we want, say what we want and watch a football game or NASCAR race on a Sunday afternoon.

So enjoy this long weekend with your family and friends. Barbecue, swim, laugh and smile. But please — thank a soldier. Remember someone who gave it all so we could have it all. Attend a ceremony; salute the flag. Have a moment of silence.

It’s not a political statement. It doesn’t matter if you’re red or blue (or somewhere in between). For one day, Republicans and Democrats become Americans. It’s just the right thing to do.

p.s. I’d be honored if you would leave the name (armed forces division, rank and any other info you’d like) of someone you’re remembering or honoring this weekend. Let’s remember together.

Remembering the fallen,
Jaime

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Love, Google

Brands have been creating content, offering special promotions and attaching themselves to seemingly non-related holidays for years. But for Mother’s Day 2013, Google nailed it.

Here’s to the Moms

The worldwide search giant did what it does best — connected you to the information you need. A special landing page offers:

  • a video celebrating moms created from user videos showing touching mom moments from their own lives (YouTube)
  • last minute gift ideas (Google Shopping) & deals (Google Offers)
  • a way to hang out with Mom on Mother’s Day no matter where you are (Google+ Hangouts)
  • a quick way to send flowers (Google Maps)

In one swoop, Google managed to create goodwill with its customers, positive PR for itself and help its users celebrate Mother’s Day with ease. You go, Google, and thanks for putting the world — and our loved ones — at our fingertips.

Weigh in!

What do you think of Google’s landing page? Have you used it?

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

What other successful examples of brands associating themselves with holidays have you seen?

Here’s to the Moms,
Jaime

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