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Ideas to Make Your Holiday Decorations Sell and Your Store Stand Out

Decorating a store for the holidays is not like decorating a home.

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ABUNDANCE IS THE MESSAGE Christmas decor should communicate — an ample amount of product and bountiful décor. Even with a small budget, you can still create a great holiday environment; chunky garland, well-decorated trees and pre-wrapped product are all things everyone can do.

Display companies are a great place to buy garlands and other decor. They’re cheaper, and the decorations are what the big retailers use. However, you can also use existing items you may have.

Trees are great, but they should be full and as deluxe as possible. Something fun is to decorate them with dog and cat toys. A festive lighting idea is to use small white lights along with large, old-fashioned colored lights. And trees need to be thoroughly decorated. An anemic tree is a negative, as your customers are comparing it to everywhere else they’re shopping, including your competitors.

Instead of having thin garland around the entire store, combine two or three thin garlands to make a thicker one. Then use it in fewer places.

Macy’s is a good place to get decorating ideas. Just ideas — no one has the money to decorate at Macy’s level. I’m referring to the store in general and not just the holiday shop. Go in and look at the trees, the big garlands and the quality of their ribbons and bows.

You will most likely have an end cap with Christmas-specific product like clear plastic stockings filled with toys. A way to add another festive end cap is to double-expose product and do an end cap with all red product. Include toys, harnesses, leashes and beds. Just make sure it’s all red. Or green. But keep it to one color.

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Pre-wrap is another way to add decoration to the store without spending a lot of money. If you have a lot of stock in a particular boxed item, make a stack and giftwrap them. As you’re now featuring it, you’re telling the customer you believe in the item, and wrapping it makes their life easier during a hectic time of year. Use simple giftwrap. Red foil is great, and it adds color to the store. Don’t use patterns, and be consistent throughout the store.

Most people wouldn’t think shampoo is a good gift, but if the shampoo comes with conditioner and a brush, the customer will see it differently. Wrap a ribbon around a set of bath products, or better yet, put them in cellophane with a bow on top. This is frequently done in cosmetics departments. They put a number of a fragrance’s products in a basket, and put cellophane around it. It’s a much nicer gift than just a bottle of perfume, and they’re making bigger sales.
Window displays should be clean and simple. You want the customer to see the store from the outside, and see how full and festive it is. Framing the window with thick garland is a great idea. This is a great place for red, green or gold product.

Decorating a store for the holidays is not like decorating a home. Customers have higher expectations. Remember, abundance is the goal. Here’s to a successful holiday season!

Tom Crossman has designed entertainment centers and retail stores for FAO Schwarz, Dollywood and Toys ‘R’ Us. He was a featured speaker at Global Pet Expo in 2018. His work can be seen at tomcrossman.com, and he can be reached at tom@tomcrossman.com.

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New Stats on Instagram Point to How You Can Use It More Effectively

Knowing who you are as a brand and how to visually express is only half the battle.

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WHETHER YOU ARE LOOKING to build awareness, community or sales, Instagram is a powerful platform to include in your marketing mix. In our 2019 Pet Industry State of Instagram Report, OffLeash Communications breaks down how companies in our industry are currently using the platform, how their performance can be improved and how to further capitalize on the platform in the coming year. Download the report here: petsplusmag.com/4192.

Knowing who you are as a brand and how to visually express that is half the battle when it comes to effectively using Instagram. The other half of the battle is finding a balance between promoting products and showcasing your brand’s personality in an entertaining way that captivates the attention of your audience.

Here are five ways to best utilize the platform to ensure you are making the most of your time, effort and money:

1. Don’t start without refreshing your content and social media strategies. Last year’s strategy won’t work for this year’s objectives. Trends and best practices evolve annually, so you must know how to adjust your content and techniques. Use inspiration from leading accounts and consult with experts to get some neutral third-party input.

2. Collaborate with well-aligned micro-influencers and other brands to find new audiences and broaden your reach. This not only helps your brand build trust with consumers by validating your products, but also allows you to enrich the content on your own feed, which increases the return you will see on your influencer marketing investment.

3. Build anticipation for upcoming products and big announcements for your brand. Given the fact that more and more consumers are using the platform as another way to discover, validate, and shop for brands and their products, it is a great opportunity to get your consumers excited about upcoming changes you’re working on to make their experience with your brand and your products stronger and better.

4. Tell your story. Just because Instagram is a visual platform, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to share your story and deepen the connection you have with consumers. Consumers want to know who you are, what you stand for and where you are going as a company.

5. Understand that the insights are your best friend. Regularly monitoring your Instagram analytics allows you to ensure you’re targeting the right demographics, posting enough (or too much), posting on the right day, and making sure you’re aware of who is discovering you.

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7 Steps to an Attention-Grabbing Press Release

Let the press know about you.

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DO YOU HAVE NEWS you want to share about your pet business, but aren’t sure how to get it out to media? A press release is one helpful tool. Let me walk you through it.

 

Think Like a Journalist

When is a press release worth your time? Anniversaries, product launches and large events are good media opportunities. To get started, jot down one-line essentials like the who, what, where, why and how, starting with the most important news. Then expand into a sentence or two each using third person, never first person.

Be Objective

Although your brand may be playful, save the adjectives for quotes and advertisements. Press releases are meant to deliver just the facts without any fluff.

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Include a Pithy Quote

The quote is your chance to shine. Make it count. Say something authentic that shares insight and personalizes your story in one or two sentences. One small note: Don’t be tempted to look for synonyms for “said.” “He said,” “she said” are perfect here. Here’s an example:

“We are excited to announce that this year’s gala was our most successful to date; raising important funds that will help us to save and care for more dogs and cats until they find their forever homes,” said Leslie Granger, president and CEO at Bideawee.

Limit It to One Page

When it comes to press releases, brevity is best. Describe your business, product, services or events in approximately 400 words.

Include Company Info

It can be easy to forget little things like your email address, phone number and company summary. Paste at the bottom of the release like this:

Media Contact: Chilly Levine, chillylevine@fwv-us.com; (919) 700-1234

About P.L.A.Y.

P.L.A.Y. is the creator and designer of stylish and eco-friendly pet bedding and toys. P.L.A.Y. strives to create pet products that are unique and tailored to discerning pet parents who are not only looking for products that are great for their dog and cats, but also tastefully designed for their humans and responsibly made from environmental and social perspectives. To view P.L.A.Y.’s line of award-winning products, visit PetPLAY.com.

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Craft a Headline

Headlines can make or break your news. The key is to summarize your news in approximately 10 words while grabbing a journalist’s attention. Write in an active voice and keep it interesting. Here is the format and a few examples I like:

  • “One Woman Changes Pet Retail with X Product or Service”
  • “Animals Displaced by Hurricane Michael Receive Life-Saving Shelter”
  • “ Launches New (that solves X) at ”

Send to Target Outlets

Congratulations! You did it. Need help with distribution? No worries. Google “newswire services” and you’ll be on your way.

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Candace D'Agnolo

Free Business Tools for Marketing, Growth & Team!

3 apps this writer’s business can’t live without.

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AS A BUSINESS OWNER, it can be so overwhelming to find the proper software, websites or apps to use in your business for some of the most basic tasks. There’s a lot of trial and error involved. They’re time-consuming to set up, and then you find out you dislike the program, or it isn’t working for you. Why even bother, right?!

Elsewhere in this issue (“An App for That,” page 31), readers have suggested their favorite business apps, and here, I share three of my favorites, two of which are shared by readers. These are proven apps that have been highly beneficial in my business for digital marketing, organization and scheduling. I hope you will find them as useful as I do!

Linktr.ee for Instagram

If you use Instagram, you know that you can’t hyperlink to anything in your posts, and you only have one space to put a clickable URL in your profile. This is why you often see, or perhaps write yourself, “Link in Bio,” and then you have to constantly change the link. As time passes on, so does your post, but the link never gets updated because you forget.

Linktr.ee gives you one URL to put in your bio, but you can connect an unlimited amount of destinations to your Linktr.ee URL. There are free and paid versions, allowing for branding, email capture and more. Send your followers anywhere: articles, web store, events, socials and more. Only your custom Linktree URL stays within your Instagram bio.

Maybe you want to direct customers to your website homepage, then your grooming appointment scheduler, your Facebook Event list for your anniversary party, your training class schedule, your wholesale website. By not utilizing this super-easy tool, you are missing out! And your customers are, too!

Trello for Organization

I’ve been using Trello since 2011 when it was released. I’ve tried a dozen other project management/team tracking/organization tools since, and I just keep coming back to Trello. It allows you to keep all your systems, process, checklists, research, customer conversations and order flow organized, all in one location.

Trello allows you to create all kinds of lists via boards, lists and cards almost like virtual Post-It Notes, all organized into journals. But they are Post-It Notes on steroids! You can make checklists, attach photos, assign team members, link to other cards and communicate with your team about intricate and specific details, from customer issues to shipment details. Additionally, add due dates, duplicate lists easily and store ideas.

You can also set notifications, so when anyone updates a task you see what changes were made, or what was marked completed. Everything is in real time, so when an update happens, everyone sees it immediately. I use Trello for just about everything in my business and personal life to keep on top of my tasks — even to shop for groceries.

When I Work for Scheduling

When I Work allows managers, like at our doggie daycare, to easily schedule their employees, keep track of clocking in and out, and availability, and it is convenient for employees to view and manage their schedules as well. The best part is, you can use this on your mobile device or desktop computer. This also allows you to view multiple locations if you have more than one.

This intuitive program allows companies to easily schedule their staff. You can create shift templates that allow you to quickly copy and paste a previous week, then edit as needed. Managers and employees can communicate and leave notes for each other. Everyone can get notifications as well. Employees can view their schedule, update their availability, request time off, swap shifts and more all from their mobile devices. There is also a function where employees acknowledge they have viewed their schedule. There are free and paid versions of the software.

With these tools, you can successfully funnel new customers, stay more organized than ever with projects and easily schedule employees — all for free!

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