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Gift Guide for the Dog Lover

I'm so excited to bring you guys today's holiday gift guide. This one is for all of the #dogmoms out there (and #dogdads). My husband and I have a German Shepherd named Emma (who is currently in a time out for pooping inside...again), but just like our other kids, we still love her. We'd also really love it if she'd quit going potty inside, but that is beside the point. The point is there is no shame in spoiling your sweet fur baby, especially during the holidays!! And while some of these gifts are items for your dog, some are great gift ideas for the dog lover in your life too.


The Dogist 2018 Wall Calendar by Elias Weiss Friedman author of The Dogist, for example, is the perfect Christmas gift for someone who loves dogs.



These super cute Christmas Plaid Dog Collars by Mr. Bow Tie Boutique would be the perfect holiday gift for doggies and dog owners alike! Whether you have family holiday photos coming up, or you simply want your furry friend to look festive for those…

Biz Tips: How to Make a Meaningful Connection with Consumers

Emotions play a big part in consumer behavior. Even more so, consumers are driven by their basic need for an emotional connection with other people. Whether it's a product or entertainment, consumers respond better when they can feel a personal connection.

Think about the typical commercial. Companies don't just spend the entire time showcasing a product or service; they put it into a story concept to show how the average person would use it in his or her life. This helps the customer envision the product in his or her own life.

With the rise of Ebooks and online shops on sites like Ebay and Etsy, how can a business reach out and make a personal connection with a potential customer? Some people fear that the rise of social media will have a negative impact on relationships, but I think that as the technology continues to increase and we are able to communicate in additional ways like Skype and Google+ Hangouts, our connections can only get bigger and better.But what does this mean to the business owners, writers and entertainers who are trying to connect with the general public? How does an Etsy shop owner, for example, connect with potential customers in an ever-growing sea of social networking? Here are some simple steps:

1. First, spread a wide net. I tell bloggers who are learning to network that they should always have both a large net and a small net on the web. For your wide net join online groups, set up profiles on community sites where you are allowed to have a link in your bio, occasionally write for sites like Squidoo and Hubpages, join sharing sites (like food sites if you want to promote a recipe blog or cookbook), and make sure that you have a separate blog, Twitter, Facebook page, etc. separate from your personal accounts and with your business or product name as the username. You might not have time to go to these frequently, especially all of the sharing and community sites, but it still helps to get your link out there. If you are trying to land advertisers, investors, an agent, etc, they are going to google you or look up your website stats. If they google you and not very many social networking sites pop up, they'll immediately assume that you aren't doing a good enough job with online marketing. Whether or not you have time to revisit all the sites you join, it's still useful to join them, but you should carve out one day every few weeks or at least once a month to visit the sites in your wider net and participate with some posts or discussions.

2. Spread your small, tight net. This takes a little time. Once you've spread a larger net, you'll find that some sites you enjoy better than others, and you might make a group of friends on a particular site. This is where networking really comes in. As you become closer friends with a small group and you promote each other's work, you all expose each other to every one's large net; drawing in new readers, customers, etc. To be effective at this, you really need to spend several days, if not everyday, online. You don't have to spend hours and hours online everyday. You don't want to spend so much time networking that you don't get any actual work done. But you do need to connect with your close network at least a little bit several times a week and just a little everyday if possible. The problem is networking is a never ending task, where one link leads to another and to another, until before you know it a few hours have slipped right out of your hands. I like to keep my time in check by scheduling in my networking time on a specific day and making specific notes on exactly what I need to do. Sometimes I will literally have a to-do list that reads "1. comment on new discussions in writing group. 2. Return blog comments. 3. Return blog question emails. 4. Share links to FB, Twitter, etc." This not only helps me stay on-task, but it also helps the next time I have a few extra hours to network. I can refer to my previous list to determine groups or sites that I haven't been on recently.

3. Don't try to be too professional. There is a fine line between keeping it professional and losing your personality. You want to sound professional in a business email or blog post? It's simple, don't drop the F-bomb or C-word and use proper grammar, and just forget about everything else. If your voice doesn't come through in your business writing, your readers/customers are going to feel disconnected from your message and your brand.

 4. Lose your privacy. We all value privacy, but if you are a business owner, writer, entertainer, etc., wave that privacy goodbye and embrace your semi-celebrity status. Just don't accidentally post nude pictures from your cell phone or make a sex tape. You can always pick which parts of your life you want to keep to yourself, like your kids or your relationships. But with the new media-sharing craze, people expect to see some candidness.

5. Get your face out there. Whenever you have an online profile or bio, always include a bio shot. The simple fact is people like faces. Our brains are wired to easily process faces. If possible make your bio shot one where you're looking into the camera. Eye contact is always best. Posting a profile picture where you're pensively gazing out of a window or across an open field-not good! A bio shot with a cell phone in the bathroom mirror and a toilet in the background-really not good. You should try to use an updated picture of yourself (ladies, one without cleavage, please!). I like to update all of my profile pics at once. That way I know all of my profiles are up-to-date, and I'm more recognizable. If you have various profile pics on different sites that all look drastically different, people might not recognize you from one site to the next. However, if all your pics are the same, readers are more likely to recognize you and want to connect with you for the simple fact that in addition to connection, consumers crave the familiar. Above all, use a real picture of yourself. If you use a fake photo like a celebrity shot or a cartoon, people will feel disconnected from you.

6. Let them in on your process. I've seen a lot of Etsy shop owners blog about their creative process or post pics of their offices. This is genius. People want to know where their products are coming from. (Unless you work in your boxers from your grandmother's basement. In that case, you're better off if you fake it till you make it!) Taking the mystery out of that aspect will make your customer/readers feel more connected to you. A perfect example of this is the recent commercial ad campaign by L.L Bean.





This commercial is so simple, yet it performs three crucial tasks in making the consumer feel a connection to LL Bean:

-It shows a wide shot of the inside of the factory.
-It shows how the worker is making the boots.
-It introduces the worker as an individual, with him looking right into the camera and telling you his name in his adorable accent.

This is pure genius. I think it demonstrates the basics of connecting with new people. In addition to the points mentioned above, stick with three basic principles you should use in the real world as well as online:

1. Put yourself out there.
2. Engage.
3. Just relax and be yourself.

Comments

  1. These are indeed great tips about starting a small business using the wonders of technology in the digital marketing world. I like the idea of semi-celebrity status. It's indeed true.

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