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  • 20 lessons in creativity from Elizabeth Gilbert's: Big Magic

    Big Magic by Liz GilbertThis year I’ve been rediscovering my creative self via my YouTube channel: The Greeting Card Project. It’s got me thinking a lot about creativity.

    I recently devoured a fantastic book on the subject. I found it refreshing, life affirming and incredibly inspiring. In fact, I loved Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, so much that I thought I’d share my key learnings from it with you

    Fear

    There are many ways we can be afraid to live a creative life. You can be afraid that you have no talent. Afraid that there’s no market for your creativity. Afraid that other people are already better. Afraid that the greeting cards you create are not original. Afraid that you’ll embarrass yourself. Afraid that nobody will be interested in what you make. Afraid you’ll waste your time. The list is endless. It’s terrifying. Fear is boring. It stops you from living. You must be brave.

    Courage

    Being brave is not the same as being fearless. Being creative requires courage. The courage to bring forth the treasures within yourself. Acknowledge your fear and allow it to join creativity and you on your road trips. Just don’t allow it to make any decisions - and definitely don’t let it drive!

    Magic

    Creativity is a force of enchantment, like magic. Gilbert believes that the planet is inhabited by ideas that are disembodied, energetic life-forms looking for places to manifest by collaborating with a human partner. If you don’t pursue an idea it’ll leave and resurface somewhere else with someone else (I’ve seen this happen with card range ideas we never pursued).

    Ownership

    Ideas don’t belong to any one person. They are born out of collaboration with the creativity of people. Ideas can collaborate with more than one human and arrive in similar forms. This is an artistic form of multiple discovery - a term used in the scientific community whenever two scientists from different parts of the world come up with an idea at the same time. A common occurrence throughout history. In the end, it’s all just flowers seeking light.

    Torment

    You don’t have to be a tormented artist that brings forth ideas at a cost to your relationships and yourself. In the end it’s all about the work, not the suffering. A different way is to cooperate fully, humbly and joyfully with inspiration. You can support other’s creativity. Measure your worth by your dedication to your path of creating beautiful cards, not by successes or failures, wealth or fortune.

    Genius

    Unlike us, the Romans didn’t believe that a gifted person was a genius. They believe they had a genius. Like a sort of spirit guide. This psychological construct is useful to keep the artist’s ego in check by distancing them from taking the glory or blame for the work. That way they are not burdened by the reaction to anything they create. It’s useful to think of your creative talent as separate from you, so you don’t beat yourself up when your latest card range flops in the marketplace.

    Making Space

    You have to make space for the work. Setting aside time each day or week. Creative work is labour; like farming. It’s not a never ending series of enlightened moments. It’s hard. Forces of inspiration cannot be seen, proven, commanded nor understood. Yet they are relied upon in our industry as a way of generating income for tens of thousands of people. Be disciplined with regular design time.

    Permission

    You don’t need anyone’s permission to live a creative life. You don’t need to do a course or get a certificate. We are inherently creative beings. The earliest example of human art is 40,000 years ago, thirty thousand years before the earliest evidence of human agriculture. Which means we were more interested in creating than regularly feeding ourselves! Give yourself permission to create.

    Originality

    I remember my high school art teacher telling me that nothing is original. Try not to get hung up on this. Most things have already been done - but they have not been done yet by you. Say what you want to say with all your heart. If it’s authentic it will probably feel original.

    Stop Complaining

    The world is busy. Nobody wants to hear you complaining about being an artist or that it’s difficult. Get on with it. Stop getting in your own way. The commercial results of your work don’t have a lot to do with you as creator. Your job is to produce the work itself. That job is tough enough. This is where it helps to have a business partner who focuses on selling and marketing your greeting cards as a separate job. It’s tough doing both.

    Child’s Play

    Children make up things all the time. They aren’t burdened by being artists or by the work. They create and toss their creations out like paper airplanes. Relax. Enjoy creating your card designs. Be light. Have fun with it.

    Criticism

    What people see in your work has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. People make all sorts of connections and assumptions driven by their own emotional stories all the time. Don’t get caught up in this. Your focus is on the work.

    The Paradox

    Art is absolutely meaningless. It’s also incredibly meaningful. Sending someone a card is the same. It can be completely meaningless. It can be incredibly meaningful. It needs the freedom to be both. We need to be able to throw away what’s not working and start afresh when creating.

    Suckage

    Everything sucks, some of the time. What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work? Similarly, you will never find all the hours you need for your creativity. You have to find ways to fit it in.

    Perfection

    Don’t worry about what other people think either. Other people are mostly thinking about themselves and not you. Remember that done is better than good. I’ve found this with The Greeting Card Project, some videos are better than others. Twenty two videos done is better than trying to make one good video.

    A Chore

    Creativity is a chore. If it’s too painful, you may want to quit. Life is short and should be enjoyed. Take up a new hobby, travel, spend time with friends. After a while, if you find yourself drawn back towards creating because nothing in life brings you the same pleasure, then you will have no choice.

    Playfulness

    Be a trickster with your work , not a martyr. Have fun with it. Make it work for you. Be playful. Your work is not your baby. Let it go. If you have to cut it or adjust your new card range to make it happen in the world then do so.

    Curiosity

    Forget about your passion, follow your curiosity instead. Rather than waiting for passion to strike or deciding which passion to pursue, be inquisitive about things. It may lead you somewhere, it may not. Following it opens up things. The Greeting Card Project has definitely done this for me. I’ve learnt more about greeting cards this year than all my pervious years in the card industry.

    Failure

    You will fail. It sucks, but it’s true. Creative risks won’t always pan out. Sometimes your work fails on your own terms, sometimes it fails to connect with anyone when you put it out there. That’s the nature of creativity. Nobody simply designs a best selling range of greeting cards. It happens outside of them. Successes are rooted in the manure of failures. When you fail, let it go. Forgive yourself.

    Top Dog

    How do you top a best selling range of cards? This assumes that reaching the top and staying there is the only reason to create. If anything it’s a hindrance. The mysteries of inspiration do not operate on the limited human scale of commerce and reputation, of units sold and markets won. If you only have one designer in your business, it’s important to acknowledge the commercial limitations of this and not put pressure on your creativity.

    Summary

    Be sure to live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. A creative life is an amplified life, where Big Magic is to be found. Time marches on. Look within to unearth your creative treasures. We don't have the time anymore to think small.

    Eight Ways to Deal with Failure

    Freedom from Standard Thinking

    How to create best selling greeting cards

    Watch Liz Gilbert's TED talk on creativity by clicking on the image below:

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Charming cards

    Charming cards by Blue Eyed SunBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their colourful new range of 42 handmade CHARMING cards.

    All CHARMING cards are based on original watercolour artworks by artist, Jo Corner. These beautiful cards are litho printed then hand finished with jewels and decoupage elements in the UK.

    CHARMING cards are all blank inside and all come cello wrapped with an envelope that is 170mm x 120mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Charming is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Charming cards first in person at:

    PG Live 2017 at the Business Design Centre in London 6-7 June 2017 - Stand 524

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 16-19 July 2017 -  Stand GS-58

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

    See our new everyday range of Jangles cards

    See Blue Eyed Sun's Christmas cards 2017

  • The Greeting card Project - May Review

    #TGCP - May Review

    The Greeting Card Project is my year of sending more greeting cards and recording a video diary of my experiences, the shops I visit, the cards I send and my own personal journey.

    Hooray! Thanks to everyone's support, this month I finally reached 100 subscribers and claimed my custom URL, find it at https://www.youtube.com/TheGreetingCardProject. I'd love your feedback on the project so far. Please tell me what else you'd like to see in the comments beneath the videos on YouTube. Click on the images below to watch each of May's videos.

    I'm late, I'm late. This week I send some belated cards, which I purchased from a small independent shop called Box of Delights in Flitwick. In keeping with the theme this is the first video I've loaded up late too!

    This week I visit Waterstone's flagship store in London's Piccadilly Circus and buy congratulations and well done cards from some lovely American greeting card publishers.

    This week I visit the Tring branch of a small independent chain called House of Cards and shop for birthday milestone cards. Some lovely reactions to the cards from recipients at the end of this video.

    This week I visited the branch of a small chain of independent shops in Berkhamstead called Temptation Gifts and bought some funny birthday cards for old university friends.

    The fifth month of the channel had 750 views with viewers watching over 25 hours of The Greeting Card Project for an average of 2:02 per video. The channel gained 11 more subscribers,  13 shares and accumulated 51 likes and 1 dislikes. The total lifetime channel views is now 5,000.

    If you do watch and enjoy the videos please pop over to YouTube and subscribe. I'd also love it if you followed the project on my personal Twitter account @JeremyCorner and my new personal Instagram @JeremyCorner.

    Where possible there are hyperlinks to all of the featured companies beneath each YouTube video.

    April Review of #TGCP

    March Review of #TGCP

    February Review of #TGCP

    January review of #TGCP

    Learn why I started #TGCP

  • PG Live 2017 - Essential Information

    PG Live 2017 - Essential InfoBlue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the PG Live 2017 trade show . Officially launching at PG Live 2017 are our beautiful new Christmas cards 2017 along with our gorgeous new everyday ranges Charming and Jangles, so be sure to stop by and see us.

    Quote Voucher code PGL17 when ordering during the show (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About PG Live 2017

    The International Greeting Card Show is a highlight on card buyers' calendars as the UK's only trade exhibition dedicated to the greeting card industry. It runs for two days from Tuesday 6th June to Wednesday 7th June from 09:30 - 18:00 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

    To register for PG Live please click here.

    Where to Stay at PG Live 2017

    The closest hotels to the show are the HiltonPremier Inn and Double Tree by Hilton a short walk away with prices from £75-£150. However as the show opens next week they seem to be fully booked now. You can search AirBnB for apartments and rooms nearby.

    Where to Eat at PG Live 2017

    Islington has many wonderful restaurants and cafes. We've sampled lots of them over the years and have short listed some of our favourites for you to try below:

    5 Great Restaurants near the Business Design Centre

    How to get to PG Live 2017

    The Business Design Centre is easily accessible from Angel Tube station on the Northern Line and is close to Kings Cross and Euston rail stations. The Business Design Centre's post code is N1 0QH. It's outside the Congestion Charge Zone  and there are 250 car spaces on site with a daily cost of £3.10 per hour.

    You can plan your journey with the TFL journey planner or you might like to download the mobile app CityMapper which we love using for journey planning in London.

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    PGLive 2017 - Floor Plan

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Jangles Cards

    Jangles cards by Blue Eyed SunBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their colourful new range of 32 hand finished JANGLES cards.

    All Jangles cards are based on original artworks by artist, Jo Corner. These lovely cards are litho printed and hand finished with jewels in the UK.

    Jangles cards are all blank inside and all come cello wrapped with an envelope that is 170mm x 120mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Jangles is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Jangles greeting cards first in person at:

    PG Live 2017 at the Business Design Centre in London 6-7 June 2017 - Stand 524

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 16-19 July 2017 -  Stand GS-58

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

    See our new everyday range of Charming cards

    See Blue Eyed Sun's Christmas cards 2017

  • 14 Things I've learned on The Greeting Card Project

    #TGCPDespite my best efforts to focus on the journey rather than the outcome of my YouTube channel (The Greeting Card Project) I have found myself distracted by the numbers of late.

    Whether you set up a Facebook page, Twitter Account, YouTube channel or add Google Analytics to your Website, those cunning geeks from silicon valley provide you with a raft of information on how your particular digital poison of choice is performing. In the case of YouTube, you get to see the number of views, minutes watched, average view duration, likes, dislikes, shares and subscribers. The list goes on.

    I guess the idea of this is to have some KPI’s (key performance indicators) that will help you measure the success or failure of your channel. Which is fine, so long as you define the success or failure of your particular project in those terms. Last month, my dashboard was full of red downward pointing arrows (with the exception of my dislikes which has a perky little green arrow pointing upwards). As a result, I have been doing some real soul searching with regards to my project.

    Here are things I’ve learned personally whilst producing The Greeting Card Project so far this year:

    1. My fears have indeed been realised: A weekly video visiting different card shops is time consuming to make, load up to YouTube and share on social media (4-8hrs per video on average - even if all done on your phone). Don’t do it. Seriously. You have to be nuts to add this to your workload. Especially when the jury is still out on adoption rates of new tech by our industry (I still cannot get over how many business don’t have a simple web page).

    2. Your friends will only watch so many of your videos to support you. I have been paying it forward in our industry for a number of years now and have helped a lot of people. I’ve been speaking at the Ladder Club since 2004 and serve on committees for the GCA and the Giftware Association. Even with an army of support you cannot expect people to stay and engage without quality content that’s relevant to them or their friends and followers.

    3. Going into shops and choosing cards and talking about who you are sending them to might not be interesting enough to get more than 200 views per video on average. I need to accept this or evolve. It’s enough that I personally find it interesting visiting different retailers, selecting and buying different greeting cards, and working on my relationships. Numbers are not the only thing that matters to me.

    4. Weekly watching is as much of an ask for people as weekly video making. Peoples’ time is more precious than ever. The videos must be really good as they compete with so many other things vying for attention (content that’s funny, cute, weird or emotional). Note to self: I must get more kittens into my videos.

    5. I need to truly understand my 'why' on this project and project it even more clearly than I do. I believe card sending can help us to feel closer to one another. I do feel that the message I am broadcasting is important.

    6. Let’s face it, card sending is a pain in the backside compared with the ease of social media and texting. Honestly. If you don’t believe me, join me and send more greeting cards every week. You’ll see. Don’t be cheating with franking machines either. Buy stamps every time. Card sending is time consuming, expensive and laborious and you often don't even know if your card arrived safely through the post.

    7. When the card does arrive, it can feel really wonderful for the recipient, perhaps because we all know it's not easy to choose, buy, write and post a card (the feeling the recipient has is what keeps me going).

    8. Expecting positive reactions to a card, gift or video makes it all about me. The true purpose of a gift is that it is about the recipient, not the sender. You need to let yourself go and focus purely on the other to truly give. True love is a love of giving.

    9. I'm stubbornly sticking to my New Year's Resolution to do one video a week for the project this year. This is despite my better judgement at this stage. I feel that quitting this goal is a bigger personal failure for me. Discipline is key to success.

    10. It is unhelpful to me to measure the success of The Greeting Card Project in terms of views. If views plummet to next to nothing then it can seem like failure. Having said that, failure can be an important part of what builds our experience. Experience helps us make better judgements in the future.

    11. I'm seriously doubting the concept of being Open, Random and Supportive (ORS) at this stage. This is a driving principle for me in doing my project and something I am testing. The project is not about my business. Every week I promote my competitors cards by choosing them in the shops I visit. I’m also giving my competitors a free sales lead by promoting retailers to them each week. It might seem a little crazy, but it also feels incredibly liberating not worrying about this. Control is fear based. I refuse to live in fear. I have to let it go.

    12. Interestingly, people that I promote in my videos won't necessarily share the videos online. I don't understand why this is... yet. So far I’ve been assuming it's because they are just too busy or haven’t seen them (despite my emails and tagging on social media). It may be that they don’t trust my intentions, they don’t understand what I’m doing or they don't see the bigger picture. i.e. We are all in this together.

    13. Up to half of the shops I visit have zero web presence. Not even a simple website, never mind social media profiles (i.e. free websites). This is making each video harder to share to the niche greeting card audience that might be most interested. Websites and digital marketing are a must for small businesses.

    14. I'm becoming obsessed with post boxes. I love them. I love their bright red colour and the variety of types of them. What’s that all about? I'm working on a special post box episode for later in the year. A love of something so mundane is a source of genuine surprise and amusement to me. It’ll be postage stamps next!

    This month, the numbers on my YouTube analytics have really been challenging my reasons for doing this project. Yet the numbers are arbitrary in many respects. They don’t really matter. For some strange reason The Greeting Card Project is all I want to do right now. Making these little videos about cards. I feel it in every part of me, compelling me forward. Like it’s bigger than my company, bigger than myself.

    I’m so grateful to you for reading my blog. If you’ve watched even one of my videos or taken the time to offer feedback - thank you so much. I love what I’m doing. It really is the journey and the interaction with people along the way that makes all the difference to me. Do watch the videos though. Seriously. I’d be lying if I said the number of views didn’t matter at all.

    Watch all the videos on Jeremy’s blog at www.blueeyedsun.co.uk/blog/tgcp

    Subscribe to The Greeting Card Project on YouTube

    Discover why I started The Greeting Card Project

    Five ways to improve your retail business

  • The Greeting Card Project - April Review

    The Greeting Card Project - April ReviewThe Greeting Card Project is my year of sending more greeting cards and recording a video diary of my experiences, the shops I visit, the cards I send and my own personal journey.

    This month I experimented with shorter videos and have trying to group the occasions that I'm exploring and buying cards for. Click on the images to watch April's videos.

    I have quite a few friends with birthdays at this time of year, so I visited the Southampton Row branch of Cards Galore in London to see if I could find some nice birthday cards.

    As part of National Stationery Week I shopped at First Stop Stationers in Reigate for New Home cards this week. There was a good selection of great publishers in this shop.

    Thanks to The Greeting Card Project I visited the gift shop at RHS Wisley and bought and sent my first ever Easter Cards. They had an egg-cellent greeting card selection!

    Sadly, I had three separate friends suffer the loss of a loved one this week and I found myself making a video about sympathy cards, the most difficult and yet the most important cards to send.

    This week I visited an independent shop in Greenwich called Postmark. I love it when shops have space for customers to write cards and this shop even has a little letter box for posting them.

    The fourth month of the channel had 896 views with viewers watching over 24 hours of The Greeting Card Project for an average of 1:37 per video. The channel gained 13 more subscribers,  34 shares and accumulated 47 likes and 3 dislikes. The total lifetime channel views is now 4,391.

    If you do watch and enjoy the videos please pop over to YouTube and subscribe, as I need 11 more subscribers to get to 100 and get a specific URL for the project (at the moment it's just a random string of numbers). I'd also love it if you followed the project on my personal Twitter account @JeremyCorner and my new personal Instagram @JeremyCorner.

    Where possible there are hyperlinks to all of the featured companies beneath each YouTube video.

    March Review of #TGCP

    February Review of #TGCP

    January review of #TGCP

    Learn why I started #TGCP

  • Blue Eyed Sun inside the Startup Van

    StartUp Van Sage Summit London 2017

    A year ago I met with the Graham and Mark at the Startup Van pop up studio in London and enjoyed two very funny interviews on camera about business and Blue Eyed Sun.

    This year they were brave enough to let me INSIDE the Startup Van. The van has been home to interviews with hundreds of fantastic start ups and legends like Gary Vaynerchuck. We had a lot of fun again this time and the video has been viewed an incredible 6,600 times so far (Thanks Mum!).

    It's always great fun meeting up with these guys who do a fantastic job of promoting small businesses and startups looking to get noticed by the world.

    They have a ton of subscribers and followers on social media and I'm always learning from their millennial mastery of these amazing tools. As a Sage Business Expert I see them at various Sage events, a company they work closely with to support small businesses.

    We talked about The Greeting Card Project, YouTube vs Facebook, changing communication technologies and greeting cards. Click on the image below to watch the interview:

    See what card I send Mark and Graham here

    Watch my previous videos with the Start Up Van

  • New Christmas Cards for 2017 from Blue Eyed Sun

    Charming Christmas cards from Blue Eyed SunChristmas falls on Monday 25th December 2017, and we like our retailers to be prepared well in advance of this key retail period, so here's what Christmas cards are new from us this year...

    Charming (pictured above) are based on beautiful original watercolour artworks by Jo Corner. Hand finished with jewels and decoupage elements, the range includes 30 beautiful Christmas designs to complement our best selling everyday Charming cards. They are 160mm square and come individually cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    Jangles cards by Blue Eyed Sun

    JANGLES (above) are based on original artworks by Jo Corner. Hand finished jewels this lovely new range includes 24 designs to add to our 30 everyday Jangles cards. These wonderful 120mm x 170mm (7x5 inches) Christmas cards are blank inside and come individually cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    TINSEL TOWN (below) are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Hand finished with jewels, the range includes 30 gorgeous Christmas designs. They are 160mm square and come cello-wrapped with a silver envelope.

    We have a large selection of Christmas cards online in the trade only section of our site, including many that are on special offer. To stock these ranges in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or you can recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them.

    You can see these wonderful Jangles greeting cards first in person at:

    PG Live 2017 at the Business Design Centre in London 6-7 June 2017 - Stand 524

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 16-19 July 2017 -  Stand GS-58

    Tinsel Town Christmas cards from Blue Eyed Sun

  • 5 Ways to Improve Your Retail Business

    5 Ways To Improve Your Retail BusinessI'm now a quarter of the way into The Greeting Card Project, my YouTube channel where I’m sending more cards each week to try and feel closer to my friends and loved ones. I’ve visited a different shop for each video and have been learning a lot about retail with each visit.

    Here are five ways you can improve your retail business:

    1. Websites

    People are already talking about your shop online so you have to make it easy for them to share and recommend you digitally. Most customers that visit your shop will connect to the internet every day. You need to be there for them too.

    Under each video that I post, I add hyperlinks to all the retailers and publishers that are included so that viewers can easily click through and visit from them. Unfortunately I have not been able to do this for all I have visited as some don’t have websites nor any social media presence.

    If you don’t have a website, people like me can’t hyperlink to your business and you aren’t able to maximise your business presence online. Remember that these links add value to your website over time. They’re like road signs on the digital information super highway, all pointing to your business.

    You need these signs and you need a website. You can keep it really simple and it doesn’t have to cost more than a couple of hundred pounds. Using software like Wordpress you can use templates that are predesigned to be mobile friendly. You can always add shopping functionality later. For now you just need a web presence, even if it’s simply a single page with nice photos of your store saying who you are, where you are and links to any social media accounts you use.

    2. Your Brand

    Shops with their logo on their bags have benefited most because their brand features prominently in the videos when I pay for the cards. I love being able to share the shop brands and so do your happy customers. For instance, the other day I overheard a lady on her phone nearby telling her friend that she was in a lovely coffee shop and didn’t know the name. What a missed opportunity that may be happening countless times a day. To be honest, I still don’t know the name of that coffee shop either. Don’t assume that all of your customers know the name of your shop.

    Make it easy for your customers to know your brand so they can share it. Have it up on the walls, on your bags and even on your pricing labels. Add your web address to your till receipts and to your bags so your fans can rave about you online to their friends.

    3. Get Social

    You don’t have to be on every single social media platform that’s out there. Not all your customers will be using these tools. A lot are though and the majority of the next generations of consumers will be using them in some form or another. We all need to plan for the future of our business.

    I recommend Facebook, Instagram and Twitter primarily for strong engagement on social media. I’m also getting a lot of shares on LinkedIn at the moment due to my large network of over 1,300 connections there; people from diverse careers that I’ve met over the years.

    The people who get the best results tend to post daily and have a planned schedule of what they are sharing and how they are engaging. They are not just blasting out their sales messages. They are helping and engaging with others. Always listen first before posting on social media. Choose the right type of engagement for your followers and your fans before starting.

    Initially you’ll benefit most on social media from improved relationships with suppliers. Most of your card publishers are using these platforms and want to share you with their followers. Tag your suppliers in relevant posts so that they can help you to leverage and grow your presence online with their fans. Make sure you allow yourself to be tagged. Some businesses don’t do this and I think they are missing out too.

    Encourage your employees, friends and family to follow and engage with your brand online to help get it going in the digital domain. Each like, share and follow adds to the importance of your business to the Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram algorithms that favour the most active businesses online.

    I have to say that businesses with a website and active social media presence are a lot more attractive to me when choosing who to visit and promote for The Greeting Card Project. I spend a lot of my time and energy on each video, so I’d much rather visit shops that will help my YouTube channel reach a wider audience and get more people around the world sending greeting cards.

    4. The Customer Experience

    Having said that, I’m glad I’m staying open, random and supportive when visiting retailers for this project. That’s because some of the most interesting shops have not had any digital presence. Ironically, these are the ones that I think would benefit most from being online as their back stories are so interesting and their shops are so marvellous. I’m not going to embarrass anyone by mentioning names, if you watch the videos you can probably guess.

    My favourite shops have a mixture of cards and gifts. I prefer trade shows that mix these categories up too as I think you can zone out if looking at too many of the same type of thing. Some supermarkets can feel a bit like this for example. Personally, I prefer the Aladdin’s cave experience, where you feel like you can hunt out treasures for yourself or your loved ones.

    One of the most interesting retail experiences for me was at the Tate Modern which has several different shops that all work in different ways. For example, they have Tate Edit, in which they sell fine art prints and home accessories. As an art collector myself, it was so lovely to be met be a well trained staff member who talked me through the various items with a soft sales approach. Given that purchases in this shop are hundreds if not thousands of pounds, a more refined lifestyle, interiors type of space with a knowledgable sales assistant worked well. It felt more special, exclusive and nurturing.

    Having a mix of products and price points zoned in the right way appears to be a strong way of maximising sales in retail, as are well trained staff who can help customers enjoy their experience.

    5. Be Open Online

    The people who are thriving online are those that aren’t hung up on protecting their own interests and just looking out for themselves. Marketing is different in the digital domain. You are more likely to be following and engaging with everyone in your digital community these days, including your competitors.

    For some this is hard to get their heads around, yet in our industry we all have an interest in encouraging people to send more greeting cards. It doesn’t matter if you are a publisher, supplier, retailer or employee for one of these businesses. It’s one of the reasons organisations like the Greeting Card Association and Giftware Association have been working so hard to include retailers.

    If you are not a member of these associations, I’d encourage you to have a look at joining them. It’s relatively inexpensive for retailers to get involved and they are doing some fantastic work online. Look out for the video I shot of the recent GCA Dragon’s Den style pitching event as a great example of what lovely things we can do if we work together to help one another.

    I’d love your support for The Greeting Card Project too. I need 24 more subscribers to get the vanity URL, which makes the channel easier to share online. Please click here to subscribe.

    Marketing Then vs Now

    What consumers want from retailers

    Seven habits of highly effective retailers

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