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Blue Eyed Sun Blog

  • 10 Ways Retailers can get started on Instagram

    Get Started On Instagram

    With the rising popularity of Instagram, which now has 700 million active users, here are ten tips to get started with the social media platform for your retail business:

    1. Post Daily 

    Post regularly on Instagram. Don’t post too often though or you can get penalised by Instagram’s algorithm. Once a day is generally best. You can post multiple images in the same post. As with all social media, consistency matters most over time.

    2. Image matters

    Your Instagram images have to look good. Make sure they are in focus. Don’t post blurry images. Use the filters in the app to help jazz them up a little. Try to keep a consistent visual look and feel to your account. Retailers should try and replicate the special visual experience of their shops. Publishers’s accounts should mirror their unique brand story.

    3. Engage

    Follow others and engage with them by liking and commenting on their posts in order to grow your following. You can double tap images to like them. Chip away at this regularly to grow at a steady rate. The Instagram algorithm takes past page engagement into account when prioritising content for other users. So keep engaging.

    4. Bio

    Make sure you write a good bio using key words that matter to you, your suppliers and your customers. Make it fun and enticing. Hyperlink to your most important website as this is the only link you’ll post on Instagram that’s actually clickable. Mine directs my Instagram followers to www.youtube.com/thegreetingcardproject

    5. Don’t Sell

    Actively selling on social media is a real turn off for followers. Decide on your brand story and share it through strong images. People want a visual sense of your business and what it is so that they can choose to engage. That’s not to say you can’t share your wares. Think show, not sell. Test calls-to-action that your followers will enjoy.

    6. Business or Personal?

    All social media is personal really. Having said that, it helps to set up your brand with a business account on Instagram. You get a load of metrics and can project a more professional image. It’s useful to have a personal account too as it broadens your reach outside of business. This also hedges against changes in the algorithms for business accounts to favour advertisers.

    7. Tag others

    You have the option to tag other users. This alerts them to your photos and can increase engagement. For example, I tag all of the publishers and retailers that feature in my latest video when I post an image from The Greeting Card Project. People will get annoyed and unfollow you if you do this to them all the time. You can also use the @ symbol to mention people and notify them when you post.

    8. Use #Hashtags

    Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without. Although you can add up to 30 hashtags per post, only use ones that are relevant to the mage you post. I usually hashtag publishers, retailers, card recipients and the cities where I’ve shot my YouTube videos when I post on Instagram e.g. #Harrogate

    9. Instagram Direct

    Keep an eye on your direct messages on Instagram as some people like to contact you privately. I get this from new customers and people who have questions. Check in daily so that you can respond quickly or turn your Instagram alerts on in your phone.

    10. Comments

    I find with most social media accounts that responding quickly to comments keeps the posts higher up other peoples’ feeds. I’ll often like the comments straight away and then reply with a message at busier times so that the posts are boosted and sty up longer.

    How to use video for your retail business

    How retailers can start selling online

    10 Things to do before using social media for business

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Mothers day cards for 2018

    Sew Delightful Mother's Day

    With Mothering Sunday on Sunday 11th March 2018, it's time for retailers to start thinking about getting their Mothers Day cards and Valentines cards ordered before Christmas. We have three wonderful new ranges for Mothers Day 2018...

    Pictured above is our Sew Delightful Mother's Day selection, based on original stitched artworks by Jo Corner. These gorgeous cards are 160mm square and hand finished with jewels.

    Treasure greeting card range

    Pictured above is our new Treasure range of Mother's Day cards, based on original designs by Katy Odey. These beautiful copper flittered cards are 105mm x 148mm.

    Pictured below is our Charming Mother's Day selection, based on original illustrations by Jo Corner. These delightful cards are 160mm square and hand finished with jewels.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our Mothers Day cards are blank inside, barcoded and cello-wrapped with a matching envelope. All Blue Eyed Sun Mothers Day cards are printed on beautiful thick boards from sustainable managed sources. Retailers can order online from our  large selection of designs in the trade only section of our site.

    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.

    Click here to see our 2018 Valentine designs

    See our 2018 Father's Day designs

    Scientists prove that cards are good for your Mother

    Charming Mother's Day greeting cards

  • Top Drawer Autumn 2017 - Essential info

    Top Drawer AutumnTop Drawer Autumn 2017 features many of Britain's leading design-led greeting card publishers. Here are the essentials you need for this top trade show for retailers:

    For free tickets to Top Drawer please click here.

    When is Top Drawer Autumn 2017?

    Top Drawer Autumn 2017 runs from Sunday 10th September until Tuesday 12th September from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of hundreds of suppliers.

    Watch a video of the card section at the show.

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Autumn

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Top Drawer Autumn. Here are our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near Olympia and 5 Great Restaurants in Earls Court.

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Autumn

    Olympia is well serviced for hotels and there are good transport links to local London areas.

    Click here for an interactive map of hotels near Olympia

    How to Get to Top Drawer Autumn

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Top Drawer Autumn 2017 from Shepherd's Bush (central line) or West Brompton (District Line). Click here for the TFL website.

    The Sat Nav post code for Olympia is W14 8UX for drivers. You can park next to the venue. Do book in advance as it is more expensive on the day. Click here to book parking at Olympia.

    What's new from Blue Eyed Sun?

    Blue Eyed Sun have a gorgeous new everyday greeting card range called Sew Delightful at Top Drawer Autumn 2017 on stand ZB9. You can also order any last minute Christmas and see our new Spring Season designs for 2018.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    Read our 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors by clicking here

    To order Blue Eyed Sun's new designs for your shop or request a brochure click here.

    Top Drawer Autumn 2017 - Floor Plan

  • The importance of your brand story in business

    Brand Story

    Most businesses focus on selling the features and benefits of what they sell. These days we are so bombarded with this approach that we’ve learnt to filter it out and ignore it. We make tea during ad breaks, we skip the ads before YouTube videos and ignore ads on our Facebook feeds.

    We also spend more and more time on our phones. They are the tools we use to live our busy lives and they command a lot of our attention. Our phones have become the new high streets and they are full to the brim with people wandering through them every day.

    So how do businesses engage with these new tools? The secret is that, whilst none of us like ads, we all love a good story.

    The Science

    We are social beings and rely on one another for our survival and happiness. Our brains produce a neurochemical called oxytocin when we are trusted or someone is kind to us, this in turn motivates cooperative behaviours. Studies have shown that character driven stories consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Stories are also great for communicating values and information in a more effective way than listing facts like features and benefits.

    The John Lewis Story

    Think about John Lewis. None of us feel connected to the features and benefits of the goods at John Lewis. Most of what they sell you can purchase elsewhere. What makes the brand have meaning for us is the story it tells. We all know that it is the John Lewis Partnership. The team are all referred to as partners. We feel like a partner of John Lewis just by shopping there. We relate to the integrity of its values like quality, service and price. We know these because of the brand's story and how it's communicated to us.

    All of the recent John lewis Christmas ad campaigns are stories that evoke feelings and communicate the brand's core values. When we buy from John Lewis we are making a statement about we like to think of ourselves and how we'd like others to perceive us. What statement are customers asking when they buy from you? Why do they come back to you?

    What's Your Story?

    You have decide on the story you are telling. What is the thing that you want customers to remember about your business? What do you stand for as a business? What are your values? What do you care about that is relevant and memorable to your customers? Once you've decided on this, you need to think about how to communicate this.

    Start with your team. Make them a part of your story and engage them with your values. Empower them to live these values within your business. Create an environment that communicates your values and your story to everyone. Keep sharing your story in your PR, advertising and press campaigns. Share it on your website, blog and social media. You can even share it on your till receipts and the bags you give out to customers.

    Story Telling

    Remember that we all like stories that take us on journeys, stories that inspire us or amaze us and stories that surprise us and make us laugh. These type of stories make us feel happy and warm. These are all tools that help us to connect on an emotional level with our customers.

    A good story also has a clear purpose, point or moral. We want to personally connect through vulnerability, conflict or achievements that we can relate to. Good stories have vivid characters and imagery. They have humour and sometimes pathos too. If your story is right it can be shared globally across a variety of platforms.

    A good example of this is Harrods. Its story is so powerful that it pulls thousands of foreign visitors to London in through it's doors every year. Some people fly to London just to visit this store. Almost every single one of them is able to share its experience and, more importantly, buy something. I remember my father deliberately leaving a scarf inside the plastic Harrods bag in the Christmas present he gave my Mum one year. I imagine he wanted to show her how much he cared for her by buying her present from Harrods. That is the power of a retail brand.

    A Human Story

    Did you know that Liberty of London trains its team daily to share the stories of the products and goods it sells? The talk about the people who made it, where it was made and the meaning behind it. We love to hear the human stories that make up brands. What's your human story?

    I love the Alan Alda video below that tells you how to identify the human story behind something. It's not about branding, it's about story telling. Give your customers and team the human story behind your business. Weave in your values and make it authentic to you.

    If you get this right, you never have to worry about your competitors selling the same products as you, because your competitors will always be missing one key ingredient: they are not you and they do not have your brand story.

    Social Psychology in Social Media

    Why consumers want authenticity from retailers

    How to get more customers into your retail business

  • The Greeting Card Project - August Review

    The Greeting Card Project - August Review

    It's been a busy month visiting a variety of shops around the UK. I've now completed over two thirds of my goal to visit a different shop every week this year and buy and send more greeting cards. I'm having a lot of fun sending more cards, I hope that you are enjoying the videos.

    Here are this latest episodes for you to catch up on:

    This week I test my friendships with some rude cards from Creased in The Lanes in Brighton.

    Shop for Birthday Girl cards at House of Elliott in Hemel Hempstead.

    This week I bought Art Cards from Design at Six in Wetherby.

    Buying Get Well Soon cards from Vinegar Hill in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

    The eighth month of the channel had 821 views with viewers watching over 26 hours of The Greeting Card Project for an average of 1:53 per video. The channel gained 4 more subscribers,  30 shares and accumulated 42 likes and 0 dislikes. The total lifetime channel views is now 7,615. August's Facebook video views up at 620 totalling over 3.7 hours view time.

    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 the new Facebook Page. Keep up to date on other platforms via my personal Twitter account @JeremyCorner and my personal Instagram @JeremyCorner.

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

    July Review of #TGCP

    June Review of #TGCP

    May Review of #TGCP

    April Review of #TGCP

    March Review of #TGCP

    February Review of #TGCP

    January review of #TGCP

    Learn why I started #TGCP

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Valentines Cards for 2018

    Treasure Valentine Card Range
    Blue Eyed Sun have launched two new ranges of Valentines Cards for 2018. Valentine's Day falls on Wednesday 14th February 2018 and you can order from us right up until the last minute. Lines do sell out, so don't leave it too late! Here's what's new for Valentine's Day 2018:

    Pictured at the top of this post is Blue Eyed Sun's Treasure Valentines range, based on original designs by artist Katy Odey. These gorgeous new Valentine's Day designs are 150mm square.

    Pictured below is the new Be Mine range hot foiled in red foil and hand finished with jewels. Be Mine are also 105mm x 148mm.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our new ranges of Valentines Day cards for 2018 are barcoded, cello-wrapped with a red envelope and blank inside. Our Valentines cards are all printed on FSC board from sustainable managed forests. There is still time to order these cards for your store and we have a large selection of designs online in the trade only section of our site.

    To stock these Valentines Cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them towards 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 stockist near you.

    See our cards in person at Autumn Fair - Stand 3R02

    Click here to see our 2018 Mother's Day designs

    See our 2018 Father's Day designs

    Be Mine greeting card range

  • Technical Tips for Making Videos for your Business

    Tips For Making VideosSince I created The Greeting Card Project on YouTube, a lot of people have asked me how to get started with video for their businesses. Creating video has never been easier. Here are my top technical tips for getting going:

    Equipment

    You don't need to buy lots of specialist video equipment. Try using your smartphone first, then upgrade later as your skill base and interest in your video project grows. I shoot, edit and distribute all my videos for The Greeting Card Project on my Apple iPhone 6S Plus (I can store lots of video on the 128GB of memory). Test your current phone, then look at digital camera options rather than buying an iPhone if you don't have one. Ideally you will need a socket for an external microphone.

    Video can crunch through your power quickly, so it's useful to have a charger in your car and a back up power source to put extra juice into your phone if you are out and about filming a lot.

    I bought a Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand, which is an incredibly useful small and flexible tripod for my smartphone that helps me position it when I'm filming on my own.

    If your phone mic isn’t up to scratch, buy a Sabrent Lavalier Clip-on Microphone for £10 on Amazon and attach this to yourself or interview subject. I also bought a small directional RØDE VideoMic Me for around £50. Both the microphones record in stereo (Surprisingly the onboard iPhone mics record in mono, which doesn't sound as good). Both the clip mic and Rode mic have wind protectors which are very useful, as even the slightest breeze will cause issues.

    Good Sound

    Test the sound recording on your phone first, so that you understand what works and doesn’t work on your device and at what distance. Your viewers will put up with a slightly bad image and good sound, but they won’t stand for bad sound. A simple way to ensure good sound is to not be too far from your phone when filming.

    Avoid filming in noisy environments (like near roads or crowds). Even the smallest noises can be picked up and become annoying for viewers. Always double check your sound and make sure it works and is in sync. Some people that live stream will wear headphones so they can monitor their sound as they are filming.

    A Nice Image

    Try to film in well lit areas so the image looks good too. If it's very sunny, make sure the bright light isn't directly behind you making you look darker and harder to see. Avoid the sun shining directly in your eyes and making you squint. Slightly overcast days are ideal for a nice even light.

    Make sure that you film in close up or medium close up most of the time. Most people will be watching your videos online on their phones and they can't see you very well if you are filmed from afar. So avoid too many wide shots. Closer shots are more dynamic and visually interesting.

    Try not to pan the phone around too much or too quickly. Most phone cameras don't handle motion very well and the image can be blurry and hard to follow. It's better to take individual still shots and piece them together in the edit. I learned this the hard way early on in my project.

    Editing

    I edit all of The Greeting Card Project videos on my iPhone using the free iMovie software that comes with it. It’s fairly intuitive to use and I upload my videos to YouTube direct from my phone. Make sure you watch each video after loading to check for technical errors with sound or image before you make it public. You can also edit using AVID, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere software.

    You want the shots to be long enough to clearly communicate what's going on and not so long that it becomes boring. Most people don't cut fast enough with their footage on YouTube videos. As a general rule 2-3 seconds is more than sufficient for a shot to say what needs to be said. People have short attention spans these days, so it's best to get on with the story you are telling.

    Learn to kill your darlings if they don't work. That means the shots you spent ages on that don't fit or look good need to hit the cutting room floor. You don't need lots of shots to set the scene so don't bore your audience with the hundreds of shots you took just because you took them. Choose the best and ditch the rest. With practice you will get better at only filming good shots.

    Thumbnails

    You need to create a good thumbnail for every video you make. I tend to take a photograph separately for this because stills from videos can be blurry. A good thumbnail will attract attention so that people click and watch your videos.

    It's also nice if your thumbnails offer a consistent brand experience for your videos. So spend time getting the first ones right so you can get your thumbnail format sorted.

    Etiquette

    It’s good practice to add tags, descriptions and hyperlinks to everyone that features in your videos so that viewers can find them easily. As an example click on 'Show More' beneath this video from The Greeting Card Project.

    Subtitles

    A lot of video on social channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is watched without sound, so it may be worth considering adding captions to encourage more engagement and increase view times. I don't do this for my videos, but would definitely do it if I wanted to reach larger groups of people.

    Distribution

    Your video content won’t get watched unless you share it through your various social networks. I tag the social handles of those who feature in the video to encourage them to share the videos. Spending time listing their hyperlinks in the video descriptions makes this job a lot quicker. I also have a small network of up to 20 people who are active on social and support one another with shares and retweets. Find your raving fans and tag them with your new content to get the ball rolling.

    Focus

    It helps if you prepare and practice. I like to keep a single focus in mind when I do my videos. You may lose viewers if your story rambles. Before you start, think of one point you'd like to make in your video and focus on it throughout. I’ve also found regular practice improves my story telling and video content. Remember, if you want your videos to be shared you have to make the type of video that people like to share.

    The real trick to getting started is to pick up the phone and start playing with it. You can make some videos without sharing them to see how it all works. When you are ready, post them online and see what responses you get. Ask people to comment and leave feedback. Listen to it and adjust.

    I hope you found these tips useful. Have fun. I look forward to seeing what you make!

    How to use Video for your Retail Business

    Discover the 14 things that I learned on The Greeting Project

    The Year of Video

  • Autumn Fair 2017 Essential Information

    Autumn Fair 2017 EssentialsEverything you need to know about the Autumn Fair 2017 trade show at the NEC:

    About Autumn Fair 2017

    Autumn Fair 2017 runs for four days from Sunday 3rd September to Wednesday 6th September from 09:00 - 18:00 at the NEC in Birmingham. It brings toether an inspirational showcase of over 1,000 British and International Exhibitors and attracts buyers from all over the world. It's a great opportunity to stock up on goods for that all important Christmas season and to see what's new for Spring seasons next year.

    To register for Autumn Fair International 2017 please click here

    Seminars not to miss

    Digital High Street; how to future-proof your retail business

    Sunday 3rd September - 12:15 - 12:45 Master the High Street in Hall 5 - Stand 5K110

    Where to Stay at Autumn fair 2017

    Accommodation is a lot easier to find at Autumn Fair than Spring Fair and prices tend to be cheaper too. There are now several hotels on the NEC site, including Holiday Inn ExpressThe Hilton MetropoleThe Arden, and a Premier InnClick here for more accommodation options at Autumn Fair.

    Where to Eat at Autumn Fair

    Check out our 5 Great Restaurants near the NEC Birmingham blog post.

    How to get to Autumn Fair 2017

    Travel to the show is easy with excellent rail and motorway links. The NEC post code is B40 1NT (if you use a sat nav). You can park for free in several car parks on site, all of which have free shuttle buses to take you around the complex. Birmingham International Rail Station is a 5 minute walk from the show as is Birmingham International Airport. It is an 80 minute train ride from London Euston Rail Station. You can also click on the map below to plan your journey.

    See Blue Eyed Sun at Autumn Fair

    Blue Eyed Sun will be officially launching our beautiful new 2018 Spring Seasons designs along with our gorgeous new Everyday range Sew Delightful  and best selling Charming, Jangles and Vintage ranges. We'd love to see you there, so be sure to stop by and see us on Stand 3R02.

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

    Autumn Fair - Map 2017

    View Larger Map

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Sew Delightful card range

    Sew Delightful cards

    Blue Eyed Sun have launched a brand new range of everyday cards called Sew Delightful.

    Based on original machine stitched artworks by textile artist Jo Corner, Sew Delightful are embossed to give a beautiful look and a realistic feel. Hand finished with jewels the new 48 new designs include 12 open birthday captions and 36 occasions cards.

    Sew Delightful cards all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 165mm x 165mm square. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or logging into Blue Eyed Sun's trade only website.

    A new supplement these Autumn 2017 Additions is on its way to retailers featuring all our latest designs, which are available for delivery from 1st September.

    You can see them all first in person at the events below:

    Autumn Fair International at the NEC in Birmingham 3 - 6 September 2017 - Hall 3 - Stand 3R02

    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 an overview of Blue Eyed Sun ranges click here.

  • 5 Great Card Sending Initiatives Worth Sharing on Social Media

    Greeting Card Sending Initiatives

    The world is changing so fast that it's easy to forget the small pleasures in life, like buying and sending a card to someone. It's such a lovely gift to receive a card too.

    Here are five wonderful card sending initiatives that support more greeting card sending:

    Just A Card Campaign1. Just a Card

    I'm a big fan of the Just a Card campaign to support independent retailers and designer makers. The campaign reminds us all that even small purchases with our independent retailers can make a big difference. As can buying a card by an small publisher. Follow #JustACard on social.

    Thinking Of You Week 2017

    2. Thinking of You Week

    Thinking of You Week inspires people to create a wave of love, caring and happiness by sending greeting cards to different people during the week. Thinking of You Week runs from 25th September - 1st October 2017. I like this reminder to focus on others for a week  by sending more cards. Be sure to involved this September.

    Postmark Feel Good Friday

    3. Feel Good Friday

    Feel Good Friday is a brilliant card sending initiative from London retailer Postmark. To encourage more people send cards, Postmark offer a free card from a special box on certain Fridays, as long as you write it in the store there and then. They’ll even post anywhere in the UK for you for FREE! Visit the stores to find out more.

    The Greeting Card Project Initiative

    4. The Greeting Card Project

    Last year I realised that I don't send that many cards personally. As a New Year's Resolution for 2017 I decided change this. Each week I visit a different shop, buy cards and send them whilst sharing my experiences on YouTube and social media. This card sending initiative aims to inspire others to send more cards too. Follow The Greeting Card Project.

    Festive Friday 2016

    Festive Friday

    Festive Friday is on Friday the 1st December 2017. The aim is encourage card lovers to send their Christmas cards early. The idea is that this wave of sparkly Christmas card sending will get everyone in the Christmas card sending mood. We have a lot of fun with Festive Friday each year in our offices. Why not join in this year?

    If you love cards as much as we do, be sure to spread the word about these great initiatives.

    Sharing is caring so get involved on social media and share your stories about card sending.

    Will the Greeting Card Industry be Vaporised?

    14 Lessons learned making The Greeting Card Project

    Five ways to improve your Retail Business

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