Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ECPR’s Thanksgiving Roundup

The changing of seasons is truly magical. There is something sacred about the first winter snow, the first blossoms of spring, and the first long summer day when the sun sets late into the evening. Every fall, I marvel at the changing leaves, and while it is a ritual that is predictable and seemingly nonchalant, I along with many others am happy to be reminded of how incredibly beautiful nature can be. So, fall leaves have become my inspiration for this week’s blog post…a special post for a special fall holiday, Thanksgiving. It’s a Thanksgiving round-up from us here at ECPR, featuring everything one could want or need for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. So, we hope everyone enjoys our leaf-land, fantasy Thanksgiving dinner!

This refectory table, crafted by Englishman’s Fine Furnishings, is a perfect table for friends and/or family to gather round, and we adore the carved fleur-de-lis details. Fleur de lis translates from French to mean “flower of the lily”, but we like how the symbol resembles three delicate leaves…a perfect base to start with.

Next on our list is the food. Because what is Thanksgiving without incredible side dishes and the showstoppers: the turkey and pumpkin pie. How pretty is this Pumpkin Pie (recipe courtesy of Country Living)?! And, we all agreed that a no-fuss turkey recipe was in order so that the juicy flavors would standout even more so. We found this recipe for a Roast Turkey with Oranges, Bay Leaves, Red Onions and Pan Gravy thanks to

Hopefully, you all are catching our leaf theme so far :) Next, we moved on to decorating and setting the table…

Imagine our Englishman’s table decked out with beautiful leaves, collected straight from the outdoors. We like the idea of mixing autumn-colored maple leaves with plant leaves, like Heuchera leaves from Terra Nova Nurseries. Scattered along the middle of the table and surrounding dishes of food, these bright, bold leaves would add such festivity to the tablescape. Plus, collecting the leaves is such a fun idea for the kids to do during Thanksgiving Day down time!

We also found some other leafy touches for the table like these Leafy Napkin Rings from Crate and Barrel and this pretty set of Leaf Flatware available through Neiman Marcus. It's extra decorations like these that guests will see and be impressed by even the little touches.

Finally, we are in love with this Martha Stewart craft project to create a table runner from colorful fabrics resembling leaves on a pretty.

These are just a few of our ideas for a unique and seasonal tablescape, easy enough for anyone to create yet special enough to use for a holiday like Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at ECPR!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blogging and Social Media - Content is King (Part 2)

If you read Part 1 of “Blogging and Social Media - Content is King” on our blog the Week of November 5, you know our take on blogging surrounds the fact marketplaces are breeding grounds for interactions, and marketing is foundational upon participation. In short, B2B and / or B2C marketing involves engaging with customers, rather than merely marketing to them.

Continuing in the process of building and maintaining truly beneficial blogs, business professionals stand a good chance of developing new and stronger relationships with customers and others who can reflect well upon business objectives. A solid business blog accomplishes a few important goals. To start, a blog that is oriented for B2B or B2C purposes provides a voice for a company, one that allows for ongoing, open conversations between the persons behind the blog and those who turn to the blog for information and engagement. With that in mind, blogs that provide valuation encourage customers to use or follow the content as it yields new conversation threads. In due course, well-planned and managed blogs offer a nontraditional, nonthreatening platform for free-form dialog. This ability to connect with people whom might otherwise be unreachable leads to guiding positive brand perceptions and addressing customers’ predispositions and assumptions.

However, there are still many businesses not taking advantage of blog relations simply by implementing their blogs as if they are the usual form of marketing communications. Yes, that old familiar norm of marketing is to push-out the message to the customer audience. You know the type: newsletters with one-way offers of specials and discounts; direct mail cards with two-sides of written information but sent with one-way intentions; print brochures featuring written copy infused with hoped-for calls to action. Now, before thinking we do not endorse the aforesaid means of marketing, let it be said all of these marketing forms have value, to be certain. Though, today’s marketing calls for a more communicative and forthcoming information exchange.

In terms of modern marketing, it is no longer sufficient for all assemblages of promotion to be based upon outgoing messaging. With social media and its easy, fast access to everything under the sun, customers now expect to be enabled to interact with their favorite brands, retailers, product manufacturers, growers, designers, etc. They have questions and needs, and they demand answers and solutions – quickly. And, what is wrong with that? - Sounds good to us. How about you?

Whether your company has a blog or is considering one, we recommend consistent development and maintenance with a predetermined B2B and / or B2C approach. Conversely, stray from the usual mentality that every blog post must come with a specific sales offer. Blog content that helps companies connect with their customers – on emotional and supportive levels – leads to augmented exchanges between the two. Liken this to a verbal conversation with a group of customers or industry peers at a meeting or trade show forum. At times like this, you converse peer to peer and share practical experiences that bring about a sense of unification. In the same manner but with a different format, business bloggers can open the door to building trust in their brands, products and companies. By writing and posting blog content that avoids sermonizing or the mere administering of information, companies can simply supply helpful intuitiveness to customers. Facts, figures, trends, ideas, and suggestions are all needed and coveted acumen from which customers can benefit. And, you can contribute all of this as well as participate in the resulting online discourse. During the process link back and forth via other helpful and relative social media channels, connecting the dots of inviting and accessible communication for your company and customers.

Of course, even the best laid blog plans can go awry given busy schedules and business deadlines, so keep your blog on course with a schedule of activities, assigned content to colleagues, and, most of all, collaboration with management and staff members. If you take the necessary time to plan based on your customers’ needs, applicable blog content will become more easily evident. Following through, concentrate upon open-ended subject matter that produces discussion and dissection of multifarious topics of interest. Ultimately, when dedicating your blogosphere responsiveness toward the manifestation of listening, observing and sharing, you play the coveted role of emcee or moderator. And, your customers will slowly but surely desire to partake in the conversation.

~ Don

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Decorative Accents and Style-setting Accessories

For all designer-types and members of the media who follow our blog, did you know Englishman’s Fine Furnishings offers decorative accents and style-setting options in addition to high-end European-style furniture? If you are attending The Atlanta Fall Immediate Delivery Show today through Thursday, stop by the showroom to learn more about these options for design jobs, your clients or customers, and your own home or personal use. Special items are being featured during the show this week such as furry pillows to add a sense of plush comfort to any bed, cozy throws to adorn dens and bedrooms, and small occasional tables of many sizes and types. These and many of Englishman’s items are available for immediate delivery.

Anita Vreeland, Englishman’s president of marketing & design, and her staff have brought an unexpected surprise to the company’s AmericasMart showroom. Visitors to the showroom will be able to see a collection of leather purses with subtle yet stunning detail.
With leather purses making a splash in current style trends for fall and winter, these showroom introductions are timely. According to experts like the stylists for Trend Hunter Luxury and celebrity designer Rachel Zoe, leather purses are a must-have style bag for the season, so be sure to stop in this week for immediate delivery.

While there, take a tour of Englishman’s Kitchens & Fine Custom Cabinetry new display area. The new kitchen design / build line was launched this summer based upon the company’s long-standing business of building custom furniture. In addition, if you missed the July market or have not been to Englishman’s Fine Furnishings’ showroom since mid-summer, you will be treated to an overall showroom expansion to include a total 9,300 square feet of display space. Showroom location: AmericasMart Atlanta (Building 1, 11-D 2).

IDS Dates and Hours: Permanent Showrooms – Tuesday, November 9 through Thursday, November 11, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. EST.

Temporary Exhibits – Tuesday, November 9 through Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST and Thursday, November 11, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

~ ECPR Team

NOTE: For a larger view of any of the attached photos, simply click on the desired image.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blogging and Social Media - Content is King

Have you ever wished you could gather all of your customers or clients into one room, and speak with them about all of the incredible information your company has to offer? Or, in line with another approach, would you round up your customers in one place if you could, with a goal of relaxed conversation about their needs and exactly how you can provide solutions for them? While speaking to a group of industry professionals made up of manufacturers, designers and retailers not too long ago, one of the audience members expressed these quintessential ambitions.

The topic of the session was two-way communication with customers, clients and constituency groups, and she said, “My marketing and sales teams believe we have a ton of valuable information to tell our customers – not just about our new product introductions and promotions, but also solid insights we know could provide benefit.” When I asked her how she was communicating with her customers other than the expected advertising and press campaigns, it was revealed her company hosts or sponsors trade events when budgets permit. In exchange, she explained, they hope for a few minutes of “speaking” time at the onset of the events. The problem therein; her company has many brands, varied product lines, and regional-based customer diversity. And, a few minutes of speaking “to” a group of customers with a price tag of $20,000 is just that, a few minutes of one-way talking for a lot of money.

Okay, I am not saying that event sponsorship is inapplicable, far from it in fact. Our own ECPR has sponsored many industry events and believes in the practice wholeheartedly. However, there are other supplements to traditional advertising, marketing and sponsorship that strategically evoke connections with customers in large numbers. Take blogging for instance. While possibly one of the earliest forms of social media, blogging is likely the most misunderstood by businesses. Even with over 110 million active blogs to date, many business leaders still view corporate blogs as toys rather than the valuable business tools they can be to interface with customers. If it is true that our customers can benefit from what I call the three “i’s”: our insights, input, and involvement, then, why shouldn’t we consider the value of blogs? When done correctly, corporate blogs can provide cost-effective, ongoing and solution-oriented content that supplies our customers with advantageous valuation, not to mention calls for action every time we add new posts. Still, blogs should not be for the purpose of selling. Better yet, they have the true ability to yield meaningful dialogue that induces relationships with customers and potential customers.

Ok, we’re just getting started here…Check back the week of Nov. 15 for the second part of this post, where we’ll offer some tips and ideas our team has learned about leveraging B2B and B2C communications through blogging.

~ Don