Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Client Interview: Darn Knit Anyway

Friday, April 5th, 2013


I’ve been wanting to showcase my clients for a while now, because I’m inspired by their success and they have a wealth of small business knowledge. I’m especially pleased to introduce Aimee Pelletier [pictured, right, next to a yarn-bombed tree in front of her store], owner of the Stillwater-based yarn shop,Darn Knit Anyway. When she first walked into my office four years ago, I could tell that this was a woman with a fantastic business sense. She came prepared with a written business plan, already knew her audiences, had spoken with a number of her potential competitors and had a vision for the shop she wanted to create. Now going on four years, Aimee’s business is thriving. I asked Aimee some questions about branding and marketing:

Q. How have you seen your business grow since you opened Darn Knit Anyway in 2009?

A. It’s grown a LOT! We’ve gone from 2 to 6 staff members and our sales are up 30% from our first year. We’ve also launched online class registration, started Darn. Knit. University, introduced our 12 in 12 program (12 sweaters in 12 months), and are about to add online yarn sales.

Q. How important is branding to your business?

A. In my mind, my brand includes my voice, my customers, the way my shop looks and feels, our staff, our website, our logo…everything. It’s important that everything associated with the store has the same welcoming, modern, easy feel. Our brand is totally about knowing who we are and conveying that in everything we do. That way, people always know they’re in the right place.

Examples of Darn Knit Anyway-branded items designed by Mix Creative

Q. How do you market your business?

A. We primarily market with our e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth.

Q. Which marketing tool do you feel is MOST important to your business?

A. Our e-newsletter is very important. We always see a spike in web traffic the day after I send it. Facebook is also important. We currently have 2097 likes. A recent photo we posted was shared 1200 times and had a reach of 130,000 views! Our average share is 3–6 and our average view per post is 500–1000.

Q. What lesson have you learned about marketing that you’d share with new business owners?

A. Go in STRONG. You have to be solid on your brand—know what it is—when you open. You can’t trickle in with your brand. Know it and launch it ALL OUT with a cohesive look and feel. It’s critical that all your stuff looks intentional. Have someone help you.

In addition to the marketing tools Aimee mentioned in our interview, Aimee has also published 277 blog posts on her website; created an implemented a program called “Darn Knit Anywhere“, which encourages customers to photograph themselves with their Darn Knit Anyway tote bag and email it or post it to Facebook for a discount; and helped organize events such as the Stitch-and-Pitch at the St. Paul Saints game or her own Naughty Knit Night, which was featured on Fox 9 news.

Mix Creative to Speak at Back to Business Symposium

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012


We’re delighted to be included as a  morning and afternoon breakout session presenter at this summer’s Back to Business WIN Summer Symposium. The theme of the symposium is to tap into the “back to school” spirit and dive into concrete learning, planning and implementation to grow business and revenue.

Mix Creative’s Katrina Hase will be presenting her popular “Recipe for a Marketing Plan that Works” talk in both morning and afternoon breakout sessions. The session will include the basics of marketing your business, creating a marketing plan, and implementing your plan using a marketing calendar. You’ll gain access to a marketing worksheet and calendar template if you attend the talk.

Half day registration starts at just $49! Click here for registration information.

Just the facts:

Wednesday, August 15
8:00-8:30: Registration check-in, informal networking, continental breakfast
8:30am-Noon: Morning sessions
Noon-3:30pm: Register for the full day and stay for networking over lunch and aftenoon sessionsOptional – 3:30-5:30pm: Invitation to network further and celebrate WIN’s 10th Anniversary over Happy Hour at Kip’s restaurant at the Marriott just down the street

University of Phoenix
435 Ford Road
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
Free ramp parking
Click here for map with driving directions


MORNING session includes:

  • Continental breakfast and informal networking
  • Plenary Session 1:
    How to Win Business in a Socially Connected World

    Jeff Ferrazzo, Social Media Expert, Constant Contact
  • Plenary Session 2:
    Strategic Messaging that Inspires Change and Builds Brand Ambassadors

    Melissa DeLay, Communication Strategist, TruPerception
  • Your choice of 3 breakout sessions:

    -Create a Marketing Plan that Works
    Katrina Hase, Marketing and Design Expert, Mix Creative

    -The other “take action” breakouts are being confirmed and will be posted very soon!

FULL-DAY session also includes:

  • Lunch and informal networking
  • Your choice of 3 breakout sessions:

    -Create a Marketing Plan that Works
    Katrina Hase, Marketing and Design Expert, Mix Creative

    -The other “take action” breakouts are being confirmed and will be posted very soon!

    -Optional working session in the computer labs to implement what you’ve learned from the morning sessions (Jeff Ferrazzo and Melissa DeLay available to assist and answer your questions)

  • Afternoon wrap up session: Hands-on time to carry forward what you learned from today!
  • Invitation to continue connections over Happy Hour at the Kips in the Marriott (a short walk down the street) from 3:30-5:30pm!

Getting into Pinning

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


Ten Pinterest Board Ideas for RetailersPinterest, a virtual visual bulletin board, is getting a lot of buzz these days—and for good reason. Attracting primarily women (68%) with average annual incomes of $100,000+, this social media site has shown itself to be a major source of referral traffic on the internet, outpacing YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. If you’re a business marketing to women, it’s time you take advantage of how Pinterest can increase traffic to your site and better target your products and services to your audiences. Here are three tips to get started:

1. Get on Pinterest. Using either a Facebook or a Twitter login, you can start a Pinterest account and give it your company name. Once you’ve got an account, you can create boards—categories of images that focus on a topic. (more…)

5 Inspiring Sites I Love

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

HeartIN HONOR OF VALENTINE’S DAY, here are a few design and marketing-related sites I love (and hope you’ll love, too!).

  1. Sure, there are a lot of free font sites out there, but this one only has the best. Count on Veer fonts to have all kinds of great character alternates and lots of faces from which to select. Plus, with the addition of low-cost images, their well-curated image library is a must for designers on all budgets.
  2. This is a gallery of exceptional website designs that will inspire and amaze. It’s a great starting point for any design project.
  3. Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I know I’ll find inspiration from any of the thousands of stories and videos from thought leaders of all walks of life on this site.
  4. Paper Source is always on trend when it comes to colors and invitation design. Their unique envelope shapes and sizes help me to think more creatively about print mailers.
  5. Netted by the Webbys. An e-newsletter that presents top websites and apps that are out there. They search the internet and bring the trends to me, so I don’t have to!

How to Weather an Uncertain Economy

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Weather an uncertain economyIn the current economic climate, companies may be tempted to scale back on their marketing efforts. For gosh sakes, Don’t! Now, more than ever, you need to get your message out to current and potential clients that your doors are open for business and that you’re doing just fine. If you simply must cut back on funds for marketing, here are five inexpensive solutions to get your message out (in fact, do these even if you’re flush with cash, they’re just good sense!):


1. Network. Show up early and often to business networking events and start meeting potential clients or making connections with people who can benefit your business. Print a busload of business cards and pass them out like candy on Halloween night.
2. Send out an E-Newsletter. The start-up fees and monthly dues are very affordable. Once you have your template, it’s a breeze to update and send on a regular basis. Just make sure that your newsletter offers a real value to your subscribers, or you’ll quickly end up in their spam box. Consider, for example, a coupon for goods and/or services.
3. Blog. Keeping a blog helps your company to be found organically through the search engines, and lets people know your areas of expertise. Write about current projects, upload industry white papers, show examples of your work, stream video, and much more! Mix Creative’s blog (through is completely  free!
4. Update your Website. Archive your e-newsletters on the site, add an e-newsletter sign-up form, update your client list/products/portfolio and get rid of out-of-date information.
5. Focus on Customer Service. Remind your customers through excellent service why your company is a good value. It’ll increase both your repeat customers and your referrals.

5 Tips For Selecting and Building Your Target Audiences

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012


As a business, you have the ability (and privilege) to select the audiences to whom you sell your goods and services. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your audiences:
  • Do they have money?
  • Are they someone you want to work with? Do they match your aesthetic/philosophy/company mission?
  • Will they withstand fluctuations in the economy? Consider having 3-5 industry focuses.

The best way to get started: survey your customers to find out how you’re doing, what they’d like to see, how you can improve, and more. It’s tough love that will pay off if you make the effort!

Make it easy for potential customers to hear from you: include your e-newsletter signup link on every page of your website, offer something of value (a free report, a book, etc) for people who sign up for your list, hand out comment cards when you give a talk, ask at the time of purchase, or even customize your email footer with a link to sign up for your newsletter.


Educate audiences about your product. Network, host events, give demonstrations, and even offer classes related to your products and services. See more ideas in our blog post, Tips for Surviving the Economy.

Gone are the days when everyone watched the same programs (and commercials) on television. Today’s audiences are incredibly segmented, getting their information and influences from incredibly diverse sources. Trying to reach, well, everyone, therefore, is a nearly impossible task that requires a herculean budget. It’s smarter, more efficient, and lucrative to go after a small chunk of the market. The trick is to go at it full-on, don’t be timid! Communicate your niche to everyone you know!

Skylanders Toys Show Marketing Genius

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012


Shortly after Christmas, I picked up my son from playing at a friend’s house and immediately noticed a frenzied spark in his eyes.

“I know what I want to spend my Christmas money on!” he exuberantly stated. “Kyle got a Skylanders game for Wii and it’s SO cool!”

Key elements of Skylanders

© 2011 Activision Publishing, Inc

Ok, I’ll bite, I thought. I asked him what the game involved and why it was so fun. What followed was what I perceived to be the most calculated marketing genius since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Here’s the low-down:

  1. It’s a video game. Available for all of the major gaming systems (Wii, Playstation, Xbox), it uses the tried-and-true game formula of first-person adventure that children to adults are familiar with.
  2. The game has special gear. In order to get started with the game, you need to purchase the required accessories, namely a starter pack that has several plastic action figures and a special platform on which to place them. The platform informs the game system which character has been selected by the player.
  3. There are collectible characters. The characters, available in additional single packs for $7.99, have different powers and skills associated with them. Essentially, they’re 3D equivalents of collectible Pokemon or Yugioh cards—which my son started collecting when he was about 5 years old. To advance in the game, players will need to collect additional characters from those purchased in the initial starter pack. (more…)

5 Tips to Succeed With Social Media

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Ready to start a social media campaign? With the right planning, social media can build loyalty for your brand, increase your brand’s exposure to new audiences, and position your brand as an authority in your field. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

1) Customize your avatar. What’s an avatar? Literally, it’s a virtual stand-in; but in social media it’s come to mean the screen icon that represents you—and accompanies any comment you make—on Facebook, Twitter, and any blog site. Unless you upload an image for your avatar, applications will use a default image to represent you and/or your company. Select an avatar that represents your company (i.e. a logo), or the representative who is speaking on behalf of the company (a photo or illustration of that person). AVOID: using pets, random images, or family pics as your avatar! Remember, this is a client-facing image that represents your brand.

2) Be conversational. Social media is at its heart, social. This means it’s a place to engage your followers in conversation—asking leading questions, chatting about what’s new, and providing information your audiences will find useful in their daily lives. While it’s OK to mention new products or services, this isn’t the place to try your hard sell.

3) Be consistent. Much like in-person networking, the more frequently you connect with your social network, the more they’ll come to think of your company’s products or services when they have the need.

4) Stay professional. Remember that social media is akin to business networking—you wouldn’t share dirty jokes or talk about your weekend in detail at a business networking event…would you? Social media should strike a balance between business communication and social communication. When in doubt, err on the professional side!

5) Join the conversation. Ever go to a party and get cornered by some bore who goes on and on about him/herself and never comments on something you say? With social media, it’s much the same! Reciprocate with your fans/followers by retweeting comments that resonated with you, replying via direct message to people on Twitter or Facebook, and comment on people’s Facebook and blog sites. They’ll appreciate the props, and you’ll increase your company’s exposure.

Pringles Can Speaker Promotion

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011


I was just sitting down at lunch when I saw it. Right there on the Pringles can:

How to Get Your Pringles® Can Speaker.

Instantly I was transported back to when I was 10 years old, avidly reading the cereal box in front of me each and every morning. The messages on the boxes tended to fall into 5 categories:

  1. Toy Inside! (my favorite)
  2. Get Your Own ________! (Four box tops AND $9.99 check or money order required)
  3. Get/Make Your Own ________! (FREE with four box tops!)
  4. Sweepstakes form (even I knew that your chances of winning were zilch!)
  5. Some health/wellness message (typically on my mom and dad’s cereals) (more…)

Brand Yourself as an Expert

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Thank you to everyone who attended today’s Women In Networking luncheon and my talk, Brand Yourself as an Expert: Tips and Tricks to Show What You Know. As promised, here’s the content from the handout, with clickable links:

1) What’s an expert? Define your expertise
Pros at defining their specific expertise:

2) Content: Show what you know

How to submit your blog to lists:

Local Business Publications:

How to Podcast:

  • Blogtalkradio
    Podcast and social networking site that offers a very easy way to create on-demand audio.
    Offers an easy way to publish your own audio and video podcast in 3 steps. There is not technology curve. You can share your podcast in Facebook, Myspace, Blogger, and other online destinations.
  • GarageBand
    Standard on Macs, features built-in tools that you can use to create your own rich and professional-sounding podcasts.
  • mirPod
    Webpage which allows you to create code to embed a podcast on your own website. This is a point and click operation which requires no technical knowledge.

Social Networking:

Excellent “Expert” websites:

3) Speaking
Potential sources for speaking engagements:

  • Community Education classes or Community College, Adjunct Professor
  • Professional Organizations; Conferences

Professional videorecording and editing:

Polish your skills:

Host a live or recorded webinar:

4) Publicity (Tips Courtesy Emily Schroeder Orvik, Pro Re Nata Communication,
Fee-based press release distribution services (benefits: increased visibility and tracking, personalized service):

Press release alternative/enhancement—a pitch

Target the media and create lists

Subscribe to media inquiry services:

5) Image: Look the Part
Professional photography

Image Consulting

Branding and Graphic Design