How to Differentiate Yourself Online This Holiday Season

 
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It’s beginning to get colder and retail is getting noisier. Not by jingle bells, but by competition. Every company out there is trying to grab customers’ attention to buy from them this holiday season. With all of these competitors, how can your business rise above the rest and differentiate itself?

 
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Planning Early

For starters, start planning for the holiday season early. You need to begin planning this far in advance because consumers begin their research for gifts usually in October. No need to be pushing Christmas jingles that early, but definitely let people know what your company will be offering for the upcoming holiday season. This time period should have a strong emphasis on raising awareness of products or services and peaking prospects’ interest. You need to capture people’s attention early on with your great deals and awesome features to help guide them in the buyer’s journey. Throughout this journey, your brand personality needs to shine and a relationship should be fostered. This brings us up to how you should be communicating with the community and building lasting connections.

 

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Communication

The general public does not always enjoy holiday shopping. It can be extremely chaotic and overwhelming. People often find online shopping to be more convenient and way to cut down on dealing with the physical clutter. That still leaves a marketplace of companies bombarding users with virtual ads and messaging. It’s crucial to strategize how your voice will be heard above all of the others. Your tone should be friendly and be inviting while your content is informational and entertaining. The way to win over people’s hearts and pocketbooks is by providing value and a good customer experience. Remarketing is an effective tool to personalize and customize your communication with buyers. Reaching out to people who have purchased from you before helps lead to a higher likelihood of repeat conversion.
 

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Competitive Pricing

Conducting a competitive analysis on how other companies are pricing their merchandise should be one of the first steps of your research. Customers are hungry for discounts so they utilize the internet to feed their curiosity and compare prices. This is the time of the year to be taking advantage of displaying different promotional pricing implementations. To devise the most strategic solutions, study the success of your previous sales history, as well as, look into current e-commerce trends. There isn’t one promotion that fits all, but depending on your industry, it can help point you in the right direction. For instance, if you’re advertising an expensive electronic device, you may want to include a free store gift card with purchase. You could also offer free shipping at a certain order value. This will motivate customers to add extra purchases to their bill to meet the threshold and get something for free. Whenever the shopper feels like they are getting the best bang for the buck, they tend to gravitate towards that business. People already have an idea of what they want for gifts, so an integral way to differentiate yourself is to have the best specials and advertise those offerings with pizzazz and simplicity. You should strive to show memorable content that highlights how much you can save the buyer and make their holiday shopping easier. This leads us to our last way of differentiating yourself online this holiday season, which is providing a solid user experience.

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User Experience

When a consumer is researching for their holiday buys, they’re sifting through a lot of information. Google values websites that have an organized user interface that is easy to navigate and isn’t cluttered. The customer should be able to seamlessly look through the site and easily find information. Have your merchandise displayed in a visually appealing manner in order to entice people to buy from you. You should also have readily available methods of communication logically placed to alleviate pain points and means for potential stress. When the purchasing process is smooth and concise, it leads to a decrease in the cart abandonment rate. A customer needs to navigate through your website with ease and buy items without making too many clicks. The more steps involved in paying for items, the higher the probability of someone losing patience and finding somewhere else with a quicker checkout process. To optimize client interactions and gain a better grasp of user satisfaction, it’s beneficial to send follow up messages and encourage customers to write reviews about their experience. You can make a customer feel extremely special when personally thanking them for purchasing from your establishment. This strengthens the relationship and allows for the chance to foster loyalty and promotion. These individuals can be a source of recommendations and influence on the web. Vendasta, a digital software company, states that 92% of consumers now read online reviews. The responses that are given can be a powerful tool for raising trust and credibility for future shoppers which can result in higher sales.  

 

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Let's Chat

In the e-commerce environment, competition is fierce. Incorporating these advertising strategies will help your business differentiate itself from online competitors. Honeycomb can be a valuable resource to effectively engage with your target audience this holiday season. We look forward to assisting you boost your sales and increase your return on investment.

 

#SmallBusinessSaturday and What We're Eyeing This Year

 

Hey y'all, Callie here! With the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to pop by and offer some awesome places to shop if you're into local, curated, handmade, packed with lots of love goods. And if you aren't, well you definitely should be! I've always been passionate about shopping small and supporting small business. Don't forget to support your local community on Small Business Saturday this year! You can find a pretty extensive list of businesses in your area here.

Here's the deal: when you support small business your dollars are going to more than the marketing budget. They are going to support the makers, creatives, and inventors that make our communities so wonderful. in turn these business owners put those dollars back into their community through their own purchases. It's a pretty beautiful cycle if you ask me. 

So what's on my list this year? Who gives me all the heart eyes with their products? Here's my 2017 Roundup! 

The 2017 List

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THE OLD TRY

We've all got a place we call home, maybe you've got a few places. The old try has a print for that. Seriously swoon-worthy prints for the place you call home. I found Old Try on twitter several years ago and have been following every since! My dad is particularly fond of his tennessee flag print and I've got my eye on a few prints for my new studio! 

CHALK FULL OF LOVE

chalk full of love is an adorable brand based here in austin. I've got my eye on a few mugs for christmas gifts (and let's be honest, a couple for my collection too). Everything she creates is seriously cute. Also, if you've been wanting to learn hand-lettering, I've heard amazing things about her books! go snag all the cute things in her shop!

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

this dallas fave not only has their own line of amazing goods (greeting cards, cocktail napkins, prints, apparel, and more #allthecutethings), they also have an amazing collection of curated goods in their shop. paper lovers rejoice because RBTL gets you. I'm telling you now, you're going to want one of everything. you're welcome. 

EMILY MCDOWELL

you know that thing you actually want to say on a card, but all the greeting cards are cheesy and not relatable at all... Just me?

enter: emily mcdowell. Hilarious, authentic,and completely raw greeting cards, prints, and gifts. I just bought a couple (more) greeting cards of hers and keep them stocked at my house for basically all occasions. She's the best. She makes everyone in my life laugh with her true to life messages. Go grab one (or ten) of her cards, you won't regret it!

MISSING Q PRESS

A FEW YEARS AGO IN DALLAS I PICKED UP A LETTERPRESS PRINT IN A SMALL SHOP CALLED MISSING Q. HE LITERALLY HADN'T EVEN PUT THE PRINTS IN THEIR PACKAGING YET AND IT'S STILL ONE OF MY FAVORITES TO DATE. ONE OF MY RESOLUTIONS FOR 2018 IS WRITING MORE THANK YOU CARDS. THEIR "Y'ALL" CARDS are just the cutest and i'm convinced everything they touch is instantly made beautiful. Seriously, go scroll through their instagram sometime. It's a paper paradise. 

BON VIVANT GIFT BOXES

if you've ever had a long distance bestie, wanted to send a hostess gift to a party you won't be able to attend, or looking for the perfect way to say thank you, bon vivant has you covered. Not only are these beauties delivered locally, she also ships all over the country. All of her curated boxes deserve heart eye emojis, but if you're feeling creative she also has a "build a box" option!

Pro-Tip: for all of you looking for client, administrative or corporate gifts, you'll seriously wow with these gift boxes!

SIMPLY CURATED

who loves a good candle?! (I'm raising both of my hands) A few months ago i received a simply curated candle as a gift and have been obsessed ever since. This year i've got my eye on the travel candles for a few candle loving friends in my life. all of the candles are incredible, but i'm particularly smitten with the cocktail collection. 

These would make the perfect stocking stuffer!

SHOP LOLA

you might recognize the shop lola name if you've browsed our site. We did their branding and website a few months back. Lona and lane run the cutest (online) boutique in my tennessee hometown. Their chic, affordable pieces are perfect for the girl on the go! Also, you should definitely check out their Facebook Lives, they show off inventory and give style tips!

CLAYTON + CRUME

for all the men in my life, clayton + Crume will be under the tree. They make hand-crafted leather goods in kentucky. after seeing them at a pop-up, i couldn't get over the quality. From belts to sunglass straps, they've got the perfect leather gifts!

THE RETAIL VAULT

We've all been there. We're standing in our closet looking at all the clothes thinking "I've got nothing to wear". Retail vault is here to solve your fashion emergencies. think of Retail vault as your new concierge stylist. Did I mention its run by an incredible collegiate entrepreneur?! I had the chance to sit down with her for coffee the other day and she's a total rockstar! With all of the holiday parties right around the corner, go check out the retail vault and let them style you for the holidays!

 

Building an Authentic Audience | Callie Kerbo on the Content Engine

I'm thrilled to share a recent podcast interview with Golden Arm Media. There is never a bad day to talk about what you love! 

- Callie 


This content is provided by Golden Arm Media and was originally posted on October 13, 2017.

In today’s crowded marketplace, knowing how to build an engaging digital presence from the very beginning is a must.

Callie Kerbo, founder of Honeycomb Creative Co., understands the importance of cultivating brands that are not only visually stunning, but creatively driven and strategically sound. Her passion is helping startups and established businesses leverage their unique brand voice to jumpstart audience growth.

On this episode, Alex and Callie discuss the importance of establishing brand identity early, anticipating customer needs, and how to build a loyal following of brand advocates that will carry your business to new heights.

SHOW NOTES

Alex introduces Callie to the show. [00:22]

Callie discusses her business and background in branding. [01:04]

Callie talks about common mistakes startups make. [02:24]

Callie explains how startups can set themselves up for success. [03:43]

Callie on the advantages of establishing your brand identity early. [05:29]

Callie discusses the process of creating visuals for a new brand. [08:40]

Callie on determining your ideal customer. [11:05]

Callie discusses finding the right balance between visual appeal and product functionality. [14:05]

Callie talks about how to best anticipate customer needs. [16:05]

Callie explains how to keep customers engaged after a sale. [19:41]

Callie on how to build a loyal community of customers. [22:36]

Callie gives advice on how to get comfortable being the face of your brand. [26:08]

Callie talks about the balance between curated content and authenticity. [29:29]

Callie gives some final advice on branding for startups and established businesses. [32:00]

Callie explains where to find out more about her and her business. [33:45]

Alex thanks Callie and concludes the show. [34:23]

PULL QUOTES

1. “Establish yourself as someone who wants to stick around in the market, as someone who wants to be more than just your product.” [05:30]

2. “It’s really important to not only create content around your product but to create content around the kind of lifestyle and the kind of culture you want your brand to have, because it’s all about your personality and that is what people are buying.” [06:24]

3. “Being the face of your own brand is not…a bad thing.” [24:18]

4. “My biggest advice to companies is just start. You’ve got to start somewhere, so better to start now and just do it and figure out what works for your customers than to not start at all and to lose out because you were too afraid to just dive in.” [26:41]

5. “Who you are and why you created your business is absolutely fundamental to how you tell your story, and all of it is your story. You can’t just take yourself out of it.” [31:11]

6. “There’s never a time that’s too late for some great customer service and great customer outreach.” [33:34]

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

YETI Coolers – http://yeti.com/ [05:53]

Best SELF Journal – https://bestself.co/products/self-journal [21:41]

FOLLOW CALLIE KERBO &
HONEYCOMB CREATIVE CO.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/honeycreativeco
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/honeycombcreativeco/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/honeycombcreativeco/ 
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colleenkerbo/ 
Website: https://www.honeycombcreativeco.com/

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/thecontentengines-podcast/id1274210960

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/thecontentengine

Stitcher: http://partners.stitcher.com/promo/148478

TuneIn: https://tunein.com/radio/The-Content-Engine-p1023485/

Spark: Not Just Another Email App

With dozens of email apps out there, we typically find ourselves assuming they are all the same. I mean it's email, how much differentiation can there be? 

Meet Spark, my new best (email) friend. Their tagline "fall in love with email again" while cheesy is not far from the truth. Not sure I'm sold on loving my email, but there isn't as much dread when looking at it. I'm going to break down some of my favorite features and why you might love it too! 

1. No more searching endlessly through email threads for attachments. 

If you're like me, some email threads read a bit like a novel with attachments scattered everywhere. My favorite feature of Spark is the separate attachments folder that allows you to search in order to find the right one. For me this was a game changer and definitely saved some "throw your phone against the wall in frustration" moments. 

2. Pesky newsletters don't hide with your actual mail. 

With their "Smart Inbox" feature, you can separate your newsletters from email threads. Personally, I rarely even look at my newsletters so having them separated allows me to scroll quickly and prioritize items needing a reply. 

3. Integrations with allllll the things. 

You have things in Dropbox, GoogleDrive, and iCloud? Well you're in luck because it integrates with all of them. I can't tell you how many times I have files on one or two of those services but can't drop them all into a single email. Problem solved with Spark. While we're on the topic of integrations, you know that frustration you have sending photos via email? Just me? Well Spark allows access straight from your camera roll so when you are typing away on that email you can easily add in that picture you forgot. 

Spark also has great features like integrating with your calendar, pinning ability for important emails and some pretty great ways to customize it for your preferences. Go give it a try and tell me what you think! 

Have an app I should try? Comment below because I'm always looking for the latest and greatest in tech! 

To Austin With Love: Lessons from my First Year

Hey y'all, Callie here! I wanted to get a little more personal on the blog today and speak about my time here in Austin so far. Today is officially one year since I moved to this incredible city. This past year has been a wild ride so I just wanted to share a little bit of my journey and what I've learned along the way. 

1. Jump right in. 

When I first moved here I didn't know anyone, anything about the city or even much about my new job. A fresh college grad, this was the perfect city to start my adult life. Before I moved, I briefly googled something along the lines of "professional networking organizations" and stumbled upon Austin Young Chamber and decided to sign up for a membership. As it turns out AYC has played one of the biggest roles in making Austin feel like home, more on finding your people later though. When you don't know anyone in a new city it can be overwhelming to make new friends, start a new job and figure out how to balance life with work. My goal every week was to try one new place and meet some new people. After discovering Meetup and finding some more organizations, my schedule quickly filled with networking events and socials. Before I knew it, this city started to feel like home and my network was growing faster than I could imagine. My advice if you're moving to a new city: immerse yourself in the culture and fabric of the town. You will amaze yourself at how quickly you find like-minded people. 

2. Look up and talk to a stranger every once in a while. 

My second week in Austin I decided to go out for a drink and explore the city a bit. I found myself sipping on an Old Fashioned watching some baseball when a stranger sat down next to me. We started chatting about writing and what I did for a living. It turns out he's from LA and only in Austin for the weekend. Our brief conversation turned into an unexpected friendship and one year later we still keep in touch. This might be the biggest lesson Austin continues to teach me: when you show up to Life and look up, good things happen. 

3. You might as well just start now. 

A few months before I was set to graduate during a meeting with someone in my department mentioned that I might consider consulting. In my head there was a voice screaming "NO" at the top of my lungs. Consult? Are you kidding? The idea of jumping straight into entrepreneurship seemed so daunting. I wasn't ready so the thought was pushed in the back of my mind. Once I moved to Austin and settled into my job, there was a deep desire to do more. My job was great and challenged me, but I've never been comfortable with "good enough". About a month after moving I found myself in the county clerk's office filing for a DBA and Honeycomb Creative was born. It's certainly not been easy and at times it's been absolutely frustrating. However, there is nothing that compares to the feeling of having something that is your own. So whatever thing you've been pondering, that idea that keeps you up at night...you should really just go for it. Jump and see what happens. You, like me, just might surprise yourself. 

4. Find your people. 

I cannot say enough how important it is to find your people, your cheerleaders, your mentors. This past year wouldn't be possible without the support of so many people. I could write a whole post on all the people that helped and supported me over the last year. However, finding your people isn't just about celebrating those that support you, it's finding people who will go through life with you. For me that was making incredible friendships through AYC, Team Austin and AMA. I've not only built strong business partnerships and relationships, but found strong friendships through these organizations as well. It can be scary to be part of community because it means being a little bit vulnerable and opening yourself up. However, it's a really beautiful thing to be part of a community that cares and invests as much into you as you do with them. 

This year has truly been a whirlwind. From running my business as a side hustle to now being fully self-employed. I am truly grateful for the support and lessons learned in this first year. Here's to living in my favorite city and many more years of calling it home. 

- Callie 

5 Essential Photo Apps I Use Everyday

The question I'm asked most often is "How do I edit my iPhone photos to look professional?". With a million editing apps out there, I wanted to share my favorites and some tricks to achieving beautiful, natural photos. Here are my 5 must-have apps for taking great photos! 

1. Photoshop Express: General Editing

Before

After

While it is true that how you set up and take a picture largely reflects in its quality, good editing can turn even the most mediocre pictures into Insta-worthy. My favorite editing app (maybe ever) is Photoshop Express. Generally I stick to 3-4 settings: exposure, highlights, contrast and temperature to achieve the right look and feel for a photo.

2. A Color Story: Filters

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As a rule, I don't really use filters much. However, if I do use filters A Color Story and VSCO are my go-tos. Generally for clients we have a certain aesthetic for all our photos and try to use the same filter(s) for all content. This keeps a consistent story going throughout their feed. I would highly suggest making the investment to buy all the filters in A Color Story just to give yourself as many options as possible. My personal favorites are the "Snow Cone" (from the "Airy" collection) and "Carrie" (from the "Flashes of Delight" collection) filters. These are both light and bright options. 

3. VSCO: Filters

For moodier looks I love using VSCO particularly for black and white photos. Their filters give a very authentic film look as well as beautiful rich tones to your photos. Again, even if I am applying a filter, I never do so at 100%. Usually I'm bumping them down to less than 20% to retain most of the photo in its original form. Filters are only for added depth and interest to the photo. 

4. Boomerang and Hyperlapse: Video Content

By now you've seen boomerangs of basically anything and everything. However, I love the fun factor they bring to brands. Pro tip: to reduce the possibility of your user getting dizzy looking at your Boomerang, slow down your motion a bit more than you normal would. The software will speed it up, so no need to go lightening fast. Going a touch slower than you would in real life will provide a very natural result. 

5. Plann: Visual Content Planning

 Image via  Plann

Image via Plann

When you are looking to style your Instagram feed it can sometimes be difficult to visualize how all of your content works together. That's why I love using a visual planner like the Plann app. It allows you to upload and move around your content easily in order to create a visual storyboard. 

There are a million apps out there, but these are my essentials for every day editing and styling. You can find all of them in the App Store or Google Play Store. I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite photo editing apps you use regularly? Comment below and let's chat! 

- Callie 

Meet the Founder: Colleen Kerbo

Hey y'all! Today, I'm just going to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at who I am and what Honeycomb is all about. I would love to connect with you so I'll put all my social links at the end of this post.

We will start with the quick facts:

Hometown:

Bell Buckle, Tennessee

Currently Residing:

Austin, Texas

Education:

Prep: The Webb School, Bell Buckle Tennessee

Undergrad: Abilene Christian University, Abilene Texas

Started from the bottom...

From the age of 4, it was apparent I was a creator. From making model houses out of cardboard boxes to turning the dining room into a restaurant, my passion was creating something out of nothing. Growing up my parents not only encouraged but challenged me to follow those interests. They provided me the opportunities to be challenged in school when it was apparent that other educational options would come up short. In every step of my life, they encouraged my growth giving me opportunities to fail and re-adjust in a safe environment. They lived out "work hard and stay humble" long before it was a tagline on t-shirts and coffee mugs.

They pushed me and challenged me to constantly improve, that complacency had no place in our home. We do not settle, we do not take no for an answer. We push forward, we work hard. That they did and everything I am, I owe to their constant faith in me. God and my parents deserve all the credit.

My parents are fundamental in who I am. However, there's a very special place that was fundamental in shaping my growth. The Webb School poured into me for seven years. There's so much I can say about my education there, but more than anything they are responsible instilling character and integrity into me. One thing that always impressed me about Webb was the level of care. It was one giant family and my teachers truly cared about all of us. More than just helping us get into college, they cared that we were good humans. My favorite Sawney Webb quote happens to be, "Don't be a spectator, take a hand in the game". This mantra stays in the forefront of my mind in business and in life.

While completing my undergrad in Abilene, I worked for a small business. For almost he entirety of my college career I thought my passion was event planning and design. However, I was given the opportunity to dabble in eCommerce and social media. My bosses would often say, "Are you getting geeky over there?". Admittedly, I'd fallen in love with the tech world.

Why I started Honeycomb...

I started Honeycomb to empower business owners. For me, it's showing them that social media is a beast they can conquer. That they can still be authentic, real, and all the things that brought them this far. It's putting them in front of 2.1 billion potential customers. And showing the world why they matter. It's more than a follower count and likes, it's telling a story the world needs to hear, their story. Because the world needs more of them: hustlers, movers and shakers, the moms and pops, startups and makers.

It's an honor to run alongside some of the most talented and passionate individuals I've ever met. I wake up every day to do what I love and realize that is a privilege. To be able to encourage, coach, and rub shoulders with such incredible people is my greatest joy.

Favorite spot to work...

Austin is known for its food and coffee shops. My current favorite is Seventh Flag Coffee or Walton's. If you stop by Walton's try the avocado toast. You won't be disappointed.

When I'm not working you'll find me...

On the golf course or creating. One of my favorite hobbies is golf and I've been playing for nearly 10 years now. Working in florals for over 2 years, you can often find me in the Central Market flower section picking out blooms to design.

Favorite spot to unwind...

By far, my favorite happy hour is Parkside on 6th. If anything, go for the 50% off oysters! Their cocktails are the bee knees.

If I'm shopping local you'll find me at...

So it's no secret I love shopping local. Austin has an incredible culture that encourages keeping it local. Some of my favorite spots in Austin:

  • Maya Star on South Congress (fashion)
  • Luxe Apothetique on 2nd Street (fashion and gift)
  • Beau Kisses (fashion and gift)
  • Seventh Flag Coffee
  • Brew + Brew (coffee and beer)
  • Mueller Farmer's Market

Life motto:

Work hard, be nice to people, give God the glory.

Let's be friends! My social links are below and I would love to connect with you there!