Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tip #159: How to Become a Networking Ninja

The Philadelphia Candy Show is right around the corner. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’re sure to see a lot of familiar faces and are looking forward to catching up with old friends. Even the most seasoned trade show attendees can expect to meet a lot of new people, which means a lot of (sometimes awkward) small talk.
For some, networking comes naturally, but for others it can be paralyzing (and did I mention, awkward?). Here are some of our favorite tips from TheMuse that, with practice, will eventually earn you a black belt in networking. Feel free to first warm up your networking muscles with RCI at booth #413 at The Philadelphia Candy Show in Atlantic City, New Jersey August 30 – September 1, 2015.

1. Dress for Success
If you look great, you’ll feel great too!
  • Wear something that makes you feel great.
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Don’t bring a large bag.

2. Set goals.
Setting goals will give you something to work towards. As you achieve your goals, you will build up confidence and get a lot practice in the process. Here’s some examples to get you started:
  • Meet five new people.
  • Learn something new.
  • Start three conversations.

3. Have a few conversation starters in mind.
It’s not as intimidating to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger when you have a game plan. Start with the classics and once you’re warmed up, you may want to go for something a bit more fun.
  • “Have you been here before?”
  •  “How did you get started in the industry?”
  • “I’m just here for the carrot sticks, what brings you here?”

4. Get everyone’s business cards.
When it comes to making lasting connections, collecting business cards from acquaintances is just as important as passing out your own business cards.
  • Take notes about each person you meet, their interests and your conversation.
  • Follow up with a friendly email within 48 hours.

5. Use a non-awkward closer
  • “It’s been so great chatting with you, but I have a few more people to connect with.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tip #158: Break Into the Corporate Gift Market

Providing corporate gifts is a competitive game. Not only are there other local merchants competing to be the gift of choice for your local businesses, but you are in competition with the best in the world. The internet has given local businesses the world at the end of their fingertips. You are competing with the likes of Harry and David, Amazon, Wine Country Gifts, Godiva, Pro-Flowers, 1-800-Flowers, and hundreds of other internet gift companies. You are in competition with all of the above for the budget corporations have set aside for gift giving.

To even compete with these corporate giants you must portray a professional image to your targeted corporate client. This includes your company image, product and packaging. If you are designing an advertising piece it must reflect the same quality as the customer you are attempting to lure to your product. More than likely they will also shop your website. Go to your webpage and see if you are on the same level as your competition. This starts with professional graphics, photography and presentation. You must appeal to their eyes before they even try your product.
Running a small business is no easy task. As we know, we live, eat, and sleep our businesses. However, one of the best ways to increase your corporate business is through community involvement. Rub elbows with the decision makers in your area. Join Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, or civic boards, and attend events and fundraisers. This is no quick fix, but as you get to know more people in your area, many of these decision makers will think about buying from you personally more than just your company. My father always said “sell yourself and they will buy your product.”

This is an excerpt from Kettle Talk, 2nd Quarter 2013, page 12. Click here to view full article on corporate gift giving (including tips on personalized gifts) written by Terry Hicklin of Candy House Gourmet Chocolates in Joplin. Images are the property of Candy House Gourmet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tip #157: Savor the Flavors of 2015

Trendspotters from the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show identified popular flavor profiles that just might tantalize your taste buds and inspire ideas for your own new product development.

Flower Power

Floral notes such as rose, lavender and hibiscus made a memorable appearance in products such as Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower & Rose Lemonade, Masala Pop Saffron Rose Popcorn, Rogue Creamery La-Di-Da Lavender Cheese and Vosges Haut-Chocolat Blood Orange Hibiscus Caramel Marshmallows.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat covers marshmallows in burnt sugar caramel with blood oranges and hibiscus flavors, chocolate and tops it with black salt.

Cocktail Culture

Spirits, wine, and beer inspire flavors and ingredient pairings like Bissell Maple Farm's Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Syrup, Brooklyn Brine Co. Hop-Pickles, Colonel Pabst All Malt Amber-Lager Worcestershire Sauce and L.A. Creamery The Manhattan.

L.A. Creamery’s The Manhattan takes its cues from the classic cocktail with Rittenhouse Rye, brown butter toffee and bing cherries.

Go Ginger

An honorable mention, so to speak, goes to ginger as another hot flavor trend (pun intended) for 2015.
Try the classic pairing of crystallized ginger dipped in dark chocolate or more adventurous pairings incorporated in DivineChocolate’s Lemon Infused Ginger Turtles (top) or Coconut Ginger Popcorn Truffles from YoderPopcorn Click here to view the recipe from Yoder Popcorn.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rewind to Tip #135: Celebrate National S'mores Day

As you likely know, s’mores as a flavor and product has become quite the consumer craze. This week’s blog tip is to capitalize on the craze and celebrate National S’mores Day which is Monday, August 10. Here are a few fun s’mores ideas we found on Pinterest to help get your creative juices flowing. Remember, if you make your own marshmallow, s’mores are a great way to showcase it!

S'mores to Go
S'mores Pops
S'mores Popcorn
S'mores Ice Cream Sandwich