Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Throwback Tip #253: Make Groundhog Day Sweeter

As one of our most popular posts from 2018, we’re bringing back this tip for Groundhog Day, just in case you missed it! Plus, we’ve added a bonus tip to make your 2019 celebration even sweeter!

Nestled snuggly between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day is Groundhog Day on February 2. Although it may be a mystery to many of us as to why we give these furry little critters any merit when it comes to predicting the weather, there’s no question many consumers will be excited to participate in this American holiday. Here’s some ideas of how your candy business can take advantage of all the groundhog hype next month!
Groundhog Cupcakes by Bakerella on Flickr
Make Groundhog Day Sweet

Just when you thought those cuddly groundhogs couldn’t get any cuter, they took on a chocolate form! Baking blogger, Bakerella, created adorable little groundhog cupcakes using peanut butter cups and other candies (click here for ingredient list), but we think you could really do without the cupcake—unless you already happen to sell cupcakes or could partner with a local bakery. 

Of course, there are lots of options for substituting similar ingredients if you don’t have these items on hand—bonus points, if you make your own peanut butter cups! Another option would be to try chocolate-covered sandwich cookies in place of peanut butter cups for the head. If you don’t have mini marshmallows for the teeth, try using white sprinkles or piping white confectionery coating for the teeth. These little guys are almost too cute to eat!

Get Animated with GIFs

Tell your customers about your adorable chocolate groundhogs or other themed products by adding an animated GIF (pronounced "jif", like the brand of peanut butter, in case you're wondering) like this to a promotional email or social media posts. Adding animation to marketing messaging is super trendy now. According to MailerLite.com, animations are widely considered to be the best way to attract attention to your brand or to market your product online. Click here for more reasons why you should be using GIFs in email marketing.

RCI Member Savings! Constant Contact Email Marketing offers a fast, effective way to get your message out to customers and keep your organization top of mind. Start your email marketing today and receive an RCI member discount of 20% for purchasing the 6 month prepaid option or a discount of 25% for purchasing the 12 month prepaid option. Already use Constant Contact? Contact RCI to begin receiving the member discount.

BONUS TIP: Offer Winter or Spring Specials

If you don’t happen to have a bunch of groundhog moulds or other related products on your shelves on February 2, consider Groundhog Day as an opportunity to sell off any remaining winter-themed products (like snowmen and snowflakes) and encourage customers to welcome in spring with a fresh display of spring-related (think flowers and bright colors). You could leave it up to Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction to decide whether winter or spring confections are discounted, or offer a discount on both!
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have fun with Groundhog Day this year and your customers will wish we celebrated this silly holiday more often!

RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices. Review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. Look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tip #289: Make Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Last Longer

If you sell chocolate-covered strawberries for the holidays, more specifically Valentine’s Day, and have found yourself working from sunrise to sunset to keep up with demand, this tip is for you. 
RCI member, Luisa Chocolatiere shares her pro tips for extending the shelf-life of these delicate fruit confections to best avoid working yourself ragged while preparing for one of the biggest candy holidays of the year.
1.) Clear communication
Although this first step will not affect the longevity of your strawberries, it will help you better prepare for the holiday. Requiring advanced orders for chocolate-covered strawberries helps create expectations for your production needs. Clear communication to your customer base is key to ensure their expectations are met too. The beginning of January is a great time to start to taking orders for Valentine's Day.
2.) Gently clean and air dry
The way you clean your berries could be contributing to unwanted mold. Follow these step-by-step instructions to minimize moisture and bacteria.
  • Start by wiping away any dirt with a clean towel and discard unwanted mushy or moldy berries.
  • Gently submerge berries in a solution of cold water and non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar (use approximately 3 tablespoons for every one gallon of water) for five minutes. The acidity of the vinegar will kill spores and bacteria on the fresh berries.
  • Next, place the strawberries in a colander to drain excess water before air drying berries in a single layer on top of a dry towel.
  • Once the strawberries are dry, they can be placed in their original containers, which have since been cleaned and dried as well, until they are ready to dip.
3.) Chilled storage
To keep chocolate-covered strawberries overnight without the harmful effects of refrigeration, place dipped strawberries on containers, which are on top of gel ice packs and they can store for up to 48 hours.
These tips may seem simple, but they have the potential to completely transform the way you operate your business leading up to Valentinue’s Day—for the better. Now with all that extra time saved up, you may be able to devote more of it to other areas of your business or spend it with family and, hopefully, get more sleep on the morning of Valentine’s Day! Let us know in the comments below what you plan to do with the time you’ll save with this tip!

RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices. Review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. Look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Tip #288: 3 Ways to Leverage Food Holidays

What do potato chips, caramel and wine have in common? They each have a holiday to celebrate their gloriousness! However quirky, National Potato Chip Day may give you something more exciting to talk about on March 14, like your chocolate-covered potato chips or an experimental batch of peanut butter and potato chip truffles.

If potato chips don’t exactly excite you, there is literally a holiday (sometimes several) for every day of the year. With that said, there's likely a few you'd like to sink your teeth into. But before you go scouring the internet to fill in your promotional calendar, RCI has already done the work for you!

If you’re an RCI member, you will receive RCI’s 2019 wall calendar as you renew your membership. Not only will you find all those fun (and a few off-the-wall) holidays, you can also expect all RCI’s events, industry events and federal holidays in there too. Not a member? Join RCI today!

Here’s a few ideas to get you started, once you’ve determined which holidays best suit your brand.

1. ) Get ahead
Since most people don’t have National Potato Chip Day marked on their calendar, let them know you'll be celebrating at least two weeks in advance, so they can make plans to celebrate with you!

2.) Give the media a story
Your local media is always looking for interesting stories to share and your crazy potato-chip concoction may be just the ticket to get your business some screen time. So, tell them all about your plans in a press release—personally delivering said press release with some samples wouldn't hurt either!

3.) Open your doors
When you find a holiday that’s both a great fit for your business and has some legs, host an event or encourage customers to host their own events to celebrate. If other local events are happening in your community, find a way to get involved.

The goal for promoting these holidays is to drive sales and generate buzz, so get creative and have fun with the holidays that make sense for your brand.

SNEAK PEEK: This is a sneak peek of the latest issue of RCI’s member-exclusive magazine, Kettle Talk, now available online. RCI members can login at retailconfectioners.org/kettletalk to see the full digital issue, as well as past issues.

Not a member? Click here to learn more about RCI’s resources designed to help retail confectioners and their suppliers grow their businesses.