Creative Ways to Decorate Stair Risers

Creative Ways to Decorate Stair Risers

Stairs in a home are climbed multiple times each day, and people rarely pay attention to their appearance while they are ascending and descending the steps. Stair steps are usually very basic. They are designed to serve a purpose, and although rails and surrounding decor can be quite impressive, the actual stair risers are usually unadorned. Use creative ways to decorate stair risers to make a statement or to add color and design to the stairway. They are fun and easy to decorate in creative new ways, and they can become works of functional art.

I took a creative painting and decorating class several years ago, and the class instructor brought in photos of unique stair risers. I was highly impressed with the creative designs. Some were whimsical, and others had amazing detail. I used one of the options to decorate my finished basement stairs.

Paint Stair Risers to Look Like Classic Novels

Imagine standing back and gazing at a flight of stairs with the risers that looked like classic novels. They are easy to create with stencils and acrylic paint. Begin by painting stair risers in alternate colors such as forest green, dark red and navy blue. These are typical hardback book colors. Paint one or two gold lines across each end, and use the stencils to fill in the titles of the books along with any other desired details. Randomly alter the position of the lines and text for a realistic look. If they are well painted, the stair risers will look like a leaning stack of books.

Add Aluminum Diamond Metal Plating to Stair Risers

I used sheets of aluminum metal plating with diamond designs to decorate my stair risers, and I covered the tops of the steps with carpeting. The sheets of metal were crafted with raised diamond shapes. They are commonly used for kick plates on doors, but they are also used to trim stair steps on trucks. Look up aluminum diamond metal plating, and consider using it to decorate your stair risers. Not only will they decorate the stair risers in a unique and creative way, but they will protect the stairs from scuffs.

Number the Steps in a Whimsical Way

Anyone who has ever counted steps while climbing a particularly tall flight would appreciate a whimsical way to decorate the risers. Consider numbering each one. Decorate the wood with a dark background of your choice, and number every step beginning at the bottom. Use comic sans lettering or another quirky choice, and make sure they are lined up evenly from top to bottom. It is an ideal way to decorate stairs in a home with pop art style.

I have thought of other creative ways to decorate stair risers. The options are only limited by the imagination. They could be painted with rainbow colors, black and white line designs, optical illusions and more. I would love to paint stair risers with a design that appears to rotate. It is an illusion, and with abstract or pop art decor, it could look amazing.

Source: Personal and Professional Home Design and Decorating Experience

10 Movies that Will Make You Want to Travel Abroad

  1. 10 Movies that Will Make You Want to Travel AbroadThe Proposition(Australia)
    This southern-hemisphere western showcases the arid beauty of the Australian outback better than any other film I’ve seen. Tremendous gold-violet sunsets wash over the infinite expanses of the bush. You’ve never seen the likes of it before.
  2. The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina/Peru)
    A true travel film, Ernesto “Che” Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries takes the viewer on a journey through the secluded paths and villages of South America. I’d recommend you try it in a car, though.
  3. The Ghost and the Darkness (South Africa)
    Set in Kenya but shot in South Africa, this historically-inspired tale of a pair of lions who terrorized construction workers presents a generally unpleasant story framed by the starkly beautiful African savannah.
  4. Jurassic Park (Hawaii)
    Another instance of one country playing another on film, the lush rainforest of Hawaii provides Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur epic with the backdrop of its “island off the coast of Costa Rica.” If you can tear your eyes away from the then-groundbreaking computer effects, the island’s lush natural beauty is impossible not to appreciate.
  5. C.R.A.Z.Y. (Canada)
    Though confined to suburban rather than rural areas, French-language LGBT film C.R.A.Z.Y. effectively showcases the French-influenced culture of Quebec. If you took French in high school, buy a Lonely Planet guide and take a quick vacation up to Quebec– some call it France without the French.
  6. Lawrence of Arabia (various Middle East)
    This rolling 1960s war epic set in and around what is currently Syria makes the uncompromising desert landscape as much a character as any of the human beings onscreen. While traveling to Syria or Iran might not currently be advisable, Lawrence may inspire you to buy a ticket to Egypt or Israel.
  7. Lagaan (India)
    Bollywood blockbuster Lagaan is placed in the middle of India’s semi-arid natural landscape. Cinematographical flourishes let India’s vistas tell the story along with the characters– burning golden sunsets are used to represent the forbidden love between the two protagonists, and dry, relentless days mirror the despair of the Indians in the face of British imperialism. It’s not recommended viewing for anyone with an aversion to musicals, however.
  8. The Ninth Gate (Spain)
    Roman Polanski’s superb direction transforms what might have been the umpteenth cheesy and pointless film about Satanic cultists, but through the old-world mysteriousness and intrigue of settings in France and Spain, elevates it into a near-classic. The Spanish countryside is rarely depicted, the film focusing more on its civil architecture.
  9. Amelie (France)
    International groundbreaker Amelie vibrates with the quirkiness and dynamism of Paris. The filmmakers spearheaded an unprecedented effort to clean Paris of its ubiquitous graffiti, and made sure to include many staple French landmarks in the film, such as the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.
  10. The Fellowship of the Ring (New Zealand)
    The most obvious (and the most indispensible) choice, Peter Jackson’s Rings trilogy put New Zealand on the map for something other than its prodigious wool production. The first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, showcased New Zealand’s beautiful forests, rivers, and mountains more than its two successors. Who can resist the urge to visit the land slightly below the Land Down Under when they see Frodo at the shores of Amon Hen or climbing the snowy peaks of Caradhras?

Creative Ways to Decorate with Mirrors!

Creative Ways to Decorate with Mirrors!A mirror can be much more than a looking glass. You can use mirrors to liven up a room or to give your crafts a unique look… you can even make a one-of-a-kind purse! So check out some of these unique ways to use mirrors!

Can’t decide on what kind of artwork to put on your wall? How about hanging a mirror instead! A mirror does not have to be hung at eye level. Hang it anywhere… high or low! Framed mirrors are especially nice on a wall. But if you are on a limited budget you can buy inexpensive mirrors with plain edges then just buy cheap frames to go around them. And remember, you can paint the frames any color you want!

Try doing an entire wall of mirrors for a dramatic look! Mix and match the shapes and styles. Or hang mirrors along the walls of a hallway or staircase. This is a great way to add lots of light to a darker space. Want to really spruce up the look? Paint some colorful flowers or other designs on the mirrors. Don’t have any artistic talent? Just paint stripes along the edges using colors that will tie the mirrors in to your existing decor!

Mirrors are not only for walls! You can buy small mirrors that stand up (look in the bathroom department) and put them on end tables, shelves or on your fireplace mantle. Then place a decorative item in front of the mirror such as a small figurine. This lets you see the back of the figurine without turning it around! Or put a decorative candle in front of the mirror and when you light the candle you will see two flames instead of one!

If you want a spectacular window treatment at an affordable price try this trick: Hang a full length mirror on each side of the window about 8 inches away from the window frame. Paint the frames of the mirrors the same color as the window trim (do this before you hang them). Then hang a mini blind or a pull down shade in the window. That’s all you need! The mirrors will make the window look huge! This is a great window treatment for single window on a long wall. It helps fill the space and evens out the room. You may also want to consider putting a shelf above the window to showcase collectibles. This turns your window into a work of art!

You can buy colorful mirror tiles in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes in just about any craft store. And you can glue these tiles to just about anything! Glue them on frames, on decorative boxes, on the cover of your scrap book… you can even glue them on the lid of your toilet seat! Need some fancy accessories for a night on the town? Make a one-of-a-kind purse by gluing colorful mirror tiles all over it! Glue a few tiles on a plain barrette for a nice hair accessory. You can also glue a few tiny mirror tiles on your shoes!

You can dress up the dinner table with mirrors too. You can cover an entire table with a mirror for a truly elegant look. Or you can add just a hint of elegance by placing a small mirror under each wine glass. Want to give your guests something to smile about? Stand a small mirror at each place setting so your guests can secretly keep a check on their appearance while they are dining! And hang a small card from the mirror that says “you are looking at a very special guest!”

Want a fun way to decorate your bathroom? Hang a variety of hand mirrors all over the walls as art! This is also nice in a young girl’s bedroom. And it’s a nice way to start a hand mirror collection!

And don’t forget that mirrors are functional too! Hang a mirror on the inside of every door in your house. Next time you need a full length view all you have to do is open a door and check yourself out!

Creative Ways to Decorate with Wall Planters

Creative Ways to Decorate with Wall Planters

Wall planters provide a unique way to decorate with faux floral arrangements, and they can be used to create a focal point. In any case they come in many different styles from dramatic and sleek to elegantly detailed. Use these creative ways to decorate with wall planters, and incorporate the beauty of faux flowers and foliage into the style of a space within your home. They are available in all price ranges from highly affordable cast resin to one-of-a-kind metal works of sculptured art.

Use Vertical Planters to Highlight a Work of Art

Consider using a pair of mounted planters to decorate and highlight a large work of art. They can be hung on both sides of a large wrought iron work or art. Fill the wall planters with dry florist foam, and use the foam to securely hold the stems of faux foliage and blooms. High-quality realistic trailing vines look lovely in these types of planters. Hang them diagonally or evenly around the wrought iron work of art, and if the vines are long enough, wind a few of the ends through the wrought iron to make them appear even more realistic.

When choosing to highlight a painting with wall planters containing faux blooms and foliage, select a floral painting or an outdoor spring or summer scene. A beautiful painting of a meadow or a country cottage surrounded by wildflowers is an excellent choice. Even a painting of a single bloom is a great choice when looking for creative ways to decorate with wall planters. Use flowers of the same types as those featured in the work of art to draw more attention to the planters and the painting.

Decorate Around a Mirror with Wall Planters

When looking for a location to decorate with wall planters, consider mounting them next to a large mirror. This would look lovely in a foyer or entryway, at the end of a hall or on a bare great room wall. Select blooms that pick up accent colors in the room or space of choice. They will beautifully frame the mirror no matter where it is placed.

Decorate a Doorway with Wall Planters and Faux Vines

Browse the Internet for cast resin, molded plastic or metal wall planters. Besides adding color and appeal to a bare wall, they can add architectural interest. Another area that can be highlighted with wall planters is the top corners of a doorway wall – if the ceiling is high enough. Fill them with variegated faux vines that run down both sides of the doorway. They will look absolutely stunning when used to decorate a doorway in an interesting new way.

Body and Home Products Review: Daub and Bauble

Body and Home Products Review: Daub and Bauble

Daub and Bauble is a unique line of home and body products available in a wide array of decadent scents certain to arouse your olfactory senses. The Daub and Bauble product line rich in essential oils includes their unique line of Hand Wash, Hand Lotion, and Dish Detergent which provide the effects of aromatherapy.

Washing hands is one of the most important factors in fighting germs and with Daub and Bauble Hand Wash with Aloe your family members will want to wash just to enjoy the delicious fragrances created by Daub and Bauble. The Hand Wash fragrance collection includes delicious scents such as Tarocco Orange and Clove, Sorrento Lemon and Ginger, and Mission Fig and Thyme. In addition to smelling sumptuous, the decoration on the bottles of Daub and Bauble Hand Wash is true artwork. The Daub and Bauble Hand Wash is available in a 10 fluid ounce size.

The Daub and Bauble Hand Lotion with Shea Butter are also deliciously enticing. The unique fragrances and consistency of the lotion are silky smooth and equally pleasant. The super moisturizing products contain Grapeseed Oil and Avocado Butter combined with Aloe Vera Gel and Vitamin E. Add this unique miniaturization combination with the delicious fragrances offered by Daub and Bauble and you have a true winner. The fragrances offered in the hand lotion line include Mission Fig and Thyme, Sorrento Lemon and Ginger and Tarocco Orange and Clove.

Daub and Bauble have included in their product line a unique collection of aromatic dish detergent certain to make the task of doing dishes a lot more enjoyable. The 16 fluid ounce size art inspired decorated bottle is an eco-friendly product that is concentrated and formulated to cut grease. The Daub and Bauble Concentrated Dish Detergent is available in Mission Fig and Thyme, Sorrento Lemon and Ginger and Tarocco Orange and Clove.

Dab and Bauble Body and Home Products are great gifts to give for house warming gifts as well as personal gifts. For individuals who really have a love for true aromatherapy, Daub and Bauble have created a unique line of body and cleaning products, which are richly infused with essential oils and natural products designed and formulated to provide the true effects of aromatherapy.

Daub and Bauble Body and Home Products are available throughout the country. For a location nearest you visit the online site for Daub and Bauble for a list of retailers.

Winter Planning Tips for Spring Gardens

Winter Planning Tips for Spring GardensThe cold and dreary winter months are the perfect time to plan your upcoming spring garden. Spend time deciding what you will grow and how you will grow it during those days you can’t get outside. Plan now and when the weather warms up you can be ready to get a jump start on your garden. Try a few of these tips to help you have a great garden this year.

Decide What You Want to Plant

Make a list of what you want to plant in your garden this year. While you are writing your list, be sure to include planting dates for each item and whether you will be starting seeds or planting nursery-bought plants.

Stores usually begin setting up seed displays in late winter. Take time to browse local stores to see what they have available as you begin your planning. When you are ready, start buying the seeds and start your planning. If you have leftover seeds from previous years, drag them out and check them over. Wonder if your old vegetable seeds are still good? Check out these tips for figuring that out.

Use a Calendar

Make out a calendar so you can stay on track with your garden planning. If you plan to start some of your plants from seed, you will need to get those started early enough for the plants to be ready for your projected planting date.

When choosing planting dates, you will need to know your area’s last frost date. My region has been known to have cold snaps as late as early May, so I always shoot for garden planting dates between May 1 and May 15 to allow for that. Once you have decided upon planting date goals, mark them on your calendar.

Use the guides on seed packets to help you determine planting dates and seed starting dates for each item you wish to plant. Mark seed starting dates on your calendar.

Map It Out

Begin drawing maps and plans for your garden. Be sure to research companion planting as many garden veggies grow better planted with certain plants but not so much with others. Draw a good map of your planned garden and keep it with your calendar.

Prepare the Ground

Your garden spot will need some attention long before you put seeds or plants in the ground. Till your garden spot early on to allow weed seeds and grubs to be exposed and die in the winter cold. You may need to turn the ground one or two more times over the winter.

Start Seeds

When it is time, start your seeds indoors. Seed starter kits can be purchased at local stores or you can create your own using eco-friendly and recycled items such as egg shells, egg cartons, plastic soda bottles or newspapers.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: A Summer Paradise

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: A Summer Paradise

One of Virginia’s best summer attractions is Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The sprawling theme park is located just off I-64 on the outskirts of historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Beautifully landscaped with indigenous flowers, shrubs, and trees this is without a doubt one of most beautiful amusement parks in the world.

With hundreds of exciting rides and attractions, including ten main stage shows, dozens of delicious restaurants and a magical place set aside just for children, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the ticket to a amazing adventure for the entire family.

Busch Gardens is divided into European countries, to give its visitors a taste of the Old World. Guests enter the park in the wonderful English village of Banbury Cross, England. There, you can shop in quaint little stores for delicate English soaps and porcelain gifts from Her Majesty’s Fancy.

Those that are hungry can access delicious snacks any time at The Muffin Man, which offers freshly baked muffins and pastries galore. For something event sweeter, there is M. Sweets and Son, which provides the most tempting caramel and candied apples ever made, as well as homemade fudge, and decadent chocolates. For lighter fare, there are scrumptious sandwiches, delectable salads, and ice cream treats at Squires Galley.

While in the area, many visitors will catch the show at the Globe Theatre. Busch Gardens claims “This adventure comedy, starring, Leslie Nielsen, combines 4-D special effects technology with multi-sensory theater effects.” It encourages audience involvement and is perfect for everyone in the family.

Turn right out of Banbury Cross and enter Heather Downs, Scotland, the home of the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales as well as the lair of the fearsome Loch Ness Monster affectionately called “Nessie” by those who have conquered him. This roller coaster is definitely one of the park’s most popular rides with its famous interlocking double-loops of steel going up 13 stories into the air and dropping 114 feet down. This monster of a ride travels at 60 miles per hour and definitely delivers on its promise of spine-tingling thrills.

Continue right off Heather Downs to travel into Killarney, Ireland – – Busch Garden’s newest country addition. Irish tradition and heritage are beautifully depicted throughout this captivating Irish hamlet. Guests can enjoy strolling entertainers and interactive barkers and take time to savor traditional Irish food and a pint or two of cheer at Grogan’s Pub. Those that love to shop can have some fun amidst the handcrafted items made by Irish artisans and fine Irish imported giftware like Waterford crystal, Belleek or Donegan Parian china and Irish Dresden.

Many visitors will check out another of the Garden’s 4-D adventures. This one, called Corkscrew Hill, takes a trip through mythical Celtic lore. Here hungry witches and magical stallions are not out of the ordinary, but are instead the norm along with other mysterious creatures like leprechauns and banshees.

Here, one can discover the Secrets of Castle O’Sullivan as told by its young heir Aaron Shelly O’Sullivan. Guests relax and enjoy the authentic Irish music and more special effects, which include rain, thunder and a brilliant rainbow that magically appears right over their heads. By the time the show is over, everyone believes that wishes can come true.

Next on the route is Emerald Beat, an extraordinary dance production from Dublin-based O’Shea’s School of Irish Dance. This show celebrates Irish heritage through uniquely choreographed dance and an original music score.

While in the area, guests often take some time to enjoy Pet Shenanigans where the crazy antics of expertly trained dogs, cats, birds and other animals will amaze and delight everyone.

After taking a luxurious walk through the scenic gardens to the delightful village of Aquitaine, France, visitors will find even more adventure awaits. Hiding in this French village is the park’s newest monster – – The Griffon. This awesome roller coaster goes 205 feet up in the air before hurdling down at a 90 degree angle travelling some 70 miles per hour. Opening May 25th, 2007, The Griffon is sure to evoke both the power and speed so often attached to the mythical bird of lore. Believed to be part eagle and part lion, The Griffon soars and plunges and then twists and turns to give its riders an adrenaline-pumping adventure that’s unlike any coaster experience in the world.

Those that happen to visit in the evening can enjoy Kinetix – – a high-energy, show that combines dancers, singers, acrobats, dramatic lighting, and rock and roll music. This show is sure to keep guests entertained with its high energy and emphasis on fun.

From there, it’s a short walk through New France to visit Caribou Pottery where budding artists join the paint-your-own-pottery craze by adding their own creative touches to handcrafted pieces. In the rustic trader’s village, shoppers are sure to find the finest in leather gifts, glass sculpting, candle art and more.

Other highlights in the French Canadian logging village include an antique photo studio and the Le Scoot water flume ride, which features a 50-foot vertical plunge into a millpond.

If hunger takes hold, the barbecue pit nearby provides some of the best BBQ and corn-on-the-cob in the world. Guests can picnic in the countryside and enjoy the atmosphere and music.

For fun, many will go and see American Jukebox at the Canadian Palladium. This rip roaring show offers an amazing combination of favorite musical hits from the ’50s, outrageous tunes from the ’70s and contemporary country and pop chart-toppers of the ’90s.

Then it is time to move to the beautiful German Village of Rhinefeld, which offers authentic German ambiance from its quaint cobblestone streets to its charming European storefronts.

At the German Gift Shop, guests shop for Hummels because according to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, they are ” the only place outside of Germany authorized by Goebel Factory to kiln fire Hummels hand painted by visiting master artisans.” For something totally traditional, others will purchase a German beer stein, an authentic nutcracker, or even a Black Forest cuckoo clock.

For sweet German treats, many try Das Gingerbread Haus or for traditional German food, make a trip to the Festhaus where Oktoberfest is in full swing all year round. With its 2,000 seats and oompah-style band accompanied by authentic German dancers, this is one of the park’s favorite places to rest, relax, and have fun.

Those who get a hankering for some thrills and chills, board The Big Bad Wolf and race through a deserted Bavarian village. This suspended roller coaster flies at speeds approaching 50 mph, rambling through natural terrain and dense forest, before suddenly dropping 99 feet to almost touch the Rhine River below. “The spirit of the wolf is present at every turn, from the distant howls at the boarding station to the authentically-detailed buildings.”

For more tame fun, guests jump aboard Die Autobahn, an exciting bumper car adventure, ride the swings, tackle the octopus, or try one of the many other traditional carnival rides. Others play skeeball or ring toss or any of a few dozen other games located nearby, winning their sweetie a prize and making the day totally memorable.

For Bavarian fun, there is always the Alpengeist. Always voted one of the “top ten steel coastesrs,” the Alpengeist reaches a height of 195 feet and a speed of 67 miles per hour. This coaster is a breathtaking adventure that sends its riders on a high-speed journey, all the while flipping, turning, and swirling. Screams will abound as the snow beast twists an innocent ski lift into six staggering inversions and a 170-foot drop.

Over the bridge lies Festa Italia, which is always bustling with exciting activity. Indulge in the beauty and splendor of the old world in the hamlet of San Marco, Italy. Here visitors will find a modern-day opera in the Italian Pavilion. It is the perfect complement to the area’s delectable cuisine. Guests can listen to dazzling musical productions while feasting on authentic Italian dishes. Others may just sit back and enjoy fine European wine, espresso, cappuccino, or traditional biscotti at the Vino é Caffe.

This is the perfect place to shop in cute little Italian boutiques or watch Capodimonte porcelain flowers handcrafted by a master sculptor. Others may opt to purchase stunning Italian glassware or sourvenir masks, mimes, or dolls.

Those who travel deeper into Italy will find where ancient myth meets modern-day technology. Those who board Apollo’s Chariot, Busch Garden’s most thrilling hypercoaster, are in for the thrill of a lifetime. Designed to reach great heights and super speeds, the chariot is a pulse-quickening journey that plummets passengers a total of 825 feet. Another Busch coaster constantly voted “a top ten steel coaster,” Apollo’s Chariot boasts nine drops, the first of which plunges passengers 210 feet down the steel track before racing along the rest of the journey at 73 miles per hour.

Next, visitors can tour the spectacular gardens designed in tribute to the 15th-century Italian artist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci. Stationed inside this beautifully landscaped area are three of Da Vinci’s ride designs: Da Vinci’s Cradle, The Battering Ram, and The Flying Machine. A variety of children’s rides are also located here.

Everyone can expect to hear screams as the The Battering Ram soars through the air, reaching chilling heights. This an enormous pendulum of crowd-pleasing proportions gives an unusual sensation of weightlessness to those sitting at the two ends of the boat-shaped device.

Others will ride into the Renaissance in Da Vinci’s Cradle. This wildly exciting, yet deceptively tame-looking “cradle,” rocks back and forth before pausing in mid air and reversing course; sometimes leaving the stomachs of its riders on the ground below. But that is part of the fun.

Some will choose to cool off with the awesome white-water adventures of the Roman Rapids. Set among replicas of ancient Roman ruins, with erupting geysers and gushing aqueducts, the Rapids create a thrilling family water ride. But visitors must be cautious not to bring anything they wouldn’t take to a Roman bath, because everyone will get wet on this ride.

Then there is the quiet boat ride through the ancient ruins of Pompeii. But everyone should beware that it just might turn explosive should Mt. Vesuvius erupt once again. This ride leaves visitors wondering whether or not they can Escape from Pompeii.

But that’s not all that Busch Garden Williamsburg has to offer. There is also Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve, which informs audiences about the wild world of endangered and exotic animals and teaches the importance of habitat preservation. It also introduces the plight of a fascinating and often feared species, the gray wolf. The gray wolves here have a place to roam in a newly-expanded and enhanced habitat in the woodlands of the reserve.

The expansion also includes an improved viewing area for American bald eagles. Busch Gardens Williamsburg provides a haven for injured eagles as part of its commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation.

This is a park for children of every age; for young and old alike. Smaller children have there own once-upon-a-time kind of place that is certain to put a smile on every single little face. Magical creatures abound in the Land of the Dragons. These include Dumphrey the Dragon, Gordon the Dragon, and Sir Bumbly the Knight. This children’s adventure extravaganza features a three-story tree house, a mini-flume ride, a Ferris wheel — and a show starring a dragon or two.

All of that just begins to scratch the surface of all the adventures in store at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It also offers special concerts and events throughout the year, which runs every day from May 30th through September 1st and weekends from April through May and September through October. The park is closed the remainder of the year.

Hours vary somewhat according to season. For more detailed park information and for ticket prices, go to

Are You Doing Everything To Effectively Market Your Business?

Are You Doing Everything To Effectively Market Your Business?If you ask small businesses and startups to tell you the most difficult aspect of their business, they’ll most likely mention the problem of attracting and retaining customers. Due to lack of adequate resources and time, most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of outsourcing their needs to experienced-marketing professionals. For this same reason, you are probably not doing everything to effectively market your business. Fortunately, there are lots of cost-effective ideas you can rely on to effectively market your business. In this article, you will find three high-impact approaches on how to reach, win, and retain your customers.

Leverage Social Media

There are lots of ways of engaging your potential customers. However, social media is the best option, especially if you are working on a tight budget. A recent social media usage report of Pew Research Center indicates that approximately two-thirds of American adults are currently on social media. This is close to a tenfold increase within the last ten years. The report also points out that 90 percent of young adults use social media, which is a 78-percent point increase within the last decade.

The most popular social media sites include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus. You don’t pay anything to use these sites. You can use one or two of them that can help you reach your customers and begin to improve your brand image. The idea is to provide your online audience with some useful, engaging information. Post a few times a week and learn who is consuming your content and what they are interested in and improve progressively.

Increase Lead Generation with Email Marketing

Pick email marketing because it is an effective digital marketing strategy, can deliver the best ROI, is easy to use and is best for increasing your lead generation as well as customer engagement. Start a small customer newsletter that provides valuable and timely information about your products, great features of your business, and special promotions. This way, you will be able to develop a community with your audience and keep your business and products on their mind.

If you want to get more advanced, use free services such as MailChimp to enable you to send marketing emails, targeted campaigns, and automated messages to your customers. You can go further and send one-one messages using another free product known as Sidekick. This product will automatically notify you whenever anyone opens an email you sent them. Remember to send messages only to people who have given you permission so you can uphold your credibility.

Share Great Content

Not only does your audience love informative, interesting content, but search engines like Google does too. Share your content on your blog, your websites, and other credible sites. Create videos, design infographics, and host podcasts. When appropriate, offer to be a guest blogger for another site or to be interviewed on a podcast. If you do this, you will not only gain recognition as an expert but also get free traffic.

If you still think you will never be able to effectively market your business, think again. Marketing agencies such as SLAM can offer assistance on virtually anything that pertains to marketing. Entrepreneurs who run out of content-creation ideas and any other marketing-related ideas always turn to them to build their businesses.

Effectively marketing is extremely critical to the success of your business. But that doesn’t mean you have to invest too much into marketing. Find products and services that can help drive customer acquisition and retention. Whenever you need help, turn to credible marketing agencies to protect your resources and the future of your business.


5 Ways To Save Money This Holiday Season

5 Ways To Save Money This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. However, with the economy in the dumps, there is much speculation floating around as to how much debt people will find themselves in this holiday season. That being said, the following are five easy ways you can save yourself some money (as well as a headache) when you hit the stores:

5 Ways to Save $$ This Holiday Season

    1. Make a List and Check it Twice! I don’t know about you, but every time I go into a grocery store without a list, I wind up purchasing way more than I ever intended to. The same thing applies to holiday shopping. Ask people for specifics on what they want. If you’re on a budget, ask your friends and family members to provide you with a variety of options for things that they want, this way you won’t feel pressured to buy something you can’t really afford. Once you’ve got this in hand, write it down and hang on to it. Once you’ve got your entire shopping list together, figure out how much you will be able to spend on everyone and DON’T STRAY FROM THE LIST!
    2. Give Yourself Time! Last minute shopping is something that most of us have succumbed to at some point in our lives-especially during the holiday crunch. However, there is no real reason for it to have to be like this; after all, you do have at least a year to plan ahead to the Christmas season!! Last-minute shopping isn’t the best because when people are cornered, they tend to spend money carelessly in a panic. Budget your time so that you’re not pressed for it; it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run!
    3. Don’t Be Fooled by the “Sales”! Just because something is on sale doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy it. Many people have bought things that they didn’t really need or couldn’t really use simply because it was “on sale”. Unless you know the true value of the item that is on sale and actually have a need for it, don’t even think twice about it.
    4. Buy Meaningful Gifts! Too often, we get caught up in the holiday season and truly forget what the meaning of Christmas is. Sure, while it may look nice to have a ton of gifts strewn about beneath your Christmas tree, this really isn’t what the season is about. Especially because more people are on a budget now, gift-giving has taken on its true meaning. People appreciate gifts from each other when there is a lot of thought behind them. Be creative and think of ways that you can show someone you really care without spending a ton of money. There’s a fine line between simply being “cheap” and being thoughtful. Tread carefully!
  • Find Time for Family! While most of us spend our time at the mall or shopping centers or even recently, online, the holiday season should always be about putting your family first. Even if it means setting aside a couple of hours one night a week to order in some pizza and play a board game or watch a rented movie, finding time to spend with the ones you care about the most doesn’t have to be pricey and is much more fulfilling than any amount of money that you could spend on gifts that come from a store.

Advertise Or Re-Design?

Advertise Or Re-Design?This series is intended to help you answer the burning question – “Is it time for a new web site?” If you haven’t read the earlier posts, I’ll include them here – but you can jump in right here.

This week, I’m going to talk about how to identify your perfect market by blogging. How does one go about doing that? First, let me stipulate up front that this approach will take 6 months to a year. If you don’t have that kind of time, read the Week 2 post. You can accelerate the curve to 90 days if you can spend some money on advertising. If you can’t do either and need the money now, it’s time to get a job.

That out of the way, let me address a couple of basics about blogging.

  1. If you don’t understand the point of a blog, start reading blogs. I refuse to explain the point of blogging to anyone who doesn’t read blogs. If you set aside 30 minutes per week to read blogs, you’ll either start to get the point or decide that blogging is clearly not for you. Get an RSS reader. If you run out of stuff to read before 30 minutes are up, go out and find some more blogs. There are plenty.
  2. Blogs aren’t just for writers. You can create a video blog or a photo blog. Check out Max Chandler’s visual blog as a good example of original content. Whatever medium you choose, a blog must authentically express who you are.
  3. Blogs aren’t for advertising. I can’t stress this enough – partly because you’re going to find a lot of blog posts with titles like “5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a [insert name of profession here].” Just because you see someone else doing it doesn’t make it a good idea. Blogs are terrible for advertising.

What exactly are we doing here, and how is this going to help you sell more plumbing supplies? For the next six months, it isn’t. In fact, it might never. What you’re looking to do is begin mastering the art of attracting like-minded individuals by expressing your passion. Create a blog filled with the ideas that inspire you the  most. Sooner or later, those ideas will inspire someone else. How will you know when this happens? The easier you make it for people to respond to you, the sooner you’ll get a response. One technique that I’ve tried before is something I call “the Easter Egg” technique. I wrote a newsletter for a client where we buried a line that quietly mentioned an opportunity for a free dessert for the first person who mentioned the newsletter in the store. There are plenty of other ways – the key is to be creative.

Sooner or later, someone will begin to respond. It might come in the form of an offline response – such as “I saw your blog post the other day…” Write down where the responses are coming from, and pay attention to what seems to be attracting a response.

This may seem to be straying a bit from our original topic 3 weeks ago, but I promise you that it’s not. This will help you to figure out who your market is – if in a slow and roundabout way. You might find yourself attracting the wrong kind of people for your business. If that happens, consider that you might be in the wrong business altogether.

Next week, I’ll be wrapping up the series with a discussion of information products. Hint: if you blog and stick with it, selling information products will be a natural fit.