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Posts Tagged ‘Tiffany Eckhardt’

Flown The Coop

September 15th, 2011

Back in July I started a journey involving JUNK.

205960_243509232348189_234981219867657_820914_2548578_nMy friend Kristie and I seemed to both be at a crossroad when we decided to haul a bunch of our treasures to the Srpingfield Antique and Flea Market in July.  We had enough cool stuff combined to fill a 10X30 booth.  What we “threw together” turned out to be profitable enough to pursue other ventures.

One thing leads to another….

Three months later, we getting ready to set up at the Srpingfield Extravaganza (same location where it all started) and then immediately travel to Round Top, Texas for the world’s largest Flea Market.  Round Top is between Austin and Houston, population 77.  Twice a year thousands from all over the world take on the challenge of shopping 22 miles of antique and flea market booths.  It is exciting that we will be one of the many booths!

  • For those in Ohio, we are booth 25 & 26 at the Springfield Extravaganza.
  • For those in Texas, we are setting up outside by the dance hall in Round Top.

We learned a lot in our three short months.

  • We no longer do small shows, just too much work to set up and tear down.
  • We are slowly starting to purchase pieces together.  So, two very different personalities needed to learn to work together.
  • Our moto is “work smarter not harder”… so we are figuring that one out.
  • We are very good at packing a truck!

We love this business!

It is different everyday.  There are so many different aspects of the business that it never gets dull.  However, there are some “jobs” I prefer over others.

  • Buying/Picking (my favorite)
  • Repurposing/Refinishing
  • Merchandising
  • Setting up/Tearing down
  • Packing the truck
  • Looking for new opportunities – networking
  • Facebook, Craig’s List, Ebay, Etsy
  • Making videos/ promotion
  • Books (Hate this part)/ Inventory

And the list goes on…

We’ve met some amazing people!

312832_261245190574593_234981219867657_889140_1897621944_nFirst, the generosity of our friends has blessed us.  We’ve had several friends donate pieces to our start up.  One friend, Angela, even trashed picked for us!  We are so thankful!  Lisa Foster donated a Philharmonic Music Company Radio/Record player console, among many other wonderful pieces.  We had no idea the value of it and had considered making it a fancy bar.  I posted it to Craig’s List first.  A gentleman from Washington DC contacted me and drove one early Sunday morning to pick it up.  Turns out he is very interested in the history and taught us a lot about the Philharmonic Radios and the radio buisness.  He was so thrilled to find this treasure.  I can’t begin to describe the feeling of connecting this gentleman with a piece of history he has been searching for.  Amazing!

We’ve also have become friends with some very talented people.  We have new friends from France to Texas.  The creativity and energy of this community is energizing!

Where to next?

It’s funny that when you stop looking for that “thing” to do… it finds you!  I am so grateful for this opportunity to pursue a passion, be an entrepreneur, use my gifts and have fun.  I wonder when a hobby officially becomes a career and not exactly sure where this road will take Kristie and I?

I will just enjoy the journey!

You can find us on Facebook.  We are posting pictures and videos to share our journey!  ~ guaranteed to entertain

Stayed Tuned!

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New Orleans ~ like coming home

September 2nd, 2011

phpivm73qpmTravel has a way of broadening your horizons and making you feel small at the same time. I’m amazed at how our big world becomes small every time I step out of my surroundings to travel. Our trip to Italy opened my eyes to a big world, learning to get along with a foreign language and the customs of a different culture. When a destination grabs your heart and becomes like home, the world doesn’t seem so big. Our annual pilgrimage to New Orleans feels like coming home and somehow makes the world smaller every year.

Our 6TH Annual trip to New Orleans to celebrate Paul Helm’s birthday was just as fun as always. It’s a tradition that feels like coming home for a holiday. We get to see friends and family that we only see during the last weekend of August. Much like a growing family, we add new friends to the reunion every year. It is so much fun to witness friends experiencing New Orleans for the first time.

This year we mixed it up a little.

We stayed at the Bienville House for the first time this year, a sister hotel of the Hotel Monteleone. We have such a great relationship with the staff at the Hotel Monteleone. Their recommendation to stay at The Bienville House turned out to be great advice. I found being on Decatur St. very convenient, an easily walk to Bourbon St, Jackson Square and the French Market. All the guests loved their rooms, with each room having unique features.  Historically, the location of the Bienville House had transformed into several different businesses.  Originally housing the Planter’s Rice Mill, the newly renovated boutique hotel feels like staying at an intimate guest house with breakfast served daily. The party officially kicked off on Friday when the whole gang had a drink at Iris, the hotel’s beautiful restaurant. Throughout the weekend, several of us enjoyed relaxing in the beautiful quart yard with a salt water pool.

This year I had the privilege to meet with Angela Anthaume of The Bienville House and Noelle Cantarno of FSC inter@ctive. These young women have exciting careers in sales and marketing and were so much fun to get to know. I was honored that they took a few minutes to chat about the Bienville House, marketing, social media, Weekend ReTweat and best of all recommendations to get off the beaten path. I loved talking to them about life in New Orleans, which offers so much more than Bourbon Street and is constantly changing! Among many suggestions, they recommended Frenchman Street. That advice turned out to be golden! Thanks again Angela and Noelle for meeting with me. You inspired me in many ways.

The Music

php6bzanypmI love Zydeco music! We always head to Bourbon to hear our favorite Cajuns. Our tradition is playing the washboard with Waylon and Timmy at Tropical Isle and dancing to the Bonoffs at The Olde Opera House. After a few hours of Bourbon, a few of us headed to Frenchman Street to check it out.

Frenchman Street, lined with nightlife, restaurants and shopping, is where the “locals” enjoy a hip young bohemian culture. Live music with jazz, Latin, and blues influence fills the streets at night. I spent three nights in a row soaking in all kinds of music and watching couples swing dancing with 40′s style outfits. One couple seemed to have a unique style, with their upper body calm while their feet were moving double time. I later learned that style is called West Coast Balboa. The dancing was fun to watch and tempting to try! Experiencing Frenchman confirms my belief that getting off the beaten path is always the best direction to go. My only fear is that tourist will one day discover Frenchman and ruin it.

The Food

phpofahofpmFood always plays a big part of our annual party! We usually hit the landmarks and have our favorite restaurants. We can’t go to New Orleans without visiting JoAnn at the famous Desires Oyster Bar or getting a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street. However, this year I was excited to add Coop’s Place and El Gato Negro to our list. Coop is traditional Cajun, while El Gato Negro is Mexican. You wouldn’t necessarily think Mexican food on a trip where crawfish, oysters and gumbo are to die for. However, I am here to tell you… El Gato Negro was the best Mexican cuisine I’ve ever put in my mouth! We also changed the big birthday dinner from Pascale’s Manale to a river boat cruise. The Creole Queen proved to be a relaxing dinner and stroll down the Mississippi. Returning to the dock gave us a breath taking night view of New Orleans lit up over the water.

Getting off the beaten path

Among the list of firsts, I enjoyed shopping “junk” stores on Frenchman Street. Thankfully Jeff and Jason were patient with me. I am so excited to have met business owners that encouraged me to pursue a few ideas with Flown The Coop. I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate my passion for travel, New Orleans, social media and junking. Stayed tuned for that one…

phpirnhn1pmIn the midst of all the fun and enjoyment, a few of us took a somber journey through The National WWII Museum. Jeff and I have wanted to tour it for years and finally made the time. In my opinion, the WWII museum is a “Must See!” I felt ashamed at how I easily forget and take for granted the sacrifices so many people made for our freedom. Words just don’t do this experience justice. I highly recommend the incredible 4D movie Beyond All Boundaries to complete the experience.

Sad to say good bye

Every year I am a little sad to say good bye. This year was wonderfully full of first time experiences, as well as experiencing our favorite traditions. I look forward to coming “home” again next year. However, I am hoping that I don’t have to wait a year. I am confident New Orleans will welcome me back like family at anytime of the year.

Enjoy a little video montage of our trip….

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This summer’s theme: Adventure

July 18th, 2011

Tiffany Eckahardt's River Expeditions trip with Weekend ReTweatRecently the Weekend ReTweaters were invited on a River Expeditions adventure white water rafting on the New River in West Virginia. Lindsey Evans, Janice Robinson, Vicki Esh and I had the time of our lives white water rafting! It was a weekend of adrenaline rush fun, laughing until it hurt and relaxing in our luxury cabin complete with a hot tub! Perfect way to escape from it all!

I’ve never been white water rafting. Admittedly, I was a little nervous (ok…scared). Turns out I had nothing to fear. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.

We arrived on Friday afternoon to get settled into our home for the weekend. River Expeditions has accommodations for everyone! You can tent camp, tent camp on a platform (tent and foam mattress included) or stay in small cabins, deluxe cabins or luxury cabins. We were thrilled with our luxury cabin with a kitchen, five bedrooms, two baths, wide screen tv, porch with rocking chairs for porch sitting and a deck with a hot tub and grill. The cabin would be perfect for a group of couples or any group of friends.

Weeeknd ReTweat at River Expeditions in West VirginiaPorch sitting at it’s best!

River Expeditions camping Weekend Retweat picture by Tiffany Eckhardt

Tent camping looked like a lot of fun… I even hear the showers were nice.

Platform tents at River Expeditions ~  Weekend ReTweat picture by Tiffany EckhardtPlatform tenting is genius in my opinion.

  • #1 great use of the hill side
  • #2 avoid tent set up and couples feuds over how to do it!

River Expeditions base camp is right outside Fayetteville, a historic little town that reminds me of a hippy Yellow Springs in the mountains. We headed into town for dinner, choosing Dirty Ernie’s for BBQ, and then onto sightseeing. The New River Bridge is a sight to see!

276143_1118870860_4400695_nVicki and I got up early to enjoy breakfast at the Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville.  Thanks Vicki for the pic of me!  I love this coffee house, with a creative hippy vibe and huge stained glass windows from it’s past life as a church. Their Cheddar Jack Omelet was just what I needed before my big adventure. However, I began to feel a little more nervous when I noticed that I was in the land of tattoos and no body fat. These fabulously fit people made me wonder if I was fit enough for a white water adventure? My insecurities didn’t help, but I’m not one to back down from an adventure.

All the guides are a perfect mix of crazy fun and safety minded professionalism.  Marcus, our trip leader, leaned on the crazy fun side. I knew we were in for a fun day. I suspect that River Expeditions hand picked Brad to be our guide for the day, a veteran of the river and guiding adventures. He had his hands full with us girls. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be matched with for the day, a group from Ohio who were just as fun loving as we are. After going through all the safety lessons and learning the rowing commands, I was ready to get this party started.

River Expedition photo

River Expedition photo

Adrenaline pumping, we charged our first rapid. Yep, my face tells the story. In all the pictures my smile is a mile long. I’m surprised that I didn’t drown from taking in the river while laughing hysterically. I don’t remember a single rapid that scared me, which could be a result of Brad making it look easy. He knows the river!

A few times throughout the day we got to hear stories of Brad’s adventurous lifestyle. He has seen so many cool places and trekked through America’s beautifully rugged places. The combination of having my first real outdoor adventure and listening to Brad’s stories left me with a desire to jump outside my comfort zone more and experience life!

The day was filled with creating great stories of our own and the first prank of the day was on me. First off, Brad made a point of telling us to make sure you go in feet first out of the raft if you plan to get into the water. Lindsey took advantage of the first chance to jump in, while I stayed in. Helping Lindsey back into the boat went something like this…

Lindsey: Would you be mad if I pulled you in?
Tiff: Yes, I’d be pissed

I finally pulled Lindsey safely in, which is not so easy to do, and slapped her on the butt for the fun of it. Don’t ask why. I don’t know.  As we turned to take our seats and continue down the river she tackled me into the water backwards, HEAD FIRST.

My first response: Lindsey he said FEET FIRST!

Watching the video later, Vicki observed how ironic that a rule would be the first thing to come to my mind. She never remembers me following the rules. Yes, rules are to be observed when it serves me.

We had several fun times throughout the day. Jumping off a 30 foot rock was not my idea of fun, but Janice attempted it. After several tries, she finally went off and unfortunately landed chest first, hard to explain. Poor Brad thought he might have the only casualty at the rock. Another really fun part of the trip was Josh “riding the bull.” Josh was brave enough to sit on the front of the boat going through the last rapids. I may volunteer for that one next time.

Weekend ReTweat at the Red Dog River Saloon Tiffany Eckhardt pictureReturning to the River Expeditions base camp, we cleaned up and joined the rafters and guides at the Red Dog River Saloon to see our trip videos and scarfed down a steak dinner at River Expedition’s restaurant.  (PS… you’d have to read the Blogges to understand why we thought the Rooster was so funny!)  Exhausted, we enjoyed the rest of the evening hanging out with our new friends at our luxurious cabin. Janice’s video footage of the day had us in tears laughing.

All the way home we reminisced about our very amusing adventure. I realized that for a whole weekend I didn’t think about the worries of life or anything important. It was simply a weekend of getting outside my comfort zone and laughing at myself.

I’ve added a few more items to my bucket list. I now feel comfortable to do the next level. I would love to return to River Expeditions for the Gauley or Bridge Day. You will never see me jumping off the bridge, but would love to witness it and celebrate the season at their after-party at the Red Dog River Saloon.

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Staycation Celebration!

July 13th, 2011

I am passionate about traveling!  I love the whole experience of discovering a new culture and seeing the world in a new light.  Unfortunately, there are times when I just can’t get out of Dodge.

My Mom always told me that you make your own fun.

Instead of getting bummed about my travel dreams, I set out to be a tourist in my own community.  I love the idea of a Staycation and was thrilled when Eversave (affiliate) launched their Staycation Celebration this week.  It is a great economical way to treat your family to a vacation at home and be a tourist in your own back yard.

So here’s the scoop:

  • Kicking off the Staycation Celebration, Eversave is offering a Summer Staycation Sweepstakes for a $500 American Express card. (Takes a minute to enter)
  • Are you on Twitter?  Eversave is having a Staycation Twitter Party next Thursday, July 14th from 3-4 p.m. The Eventbrite page can be found HERE.  There is a chance there will be special promo codes for those who attend.
  • Throughout the week there will be Saves offered for fun activities, like Granville Golfland, the Santa Maria and today’s Save, Stars Cinemas.

Star Cinemas

Today’s Save: $12 for admission and snacks for two or $7 for one at Star Cinemas in Grove City

Expires 12:00 PM – Jul 15, 2011

Sitting in the theater watching a great movie sounds like the perfect escape from the heat! Also, if you use the promo code FUN you can get another $3 off the Save.

Have you ever organized a Staycation?  Or… have you ever took the time to be a tourist in your own town?  If you haven’t, does this inspire you to try it out?

Share your stories in the comment section for a chance to win today’s Star Cinema’s Save!  I’ll pick a winner tomorrow at 3pm during the Staycation Twitter Party.

Winners will be notified and posted to the comment section and on Facebook.

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Flea Market newbies ~ with my “Soul Sistah”

July 11th, 2011

phpo6gkumpm1Who knew that hard work, sweat and hustling could be this much fun?

My friend Kristie, who owns the Green Owl in Urbana, and I got a burr in our saddle!  Tired of the ole grind, we wanted to test our shabby skills at the Springfield Antique and Flea Market this past weekend.  We had no idea what to expect and were completely ignorant about the “rules,”  but were willing to pursue our notion believing there could be more than one “ho” at the hoedown.  (inside joke ~ but still very funny)

Four and half loads later and some help from our neighbors with our frustrating tents, we set up a shabby chic Shangri-La (as our neighbor named it).  We were so excited for the Flea Market to open.

Friday was a bit slow.  It rained in the morning.  We heard so many complaints from our neighbors, but the rain didn’t dampen our spirits.  We had a great first day with great sales and amazing new friends.

Saturday… game was on!   Our booth transformed about four times as merchandise left.  We definitely were in our element.  Kristie and I are natural hustlers and love people.  We met amazing new friends, like Jen Diehl and her husband Jason who own The Ritzy Rose. We were excited to have business owners from Columbus and Grand Rapids buy from our booth for their shops.

I love the culture!  Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  It was more than obvious that we were newbies.  It was fun to be the under dog.  To our relief, people went out of their way to make us feel welcome.  Our neighbor bought us an Urbana Hillclimber glass in remembrance of our inaugural booth.  How sweet is that?  The organizers of the market were super flexible with our naivety and ignorance, bending the rules a little for us.   Kristie and I got a kick out of the casual announcements coming from the office:

  • The owner of the Olds Mobile:  Your car is running.
  • Rick (name changed) please report to the office.  Your wife is out of money.

The ever-changing Shabby Booth:

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At the end of the day Saturday we were dumb founded when most of our neighbors packed up and left.  I guess the veterans of this business know something we don’t.  However, we were pressing on.  We paid for a full weekend and were staying put.  We decided to do a complete transformation of our booth and spread out in their spaces.  We left on Saturday evening completely exhausted, but in love with our “new” booth and excited for another day.

Sunday was a slow but steady stream of people.  We ended up making some really good sales and met some more amazing people.  It was a hot day and the exhaustion was starting to sink in.  Even still, our sprits were high!  We had so much fun walking around as people were packing up.  Some vendors even gave us stuff they didn’t want to haul home.  We were on a mission to buy for our next booth.

soul sistahs

One of the vendors asked if we were sisters, observing that we walked the same and carried our sweet tea the same way.  We thought that was funny and said, “No… but we are soul sistahs.”  That gave us something else to laugh about.  At this point we were getting a little slap happy….completely fried and giddy with our sales.

Our first Flea Market was a huge success!  We had great sales, met and connected with some amazing people and learned so much.  We laughed and had moments of frustrations.  After packing up Kristie’s truck, we had the biggest laugh of the whole weekend…. Shabby Chic truck loadYes, our beautiful shabby chic booth was reduced to a beverly hillbilly truck load.  We couldn’t stop laughing as we drove slowly down the road.  People were whipping out their phones to take a picture of this unbelievable sight.  When we stopped at a gas station I had fun with a guy who gave us “the look” asking him, “Ya like what we bought at the flea market?”

Moving forward…. we are excited for our Shabby Sidewalk Sale on July 30th at the Green Owl and are scheduled to set up at two upcoming markets.  We will be at Back Roads Flea Market on August 6th and the Springfield Extravaganza September 16-18th.  Come out and see us!

This burr in our saddle might end up being just the thing we needed!  We just need to come up with a good name for our shabby gig… any suggestions?

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Adding another line to my business card

July 6th, 2011

Doing life being tiff means living life and pursuing all good ideas to the fullest.

My latest adventure!

For the past couple months I have been immersed in the creative world of repurposing, upcycling and creativity.  I am working on connecting a few clients with the interior design industry using social media.  I have been so inspired by the blogs and Facebook pages I have found in the process of researching.

In our past life, my husband and I renovated homes.  We lived and worked in four of our projects, only to sell them and start over.  I miss the pursuit of that perfect item for our projects.  It was common for me to spend hours perusing magazine, flea markets, garage sales and antique stores looking for inspiration.  While I love my life of travel and living simply, I still have a deep love for finding treasures and being creative.

I guess you could say I’ve been bitten by the repurpose / upcycling bug!

For the past few weeks, I have been gathering items around my house and junking at garage sales.  I have had the best time finding sad pieces of furniture to transform.  The best part of the process is finding that perfect piece and imagining the possibilities.  The actual work can be tedious, but SO rewarding!

Before:

Garage Sale find

After:

Refinished Furniture

My friend and I are setting up at the Springfield Flea Market this weekend, our first attempt at this business and a test to see if we want to pursue other markets and shows.  I am so excited to be a vendor and experience the culture of the Flea Market.  Come out and see us Friday, Saturday or Sunday!  Hopefully we’ll sell out before Sunday.  :) Stayed tuned… I will let you know how it goes.

Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting in touch with my creativity.

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Wine – What is your standard?

June 15th, 2011

There are no standards of taste in wine… Each man’s own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard.
~ Mark Twain

Enjoying vino in Rome

My standards

I have developed an appreciation for a good glass of vino, by my standards.

I have discovered that I enjoy Merlot and Cabernet from the Washington State region.  My friend Michele, who also enjoys wines from Washington state, introduced me to a couple of my “standards”, Red Diamond and Chateau Ste. Michelle.  I’ve noticed the typical description of a red wine from Washington State includes plum with a hint of chocolate.  I tend to look for those key words when purchasing a new wine.  According to Wine.com, Washington is the number two producer in the United States.  I must not be alone in my appreciation for wines from this region.

Community – Your standards

I am not a wine snob, yet.  (However, I am a definite coffee snob)

I prefer to learn socially and enjoy asking my friends what they like and why.  At times it is rather embarrassing not knowing the jargon, the grapes or the regions.  It is like being in Italy and not being able to order food because of the language barrier.  To combat my ignorance I went to Wine.com (not an affiliate).  I like the idea of purchasing wine online, but LOVE the idea of enhancing my vino knowledge with professional ratings, winemaker notes and customer reviews (kind of like the TripAdvisor for wine).  I set up my profile and am now on my way to becoming a wine snob.

Everyone loves a Save

I’ve enjoyed my affiliation with Eversave, an online savings community who negotiate rock-bottom deals on the things you love to do in Columbus – up to 50%-80% off the regular price.  I was excited to learn they were offering a Save with Wine.com and plan to use this opportunity to try a new region.

Here’s the Save, but wait there’s more… read below.


Wine.com

Today’s Save:Drink up! $35 for $70 worth of your favorite reds, whites and bubbly, too, from Wine.com

Expires 11:59 PM – Jun 17, 2011


Eversave has generously given me the opportunity to GIVE AWAY this Save!  For the chance to win this Save and to help me learn more about different wine regions, tell me what your favorite wine region is and why. (if you don’t know where you’re favorite wine is from… Google it)

  • Submit a comment to this article
  • Your name will be entered into a drawing
  • The drawing will be held Thursday, June 16th at noon
  • The winner will be announced in the comments section and on my Facebook Page

Let’s discover new regions together, socially in community!

Doing Life! , , , , , ,

The Ohio Growth Summit – What’s all the buzz about?

June 9th, 2011

I love being surrounded by creative people with innovative ideas and learning new trends.  The past two years I enviously monitored the Twitter feed during the Ohio Growth Summit. The buzz was inspiring!

The focus of the summit this year: Developing and leveraging your on-line presence to drive engagement, interest and ultimately raving fans.  There’s no doubt that I needed to attend this year.

I am passionate about helping destinations learn how to leverage their customer’s excitement and create raving fans!

Creating a buzz

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How do you create a buzz about a conference?  The organizers of the Ohio Growth Summit created a contest for free tickets, just one of the various ways they chose to engage potential attendees!

My friend Lindsey Evans first noticed this post on the Ohio Growth Summit Facebook page.  I eagerly jumped into a fierce but friendly competition with Lindsey and Kym Buchanan.  We spent the day asking our friends to rally for us by commenting on our posts.  According to Nate Riggs, “It turned out to be incredibly effective in hooking two business owners to participate by engaging their personal networks on Facebook in order to duke it out for the prize.”

At the end of the day the three of us were neck in neck with around 30 comments each.  The organizers made the decision to award all three of us with a free ticket.  As a “raving fan” I promoted my excitement prior to the event by sharing content the organizers published and reminders to register.

Let the buzz begin

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Lindsey, Kym and I arrived to the summit eager to learn from the lineup of great speakers and network with fascinating entrepreneurs.  Initially feeling intimidated by the awesome talent in the room, I quickly discovered this is a friendly group.

Using the hashtag #OGS11, the three of us checked in, took pics and shared quotes on our Twitter feeds and Facebook walls.   At one point, Lindsey wondered if we might be blowing up our friend’s Facebook walls.  Sorry.  I am totally guilty.

There were so many good quotes and concepts coming from the stage!

Buzz words & concepts numberswiki.com

Storytelling ~ Communication ~ Content  ~ Branding ~ Responding in real time

Realizing that the customer is the reporter/ content maker/ in a peer position

My favorite quotes:

~To make change… you must first understand the culture of the company/community in which the foundation was laid

~ Social Media allows you the opportunity to get past the gate keepers

~ Social Media pitches trump lukewarm relationships

~ The defenders of the status quo will hate your idea

~ ”Me too…” is a terrible brand position.

~ You need to be a bit unrealistic to change the world

~ Turn Heads. Capture Hearts. Sell more stuff

~ Nine times more people have a Facebook acct than watch American Idol. This is no longer a niche play

~ Best way to know if your small business should use Social Media.. ask your customers

~ Not a business to customer tool, but a business to peer tool

~ It’s not what you sell… It’s what you stand for

~ Story telling is at the heart of all the content development

~ Imagine hanging up on every call that’s not positive.  When you don’t respond to social media it’s the same thing

~ I’m realizing that Crisis Management is a lot like insurance. You don’t want to deal with it but it’s going to save you in the end

~ Don’t tell people about your business. Create opportunities in which people can ask

What are my takeaways?

A big thank you to Michael Bowers and all who organized the Ohio Growth Summit!  I am so thankful for winning tickets this year!

Spending two days listening to the talented speakers and meeting new entrepreneurial friends was energizing.  I realized that I need to spend more time surrounding myself with forward thinking people.

I intend on spending the next few weeks digesting all the slide shares and checking out all the great resources that were shared, especially the SEO presentations.

I am inspired to treat travel writing more like a business, to take a look at the content I publish, refine my niche and create a content calendar.  I will look at innovative ways to engage my audience and discover better ways to share my story and passion for travel.  I want to be in the “Yes” of opportunity adding to the story and creating trust.  Hopefully along the way I will inspire other small businesses and destinations to embrace their online presence, engage with their customers and create raving fans.

Do you have a favorite quote or concept?

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What is the value of a check-in?

May 27th, 2011
a shantytown image

a shantytown image

I’m no Redhead Writing, but I have a “bitch slap” for business (not trying to steal her line).  I’m not one to write about anything negative, but maybe you can help me think through one of my frustrations…

Have you ever felt like you’ve been given a coupon for a free bitch slap?

Here’s a little hypothetical story.

A new restaurant opens it’s doors down the street from you.  It is such a big deal to you that you dine there six times in the first couple weeks.  In your excitement you share the good news with your social network by checking in on Foursquare and Facebook, leaving Foursquare tips and talking it up at the office.  You support the new business hoping your efforts will inspire others to stop in and in hopes the restaurant will thrive.

You don’t ask much from the business owner in exchange for spending your hard earned money and blessing the business with “free” marketing.

First, you kindly ask the owner if they plan to create a check in special and are told that it will be posted that night….what a great idea!  You are now the Mayor of this new restaurant and you approach the business owner to share your excitement.  Can you imagine your disappointment when all you get is a blank look as if you just told the owner that you “poo pooed in the potty for the first time”?  After two weeks of checking in you finally say to the owner, “When will that check in be posted because I think I have already earned it?”  Third strike and they are out!

It is obvious by this time that the business does not see the value in your word of mouth marketing.  By now your excitement for the business is over.

Here is my question: What is the value of a check-in?

1. For a customer?

  • Personally I check-in to share my favorite places with my friends.  I check-in while traveling so that I can remember all the places I visited.  My husband and I use Foursquare as a friendly competition.  I love to check-in at events in an attempt to share experiences and special causes.  I check-in to remember lunches with my friends or recognize a valuable meeting.
  • Once I have told my friends about a business, I will only check-in if I have a reason to.  I love loyalty programs and businesses that appreciate my patronage.
  • I LOVE to promote!  However, I am beginning to be aware of bombarding my friends with multiple check-ins.  I will continue checking into a business that offers a check-in special and promote the special to my friends as an explanation of my multiple check-ins.  It is not worth irritating my friends with check-ins to a business that doesn’t offer a special.

2. For a business?

  • Word of mouth marketing has always been King.  A customer’s check-in reminds their friends about your business, sometimes on a daily basis.
  • When I travel, I use Foursquare and Facebook to find places to eat and stay.  I love to read the reviews on Urban Spoon and Yelp.  Over a quarter of a million businesses have claimed their business on Foursquare, if your business does not have a presence I may miss you all together.  I will choose one business over another if they offer a check in special.  When a local or a regular customer checks into your business, that check-in gives your business a presence on that platform.
  • With a little encouragement a customer might even leave a tip for future customers.  This requires a little more effort from a customer.  Lets face it, the business has to be spectacular for a customer to take the time to write up a recommendation on Yelp or tip on Foursquare.
  • Check-ins, Tips and Posts creates wonderful content for your marketing strategy.
  • A business who creates a check-in special on Facebook or Foursquare shows up at the top of the list of check-in options in a search.  TOMA!  In addition, customers can easily share the check-in special with their friends on Facebook.
  • A business who creates a check in special on Facebook or Foursquare can learn valuable information about a customer’s spending habits.  The stats on Foursquare are awesome and can be used to gauge the effectiveness of promotions.
  • Most businesses offer specials and coupons form time to time anyways.

3. The bottom-line in my opinion:

  • A check-in is more valuable to a business than to the customer checking in.  A customer who checks-in has the potential of being a world of mouth marketing evangelist for a business!
  • This kind of word of mouth marketing is priceless!  Yet, appreciation is free.  Strike when the iron is hot and you’ll have a customer for life!  If a customer checks-in with excitement, thank them for their check-in.  If a business is smart enough to monitor the stats on Foursquare, they can notice when a customer checked-in more than once in week.  Take a second to thank the customer and you’ll be golden.  Create a check-in special and you’ve given a customer a reason to talk you up at every chance.

What do you think? What is the value of a check-in?

I pose this question sincerely, braced for the backlash…. maybe I’m wrong about my assessment of the situation.

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For further reading on the subject:

Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed by Small Business

Four Creative Ways to Reward your Facebook Fans

Doing Life!, Promoting My favorite places , , , , , , , ,

Travel prints have a new home

May 24th, 2011

When I decided to explore my passion for travel I never imagined these turn of events.

logo-from-pagesDeciding to sell my travel prints was just my way of promoting travel.  I enlisted the help of Michele Savoldi of Columbus ImPRessions to create marketing materials and set up an Etsy store with no idea of how successful this venture would be.  I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of creatively pressing into my dreams.  Sharing my view of the world seemed like a natural step.

phpote3lpamAt the beginning of the month I had the privilege of exhibiting my bicycle prints from my travels at the Green Owl in Urbana.  I had so much fun at the open house and at my first experience of showing off my prints, even selling a few.  It was exhilarating.

Jeff and I have been exited about the recent opening of a new restaurant in Urbana. Fusion 40.83 is our kind of dining experience with excellent food, a variety of craft beers on tap and a contemporary atmosphere.  In passing I mentioned my travel photography to Mark Bloemhard, one of the owners.  Mark was looking for local artists with an International flare to furnish Fusion 40.83 with art and photography.  He agreed to preview my Italy prints.  To my surprise, he thought my prints were “disgustingly good” and was interested in three prints.  Mark has a background in photography, art history and marketing.  His opinion meant the world to me.

It was my pleasure and privilege to donate three prints to Fusion 40.83.  Stop in to Fusion to check them out!  I can’t wait to see them on the walls and am thrilled that my travel prints found a new home.

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Love that Jeff is in the mirror taking the pic!  I wouldn’t be able to do any of my ventures without him.  :)

Doing Life! , , , , , , , ,