Monthly Archives: November 2015

Cuba Article Roundup

Cuban Cars  http://wearecollincounty.com/featured/cuban-cars/

There is no Wifi in Cuba http://wearecollincounty.com/travel/there-is-no-wifi-in-cuba/

How to travel to Cuba as an American http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/how-to-travel-to-cuba-as-an-american/

37 Things You Need to Know Before You Visit Cuba http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/37-things-you-need-to-know-before-you-visit-cuba/

What to Pack for Cuba http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/what-to-pack-for-cuba/

   

51 Photos of Cuba that Will Make You Want to Pack your Bags  http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/51-photos-of-cuba-that-will-make-you-want-to-pack-your-bags/  

Where to Eat in Cuba   http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/where-to-eat-in-cuba/  

Taking the Hershey Train through Cuba http://www.ireallylovechocolate.com/lifestyle/hershey-train/  

10x your sales

With these 3 Tactics you will 10x your Chocolate Shop Sales in 30 Days

 

With these 3 Tactics you will 10x your Chocolate Shop Sales in 30 Days

The busiest CHOCOLATE season is upon us!!!YES!!!!Chocolatiers are so creative, crafting exciting flavor combinations, chocolate bars and so many innovative chocolate molds.  From Halloween to Easter, chocolate owns us and I’m quite okay with giving up control.
For Chocolate and Confectionery shops, you are going to be slammed (i hope!) with shoppers wanting YOU, wanting your yummy creations.

 

Many of you, open your shop’s doors for the day, lock em up at the end of the night and whatever foot traffic comes your way is what makes up your business.  Of course, some of you are distributing locally and some have decent ecommerce.
But, even in doing that (because I have seen and heard you guys with my own eyes and ears), you are still just keeping up, and barely paying your employees above minimum wage.  Ouch!

 

Deep inside, my heart aches for small businesses and sweet shops.  I visit a lot of sweet shops around town and the globe, and I visit even more sweet shop websites.  And although the chocolates are divine, the business marketing falls flat.  So so so flat.  My heart breaks every time I see this.  Because from Easter thru Halloween, times are a lot tougher and I know you have to push (and pull) a bit harder.  I see money be left on the table all year round and employees being underpaid when there could be more abundance for everyone.

 

Whats very promising though, is that  with a few tweaks, YOU lovely chocolate shops can 10x your businesses 12 months per year. You can start making these tweaks immediately and see the progress right away.

 

grow chocolate sales

 

So, how do you make your Retail store more  VISIBLE?  How do you turn one time customers into long term customers?  How do you expand your team when your budget is completely gone?

Keep reading.

 

Tactic #1

RETAIL MAKEOVER

Your shop is operating with a limited budget, and when someone is added to the payroll, your whole business feels the effect.  Most retail businesses focus on retail being filled with warm bodies.  I get it, the doors are open and you need people to move chocolates off the shelves.

**The first experience with your chocolate brand will be with this PERSON**

(reminds me of a time when I visited a chocolate shop, I was greeted by a large man with dirty clothes on, tatoos on his neck and looked like he hadn’t washed his hair in a week – I found out later he was being paid $8.25 per hour – the poor guy could probably barely pay his rent let alone pay for shampoo)

Here’s how can you make progress in your retail employees today?
1. Develop the personality profile for your brand

2. Offer external training such as selling skills, negotiation skills and big picture thinking.

In addition, offering training on the Chocolate Industry and Cacao farming in general to provide your employee’s with more context will enable them to understand the value of chocolate and the rarity of this product.  Offer trainings or outings to learn more about the business.  Context is king, the more your employees know, the more insider knowledge they have to instill an excitement about the rarity and work that goes into the production of chocolate. I love how Dandelion Chocolates incorporates events and trips into their outreach for potential customers. So 10x of them!

3. Develop incentives for the employees that are related to the store’s overall goals.

Its called skin in the game.
If you sell bars or chocolates that are between $8 – $20 per item, your going to need all the support you can get when the economy takes a turn.  The more they sell, the better it is for everyone, let them online network and offline network.  Be in it together.

4. Hire Self-Starters.

When you are interviewing, are they interested in what you are selling.  Do they show any passion for the product?  Why are they wanting a job with you?

5. Surround yourself with those with a passion for chocolate.

6. Social selling skills

My phone (and your phone) is worth a million dollars.  I can reach anyone on the globe at any time during the day.

With that being said, during slow times during the day or the slower summer season, allow your employees to whip out their phones and share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat . . . not only should your employees be sharing but also reacting and responding (I have a great tip of how to pull people into your local store via Twitter that I share with my clients).

At first discovery, I find that most employers are scared of allowing their employees to be online during their shifts but being in the eyes and ears business . . your customers are online (not looking at billboards, newspaper ads or sign flippers).

 

We can fight it and talk about how we like how things used to be, but right now, if you are paying for expensive retail space, every minute that passes by, your company is paying rent, electricity, payroll taxes and more . . and you are sitting on inventory.

(gentle reminder: don’t do the 19 y.o. dude move where you try to close on the first move.  Chat it up with people, don’t send a link to your store.  Be social on social media y’all.  Pleeeeeeeze)

boost chocolate sales

 

Tactic #2

 

EMAIL MARKETING

Customers used to put their eyes on the Yellow Pages, they used to listen to commercials and look at billboards on the road – but for the last 6 years eyes and ears have now been paying attention to  mobile devices, ipads, iPhones, laptops and every gadget around.

Attention has made a massive shift online.  And if you are not adding an online component (and doing it well) to your marketing strategy you will fall behind.  Fall behind in sales.  Fall behind with your competition.  And potentially fall behind with your rent.

Email marketing continues to be a work horse for retailers.

When done right, email marketing should represent 25% or more from your revenue attribution.  What I discover with most chocolate shops, they create a facebook page, twitter account and throw up a website.  Facebook posts are not seen by your entire fan base due to Facbook’s new algorithm, twitter is a non stop powerhouse that needs a lot of devotion to (see Retail tactic above) and websites are typically not optimized for success.   As we reach the tipping point where nearly half of all messages are opened on mobile devices, email marketing must evolve just to keep up with the mobilized consumer.

Too often, Chocolatiers create their valentines day campaign on February 13th, and their Halloween campaign on October 30th. And then not emailing again until the following year, which feels like a fly by and honestly it is.
The brands that are doing it really well – Hersheys, Mars, Dove Chocolate, KitKat, Oreos . . . these are brands that you all typically curse.  They do email and social really, really well (and even have fun-sized bars for Halloween).  They are so tapped in and tuned in to their audience.
Stop cursing these Chocolate Giants and start imitating their marketing genius.
You can do this in your shop and on your website.

 

No matter what happens with social media, email will always be here.  Its essential for long term success to have your customer’s email address, obtained ethically and incentivized for customers to provide it to you.

Tactic #3

AFFILIATE MARKETING

 

How do you increase your salesforce without having to take on any risk or extra expenses?  The answer is affiliate marketing.  Hotel Chocolat uses it.  Asher’s Chocolates does it . . even Starbucks has an affiliate program. And although I chat about lots of different chocolatiers, those are some of my fave shops to chat about because they reward me.  It fits into my context (and context is king).
I sell chocolate just like your retail store sells chocolate . . . except I wrap it in huge amounts of context, pay no shelving fees, distribution costs, employee costs, insurance, labeling, ingredients . . now, I have no street traffic or foot traffic but I have web traffic and a tribe of hungry Chocoholics looking to me to tell them about chocolate bars.  In fact, there’s a number of us out there as I mentioned here. 

Affiliate programs are appealing to advertisers such as a retail store or chocolate brand because there is no loss involved. It’s entirely based on “pay per performance.” In other words, you would pay for incremental sales, only.

Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. In fact, one report points out that the worldwide affiliate marketing industry is worth $6.5 billion across sectors including retail, personal finance, gaming, gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation.

 

When you have affiliates out there promoting, a lot of times they have a better relationship with the people that they are promoting to then you could  ever have,  so you are then able to tap in to these relationships and influencers and reward them for bringing people your way – these are potential customers you might have never had.  Also, this tactic is based on their success, if they don’t sell, you don’t have to pay anything.

At its heart, affiliate marketing is an online version of a sales structure that has been happening offline for decades. In its simplest form, it involves three primary components:

  • A merchant, or someone with a product or service to sell
  • An affiliate, or individual with the willingness and ability to sell that product to a particular audience
  • A product or service

Look at this way, if you have the expense of a retail store (yup, thats you) you have to pay an employee whether or not they sell anything that hour (and typically no commission if they do more sales for you).  If you add on affiliate marketing, your reach has now extended with a money motivator built in.  The publisher earns more, the more they do outreach for you.  Advertisers love affiliate marketing because it involves minimal risk. If a sufficient margin is built in as compensation for the affiliate, it becomes impossible to lose money. That’s because affiliates are generally only paid when a sale is completed (i.e., a lead is converted). Advertisers (or “merchants”) pay nothing for leads that don’t convert.
(you can start an affiliate program right now, right here)

–if you are not interested in affiliate, you can pay for inexpensive block ads on websites similar to mine, sponsored posts, paid reviews and many other low cost adv methods–

 

boost chocolate sales


So the corporate trainer/digital marketer me wants to know . . . what questions do you have for me?

When I’m not out training Tory Burch, Match.com, Thomson Reuters or blogging away . . I welcome your emails via iReallyLoveChoc@gmail.com

One more thing, I have put together some FREE training that you can access from anywhere in the world.  I love to teach and there so many awesome tools out there to do some of those things I mentioned above.

Sign up below for my FREE webinars –

#1 Learn to create high quality images for your online business

#2 How to grow your Facebook page without paying a dime

P.S.  If you want want my help with any tactics above, we can set up a one-time call or I can help you over a longer period.  Just let me know

 

P.P.S.  Here’s a fun chocolate bar post to show you context in action

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
chocolate blogs

The 19 Best Chocolate Blogs

 

The 19 BEST Chocolate Blogs

Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world and these Chocolatiers and bloggers love to tell you all about.  Each blog brings its unique perspective of chocolate to the world and I love each one for this  =)  Enjoy!

1.  Chocolate in Context

Emily Stone is a traveler + chocolate enthusiast – this always makes for great chocolate inspiration.

2.  Chocablog

chocolate easter cake

3.  Chocolate News

Chocked full of info on many varieties of chocolate dating back to 2007, looks like it has wound down a bit since 2014 but still a great source of information

 

4. Chocolate Obsession

This blog has stopped being updated; however, it began in 2005 (the very beginning of blogging time), full of info.  This site exists to share that love with anybody of a like mind in the form of news, recipes, reviews, and any other chocolate fun – my fave part about this blog – they claim to be an equal opportunity when it comes to chocolate.  After being chastised by a chocolate connoisseur for enjoying a Russian brand of chocolate . . . I like when we are encouraged to enjoy all foods (no snobbery needed).

5.  The Chocolate Life

Clay Gordon runs this extensive blog that contains groups, classifieds, videos and a forum.  He is also one of the judges behind The Chocolate Show.

la maison du chocolat nyc

6.  Chocolate Alchemy

Unbelievable that this chocolate blog has been around since 2003!!  This blog and extensive forum explores the science end of things in the Cacao world.

7.  Chocolate Codex

Visually appealing and super organized blog that outshines most others.  Brilliant styling of pictures, inforgraphics and text to give a comprehensive story of each bar reviewed.  Bookmark this one if you are a fine chocolate fan!

8.  Got Chocolate

Laura Rucker has created a delightfully, lighthearted chocolate blog full of recipes and all-around yumminess.  Her motto is “Be happy and eat chocolate!”

9. Chocolate & Zucchini

I first met Clotilde when interviewing her on my podcast, such a lovely woman! She lives in Paris and has 2 passions: Chocolate and Vegetables.  My favorites as well.  Although her blog isn’t solely dedicated to chocolate, she does have an abundance of chocolate recipes that are stunning and delicious!

10. The Ultimate Chocolate Blog

Lisabeth is the blogger behind the Ultimate Chocolate Blog; she is chocolatier and pastry professional who works with and tastes new varieties of chocolate on a regular basis . . . and then she shares of this chocolate knowledge with us (consistently).  I love that she works with chocolate + she sells chocolate and can truly speak from her own experience.

11. Mostly About Chocolate

Judith Lewis is a chocolate extraordinaire!  She travels the globe visiting chocolatiers, is a judge for the Academy of Chocolate Awards, as well as the International Chocolate Awards.  So much info about chocolate on her site that all I can say is to bookmark her page.  You will not be disappointed!

12. Chocolate Blog

Lots of chocolate bars and chocolate products are reviewed here.

13.  Finding Fine Chocolate

Barbie Van Horn is simply effervescent when sharing her love of fine and artisan chocolate (and she shares everywhere, even ‘scopes Chocolate – Periscope that is).  You’ll want to fall into every one of her Instagram chocolate bar pics.  Lovee.

14. Chocolatour

Doreen Pendgracs is the author of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate–an award-winning chocolate travel book that guides you to the finest chocolate and chocolate experiences of the world.  Bookmark her site!

15. Cocoa Heaven

chocolate blogs

16. Dying for Chocolate

17. Chocolatier

Chocolate news, reviews and interviews on the Chocolatier UK blog, written by professional food writers.

18. The Chocolate Journalist

Sharon Terenzi adores fine chocolate and wants the world to know this is THE chocolate to eat for a win-win.

19. Chocolate, Chocolate and More

Joan Hayes was the queen of Chocolate recipe blogs who we lost in October of this year.  Due to a diagnosis of my own this year that I was told would also end my life, Joan has inspired me to continue to chase after whatever I think is fun and makes people happy.  Although, some might say she was not a fine chocolate expert, I too love all things chocolate as she did.  Furthermore,  she was a genius blogger and marketer so that she could best care for her 3 children. #ChocolateforJoan

 

 

P.S.  Want to see how to make chocolate? Watch episode 200 here

 

 

 

kitchen essentials for holiday baking

16 Kitchen Essentials to Get Ready for the Holiday Baking Season

The kitchen is where holiday memories happen, whether it’s baking with kids, getting every inch of your kitchen covered in flour or trying to master grandma’s secret recipes . . . Spritz cookies anyone?  Before the the season descends, stock up on a few essentials and get your kitchen ready for a season of cookie/chocolate/cake/pie adventures.

16 Kitchen Essentials to Get Ready for the Holiday Baking Season

handmade towels

1. DIY Kitchen Towel: With lots of baking comes many, many messes. But when towels are this easy and fun to personalize, you won’t even mind wiping up yet another creation

snowflake cookie cutters

2. Snowflake Dough Cutters: Cover a pie with these snowflake embellishments for some serious kitchen cred. Or make cookies or chocolates.  Whatever.  Snowflake cookie cutters are a seal of approval.

silpat for baking

3. Silpat Silicone Cookie Sheet Liners: Save yourself from last-minute trips to the store to get wax paper or spray grease and invest in one of these cookie sheet liners. These liners are the secret ingredient to pastry perfection… and they make baking cleanup a breeze.

kitchen notepad




4. Cupcake Notepad: Stick this cute notepad in your junk drawer or on top of your counter for quick note jotting and recipe creating.

cookie stamps

5. Cookie Stamps: The set from Nordic Ware is classically beautiful and will simply imprint with magical Christmas-y goodness.

handmade cookie jar

6. HandMade Maple Cookie Jar: This beautiful jar can hold onto all your beautiful cookies until you open the lid and dive in.

holiday cookie recipe book

7. Holiday Cookies Baking Book: How many times have your baking aspirations been crushed by an ingredient list a mile long? When you don’t have the time or budget to spend on lengthy recipes, grab some ideas out of this awesome cookbook and check holiday baking off your to-do list.

cupcake stands

8. Cupcake Stand: You put a lot of work into decorating those little cupcakes so obviously they deserve to be displayed in style on a throne.

 

le-creuset-apple-tarte-tatin-pan-c

9. Le Creuset Apple Tarte Tartin Pan: Any baking enthusiast knows Le Creuset is famous for offering slow, steady heating, so tarts, pies, cobblers and quiches are evenly cooked.

wooden measuring spoons

 




10. Measuring Wooden Spoons: Could measuring spoons be any more beautiful?  These spoons say “Forever” to me

tivoli radio

11. Tivoli Radio: The best inspiration is music, so tune into your fave station that will be playing holiday tunes from now until December 26 and keep the momentum going in the kitchen.  My husband just bought me one for my birthday which also happens to fall on #NationalChocolateDay and the sound quality is beyond.

 

custom rolling pin

12. Custom Holiday Rolling Pin: Whether your holiday baking plans involve intricate pastries or making sugar cookies with the kids, every kitchen deserves one of these pretty, custom rolling pins.

 

holiday spatulas

13. Holiday Spatula: Not only is this spatula totally festive, it doubles as decor when it sticks out of your utensil canister.  I love this multipurpose tool!!

 

 

pastry blender from cake boss

14. Pastry Blender: I have made pie crusts every which way but the way to make a pie crust for the best outcome (after all those long hours of creation) is to use a proper pastry blender.  You know I’m right!

tipsy elves sweatshirt

15. Holiday Baking Team Sweatshirt: A perfect way to get your friends and family (possibly husband??) in on the baking fun is with these super awesome sweatshirts.  Once they feel part of a team, then they will be even more inspired to bake.

hershey kiss christmas printables

16. Printable Hershey Kiss Labels: The best part Christmas is giving sweets to all friends and neighbors.  You could give hershey kisses right in the bag or you could put a little twist on them by printing off these FREEBIES!

What essentials would you add to this list? Tell us what you’re looking forward to baking in the comments below!

 

 

P.S.  Join the Chocolate Adventures HERE