Fixtures, Freedom, & Fireworks: Happy 4th From Sharn!


Most every American can agree that the Fourth of the July is one of the best holidays of the year.  Usually, the air is warm, the sun is out, and cool drinks are flowing. But in between barbecues and trips to the beach, the true meaning of the fourth of July sometimes gets forgotten.  We must remember what Independence Day means for us Americans.  It is a day to reflect on what it truly means to be free;  to remember those who have fallen and those who continue to fight for our freedom and one of the most important symbols of our freedom is the firework.

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When looking up at the beautiful night sky mesmerized by fireworks, many thoughts might come into your head including, “Freedom, Independence, Beauty…”

For myself, I am a little bit more scientific in thought (or as I would like to think I am)!

I want to know how this All-American symbol is constructed.  So when you either stand, sit, or lay down in the grass in awe of the beautiful night sky exploding with color, you will be able to answer this exact question… How are fireworks made?!

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To start off, experts believe that fireworks originated in China over 1,000 years ago.  Still today, China is the largest manufacturer of the brilliant invention.  There are three types of fireworks; Fire-crackers, Sparklers, and Aerial Fireworks.

Firecrackers are simple rolled up paper tubes filled with black powder and a fuse.  When you light the fuse of a firecracker, the fire burns along that fuse until it reaches the powder. BOOM. Explosion.

Pretty simple, right?

Next, sparklers are different in that they make bright, sparkly light.  They contain more substances than a short explosion or firecracker. The bright sparks consist of burning bits of dust made of metals such as aluminum, iron, steel, zinc, or magnesium.  Kids, remember, these are not edible….

Aerial fireworks, in my opinion, are the best.  Usually, these are made up of four parts inside a shell.  The container, the fuse, the powder, and the stars.  The shells are then launched into the sky from short pipes filled with a lifting charge of black powder.  The lifting then lights the shell’s fuse and when the flame hits the shell.  The explosion pushes the stars in all directions, creating the spectacular display.

The colors are produced by carefully mixing the right kinds of chemical compounds.  For example, blue is made up of copper compounds.  And that’s your science lesson for today, folks.

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Sharn Enterprises, Inc. will be closed on July 3rd in observance of Independence Day.   We look forward to observing this holiday by being with our family and friends and taking the time think about America and all of the great values it represents.

“A Proud American Manufacturer”

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For more information about our products and services, Please visit www.sharndisplays.com or check out our latest video here: http://vimeo.com/71471550

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Sources:

http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-are-fireworks-made/

https://academicexchange.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/20-fun-facts-about-the-4th-of-julyindependence-day/

http://www.wheelsforwishes.org/news/ten-interesting-facts-about-independence-day/

The Lost Art of the Follow-Up


In my experience at Sharn Enterprises, Inc., I have encountered different situations that deal with client building, customer relationships, and overall account management.  The most important I have come to realize is the art of the follow-up.

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What sparked my in-depth thought about the follow-up was an email I received from a potential customer.  It read,

“I will stay in touch.  I am sure we can do some things together and I appreciate your efforts and follow-up.  It’s a refreshing change!!”

This note not only made my day, but also got my wheels turning.   If I can provide a “refreshing change” for a customer who is not used to follow-ups and attempts to make an effort, then Sharn Enterprises gains an opportunity to earn new business. Thus, when you’re not reaching out to a potential or even a current client, you may miss a potential opportunity and that client may take their business elsewhere.  GoTo Market Strategies (2014) supports this and states, “only 50% of marketing leads have received a follow-up from sales or channel partners, making it the top reason a product wasn’t purchased.”

The definition of a follow-up is when you check-in with a customer or client to give them a heads up, update, or even a general hello.  The follow-up can also take on different hats, including being a marketing boost.  For example, a once booming client may have lost touch with your organization for no specific reason, just plain evolution.  Reaching out could remind a client of your services and help them realize you are just the right person to help with an upcoming project.

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You see, the follow-up is sometimes unexpected, unwarranted, and ignored.  In other instances, the follow-up is welcomed, unexpected (in a good way), and appreciated.  And the latter version is where your company (and Sharn Enterprises, Inc.) maximizes its results.

As a marketing and sales professional, I want to be known as the person that makes the extra effort.  I want to my client to know that I care and I am willing to go the extra mile.  I do not want to be apart of the other 50% and lose potential business.

As I get off my soapbox, here are some ways that you and your sales team can increase productivity by going back to the basics, by bringing back the lost art of the follow-up:

1. Send an email– Do not just cut and paste.  Write a thoughtful note that doesn’t seem like Siri was the author.

2. Write a letter– Once again, no copying and pasting.  Key word here is “write.”  A hand-written note shows consideration and time was taken in order to really delve deep into thought.  A letter is personal, warm, and is an extremely thoughtful follow-up approach.

3. Pick up the phone- If emailing or writing a note seems too trivial for your specific customer, give them a ring.  A phone call allows for the inflection of your voice to be expressed.  If you’re excited about an upcoming project you are working on for that client, it will be heard in your voice.  Most importantly, be yourself.

4. Send follow-up information right after a meeting– During your meeting, write down notes for yourself.  For example, when I meet with a new client, I write down notes as well as detailed data so I am able to mock-up a custom display idea right after the meeting.  You are human; you can’t remember every detail, so writing notes down can help recall all key points discussed.

5. Keep an eye out for the small things– During your initial meeting, keep an eye out for body language, words, or expressions that piqued your customer’s interest and got them excited to work with you.  Refer back to these in your follow-up approach.

6. Agree– If you agree with a point made by your customer, let them know!  This builds trust and lets the client know you are listening and on the same page.

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At Sharn Enterprises, Inc. we have seen the follow-up truly work.  Like my dad always says,

“If you try and don’t succeed, it’s better than not trying at all.”

For more information on Sharn Enterprises, Inc.’s custom POP displays and store fixtures, please visit http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715.

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What Matters More?


What Matters More, the Quality or Quantity of Your Social Media Audience?

There are some brands out there that have very large social media followings –whether it’s from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. – this takes top priority over anything else the company has going on. Which got me thinking, when it comes to the amount of “likes” and followers you have, does quantity override quality of content?

There are people, companies, and brands out there that have some of the largest social media following I have ever seen; millions upon millions of likes and comments, yet still have trouble obtaining money for a fundraiser they are trying to hold.  On the other hand, there companies that have a much smaller scale of social media following and have huge success in raising money for a fundraiser.  In my opinion, networking and actually getting to know your followers and friends has a lot to do with the outcome of your success in this situation.

Diane Leone, founder and digital media strategist for Butterfly Social, a boutique social media agency that helps companies market their businesses using social media, was asked “What do you tell clients and brands that worry about the number of social media followers?”

Quality And Quantity Computer Keys Showing Choice Between Excellence Or Numbers

Quality And Quantity Computer Keys Showing Choice Between Excellence Or Numbers

She states, “It’s about focusing on one or two of the best platforms for your business and really building quality connections on those platforms,” she says. “If you try to spread yourself thin, whether it’s across all social media platforms or trying to get huge quantities of followers, how will you engage with all of them effectively? I advise clients to go for meaningful engagements.”

Every company has a different approach and strategies for marketing their brand, but many businesses say that “80% is quality and 20% is quantity,” when it comes to social media marketing.

Companies want and need long time, recurring customers to sustain their business and brand. When you have these customers, it leads to more business from word of mouth marketing.  This can be good and bad.  I say this because your company and brand is highly important.  You want to make sure that you are obtaining customers that become “regulars” rather than having the “window shoppers” that leave you empty-handed.

The key to keeping quality is making sure that you are being authentic in your social media posts.

Here at Sharn Enterprises, Inc. we try our best to maintain authenticity and keep the quality of our posts at an all time high.  We like to engage our customers with relevant and trending content to keep them coming back.

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Sure we could buy “fake followers,” but that wouldn’t make us the credible, loyal, and reliable company that our customers know us to be.

-Chelsey Heft, Marketing Intern

For more information on our products and services, visit http://www.sharndisplays.com!

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“A Proud American Manufacturer”

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5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Stale in Business


What comes to mind when you think of the word “stale”? Probably old, moldy, gross, not fit for eating, the opposite of fresh, dry, etc.

No one likes a stale piece of bread, especially if you are craving a hearty, jam-packed, fresh sandwich. The same is true in business. Boring, tiresome, and stale ideas often lead to uninteresting results.

In both B2C and B2B business, keeping ideas new and fresh will keep the customers and businesses you handle coming back for more. This is why keeping up with trends, your competitors, keeping an open mind, and bringing in new employees with different backgrounds and experiences is important.

Stale is boring. Fresh is the way to go.

Here are 5 ways to avoid becoming stale in business:

Change What’s Not Working

The example that comes to mind is our automotive industry. For many years, cars were being “built in obsolescence,” meaning they seemed to last for 5-6 years and then things would go south. Around the 1970s, companies like Toyota and other foreign car manufacturers started to be imported into the USA on a more massive scale. Those cars were deemed more reliable, fuel efficient, and longer-lasting. Thus, the automotive industry began changing. Because they did not change fast enough with the growing imports, American automakers lost significant market share.

Don’t Change Your Core Values

If your company has a mission statement and core values that were established at the time of incorporation or that have been developed over the years, stay consistent with those values. Bring these positive values to the forefront and deliver your products, services, etc., with them in mind. Your values cannot become stale unless you no longer believe in them.

Recess

Children are given recess, which allows them to get away from a subject, refresh themselves, and come back ready to learn. This philosophy should be true when it comes to a business. You cannot expect your employees to thrive unless they have a time to disconnect from their desk or workplace. Kimberly Elsbach, Management Professor at UC-Davis, says, “Never taking a break from very careful thought actually reduces your ability to be creative. It sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections you can if your brain is more rested.”

Explore

Let’s take a look at retail and shopping. Most retail purchases are done by impulse. This means you need to get your products noticed on the shelf. How are you going to get your products noticed? By exploring, that’s how! No matter what kind of business you are in, taking the time to research, observe, and study what your competitors and related businesses are doing will give you that competitive edge. If you are a company who is in the active wear business and you want to try to get people to buy your products, you are going to try to out-do Nike, Adidas, and other similar brands on the market. Being different and refreshing catches a customer’s eye and enhances your chances of getting noticed.

Hire People Who Are Different From You

Stability in the workplace is very important, but so is change. If no one ever changes, bad habits may continue. Age and diversity of employees is just as important. Taking it back to retail, the population you sell to is diversified with varying ethnic groups, male vs. female, and tastes. If you are the leader of an organization and don’t actively get out of your comfort zone and hire people that that are different from you, you’re destined to only make decisions that appeal to you, not other people.

Do you have any additional ideas on how to stay fresh in the business world?

Send Sharn Enterprises, Inc a tweet or comment on Facebook and Twitter!

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Sources:

https://blog.bufferapp.com/hack-your-lunch-break-5-ways-to-improve-your-afternoon-productivity

http://www.popai.com/

14 Facts About Halloween


Halloween has snuck upon us once again.  In my case, I have wonderful ideas in February about “what I want to be” but once it hits mid-October, I have no costume in place.  I end up going to a Halloween party dressed in a football jersey and going as a “football player.”  How original, am I right?

Dressing up for Halloween and participating in fun fall activities had me thinking.  Why do we dress up as someone (or something) else, go to haunted houses to be scared on purpose, and ask our neighbors for candy?

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Well, the answers can be found right here, along with some other interesting facts on the second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

Here are a few facts about one of the best holidays, Halloween!

1. Its origins stem 2,000 years ago from the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain which was the celebration of the end of harvest season in Gaelic culture. It was the time used by the ancient Pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. #WinterIsComing

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2. The Gaelics believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life.  This would cause mayhem such as sickness and damaged crops.

3. To ward off the evil spirits, they decided to dress up in animal heads, skins, costumes, and masks.

4. Fast forward to 609 A.D. when Pope Boniface created All Martyrs Day which evolved into All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated on Nov. 1. Catholics fused elements of Samhain, which lead to All-Hallows Eve, then to what we know it as today, Halloween.

5. Bobbing for apples originated with the Romans around 43 A.D.

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6. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the traditional holiday in the 1800s to America, but it wasn’t until after 1947, did the holiday really take off.

7. Americans spend $6 billion each year on Halloween.

8. Combined, $4 billion is spent on costumes, decorations and parties. The other $2 billion is on candy.

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9. The original jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips, beets, and potatoes.

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10. A Halloween full moon is rarer than a white Christmas (We will have to wait until 2020 for the next one.)

11. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

12. In 2010, 72.2% of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation will hand out candy, 46.3% will carve a pumpkin, 20.8% will visit a haunted house, and 11.5% will dress up their pets.

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13. There’s a $1,000 fine for using or selling Silly String in Hollywood on Halloween.

14. The most popular Halloween costumes of all time are a witch, a vampire, a ghost, Frankenstein’s monster, and a cat!

From everyone here at Sharn Enterprises, Inc, we hope every has a safe and spook-tacular Halloween!

For more information about our products and services, please visit our website at www.sharndisplays.com, follow us on Twitter, and “Like” us on Facebook!

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13 Things You Should Know About B2B Marketing


On October 1st, 2014, I had the pleasure of attending the small business seminar entitled, “It’s not about you, it’s about Bacon!”  Hosted by Old Plank Trail Bank in Frankfort, IL, the keynote speaker was Brian Basilico.

Not only is Brian a college professor, he runs his own B2B marketing business and attends over 20 networking events every month.   Why does he do it?  Because Brian loves to learn.  Although a teacher, he takes everything he does and learns from it.

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Brian offered great advice on B2B marketing as well entertained us by keeping things real.  Here are some of the key points I learned from this event that may be beneficial to your business’s marketing efforts:

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  1. Relationships are the currency of business.
    1. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
  2. The most shared items on the internet involve Kittens and Bacon.
  3. Flipboard is an application you can use to turn your social media postings into a digital magazine.
  4. Listen to people twice as much as you talk (you have two ears and one mouth, for a reason!)
  5. Take pictures of others and share them on your own social media platforms.
  6. Edu-tain and info-tain on social media- Be active and responsive.
    1. Pictures increase engagement by 70%.
    2. Don’t post just about your business.
    3. Have fun.
    4. Be authentic.
  7. Social media is the medium, social networking is the relationship.
  8. Gaining Trust: Give 100% of yourself 100% of the time and expect nothing in return.
  9. Recommend someone else on LinkedIn out of the blue- Just because!
  10. LinkedIn is wide open property, unlike Yelp. You can copy and paste reviews about your business or yourself on flyers, brochures, etc.
  11. Great content is KING!
  12. On a website, a person spends on average 3 clicks and 2 minutes.
  13. Differentiate yourself from others and find what makes you more “connectable.”

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We thank Old Plank Trail Bank in Frankfort, IL for hosting this event.  With advice from Brian Basilico and as well as my own experiences, I am excited to delve deeper into the world of B2B marketing!

-Stephanie Shostok, Designer/Account Representative at Sharn Enterprises, Inc

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Conquering MAGIC MARKET WEEK 2014


On Sunday, August 16th, Sharn Enterprises’s retail display designers headed out west to the one, the only, Las Vegas, Nevada.  Although Las Vegas is known for its gambling, in the world of retail, it is also known as the epicenter for fashion’s largest trade show, Magic Market Week.

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The show has built quite a name for itself, starting humbly back in 1933 and going by the “Men’s Apparel Guild.”

After gaining major appeal, it is now held twice a year in both August and February at a convention center either on or off the strip, and is considered the most comprehensive forum for fashion buyers and brands.  This can be seen through the extensive variety of up and coming men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, accessories, footwear and more.

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In Sharn’s case, our staff attends the show in order to support the businesses for which we create custom point-of-purchase displays as well as meet possible new clients through networking and walking the show floor.

Magic fuels the world of retail, and Roger Wandersee, Designer and Account Manager at Sharn Enterprises, Inc, knows that visiting the trade show is a must for current and future business ventures.

“Magic is an experience that is not only informative, but so much fun.  With over 80,000 people and the opportunity to visit with so many customers, it’s truly an exhilarating adventure.”

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Wandersee also gives due credit to Magic because he leaves inspired by new design ideas for retail displays after exploring the ten different curated shows within the entire Magic experience.

With more than $200 million dollars’ worth of orders written daily at the show, there is no doubt that Magic Market Week is the steam engine that plows right through the business of fashion.

For more information about our products and services, make sure to check out http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715.

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