Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coffee Lovers Take Small Steps to Make a Big Difference

Did you see the recent article (February 1) in the Hudson Valley Business Journal - - titled "Coffee that's for the Birds"? Up to a few months ago, I had never heard of Birds & Beans coffee, or even knew what "Bird Friendly" certification meant. I had no idea that rainforests are being cleared to grow coffee.

Who knew that what coffee I drink can make such a difference to the songbirds I love to watch in my gardens and at my bird feeders every spring and summer? In fact, on warm summer mornings, I love sitting out on my deck - cup of coffee in hand - listening to the birds and enjoying the peacefulness of the morning.

Bird Friendly® coffee, I have recently learned, protects our North American songbirds. Grown on family farms, under the most stringent environmental requirements, Birds & Beans coffee is 100% shade-grown, protecting and providing 92% of the rainforest habitat. It is also 100% organic, Fair Trade and/or Rainforest Alliance. Other coffees labeled shade-grown, by the way, may contain as little as 30% shade-grown beans. Only Bird Friendly® coffee is 100% shade-grown.

As it turns out, the birds I love to watch in the spring and summer spend their winters in Latin and South America – coffee country. If they find no habitat down there, or habitat that is sub-par, they may not be able to make the 3,000 - 6,000 mile trip back up north. We have already lost about 40% of our songbird population over the last 30-40 years.

By making educated and conscientious choices, we can make a difference. We are increasingly seeing the difference that building green, recycling, using alternative energy, as well as using environmentally friendly cleaners can make. That list could go on and on. So, here's another way we can make a minor change that could make a big difference in the future.

Birds & Beans coffee can be found at Nature's Pantry in Newburgh and Fishkill, the Cornwall Community Co-op, Near & Natural Cafe in Bedford Village, Otto's Market in Germantown. Or you can order direct online at

My friend has formed a buying group. A number of us order every month and share the flat shipping charges, so shipping comes down to pennies per bag. Contact me if you're interested.

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising
(845) 695-1880

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Targeting the Bridal Market

I just returned from the Bridal Expo at Anthonys Pier Nine in Newburgh and have to say I was a bit disappointed. I hate to be negative, but I just have to share a couple of things that I think we can all learn from.

If you are in the market for a DJ, then the Expo was the place to be. With 81 vendors there, 21 of them were DJs and 15 of them were photographers! That really does not leave much room for variety in other areas.

The other thing that was disappointing was the Fashion Show, which was put on by Bella Couture in Newburgh (one of only two bridal shops I saw there). A little variety would have been nice. My daughter and I actually left after about 10 or 15 minutes because every single gown looked the same ... literally. Now, I know that strapless gowns are really in fashion now, but certainly there must be some variety ... no?

If I had to pick "Best in Show", I would vote for Ranita Productions of Chester. While I could not tell you exactly every service they provide (even from looking at their brochure), I can tell you that their display was beautiful and that they would bring a uniqueness to every wedding. They are not a florist, but work with you to create table displays that are personalized for each couple. They even had a unique way of displaying the table seating chart. If I were to get married, Annabelle would be one of the first people I would call to help set the stage for a beautiful and special day.

Another cool thing, if you are a bride or wedding planner looking for elegant accommodations and safe travel for your guests, Homewood Suites/Newburgh and West Point Tours have a package that is perfect. If you call them at 845.567.2700, they will customize a package just for you!

The recession has had an impact on wedding planning. Heck, the recession has had an impact on almost every industry. But if your business in any way caters to the bridal market, this is a marketing investment you should have made. This was your chance to spend an entire day in front of your target market. Invest some money in marketing materials to hand out - it doesn't have to be a huge investment. Create a display that is eye-catching. Have personable, knowledgeable people working the show. Hold a raffle so you can collect names, addresses, and email addresses. Then continue your investment and make sure the time is taken to follow up with the attendees. If you make the investment of time and money, it will pay off. Trade shows are still a very effective form of marketing, especially a very localized, targeted trade show like the Bridal Expo.

If your business can benefit by marketing to brides and wedding planners, and you are located in Orange County or the Hudson Valley, make sure you have a presence at next year's Bridal Expo. The brides will be looking for you!

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising and Public Relations

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Lesson to be Learned

As a marketing person, sometimes I feel like I am repeating the same messages over and over. And, each time, I try to communicate in a different manner, say it in a different way -- all in an effort to get my messages across about the importance of customer service, going above and beyond what is expected, creating a strong brand and living up to it, building strong working relationships with other local companies (sometimes even those who you feel may be your competitors).

While many companies do a few of these things, very few do all of them. So, when I see a company that is doing everything right, I cannot help but applaud.

I spent last night at Homewood Suites by Hilton over at Stewart Airport. The hotel is beautiful. Just a few years old, and really designed well. We stayed in a one bedroom suite, and after being there about a half an hour, we were joking about selling our house and moving in.

But all joking aside, the place is just great. All the comforts of home, without the hassles of home. The staff were so friendly and helpful, you felt like you were coming home to family -- well, the kind of family you would want to come home to :)

The artwork throughout the hotel was purchased from local artists. From speaking with the sales staff, we learned that they shop locally whenever possible. The management is amazingly savvy when it comes to marketing and building win/win relationships.

Carrying the name Hilton brings with it certain expectations. The parent company has created a strong brand that stands for quality. We all know that sometimes these expectations are not met and we are disappointed. That happened to me about ten years ago with another hotel chain (who's name I will withhold - not sure why). But, that was certainly not the case this time.

In fact, our stay at Homewood Suites in Newburgh, NY strengthened my loyalty to the Hilton brand. It was more than I expected. We're talking about making this a tradition. And, we are making reservations at the Homewood Suites down in Florida for our vacation next month.

Now, there's a company that is doing everything right. That's what branding is all about -- carrying that brand through to everything you do.

Kudos to Homewood Suites, Newburgh!

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising, Inc.