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This month we reached out to Betty Lanke, from Terre Haute, Indiana. This is her 25th anniversary as Create-A-Book dealer. Her passion and mastery of the Give-A-Book program are nothing short of inspiring. If you’ve thought about doing a Give-A-Book program, or want to know how our most profitable dealers sell most of their books, this post is you you.

Betty’s runs a Give-A-Book program every year, which provides personalized children’s books for every kindergartner in the Vigo County school district. And it’s no small endeavor. Together with her amazing sponsors, they are able to provide books for all 18 schools in the district — almost 1500 students every year. We asked her to share her story and advice.

What’s your story, how did you get started?
I remember watching a news story on “60 Minutes.” During the report, I learned a sad statistic. At the time, approximately 10 percent of high school students could not read their diplomas. For me, that was a turning point. I had learned about Create-A-Book and the Give-A-Book program while on vacation in 1990-1991. I had a successful career, and I decided that this was the way to give back to my community and make a difference. We’re just not motivated to read. And I thought it’s going to take a special book, a book to keep for a lifetime.

As soon as I purchased my license, I went to the superintendent of schools whom I knew from networking events. I told him about my goal of giving books to every kindergarten student in the district. He was very skeptical that I could do it, but I didn’t let that deter me. I just went to the banks and the real estate organization and drummed up committed sponsors the very first year. One of our sponsors has been supporting the program for 25 years, and our current additional sponsors have been with us for the last several years.

How did you get sponsors so quickly?
I reached out to people I knew. We all know lots of people, and if you believe in what you’re doing, those people will believe in you, and they’ll want to be a part of your project. Go to people that you do business with, such as banks, radio stations, utility companies, car dealerships, restaurant owners, and local businesses. Reach out to your current connections. Bring a book with you, and explain your costs and goals. But remember — you’ve got to talk to the decision-maker, or it won’t work.

Do you choose a different book each year?
When I began the Give-A-Book program in 1991-1992, I selected the “School Fun” book. It was my favorite, and the teachers love it.

What personalization do you include in the books?
It’s important to thank our sponsors, so we include “Given by” on the dedication page. The books also include the child’s name, individual school, the teacher’s name, and school year. Instead of listing individual friend names, which would be impossible, we say “the students of … elementary school.” It works beautifully with the existing text. And if a student goes by an alternate name, like “AJ” or “Buddy,” the teacher lets us know.

How long does it take you to make so many books?
I work for 4–5 weeks each year beginning in October. First, I contact the schools and get email addresses for the teachers. This year, we had 47 teachers who gave us the names of their students. Of course, I have help. I couldn’t do this without help. But in terms of numbers, I can make books for an entire school on a single Saturday, even if there are multiple teachers.

We make the books and hold a kick-off event in October at one of the schools. These kick-offs are very popular; our sponsors hand out the books, and we receive television and newspaper coverage every year. We make sure to take a class picture, so all the students get their picture in the paper, and I give additional photos to our sponsors.

Can you explain further, what is a kick-off?
This is when we go to one of the schools to personally distribute books to the children. Since we have 18 schools, we can only visit one each year, so the school district keeps an alphabetized list of schools, and we visit them in order. Keeping it fair to everyone is important, so we let the school system set the order. The books for the other 17 schools are delivered by early December.

What’s your secret for attracting the media?
Every year, I write a press release for the local television stations. What’s nice about the press release is that you really only need to write the first one. Then, every year, you can simply change the date and location and send it out.

 
 
13
Feb
4 amazing tools to let you create Inexpensive Logos
Posted in Business at 11:33 am. Comments Off  
 

4 amazing tools to let you create Inexpensive Logos

Whether you’ve been a Create-A-Book distributor for years or are just starting out, you probably know that a unique logo that represents your business can help people to recognize your brand. But where do you start? And how much should you spend?

We created this brief introduction and list of resources to help you create a great logo without breaking the bank.

Why Your Logo Matters

The main thing to remember is that your logo is a visual reminder about your business. Logos are so important that there’s even a logo game on Facebook…and you’d be surprised by how many brands you recognize without a single name or clue. One picture says it all. Just think of Nike’s trademark swoosh.

Your Logo Should…

  • Help customers recognize you
  • Look good no matter how big or small
  • Have only a couple of colors

And there is science linking color to memory. If you’re curious, visit “Why Facebook is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing” by Leo Widrich. It may inspire your creativity and your logo.

What’s in a Logo?

The best logos are:

  • Eye-catching, so choose something that is attractive and different.
  • Obvious and tell the viewer exactly what service you provide.
  • Memorable, so don’t overthink it. Brainstorming about books and your distribution method can help you find just the right image.
  • Uncomplicated. Keep it simple (but stay away from clip art). Your design doesn’t need to have lots of detail or multiple colors. It should look good in black and white, too, because color printing adds to your costs.
  • Multi-taskers that look good on letterhead, envelopes, and Twitter and Facebook images. You want to use it on all your correspondence including email messages.

Getting Inspired and Getting Started

If you still need a little inspiration, these sites may have just what you’re looking for:

If you have something in mind (or just want to start dabbling), visit one of these logo makers. Most of them are very affordable and can deliver the professional results you need.

Withoomph is really easy to use and might give you the extra “oomph” your logo deserves. We plugged in a few key words, and it gave us several quick choices. They have very reasonable starting prices, too.

GraphicSprings Logo Creator will walk you through each step effortlessly. Start designing your logo for free or hire one of their specialists to help you move from effective to extraordinary.

Logaster also offers free logos, but it depends on the size. But even full-size logos are only $9.99. We used the same key words (“My Own Book” as a company name), and the auto-generator came up with some really nice options.

Hipster Logo Generator has a modern feel and some different options for designing. Depending on your style and needs, this might be the site for you.

Let Us Know How It Works Out

As always, everyone at Create-A-Book wants you to be a success. We hope these tips help you make your logo creation process a productive one. We’d love to hear about your experience, so keep us posted and share your success with us.

 
 
7
Aug
Back to School contest – win FREE inventory
Posted in Marketing at 10:14 pm. Comments Off  
 

Hopefully you already used our recent email and Facebook tips to easily create awesome Back-to-School marketing campaigns.

We’d love to see these in action, so we’re throwing a contest. Send us a copy of your email(s) and/or Facebook posts for a chance to win a free 10 pack of your choice.

Even if you don’t win the contest you stand to gain additional sales, so either way you win!

Depending on the number of entries, we’ll select 1 or 2 dealers who will win a free 10 pack of their choice.

How to submit entries:

1. EMAILS: send us a screenshot (or copy of the actual email) to dave@createabook.com

2. Facebook posts: take a screenshot of your Facebook post and email to dave@createabook.com

Other Contest details:

- We’ll select a winner on Labor Day, so you have plenty of time.

- Already have your own content and layout, no worries. You’re not required to use the banners & copy provided in our training tips.

How do I take a screenshot?
If you’re on a PC there is usually a keyboard key for ‘print screen’ when you can view your email or post, hit the print screen button. Nothing will appear to have happened, but then open Microsoft Paint and once open right click your mouse and select PASTE. If you’re on a MAC go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts and you’ll see options to take screenshot

 
 
 

Hey Cabbies,

The back to school event is an incredible sales opportunity from July through September, and we’ve made it really easy to setup campaigns using email, social media, your website or all three. In just 30 minutes you can follow our instructions and schedule 2-3 emails,prepare 2-3 Facebook posts and update your website.

Banners:

We have some amazing banners you can use on your website, email campaigns or Facebook. View them all.

Email:

Whether this is your first email to family and friends, or you’ve already built a customer list, email marketing is your bread and butter because it’s how you build repeat business. We’ve taken out the guesswork. Learn How

Social:

We couldn’t make it any easier. We’ve listed tips, along with images and content you can choose to create your posts on Facebook or Twitter. Learn How

Web (SO IMPORTANT IF YOU HAVE A WEBSITE):

Update your home page to promote the event. You can do this easily by adding one of our banners and showcasing categories or products about school or education. Make sure banner links to either a category page with the educational products or directly to a single product. If you have a savisites website, we’ve already done this for you. You can switch to Home – Back to School in less than 2 minutes!!!

Want even more tips….

If you’re still looking for more, we’ve also create a page with general marketing tips and best practices for this Back To School Marketing Event. Learn More

 
 
 

Hey Cabbies,

Our personalized book, The Soccer Star, is a top seller right now thanks to the 2014 World Cup!

This post will show you how to promote this product and event within 15 minutes using your email, your website or social media. As always, you don’t have to copy our suggestions exactly. This can either help you get in done quickly or spark your own ideas.

We’ve made banners for you to use on Facebook, emails or your website. You can view and download the banners.

Facebook Wall Post (or social media)

When you post to Facebook to promote your business you should always use an image (proven to get higher engagement) and you should always include a link to the product on your website (or instruct people how to order).

Here’s an example:

Email Marketing:

Send an email to past customers as well as friends and family. Whether you’re sending to 5 people or 500, we suggest using an email marketing service like Aweber or Mailchimp. These programs make it very easy to send great emails, while offering great tracking tools and ensuring higher deliverability.

Here’s an example of an email we sent in Mailchimp (our dealer newsletter uses Aweber)

Facebook Cover photo:

We have two banners specifically designed and sized for your cover photo.  view the banners here

Website:

We have two banners you can add to your website. The easiest would be a home page banner that links to the product. You can view the banners here

Here’s an example:

 
 
16
Aug
NEW Back-to-School banners!
Posted in Marketing at 11:36 am. Comments Off  
 

We created a few new Back-To-School banners for you to use in your emails, website, Facebook or print marketing. Visit your dealer back-office to view (and download) the entire collection of Back-To-School banners available.


 
 
17
Aug
Recent Software Additions
Posted in Products, Updates at 12:33 am. Comments Off  
 
Today we added
  • Santa Letter in Spanish… both regular and italic versions
  • Christian Twins version to the baby book lineup.

Previously added

  • Adopted Same Sex parent
  • NOT-Adopted Same Sex Parent
  • My Birthday Wish – African American (still being tested)
 
 
3
Aug
 

We’ve improved our marketing, training and communication platforms this year to help your business grow.

New Dealer Back-Office

Preview of Dealer Back-Office

Your login credentials for the new dealer login are the same. If you’ve forgotten your login you can follow the “forgot password” at the login screen.  Send an email to support@createabook.com if you’re still unable to login.
s

New Knowledge Base, Forums and Support Tickets

Preview of Knowledge Base

Last month we began rolling out access to our new interactive knowledge base. This platform now serves as a community forum where you can post comments and questions to existing topics, as well as create your own forum topics. This is also where you can create and track support tickets.

You should have received an email invitation with a link to verify your email address and create a password. If you did not receive this email, send an email to support@createabook.com and we’ll resend it.

 
 
26
Feb
Distributor Spotlight – Feb 2012
Posted in Business, Dealer Spotlight, Training at 9:18 am. Comments Off  
 

Dealer of the Month - February 2012

Our Dealer Spotlight for February is shining bright on Karen and Heather, of Made 4 Me! To limit their “spotlight” to a single month is a bit of an understatement. Since their first week, the duo has been calling non-stop with great questions and ideas, and their ingenuity keeps their business growing.  It’s a safe bet to assume this power pair will inspire a few new chapters in our training manual this year!

How did you get involved with Create-A-Book and what you do you enjoy most?
Karen and Heather: We’re both stay-at-home moms with professional business backgrounds.  We wanted to continue to be involved with business, but it was important we had the flexibility to make our families our top priority. Having purchased Create-A-Book products ourselves, we were familiar with, and loved, the products. Your business model was the perfect fit, so we became a dealer in August 2011!

For most people, the biggest challenge is creating a plan and sticking to it, what’s your secret?
Karen and Heather: We understand the importance of creating a plan in achieving results. Setting priorities and establishing goals with clear timelines helps us stay on track. This approach helped us have successful holiday season in 2011.

Yes you did! What tips do you have on making the most of the holiday season?
Karen and Heather: Plan! Plan! Plan! Get yourself out there early and communicate often! We had orders for Christmas beginning in September right up to the holiday! We ran a promotion mid November which generated a lot of sales. Next year we will start our holiday offer a few weeks earlier to ease some of the stress of ensuring orders are shipped well before postal service deadlines. It was a busy few weeks, the post office clerks got to know our faces quite well!

Starting early is SOOO important. We can’t stress that enough! The biggest mistake we see distributors make is  waiting until December to send their first Holiday announcement. You can still get sales, but you’re joining the game in the 7th inning.

What other types of marketing are you doing?
Karen and Heather: Social networking is our best marketing tool. Leveraging our contacts through Facebook, email and LinkedIn we’ve been able to raise awareness of ourselves and generate significant sales. Some of our contacts even spread the word for us through their networks!

We also believe in giving back and have donated our product to a number of charities. Not only can we feel good about helping out worthwhile causes, we can let a new segment of people know about us!

Social media is very powerful, yet so underused. And the charities … what an amazing idea!

What do you feel is the most important aspect of your business?
Karen and Heather: Building and maintaining our social networks is the most important aspect of our business, it’s our primary sales tool as well as providing exception customer service to our existing clientele. Happy customers are repeat customers.

I’m starting to think we should let you do a Social Media 101 conference call later this year. You’re both doing an amazing job with it! So what are your Create-A-Book goals for 2012?
Karen and Heather: Further developing relationships in the community as new sales channels and continuing to support charitable organizations.

And finally, any advice for someone just getting starting with Create-A-Book?
Karen and Heather: Establish clear goals and develop a specific plan to achieve them!

The only thing I’d add to that is “stick to the plan,” but that is so engrained in your DNA’s that it goes without saying! Thank you both for taking the time to share your insights and ideas. We’re grateful to have you on the team, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next.

If you’d like to learn more from Karen and Heather, you can visit their website and Facebook page:
www.Made4Me.ca
www.facebook.com/made4mecanada

 
 
15
Feb
Distributor Spotlight – Jan 2012
Posted in Business, Dealer Spotlight, Training at 5:29 am. Comments Off  
 

Dealer of the Month - January 2012

In our December newsletter, we gave kudos to a team that sold 1400 orders in 2 weeks and there was an overwhelming request from dealers to learn more. So we’ve chosen the Yolanda Meador, Gladys Sanders and Nita Arrington team as our newest “Dealer of the Month” spotlight!

We had a fantastic interview with Yolanda and team over the phone, but before we get to the exciting stuff, like how their promotion’s total orders have now exceeded 2,200, I want to first tell you about a situation I experienced a few days later that proves just how committed Yolanda and her team are to the advice they shared with us.

A customer contacted Create-A-Book to find out how to redeem the promotional voucher she purchased during the holidays. Her computer had crashed, and she was desperately trying to find out if it was too late to receive the book in time for her for her niece’s birthday…in two days! We helped her track down which dealer was responsible, which turned out to be Yolanda. I immediately contacted Yolanda, who then immediately reached out to the customer and offered to overnight her order. Yolanda didn’t have to do this, but she describes below how she’s learned great customer service is the cornerstone to building a business with repeat customers. The customer was thrilled and we were proud to see her “walk the walk” she described just a few days earlier.

So how did you get involved with Create-A-Book?
Yolanda: I came across your products back in 1998, and at the time I as trying to find ways to get my son interested in reading because he didn’t like to read. We loved the books and thought it was an interesting way to contribute back to society and make a little extra money.

Your son must have enjoyed all the personalized books
Yolanda: When we first got started, his name was in ALL the books and we used them as samples. Now that Gladys has twin grand-babies, we’re using them in the samples.

Have you been working Create-A-Book since 1998 or have you taken breaks?
Yolanda: We’ve been active since the first day, but we normally only did it during October-December. Those were big months for us. We would get a few orders throughout the year but our biggest time was the fall because that’s also when the festivals were and we’d sign up to do it in schools, book-fairs and places like that. We’ve always worked the business every year, but this year took us to another level. It’s interesting because we’ve been doing it for so long that I told Gladys this Fall that we either need to take a break or step it up. It was time for a change. Well, low and behold when you say things they tend to come to pass!

You definitely took it to a whole new level this Christmas!
Yolanda Yes! Actually the total number ordered was 2,200 and so far we’ve made around 1,200 books.

For the readers out there, can you explain what you mean by 2,200 orders?
Yolanda: That’s the total number of deals [coupons] purchased in our promotion. So out of those orders, we’ve had 1,200 books ordered through our website.

That’s incredible! Who came up with the idea to run a promotion on a daily deal website?
Yolanda: Oh, that was my bright idea. I buy from the different sites and I kept saying there has to be a way that we can promote our books for Christmas and for people to know about us. The key is a lot of people have bought these books for their kids and now they have grandkids, and when they see Create-A-Books they instantly want it. There’s a massive clientele out there, especially the grandmothers, who know and appreciate the personalized books.

Are you creating any routines/systems to keep up with the orders?
Yolanda: Yes, we just put our new process in place as to how we’ll get books made. When the deal first launched, they [the orders] were running us, we weren’t running it [the business], and that’s just bad. Now we have a system where we ship twice a week and I start my day going through the emails and looking to see what new orders have been placed and I get those printed and prepped and ready. It definitely forced us to improve how we were doing things, and now we’ve split up responsibilities into departments for shipping, invoicing, etc.

So you’re setting aside two days a week to work the business?
Yolanda: We ship twice a week, but I go through orders every day. What I found in this process is some people order books for next October and November. Well those don’t need to ship right away, but I still go ahead and print everything. I have a folder that is indexed by month so I put them in the month they are due and they’re mailed the month before. So everything for February just got prepped and put together and will be shipped tomorrow.

That’s interesting, I didn’t think about customers placing orders for future deliveries.
Yolanda: It also helps me manage inventory because that was another thing that caught us off guard when the orders started pouring in. So now that I’ve made all the books for February and I’m looking at March, if I’m short on something I know what I need to order.

There’s a lot of debate on the long-term benefits to these daily deals, do you think you’ll repeat this promotion?
Yolanda: Yes, I would do another deal, but it wouldn’t be the same one. A helpful tip for distributors looking to do this is not to include shipping as part of the deal. Everything is negotiable and if the company you’re talking to will not negotiate you need to walk away and look somewhere else. Another tip is only allowing a customer to purchase one coupon [deal]. We had one person order 10 coupons.

Are you seeing orders where the customer spends more the coupons value on your website?
Yolanda: We just had a lady who enjoyed her book so much she’s already signed up as a club member and ordered more books.  Overall we’ve only had 3 customers, out of the 2,200, who were unhappy with the delay because we were simply unprepared to handle the first wave of orders. So I think we’ve done a pretty good job and should get some repeat business.

It sounds like you’ve learned a lot, is it ok if we share these specific details about the promotion?
Yolanda: Absolutely, this is important information!

What type of marketing will you do for new and repeat customers throughout the year?
Yolanda: Well, let me first say our database crashed and we had to start all over again [13 years of past customer data]. We had some great customers that came looking for us but when you lose that kind of information that can really hurt your business, so make sure you have backups.

But back to your question, aside from the daily deal promotion we did a marketing campaign on Facebook and that worked. What I’d like to see for the future is maybe having different sales opportunities for our Facebook customers. So if you “like” us then you’ll know about the savings. We’re also looking at doing one of the big shows in town. It’s an event that yields around 20,000 women. It’s totally different for us, but we’ve always wanted to do it and now that we’ve got some momentum we’d like to grow it even more. Also, Nita is about to go through our customer database and start looking for things like birthdays so we’re able to segment our customers and know when to send reminders and coupons.

That’s very smart. We’re actually planning to add a feature to the [SaviSites] websites that will let customers save profiles for their family members and friends. How are you getting the additional information from customers? For example, if they ordered a Christmas book, how are you finding out their birthdays?
Yolanda: We’ve started doing a “book of the month” where we feature a book in a newsletter. So every month we’ll promote something so that way they’ll get a feel for “Yes we have Birthday and Christmas Books, but we have other great books and hopefully this will drive them to our site.

Are you using an email marketing service handle these newsletters?
Yolanda: We just set up Constant Contact so we plan to start using that, but up until now we’ve just been using Facebook and regular email.

What’s the most important aspect of your business, now that you’re growing and putting systems in place?
Yolanda: Customer Service. What I’ve learned is even if they started off upset, because you responded and answered their questions and let them know you’re going to resolve their issues, you’re now the best thing since sliced bread. So that’s really what we’ve learned. We put a huge emphasis on making sure we give the best customers service. In the morning, I right down all the voicemails from the night before, and at 8am I hit the ground calling. I also immediately respond to all emails because they come to my phone or I’m at the computer.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Yolanda:Having the resources to be able to handle this many orders. Everybody wants those orders, but until you actually get them and realize what you need to manage the process, that’s more of a reality check. A gentleman recently called and wanted to order 5,000 books. If he called a couple years ago we would have said no problem. Now we’re more realistic and we realized it would take too many people to produce the books.

Actually, you might want to call him back! We’ve many helped dealers work out logistics for large volume orders. One dealer brought us a deal with Juicy Juice and we helped produce 20,000 books, and we helped another dealer produce 100,000 books for a promotion with Huggies diapers. If nothing else, we can help you find dealers interested in making books, so call us and we’ll brainstorm with you.
Yolanda: That is great to know!

And finally, any advice for someone just getting starting with Create-A-Book?
Yolanda: Have a plan, be consistent and don’t give up! It just came to a point where we needed more money and said “Create-A-Book is a business, it’s time to get serious, how can we do it.” It took us a little longer than normal, but we like where we’re headed.

Congratulations once again to Yolanda Meador, Gladys Sanders and Nita Arrington for thinking outside the box on how to use current trends to promote and build your business. And thank you for taking the time to share your experiences so that others may learn from you and follow in your footsteps. Keep up the great work; and we look forward to hearing about your local big event!

If you’d like to learn more from Yolanda, Nita and Gladys, you can visit their website or post a comment on their Facebook page.

www.PersonalizedBooks-Gifts.com
Facebook.com/PBooks4u