Fruitcake You Don't Re-Gift: Merch Monday

There are certain types of gifts and goodies that reflect the Christmas season. Sometimes it's building a gingerbread house, making milk and cookies for Santa, or some old fashioned egg nog. One baked good has become a running joke for the holidays is fruitcake. A supposedly popular holiday gift that keeps on giving (thanks to re-gifting).

There is some fruitcake out there that is no joke. Fruitcake from WHOWomen

An organization called Women Helping Other Women has taken fruitcake up a whole new level. These new cakes remove any negative stereotype of fruitcake by creating several varieties that...wait for it....taste amazing. They offer three popular flavors of cake including "Berries, Cherries and Nuts," "Cranberry Orange Walnut," and "Chocolate Berries." Each of these cakes makes you re-think the whole stigma of re-gifting fruitcake.

Seriously. It legitimately tastes good...but that's not what makes these cakes special.

The organization that produces these cakes, Women Helping Other Women (WHOWomen), had a social mission behind their fruitcake business. Located in rural North Carolina, WHOWomen offers employment opportunities to women who are escaping domestic violence or homelessness situations. Many women in this scenario are unable to gain employment because of their backgrounds and lack of resources. However, through their work with WHOWomen, they are taught job skills training and even life skills training to help them break out of their poverty cycle. A Helping Hand Rewards partner, one success story of a WHOWomen participant is found here on their website.

Despite the fact that this socially responsible fruitcake isn't something that will see re-gifting, it remains a gift that will always give back.

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B2B Twitter of the Year....

 

We typically don't like to ask for favors but if you are a fan and/or Twitter follower, this may be a way to spread some Christmas cheer our way. 

Our Twitter handle, @hinda_incentive, has been entered into the B2B Twitter of the Year contest as a nominee for Best National/International B2B Service. Twitter isn't about contests or who is best but who says we can't have a little fun with it while we're here? Our ranking is currently in 5th place in regards to votes and we aren't too far outside of the small few brands ahead of us. 

How You Can Help

Take a visit to www.b2btoty.com or simply click here to visit our nomination page. In the top right box, complete the reason for your nomination ("I vote for @hinda_incentive for the B2BTOTY Award in category #NatlIntlB2BServicesCo because...") and hit vote. Be sure you vote in the "Natl/Intl B2B Services Co" category while you're in there. We also have a nomination in the manufacturing category but I'm not sure how (since we aren't a manfacturer). 

You can only vote once per day but can vote everyday between now and Friday December 17th. Votes aren't the end game of the results though, only a factor. The voting element of the contest is only a portion of how the winner is determined. A panel of judges will decide who will be the ultimate winner based on tweet quality etc. So the burden still lies mostly on our end but your support will definitely help big time!

While You're There...

There are many other categories with awesome people up for votes. Take a moment to surf around the site and vote for users in other categories. If you want to spread the love our way, might as well help a few others out while you're there. 

Thanks in advance for your support! This is all for fun but let's see what happens...

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Why It Pays to Care

Our readers out there know that we like to talk about treating your employees right. How employee engagement is crucial for business success. Sure treating people right is something most anyone should try and practice no matter what. However, is how your company treats its employees crucial to your corporate branding and overall sales

Let's take a look at some notes from a recent Brand Conference. We weren't attendees but did have some good takeaways from the event hashtag on Twitter. Of all the bits of branding knowledge shared through that stream, this one really jumped off the screen at us:


@kufarms (or more formally Keith McIlvaine) is a social media consultant out of Pennsylvania and hit a crucial point. Consumers are interested in how you as a company treat your employees. We've seen this from rapidly rising companies such as Zappos or Southwest Airlines. They've received a ton of attention from their individual company cultures. As a result of that attention, they've seen increased brand exposure, positive PR and most likely increased revenues as a direct result of how they treat their employees. 

Why are consumers so interest in company cultures? Customers see how companies treat their front-line staff as a correlation of how they will be treated as customers. If I'm considering making a purchasing decision with one company but know that they treat their employees poorly, what makes me think that I will receive any better treatment? How many companies have you heard of that have a poor employee culture but amazing customer service?

Employees have the potential to be your company's most influential brand advocates. How you treat them will influence how they verbally treat your brand.

What do you think? Does employee treatment directly reflect customer treatment?

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Holiday Do-Goodies: Merch Monday

One of the best parts of the holidays is the food. Let's be honest. The amount of pastries and other goodies that we consme contribute to the underlying guilt behind "get fit" New Year's resolutions. Sweets are a huge part of the holiday culture. Just look at the season's cast of characters: gingerbread houses, Santa's milk and cookies, candycanes and the line "now bring us our figgy pudding" from the carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

What exactly is figgy pudding anyway?

If you're looking for the answer to the above question, you're at the wrong blog. This post does have the answer to what sort of holiday treats you can give (or self-indulge in) this season. Gives that not only taste amazing but also give back.

After making an appearance on Oprah's magazine, the Today Show and a recent mention on Good Morning America, Greyston Bakery's brownies are rapidly climbing the popularity ladder. For good reason. Their assortment of baked brownie treats are out of this world. So good in fact that they are the sole supplier of brownies to Ben and Jerry's for their chocolate fudge ice creams. Their brownie flavor expertise goes outside just the realm chocolate fudge. Additional flavors also include a walnut assortment and (this writer's personal favorite) blondie brownies.

What really makes Greyston Bakery's brownies shine isn't the ingredients...it's the social purpose behind their business. The bakery hires homeless, recently incarcerated and other at-risk individuals who may not be able to gain employment elsewhere. While working for the bakery, these individuals learn job skills, life skills and ultimately get on the path to a more sustainable life. As their slogan indicates, they don't hire people to bake brownies. They "bake brownies to hire people."

Greyston Bakery is just one of the several social enterprise partner groups of the socially responsible initiative Helping Hand Rewards. You can learn more about Greyston Bakery and all of HHR's other social good partnerships by clicking here. It's definitely something you'll want to learn more about.

 

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The New LinkedIn Share Button

You may or may not have noticed a new additional button below the normal tweet button. As of this past week, LinkedIn (finally) released a share button for its users to share professional content from the web (white papers, trade articles, presentations) with their business connections.

Though we do have a very active Twitter presence, the majority of our blog subscribers aren't heavy Twitter users. However, almost all of them are on LinkedIn. What else would you expect from a B2B audience?

The new feature should help build upon the rapidly growing social graph of the B2B world. Staying on top of industry trends is a priority of any serious business person. Several top sites like Bloomberg and the Huffington Post are already integrating this new feature. Want to have your own sharing option? Just click here and copy and paste the code provided.

If sharing isn't your thing, then there's always our free weekly roundup. Are you on board?

 

Hinda's Weekly Roundup
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The Future of Incentives: Digital

In the early days of digital marketing and social media, brand advocacy online was more or less a volunteer effort. Early adopting tech users with good (and bad) consumer experiences with brands took the time to talk about that brand in their own social feeds. The early days were also exciting in the fact that social media opened up this new door for consumers to be able to interact with brands. Marketing was no longer (well in theory anyway) a one-sided conversation where the brands controlled all the messages. Consumers could now be part of that marketing conversation.

It was - and still is - an exciting time. The winds are changing though. The initial thrill of being able to talk to a brand is wearing off. Social media usage is growing exponentially and not all the users want to be part of brand advocacy for kicks. There has to be something in it for them. Companies now have to not just rely on the "yay social media" wave but come up with effective ways to keep the consumer base engaged in conversation about their brand.

That's where incentives and loyalty programs come in.

Incentive and loyalty companies (in theory anyway) are masters in modifying behavior. We typically see this in the form of employee motivation, helping company workers take the necessary to achieve and even excel certain goals. Incentive programs should be designed to drive a certain behavior from a group and reward them accordingly for participating in those behaviors.

Tapping into digital loyalty is a huge opportunity for our industry. Using our knowledge and capabilities to help drive consumer behavior will be huge in the digital space. So a company wants consumers to talk more about their brand online....talk about in what ways? Do they want more Twitter mentions? Foursquare or Facebook place checkins? Completed activities on SCVNGR? If they do these things, what's in it for them? How will they be motivated to take part in those behaviors desired by your company/brand.

Digital media and loyalty is going to be part of the incentive industry's future. Loyalty programs will play a much bigger role in successful digital marketing efforts.  What do you think? What other ways will incentives play a part in the future of digital marketing?

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The 3D Revolution: Merch Monday

Earlier in the year following the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, we briefly touched on 3D Televisions and how they would see useage in the future. The future is here and so far, we've been right.

The adoption of 3D technology has been very dependent on the amount of content available for that medium. Even though ESPN has broadcast some sporting events along with a handful of other cable channels, functionality for everyday 3DTV viewing still hasn't completely come to surface yet. As predicted in our previous CES post, the heaviest applications are being seen in the film and video game arenas. Several 3D films have been released on DVD and Blu-ray titles such as Monsters vs Aliens, Toy Story 3 among others. In regards to expansion of useage in the 3D world, the film industry will help push a lot of that adoption.

Gaming, like film, will help further push 3D technology along - if not more so.

Recently released gaming systems like Playstation's Move and Xbox 360's Kinect are bringing several elements to the table. In response to Wii's success, both gaming systems feature high-tech motion sensing elements to their gameplay, adding more than just thumbs to the gaming experience. In addition, many new game titles are being released with 3D capabilites, making already realistic game experiences come to life that much more.

So what's the barrier to 3D technology? Price.

Being that its relatively new, the price points on 3D televisions are still relatively high. Along with the high price of TVs there's also the additional cost of the viewing glasses (not cheap) costing around over $100 a pair. It'll take the development of technology giving the users the ability to enjoy the 3D experience without the aid of glasses.

That concept may not be too far away. Nintendo's new DS handheld system is designed for a glasses-free 3D gaming experience. The screen is on a much smaller scale than a television obviously. However, if that technology is already starting to make a small appearance, it could mean that application on a larger scale could be around the corner.

What do you all think? Will 3D technology be part of popular gift selections this holiday season?´╗┐

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