A Lesson in Serving Your Customers: Flour Sack Dresses During the Depression

I came across this amazing story today, and it brought home to me just how important it is to know your customer and make it your company’s business to meet their needs.

I remember learning in high school about people making clothing out of old flour sacks during the Great Depression, and I knew that some of the flour sacks were printed with patterns. But, I didn’t realize that it was done on purpose.

According to The Fascinating History of Flour Sack Dresses on oldphotoarchive.com, the flour and seed companies found out their sacks were being used to make clothing, so they began to print patterns on the cotton bags. That way, when families purchased their much-needed food, they also received the material to make their clothing. (Or a really adorable stuffed rabbit as shown in one of the photos.)

This is a wonderful example of knowing what your customers need and solving a problem for them. At a time when jobs and money were hard to come by every little bit counted. These companies were already providing a necessary product. They didn’t have to go the extra mile, but they did.

Successful businesses still do this today.

How is your product, service or content solving a problem for your customer or target audience?

First Step To An Effective Marketing Plan: Know Your Audience

Before you can create an effective marketing plan for your business you must know your audience or customer inside and out.

If you do not know your customers or clients, their wants and needs, then you are wasting your time and money with marketing tactics that may or may not work. It’s the old spaghetti against the wall approach. You toss a handful of spaghetti and sauce on the wall and see what sticks and what falls off. It’s messy, and what do you really get out of it other than something you have to clean up later?

Here are five ways you can get to know your audience:

1 — Go Where They Go

Start your research by using keyword search on various social media sites to find out where your audience is “hanging out.” You’ll probably want to start with broad keywords that relate to your products or services. So, instead of searching “#brandxpapertowels” you’d search “#papertowels” or #bestpapertowels.” See what they are discussing. What’s important to them about products like yours?

It’s important to know where you can find your audience. Perhaps they are more active on Twitter or Pinterest and not so much on Facebook. Then you’ll know where to concentrate more of your online marketing efforts.

How do they like their communication served up? Are they responding more to video, photos and images, or text conversations? Those insights will help you build your plan around tactics that will best resonate with your audience members.

2 — Discover Your Influencers

Who in your audience is already talking favorably about your brand? Again, use your keyword, hashtag or @ tag search to find these influencers. Here’s where you search mentions of your specific brand or product. Are they sharing your posts with their friends and followers? What do they most appreciate or love about your brand or products? What are they not so happy about?

All of these insights will help you discover what these influencers want from you and your business, which will help you reach them in more productive ways as you build out your marketing plan.

3 — Follow Them

Once you’ve identified your key influencers, start following them on social media. Do they have a blog? Sign up for the feed.

Really focus on what they are discussing…what’s important to them.

This is research. It’s going to take time, but it’s part of knowing your audience “inside and out.”

4 — Ask Them

This seems like such a logical step, but many businesses will still refuse to do it. If you’re a small business, you may think it’s not worth your limited amount of time and resources to take this step. It can be time-consuming. However, I urge you to make the time.

Once you have identified a group of your best influencers, reach out to them and invite them to join a special closed Facebook group or be a part of an advisory panel for your business.

People are busy just like you, so giving them an incentive, such as free products or services to review periodically or goodie bags of logo items, can be a nice way to thank them for their candid feedback. Offer them a first look at any new products your company is launching. Make them feel special.

Be clear that you don’t just want the sunshine and roses. The most beneficial information you will get from these super fans is their honest opinion. Remember, they already love your brand or product.

Again, this can be a step that requires you to set aside manpower resources. You’ll have to make time to communicate with your influencer group. You can’t ignore them once you’ve opened this pathway. And, you’ll also have the added cost of providing them with products, services or other goodies.

However, if you treat them right and show that you value their opinions, they will reward you by spreading the love. And, you will be able to use their feedback to craft that amazingly effective marketing strategy.

5 — Who’s Following Your Competitors? 

I think as marketers we sometimes forget about the influencers of our competitors. We only care about the folks who love us, right?

But, you can get valuable insights from observing the people who are loyal to a company that has similar products or services. What are they sharing? What do they feel like that company is doing right? What can you learn from that?



These five points can provide you with the information you need to begin to get to know your target audience. Once you’ve mastered these steps, you can develop a deeper relationship with your customers and your influencers while continuing to hone your brand’s marketing strategy.

Why I Love Mondays: 3 Tips to Kick Start a Productive Week

The Monday memes are ubiquitous. Everyone is hatin’ on Monday. Why? Because it’s the end of the weekend and the beginning of the work week.

So, why do I LOVE Mondays? I think it’s because I am never happier than when I feel organized, and Monday is the day I organize the rest of my week.

You can start to love Mondays, too!

Think of Monday as a clean slate or a blank sheet of really awesome paper.

First thing Monday morning I grab a steaming cup of coffee, two colored pens and a notebook and head to my desk positively bubbling over with thoughts to pour out on the paper.

Tip 1:  I start with my weekly To-Do list. 

I’m one of those annoying people who like to write in two colors, partly because I just think black ink is boring but mostly because the list is easier to read if I alternate the colors. I don’t try to organize this first week-long list into any sort of order. I just let the future tasks flow off the end of the pen. They have to get out of my head.

And, I include EVERYTHING I know that I have to do, down to specific phone calls I want to make.

Tip 2:  Prioritize 

Once I have the weekly list fleshed out, I usually recharge my java juice and then sit down and number each task based on priority. What needs to be done first? What can wait?

For this exercise, I use a pencil, because as I go along I often change my mind about the importance of one task over another.

Tip 3: I create daily To-Do lists. 

Prioritization allows me to write effective daily To-Do lists.

Each list gets its own sheet of paper and day/date at the top. Monday, naturally, begins the same every time: #1 ORGANIZE THE WEEK. After that, I break up the prioritized weekly list across the days.

Most of the time, my most important tasks of the week are listed on Monday and Tuesday. However, there are times when a top priority has a place towards the end of the week. It could be because I know that a client will only be available to talk on Thursday. And, sometimes it’s just too hard to fit ALL my top priorities into one or two days. It may be easier to spread those out for the first tasks of each day and fill in the rest of the day with lower-priority tasks.

It’s all about what works best for you in the long run.

Also, be sure you leave some empty slots on your daily lists. No matter how thorough your agenda, things always seem to pop up that need to be added as the week goes by. Stay a little flexible.

Are your daily lists too long? If you find that you are consistently unable to finish your daily tasks, you may be trying to cram too much into your day or you may have too many high priorities listed on those days. Wiggle some of your tasks around and see if that helps you get more accomplished.

Do you have other tips for making Mondays great? Share them in the comments! I’ll gather them into a compilation post and give you credit.


Starting Anew

When I started this blog and dipped a toe into my marketing consulting business in 2013, I was also looking for a job to pay my bills.

I found that job, and became completely immersed in it. That wasn’t a bad thing. I loved what I was doing. I was an integral part of creating a brand new ecommerce website that provides continuing education for veterinary professionals, and the experience and skills I gained from that job were amazing.

In addition to learning all new skills, I was able to stretch out my marketing wings in a small B2B environment.  Our budget was humble and our resources were shared. One of our main marketing tools was email, and I had to sharpen my rusty copywriting skills and experiment with new ways to reach the audience and convert them to subscribers.

I also created an entire webinar program from scratch that quickly attracted hundreds of participants for each event. The email addresses for these folks were a gold mine, and I became a list-building fiend.

Part of my job also included traveling to trade shows to promote the product, and my husband started to wonder if I really was EVER coming home.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is I ran out of time to do my own thing.

After three years of love and learning, I recently found myself part of another layoff. I was sad, but not devastated. It really was time to move on. And, it was time to pick up my own dream where I left it.

I have a new logo coming, and lots of great information to share. I hope that you lovely readers will come and impart your own knowledge here as well.

I’m back and ready to rev it up!



Flying Southwest to South by Southwest (SXSW)

I am sitting on an airplane skirting the Southeast coast of the U.S. for a stop in Houston on my way to Austin and SXSW. I’m a newbie.

I can’t wait to get there and rub elbows with all the other social and digital media marketing peeps. I’ve set my mind to sponge mode so I can absorb as much knowledge as possible about my industry. And, yes, I want to meet Grumpy Cat. I hear she’s a sweetie, and I will be my son’s hero if I get a photo.

One of my good friends and former co-workers is already on the ground getting her social on. She texted last night to tell me to expect to feel old. I understand it’s a young crowd, but I am young in spirit and make it my job to stay hip and relevant (thanks quite a bit to my college-age daughters.)

I think people who go into professions as communicators tend to be more receptive to change and excited about technology and finding innovative ways to reach their audiences. Marketing isn’t the same in this insta-connect universe. We’ve all got to be ready to go with the flow and embrace the future. And, we seasoned pros need to be open to learning from those bright, young minds.

See you in Austin!


Welcome! (It all started with a boat.)

A hearty welcome to the debut of PerryWinkle Social Marketing.

I have to credit my husband for the name. Years ago we were trying to name our boat, and he jokingly said we should christen her the PerryWinkle. Coming from a mucho macho man, it was a pretty silly suggestion. We all yucked it up over his humor. But the name stuck in my mind. I just knew it would come in handy one day.

Perry Boat

Now that I’ve christened my blog,  I’ll be casting off to explore all sorts of topics related to social media, community management, marketing, digital media and more. All from my own point of view, naturally.

I appreciate your comments, your likes and your shares. Oh, and your suggested topics.