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Creative Promotion = Brand Recognition
A couple of weeks back I was leafing through the business mail pile, lamenting at the large amount of junk mail that made its way to me. But then, I happened upon an envelope from Linda Stein of Zosimos Botanicals. Inside was a 2007 calendar, adorned with Linda's business name and web address -- along with absolutely stunning imagery of all sorts of flowers -- some from Linda's own garden, along with other notable additions from her sister's garden, the National Zoo, and a test garden at a local farm. It was the perfect antidote to my mid-winter blues; and, it was a great example of a creative promotional tool.

What makes her calendar special was that it has a clever tie to her business -- Zosimos actively promotes the use of natural ingredients in their formulations -- so a calendar with botanical imagery is the perfect tie-in. Interested in making your own? Check out SnapFish.com.

There is a common misconception that a promotional tool must be expensive to be effective. That simply isn't true! You invest a significant amount of time and creativity into creating your product line -- you should spend an equal or greater amount of time in promoting it. Do you have an herbal product line? Consider sending your past season's clients a seed packet, along with a thank you note for "helping your business grow". You may even want to include a second packet to allow them to share with a friend. Gardeners love to share plants with their friends!

With Valentine's Day just days away, some of you may want to send out some sweet promos. Hit your local Sam's Club®, and pick up a large bag of Riesen® bag candy. Slip a half-dozen pieces into a cello bag, attach your business card with a colorful ribbon. On the back side of your card, you may consider adding the note, "Our customers are the "Reisen" we're in business. Thank you for your order!" This is an example of an inexpensive idea that can easily be slipped into a box with their order, and provides an unexpected surprise when it arrives.

One final idea I would like to share with you this week is one that we've recently added to our service offering at The Creative Concept. Promo Notes™ are a promotional notepad, created out of your own business card. With a year-at-a-glance calendar on the back, and 40 notepad sheets sandwiched in between, your business card has now gained added value, and has successfully extended its lifespan. Promo Notes will officially be launched on the 15th of this month -- but you can preorder from the website and beat the rush! Check out Promo Notes, along with lots of other business-building tools and articles when you visit Promo Bistro.

Rural America Cheers Arrival Of Fast Internet
Space may not be the only final frontier. Internet access in those wide-open spaces of rural
America right down here on Earth is another frontier.

Happily, it's been reached, thanks to a small satellite minidish that reaches virtually everyone, even those in rural communities. That's good news for anyone who had to settle for dial-up, sometimes called the "World Wide Wait." The satellite Internet service, operated by WildBlue, is about 10 to 30 times faster.

Aside from not having to wait to get online, users of the new two-way satellite Internet service don't have to tie up a phone line. This is especially good news to people living in rural
America, because better and faster Internet access also ensures that residents of rural areas can have the same access to educational opportunities and cutting-edge health care information as other Americans.

To learn more about WildBlue Internet access via satellite, visit www.localwildblue.com. For service, call 866-6-GOBLUE.

The Lazy Gardener’s Corner: Harvest Now
to Make Your Own Herb Vinegar

No harvest, no problem: Hit up a local grocer or farmer’s market for your herb needs.

Any right-thinking gardener who planned ahead is now scissoring handfuls of basil, chives, oregano, thyme and dill. Those of us who couldn’t or just plain didn’t plant ahead can still get in on the harvest. Fresh packets of herb branches and even pots of planted herbs are available year-round at many grocery stores.

Visit a grocer or local farmer’s market and load up. Use fresh herbs to enhance salads, soups and meats. Ambitious? Mix up some herb vinegars to extend the windfall into winter. Buy labels to mark each as your own special recipe and pass out bottles as gifts to friends. Who’s to know it’s not homegrown? Here’s how to put by your, ahem, harvest.

You’ll need:
• Fresh herbs
• Red or white wine vinegar, rice vinegar or cider vinegar
(Do not use white vinegar as the taste is too sharp)
• Large-mouth glass jars for steeping
• Wax paper, rubber bands
• Decorative glass containers for the finished vinegars

Wash herbs in cold water and pat dry. Make sure herbs are thoroughly dry before packing them into large-mouth glass jar. Cover the herbs with your choice of vinegar. Cover the top with wax paper and secure with a rubber band. Do not use metal lids because the vinegar will corrode them. Put the jar in an out-of-the-way place for 3-4 weeks. Stir periodically and push herbs down into the vinegar. After several weeks, strain the herbs out of the vinegar and discard them. A coffee filter works well for this. Now you’re ready to pour the flavored vinegar into your decorative jars and add a sprig or two of fresh herbs for decorative purposes.
Cork, label with a recipe card or serving suggestions and tie on a pretty raffia or cloth ribbon and you’re done.

Try this recipe for flavored vinegar or invent your own.

Red Wine Vinegars
• Thyme, rosemary, oregano
• Basil, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, mint, bay, dill seed, black
• Peppercorns and whole allspice berries
• Cilantro, hot red pepper and garlic
• Lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemon zest and green peppercorns
• Sage, parsley, bay Burnet, borage and dill

White Wine Vinegars
• Basil, parsley, fennel and garlic
• Tarragon, spearmint, lemon balm, whole cloves and peppercorns
• Thai basil and hot red pepper
• Orange mint, coriander seeds and lemon zest
• Tarragon, lemon thyme and chive blossoms
• Dill, mint and garlic cloves
• Savory, tarragon, chervil, basil and chive

Source: Dr. Lelia Scott Kelly, Mississippi State University Extension Service

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