Our First Big Announcement Puts Money in Your Pocket

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT #1

So..remember on our last blog post when I said that we would be offering some loyal customer incentives?  If you missed it..go check it out here..I’ll wait. 

Back now? Great!

Here it is…

We are starting a customer referral program! 

Isn’t that so exciting! We recognize how many of you tell your friends and co-workers about us and we want to reward you for that amazing love.  So..starting this month, we’re offering Blackhound Bucks for your wonderful word of mouth referrals.  So..get started..talk us up..

Who is going to be the first to earn that $$$?!

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5 Things to Look for from Blackhound in 2018

I can’t wait for 2018!

I think it’s going to be our best year yet and I can’t wait to share all of the ideas and plans we have in mind with you guys.  When I started Blackhound in 2015, I had no idea where it was going to take me and I could have never imagined that I would meet so many great people in the process.  2017 was so exciting and it’s going to be hard to beat the growth we saw.  However, I look forward to 2018 not only bringing growth, but also a better way of doing business for us, our existing customers, and those we’ve yet to meet. 

In 2017 we added Tiffany, Anna, and Christine to the team.  Something I love about these girls is that they all have an entrepreneurial spirit.  There is something about that spirit that makes them so good at what they do.  They strive to do things that really work for our clients.  They don’t believe in doing things halfway and they work really hard.  One of the big benefits of having a team with this mindset is that they are always busting at the seams with new ideas.  They can come up with more ideas than I can implement at a time.  That means you’ll see exciting changes and additions coming to Blackhound in 2018.  You’ll also get some insight into the other endeavors that they take on in addition to working so hard for our customers at Blackhound.  

2017 also brought a lot of growth for me personally.  Andy and I had our first child and showed us a whole new view of the world.  Every day is something new and it’s so exciting to see her learning new things that as adults we take for granted.  She is a breath of fresh air to our household and helps us realize that no matter how crazy the day can be..her smile makes it all better. 

 

So..moving on from 2017, we have exciting things coming in 2018.  

I won’t go into details, but I will give a few sneak peeks.  

1.Website

We’ll be launching a brand new from scratch website in the first quarter of 2018.  Our current site was built at the very beginning of Blackhound’s birth and as our company has grown, our needs from our website have grown as well. Some of your favorite pages (like our online booking page) will still be there, but we’ll also have a lot of fun new features to help you understand what we do a little better. 

2. New Services

Many of you have thrown out things to us over the past year of that you wish we offered.  We’ve heard you.  We’re working on it.  I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that there might be something involving staging coming soon.  So sit tight and keep your eyes peeled. 

3. Loyal Customer Incentives

One major goal we have for 2018 is increasing our customer satisfaction.  We aren’t blind to the fact that we’ve had some growing pains and we want to remedy that.  So we’ll be coming out with some incentives and opportunities for those customers that have stuck with us and continued to recommend us to your colleagues.  

4. Better Engagement

We recognize that communication is the key to everything.  So we’ve been working on our systems and our culture to provide better feedback and engagement on your projects and requests. Look to get a lot more emails from us, but I promise they will have value.  These are emails you’ll want to read!

5. Continued Efforts

While we have been working hard to bring these new things to you and make your experience better, we will still be working hard to do even better.  So you may still experience even newer changes as the year goes.  All of this work and these changes are with one thing in mind, to achieve our mission of making your life easier in branding your business or product.  

 

I can’t begin to put into words everything I am thankful for this year.  I work with an amazing team of women, I have a supportive husband that does anything I ask to help support my Blackhound dream, a beautiful baby girl and adorable dog that give me endless love and smiles, and an unimaginable amount of amazing customers that continue to put their faith and trust in our team. 

Thank you to all of you for every part you play in my life.

 

Thank you,

Kristen Brumbaugh

  

 

 

Blackhound Creative Werks

Stress Management during the Holidays

Blackhound Creative Werks Shopping, parties, deadlines, client’s, in-laws, more shopping!

It is no wonder that the Holiday’s are one of the most stressful times of the year. 

It is important to take time and slow down during this time of year so that you don’t experience burn out. There is no sense in rushing to failure and starting out the New Year exhausted. We are going to give you our top stress management tips to help you get through the Holidays. 

 1. Slow DoBlackhound Creative Werkswn 

The Holiday’s are supposed to be a time when people slow down and enjoy one another. Instead, it has become a fast-paced race against the proverbial “Holiday Shopping Clock.”

Slow down and remember that a lot of the stress and hype of the Holiday’s is made up, by marketing companies (not us) that want you to buy buy buy. This is not what ANY of these Holiday’s are about. 

Take some time to yourself. Read a book, catch up on a favorite show. Or pamper yourself with a nice relaxing bubble bath. Check out our Instagram giveaway for some awesome relaxation aids. 

2. Remember what IS important 

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You know that perfect gift you are killing yourself trying to find? Yeah, that thing is going to be so last year like ten minutes after the initial thrill of opening it. What if we worried less about giving the best gifts and worried more about spending QUALITY time with the people we love? This would make for way less stress during this time of year. What if we give the gift of our undivided attention? Make Holiday Treats, Listen to Holiday music, or Read a Holiday Story to our kids. Take time to remember what is important, your time and who you decide to give it to. 

 

3. Give Back Blackhound Creative Werks

One of the most humbling ways to realize that your problems are not that big of a deal is to help someone whose problems really are a big deal. So this Holiday season instead of stressing yourself out with arbitrary things, take the time to give back to something that you are passionate about. 

Columbia has many people and animals that are in need, every day of the year. There is always a need for volunteers. So in the spirit of giving this year why not give back?

Below is just one link to one of the many opportunities to serve in the local Columbia area at just one of the Homeless Shelters, Transitions. There are so many volunteer opportunities there is something for everyone. Click here to go to their site and see all their volunteer opportunities. 

If animals are more your thing Palmetto LifeLine can always use a helping hand click here to go to their volunteer area. 

 

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Branding your Business for the New Year

 Branding your Business for the New Year

The new year 2018 is fast approaching and is sure to be filled with a myriad of New Years Resolutions of getting fit and healthy.

After all the eating, drinking and merriment most people want to buckle down and really focus on their goals.While achieving your health goals is important, accomplishing your business goals is also desirable with this fresh start attitude. With only 21 days left in the year its time to start thinking about branding for your business in the new year. 

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Right now you are busier than ever with Holiday Parties, shopping, and making travel arrangements.

Branding your business is probably not a top priority right now. But unlike reaching your weight loss goals, branding takes a little bit more preparation. It is important to take a look at your business goals for the new year and focus on where you want to be. 

Why is Branding your Business even important for the New Year?

The New year lends the opportunity for a fresh start. Take this time to give some much needed love and attention to your business. It is the perfect opportunity to reveal a new logo or website. People are ready and receptive to change in the New Year so this is the time to launch a new product or campaign.

Customers are searching for answers in the new year!

They want to have the best year and will need the best products to achieve it. So that’s where your business comes in to serve their needs. Your products or services do not have to change but repacking them in a fresh new way is the jumpstart your business needs for the New Year.We have compiled a checklist to help you get ready for branding your business for the new year. 

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1. Know your Audience

This seems self-explanatory but it is actually something businesses struggle with regularly. There is this disconnect between who your desired audience is and who your real audience is. When you know your audience you can identify what their needs are.

“If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what they care about.”

-Nate Elliott Marketing Technical Advisor

When you know their needs you will know how you can serve them. Be exact and as detailed as possible when you are honing in on your audience. What kind of car do they drive? How old are they? What do they do? What are they searching for late at night on google? 

If you would like a professional branding session with us to help you identify your brand please go here to schedule a meeting. 

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2. Be your own mirror

As a Business owner, it can be hard to identify your own shortcomings and flaws. Perhaps you are the type of person that takes on too much and has a hard time delegating? Or if you have poor time management skills. Whatever the case may be for the new year it is important to take a long hard look in the mirror at these things because they are holding your business back. Once you identify your flaws you can brand your business plan around them to ensure your success in the new year. 

 

3. Know your Why? 

Knowing why you wake up in the morning is important. Having a sense of purpose is something that all humans crave. Meaning is what makes our efforts valuable. Knowing your business why will make or break your success. If your why doesn’t make you cry you will never be successful

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What you do simply proves what you believe”

-Simon  Sinek 

The reason it is so vital to know your why with your business is because your why will dictate how much pain you are willing to go through in order to be successful. Houses don’t always sell right away. Clients aren’t always happy. And sometimes you have to put your employees needs ahead of your own. Knowing why you are willing to go through the hard times will ensure your success in the business booming times. Your why will also dictate your brand. 

For example: Alan is passionate about helping underprivileged children because he himself grew up poor. So he decides to open a tutoring business where he has youth outreach programs. In the beginning, its going to be difficult to get his business to turn a profit. However, he is going to see an immediate return when the kids he helps are achieving higher grades. This is going to push him to move forward with his business even when times are tough. His brand is going to be a reflection of his passion for community and voluntarism. 

4. Evaluate your current Brand

How old are your marketing materials? Do they reflect your brand’s message? How old is your website? Or even worse how old are your lifestyle photographs and headshots? All of these things need to be updated in the new year. It is okay for your brand to change because that shows growth both personal and professional. You were in a completely different place when you open your doors two years ago. You have made mistakes, learned better ways of doing things, and who your audience really is. So make sure that your brand reflects this growth. 

If you would like to schedule a meeting with us to help you evaluate your brand and create new marketing materials you can do so by jumping on our schedule here

 

5. Set your goal for the New Year

Where do you want your business to be? Once you have a goal in mind you can build off of that for your branding. A goal is the clearest picture of what your brand needs to reflect. If you want to achieve a goal of selling every house you list in less than a week than your brand news to reflect to your buyers that you invest all the resources possible into listing homes so they sell quickly and for quality offers. 

 

 

 

How to photograph the Eclipse with your Smart Phone

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone, Columbia SC 

 

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse is coming…

As we approach the Total Solar Eclipse here in Columbia South Carolina, a lot of people are wondering how they will photograph this once in a life time event? Is it even possible to use a smart phone to capture the Eclipse? Will it ruin my phone camera? At what stage can I photograph the Eclipse? At Blackhound Creative Werks we specialize in photography so we have some awesome tips on how you can use your smartphone to photograph the Total Solar Eclipse. 

Practice makes perfect!

Practice taking pictures of the Solar Eclipse? 

Yes! Professional photographers spend decades practicing to get quality eclipse shots. It is a very difficult feat because it’s dark and you can’t look directly at the Eclipse until it’s in Totality. They use expensive filters and telescopes, but for the average American a smart phone will be the camera of choice. We suggest that you practice photographing the eclipse because this event is something many of us have never experienced before AND it is said to be really earth shattering.

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A total solar eclipse is something that you experience both visually and physically.

As the moon covers the sun the temperature will drop a noticeable amount because the radiant heat from the sun will be gone. Birds and animals will bed down, it will get quiet, and dark. There will be a lot of people around as well so it can get overwhelming. Even expert eclipse chasers have been awe struck during totality and unable to think straight, leaving their camera lenses on. With that being said practicing before the event will help you get a good photograph because there is going to be so much going on. 

 

How does one Practice taking Eclipse photographs?

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone, Columbia SCFirst make sure you have proper Eclipse glasses because there have been a lot that have been recalled. It is best to get them from a certified manufacturer to ensure they have the proper filters for viewing safety. It is best to practice at night when the moon is out because it is going to be dark when the eclipse occurs. You can use your eclipse glasses as a filter around your smart phone camera. The reason is because the Eclipse is going to be so powerful that it can damage your cameras sensitive sensor. Practicing on the moon also helps you gauge the right distance you will need to zoom in on Eclipse Day. 

You will also want to adjust your camera settings on your smart phone:

  1. Turn off flash and autofocus so your camera phone doesn’t try to autofocus or flash ruining your photo and the experience for others. 
  2. Reduce your exposure by sliding it down so that it controls the amount of light that comes in the lens. It is the sun icon on the camera app in your smart phone. 
  3. You can buy a filter for the lens if you do not want to fuss with using eclipse glasses as a make shift filter.
  4. You can also buy some inexpensive lenses for smart phones that will help with your zoom capabilities.
  5. Download an app to help you capture more details of the eclipse or even allow you to capture the images in RAW picture format rather than jpeg. 
  6. Setting up a tripod for your phone will ensure stability so the picture wont be blurry. 
  7. Understanding the different phases of the Eclipse is important as well because you don’t have to use a filter the entire time. In fact if you leave your filter on during totality it will ruin your picture all together. See the graphic below for the different phases of the eclipse. The last image is totality and this is when you can take your filter and glasses off. 
  8. Take one or two photos and then turn your phone off and enjoy the moment. An eclipse can be captured on camera but that cant compare to viewing it with your own eyes.

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone

We hope that these tips were helpful and we can’t wait to see everyone’s posts. Remember the hashtag for the event is #totaleclipsecae. Be sure to check out what we are doing the day of on our social media Blackhound Creative. Happy Photographing everyone! 

 

 

Meet Our Newest Team Member!

Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and patience while I was out on maternity leave.  Spending that time with my daughter is time I will truly always cherish.  On that note, I’d love to introduce you to a new Blackhound team member. 

For those of you that don’t know on May 23, my husband Andy and I, delivered our first child. She was born in the evening after almost 24 hours of labor.  She was born at a whopping 9lbs 6oz, 21.5 inches long.  It was love at first site.  Meet Emma Daylyn.

Adjusting to being a new parent has been just that, an adjustment.  There is only so much you can prepare for with books, family, friends, and google.  No one truly can prepare you for the level of commitment you feel and experience once becoming a parent.  I’ve realized that having a child is somewhat like starting a business.  You all of a sudden find yourself completely consumed in the minute by minute tasks and emotions.  If you’re like me, you can’t focus on anything else and it takes some time to find balance again.  I’ve experienced this with both scenarios now. 

While she does cause me to lose some sleep and makes getting things done a little more difficult, I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  Emma is truly the most precious child I’ve ever seen.  She is our world.

I’m back now though and we are running things full swing.  I can’t promise I won’t have to bring Emma along on an appointment every now and then, but I can promise that Blackhound is back to giving a full 110% to our customers and clients.  If you have any questions about Emma, or the business…please don’t hesitate to call me.

Spring is Here: Get Ready for Home-Selling Season

Spring is when the weather warms up, the flowers start to bloom, and also when houses start going up for sale left and right. While it’s true Spring is the hottest season to sell a home – it also means it’s the most competitive season – so being fully prepared to have your house listed is extremely important. 

The first steps to take after finding a good real estate agent is to do basic maintenance. Make sure to complete any repairs to plumbing or appliances that you’ve been putting off. It’s one less thing buyers will have to deal with (and they don’t want to deal with).

Next, try to landscape to create an eye-catching curb appeal. Spring is such a great time for beautiful exterior home photos because all the blooms and greenery. Cut back any overgrown bushes and pull any weeds.

To make the master closet look even bigger, take all your winter clothes and put them in storage. By thinning out your clothes and organizing everything, buyer’s won’t be distracted.

Pay special attention to your kitchen since it is one of the most important rooms in the house to a potential buyer. Updating the countertops or giving the cabinets a fresh coat of paint could really set it apart from the rest.

If you have the time, you should begin to depersonalize your home. Painting any colorful walls neutral and removing family photos make a huge difference. You want buyers to be able to imagine their family in the home – and you don’t want them dreading all the painting they think needs to be done. 

According to Zillow, data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. So, if you’re wanting to list your home in primetime you better start preparing now!

Business Marketing Plan for 2017

Developing an effective marketing plan for your business is one of the best ways to attract clients and grow your brand. While creating a business marketing plan may sound elaborate and time-consuming, it is very much worth the time and effort because of the benefits you will reap. 

With 2017 right around the corner it couldn’t be a better time to start planning for the year. Anything you have in mind, whether it be designing a new logo, investing in new office space, or releasing new products/services, all of these ideas can be included in your overall marketing plan. Every goal is important in shaping the flow of you marketing plan and defining every business goal you have will help fill in the blanks in your marketing strategy.

business-marketing-2017

One of the best approaches in creating an effective marketing plan is taking a glance at the 2015/2016 years and seeing which strategies did and did not work. Take everything that was positive and worked for your company and work it into the 2017 plan. Every strategy that failed, try to figure out why and brainstorm a new approach to take this year. 

In 2017, take a look at your business brand. Is your logo, design, cards, website, etc. consistent and fluid? Try to update and integrate all of these things to represent your brand and message as effectively as possible. We aren’t saying it is necessary to completely rebrand, but updated a logo or font text to something more eye-catching will make all the difference.

Further define and reach out to your target audience. The more you understand and know who invests and supports businesses like yours the more business you will gain. Ultimately it is up to you to decide what audience you are trying to target and shape your brand around that decision. 

If you like things tangible you may want to build your marketing plan in a binder with separated sections with different goals, ideas, products, services, etc. If you would rather have it all organized on a computer there are several programs that would work for creating a detailed plan. Try to keep a calendar of some sort with important dates or milestones you have planned for 2017 – that way you get a visual of what’s ahead. 

Last, but not least, take every plan and goal you have for 2017 and develop a budget to compensate for these goals. Again, taking into account how much you spent last year on marketing, make a chart to allocate money to each goal you have. If you plan on using outside marketing sources (such as Blackhound) then also allocate that money to its own section. 

Now it’s time to get down to business and start growing your business. If you have any questions about developing an effective marketing strategy or want to know about the services we offer here at Blackhound Creative Werks please contact us at info@blackhoundcreative.com

Favorite Holiday Commercials

With the Holidays quickly approaching (Thanksgiving is next week!) we have been seeing more and more of the holiday-geared commercials on TV. The commercials are always fuel by a powerful sense of emotion – whether it’s happiness, sadness, or love – they pull on our heartstrings in hopes of catching our attention during the holiday season. We scavenged the internet to find some of our 2016 holiday commercial favorites.

 

This Lexus commercial is sweet, more on the light-hearted side. This ad captures the spirit of the holidays by showing how parents want to enjoy “asking Santa” for gifts just like their kids. 

 

I love how this commercial has us laughing at the beginning and practically crying by the time it’s over. The commercial is extremely relatable for most and Comcast had me wondering how they were going to execute the whole thing. I’m glad to see the family spending time together for the holidays versus sitting around on their phones – one potential downside to having all those gadgets and WiFi. A commerical well done!

 

This is technically from 2015 but AT&T really got me with this one. We all have family members that just can’t seem to get off their phones and be a part of the family and it’s so nice to see AT&T acknowledge this common problem – they even decided to pull all ads except this one on Dec. 24th and 25th. This (almost) altruistic commercial will really score the mobile company major points for showing us what’s truly important during the holidays.

 

John Lewis is a British retailer that did a bloody marvelous job with this commercial. The visuals were not only stunning, but it gave me so many questions and confusion it kept my fullest attention. We’re big dog lovers here at Blackhound and this ad gave us the happiest of feels. 

 

Finally, an ad from Starbucks, the company that sparked major controversy last year for their holiday campaign pulling all holiday-related visual from their cups. While angering many people, others say it as a simplistic approach to seasonal items. This year they’ve brought back holiday decorated cups uniquely decorated by individual customers. It’s definitely a cool concept with a fun little advertisement to show them off. 

 

For more holiday ads click here.