What Are Your Corporate Goals for 2014?

Posted on 12/31/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

hostess gifts monmouth countyMany business owners make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of every year only to find that after the first week those resolutions have long since been forgotten.   When making a resolution we always have the best of intentions to stick with it, to see it through to the end and improve personally and make our overall situation better throughout the year.   Good intentions, right?  Well you know what they say about good intentions…

We have a suggestion that’s a little different for 2014.  Instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, why not make a list of where you were last year, both the good and the bad, then list your GOALS for the New Year based on where you have been and what you would like to accomplish.  It’s much easier to be flexible with this strategy and make the changes necessary to meet your goals because it’s a more positive mental picture than denying yourself something in a resolution (and we all know that our resolutions are always about the negative).

When I first started Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe 15 years ago I wasn’t consciously aware that I was doing it, but at the end of my first full year I reviewed what I had accomplished, what my difficulties were and what my goals for the following year would be.  At the end of my second year I reviewed what my goals had been for the year and realized that 90% of what I put in writing as a goal for the year was actually accomplished!  I was completely amazed by this discovery, as I sure wasn’t focused on it every day, week or month. I wasn’t referring to the list of goals throughout the year; however, just by virtue of committing to it in writing, I seemed to have been able to accomplish much of the list that year.  What a great feeling!

So, needless to say, instead of making any New Year’s Resolutions I put together a new list of goals for each year.  Now, what does this have to do with marketing, sales or anything chocolate related?  By experiencing this phenomenon myself I wanted to suggest that having written goals for the year, whether they are personal, or business goals can be an effective tool in your arsenal for success.   Identifying your goals for the year will give you more focus and provide a road map to the things that you want to accomplish.

For instance, if your goal is to increase your sales next year, give yourself a specific plan of action and list the things you will do to accomplish this goal.  Follow that list and you will be surprised at the end results.  Your marketing goals for the year should be identified in the same way and through very targeted and specific programs, such as employee recognition and client retention plans, you will be able to follow through and feel accomplished at the end of the year.

Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe can be an integral part of your overall sales and marketing goals, for client retention, new business development and employee rewards.  Our specialized gift baskets, custom branded logo products and delivery services can make your company stand out from the competition.  For more information on our corporate services and how you can utilize our products and branding services to help increase your business in the coming year, please click here.

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Brewed Cocoa – What is it and Where Can I Get Some!

Posted on 12/18/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

brewed cocoa in middletown njWe all know that chocolate comes from the cocoa bean and those beans are processed and eventually become the chocolate that we all know and love.  But there is a new way to enjoy the benefits of cocoa beans that is different than in chocolate form.  Have you ever heard of brewed cocoa?  If not, let us be the first to introduce you to this wonderful alternative to your morning coffee drink.

Brewed cocoa can be made in any coffee maker or French Press.  It is very closely related to the original version of brewed cocoa from the Mayan era, where ka’kao was known as the drink of the gods.  It was served to kings in golden cups and prepared by the ancients from ground cocoa beans and water.  The Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs and Incas all valued the drink’s health benefits, as well as its social and economic implications within their societies.

Today’s brew is made from roasted cocoa beans and contains no sugar, chemicals, gluten or dairy products.  It is full of antioxidants, as a matter of fact it has more than pure pomegranate juice and its minerals provide for a healthy energy.  It is low calorie with no sodium and only 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per 6 oz. cup and cocoa is known as an appetite suppressant as well!

The beans come in three varieties that are unique in flavor which in include Cavalia, a coconut and cinnamon flavor; Vega Real that combines red berries and dark spicy flavors and Coca River that has jasmine and nutty after-tones.  These flavors are found naturally in the cocoa bean and are not infused chemically.

Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe is excited to offer two varieties of the brewed coca, Cavalia and Cavalia French Roast, and we even taste tested it during our anniversary celebration last month. Our customers raved about brewed cocoa and we are sure you will love it too.  For more information on brewed cocoa, please feel free to contact us.  We are excited to add brewed cocoa to our line up, along with our homemade chocolates, fudge and hand-dipped chocolate specialties.  If you are looking for holiday gifts for personal or corporate giving, please visit our website for gift baskets and options.

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The Busy Season is Approaching – Are You Ready?

Posted on 10/30/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Suzi's Sweet Shoppe Homemade chocolateIt always seems that once Halloween hits, things start to get real, and fast!  It’s the trigger that sets off a chain of events that take place from now until the end of the year that keeps you moving with little chance to relax and enjoy the holidays as they come.  There are many ways to slow down and find some down time during the holiday season, and we would like to offer some of our favorite ways to keep up with the pace, but still allow your self a little “me-time”.

Plan ahead – it’s easy to have a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to your holiday season, but trust us, it’s much easier to map out your strategy and give yourself the benefit of a plan to help you stay organized and less stressed.  It doesn’t have to be a super detailed flow chart.  You just need to give yourself a list of the things you need to do, the places you need to shop and the people you need to buy gifts for, along with any other information that will help you navigate the time between buying Halloween candy and New Years Day.  Planning ahead will help keep you on track so nothing is forgotten.

Schedule some exercise – Okay, we know what you are going to say, “I don’t have time to exercise now, let alone during the holiday season”.  But this is not the type of exercise like going to the gym or taking an hour-long class.  We are talking about a nice brisk walk on a beautiful sunny fall day for about 10 minutes to clear your head and enjoy a few moments of solitude to help increase your endorphins, causing you to feel less stressed and happier.  It’s the gift you will give to yourself and will help get you through the New Year feeling more refreshed than exhausted.

Treat Yourself – Stop for a cup of coffee and sit down for 15 minutes to enjoy the taste and warmth of the coffee.  If you are not a coffee drinker, then find something else that will give you a few minutes to reflect, think and clear your head while indulging in something you love.  Chocolate is another great treat to indulge and it also releases those feel-good endorphins.  Whatever you choose, be sure to enjoy it as you sit and relax and not while you are on the run.

Say No – This can be a tough one to accomplish, but by choosing your commitments carefully you will not have to feel resentful or angry while fulfilling obligations that you are not really that into.  The PTO will survive if you don’t bake the brownies for their next bake sale.  And it’s perfectly okay to turn down an invitation with grace in an effort to minimize your commitments this holiday season.

With everything that is on your To Do List this holiday season it’s important to recognize where you can cut back or take some time to nurture yourself.  If you are looking for a great place to indulge in a homemade chocolate treat or grab a cup of coffee brewed with cocoa beans, stop by Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe during the holidays.  We will be celebrating 15 years in business during November and will have many in-store specials, chocolate samples and giveaways the weekend of November 16th & 17th, so please join us during our celebration!  In addition, we are taking orders for holiday gift baskets, party platters and party favors, so be sure to place your orders early.  Whether you need help with corporate gift giving or personal baskets of holiday cheer to send to family or friends, Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe can help make your life easier this holiday season.  Click here to visit our website for more ideas and easy online ordering.

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There’s No Time Like the Present – A Guide to Your Corporate Holiday Gift Giving

Posted on 10/12/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Chocolate dipped wine bottleOur favorite part of corporate branding, of course, is using gift giving as a tool to help promote your company brand to customers and prospects.  There are many appropriate times when providing a gift basket can be an effective tool for customer retention, as well as new business development.  The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to take corporate branding to the next level for those who plan ahead.

As the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.” And by present we not only mean the time is now, but also present, as in “gift”!  It is that time of year when corporate managers and business owners must decide on how to show their gratitude to their best customers and clients in the form of a corporate gift.  We would like to help business owners, human resource professionals and office managers who are tasked with ordering the perfect corporate holiday gifts by providing some insight and inspiration in planning for this year.

A Basket of Cheer Will Be Much Appreciated

When it comes to corporate holiday giving, a beautiful gift basket of chocolate and candy can provide your customer’s office with much needed good cheer during the holidays.  Custom corporate branded gift baskets are a number one choice when sending gifts to clients.  By adding your company logo it will help your gift stand out from the competition.  We recommend combining different selections, like fudge, peppermint bark and assorted chocolates so that your gift has variety.  Gift baskets are perfect for individual or office gifts.

A Box or Two Will Do

Stacked boxes of assorted chocolates provide for a variety of flavors, fillings and chocolates and can be the perfect gift for large offices or individuals.  You can select any size box or candy weight that is appropriate and your custom logo can go outside, or on a chocolate bar inside!  Your client’s staff will love the delicious assortment of chocolate and will be reminded of you and your company every time they open the box to enjoy another piece.

Attending a Client Holiday Party?

Don’t just bring a bottle of wine.  Bring a bottle of wine or champagne dipped in chocolate and you will no doubt have the best client gift at the party!  By combining two great gifts into one uniquely memorable one, your creativity will shine throughout the holiday season.

Not Your Typical Business Card

Instead of handing out your business card at your customer’s holiday party, bring along some custom chocolate business cards or bars of chocolate with your corporate logo on the wrapper.  This is a fun way to add to the branding of your company while gift giving.   These can be handed out individually or added to a custom gift basket for an overall branded holiday gift.

Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe makes corporate gift giving easy.  All of our chocolates are homemade in our store and we personally create each and every gift basket to order.  It’s important to place your order early for custom branded gifts so that they will be ready before the holidays and shipping is available for all your out-of-area clients.  Don’t forget we can do platters and favors for your corporate holiday party too.  Stop by the store or call us today for more information on how we can help make your corporate holiday gift giving easier this year or click here for more information on our corporate gift services.

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Halloween and All Things Spooky Coming Soon

Posted on 09/27/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Halloween candyEvery year after the kids go back to school, we start to prepare for scary things to come. That’s right – it’s Halloween!  One of the most highly anticipated holidays during the fall season and, if you noticed, stores were already setting up their spooky displays and decorations in early September. Truthfully if you look one aisle over, they are already setting up Christmas stock (but we didn’t mention this)!  We haven’t gone that far yet, but planning for Halloween is something we all look forward to.  From decorations to costumes and, of course, candy, we can’t get enough of orange and black, pumpkins and all things scary!

What many people do not know is that Halloween is thought to be a Christian feast that was brought about by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with pagan (mainly Celtic) roots.  Some scholars argue that it has solely Christian roots but, at any rate, today’s Halloween festivities are fun for the whole family.

Some interesting facts about Halloween are that the turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used pumpkins, which were native to the lands and because they were softer and larger, they were also easier to carve than a turnip.  Through commercialization, the pumpkin became one of the official symbols of Halloween.

Trick or treating, or guising as it’s known in Scotland and Ireland, is primarily the same as it is here – children go door to door in costumes for food or coins.  By giving “treats” to the children homeowners guarantee that no mischief would come to them or their property.  We continue the tradition of trick or treating in a much less demanding way.  Children plan for weeks before Halloween what their costume will be and some schools even allow a Halloween parade where students can wear their costumes and parents can attend.  Many families go all out on Halloween and invite friends and family members to come in full costume for a Halloween party.  Some folks even decorate their homes as haunted houses with scary decorations, strobe lights and sound effects.

No matter how you celebrate Halloween, it’s definitely a fun time of year for people of all ages, whether you are home giving out candy or visiting your neighbors and looking for treats.  If you have special “trick or treaters” that come to your door, it’s always nice to have a little something available that is not your standard wrapped candy.  Making sure you are prepared with some fun and unique candy treats will be sure to please the special ghosts and ghouls who come knocking.  Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe offers a wide range of homemade chocolates, wrapped goodies, chocolate lollipops and candies for all of your Halloween needs.   And if you are having a Halloween party, be sure to ask about party platters made to order.  Stop by the store or visit our website today for more ideas to make the most fun night of the year a success!

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Football’s Back!

Posted on 09/16/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

chocolate party plattersIt’s back!  To the delight of many fans and the suffering of many who don’t enjoy the big game, football season has returned.  And with that comes the tailgating and football day parties that make us all proud to wear our team jerseys and yell like we are on the field with our favorite players.  Food has always been the heart of these events and this year is no different.  We have some great dessert and snack suggestions that will make your game day stand out from the ordinary and have your guests on their toes, but not because your team scored the winning touch-down!

1)            Chocolate dipped cookies.  Move over fried Oreos, because there’s a new sheriff in town!  That’s right, hand-dipped Oreos, Chips Ahoy and just about any kind of cookie you might like.  We can dip them in dark, milk or white chocolate and top them off with sprinkles or decorations that match your favorite team colors.chocolate dipped cookies

2)            For those of us who are looking for a healthier alternative, how about some hand-dipped fruit. Although not a traditional tailgating food, chocolate dipped strawberries or assorted fruits are a perfect light dessert to compliment any tailgate fare.

3)            Pick up a football platter with chocolate dipped pretzels and bring them over to your game day party as a hostess gift.  Why bother with a bag of plain, boring pretzels, when you can enjoy the delicious mixture of sweet, creamy homemade chocolate with the crunchy goodness of pretzels.  Sweet and salty doesn’t get any better than this.

4)            Make your alliances known with custom team logo candy bars.  This is a great way to take your team rivalries to the next level.  Your favorite team’s logo can be printed on a candy bar label and added to a gift basket, a party platter or you can buy them in bulk to hand out to your fellow team mates!

5)            Football lollipops make great party favors and can fit right in with your football tailgate party.  They are fun for kids as well as adults and can be made in any type of chocolate, or mix and match so there is something for everyone.

Don’t settle for the usual desserts and snacks while you are watching your favorite team in action.  Whether your staying at home with friends or tailgating at the stadium, we think homemade chocolate should be part of the fun.  We recommend you dump the nachos with extra cheese and put out a great party platter of chocolate treats that will make your game day even better.  Contact Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe for more information about party platters, favors and gift baskets or to place your order today.

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It’s Time to Start Making Your List

Posted on 08/31/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Suzi's Holiday Gift GivingWe know that it’s just Labor Day weekend and that your mind is on absorbing the last official weekend of summer.  It’s still time for barbeques and beaches and no one wants to think about…the holidays (at least not yet, anyway)!  Everyone’s heard the old saying “the early bird gets the worm”, so we are here to tell you that even if you aren’t ready for it, the holidays will be here before you know it.  Our suggestion is to take a few minutes now to get your holiday shopping list started so that you can relax and enjoy the rest of the summer knowing that you are in full control of your holiday gift giving.  Let’s take a moment to learn why making your list now will keep you off the naughty list later!

1)            By starting now to make a list of the people you plan on giving holiday gifts to, it will keep you from scrambling later and potentially forgetting an important person in your life.  Nothing is worse than missing a gift for a special person who does so much for you throughout the year.

2)            If you are in charge of corporate gifts, now is definitely the time to get your client list together and decide what you are going to send or deliver to them for the holidays.  There are some decisions to make about whether to send individual or office gifts.  In addition, selecting the type of gift is also challenging, particularly if you are providing it for a group.  Thinking it through ahead of time can help alleviate the stress of having to make a quick decision making later.

3)            There are so many gifts for teachers, assistants, crossing guards and even dog walkers!  So be sure to include everyone that you want to thank for making your life easier this holiday season.  Even the smallest token will be appreciated, so pick a budget and make your list now.

Holiday gift giving doesn’t have to be as challenging as it has been in the past, especially if you get started early.  There’s no need to fight the crowds or even get in the car and drive to a variety of different stores to get all the gifts you need this holiday season.  Just visit Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe’s website and you’ll find a large variety of homemade chocolates, hand-dipped fruits and pretzels and gift ideas that will make yours the most memorable gift received.  We can customize corporate branded gift baskets and boxes so that your company will stand out from the competition.  We ship gifts all over the country, so all your out-of-area gifts can be sent without you having to stand on line at the post office.  Stop by the store or call us today for more information on how we can help make your holiday gift giving easier this year.

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What’s Chocolate Got To Do With It?

Posted on 08/22/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Trade show giveaway ideasIn today’s competitive business environment it’s challenging to stand out from the crowd when providing your products or services to existing or new customers.  And for those of us who are constantly on the road, visiting customers and calling on new prospects there are many doors and gatekeepers to get through.  Smart salespeople know that they need to keep their name and face in the forefront so that when the opportunity arises, their client calls them.  With all that is at stake, we would like to provide a few tips for unique ways to make sure that your visit is always welcome and your name is always first on the list to call when your customers are in need.

Never Leave Home Without It
In this case, we’re not talking about your credit card.  On the day that you are visiting a new or existing customer to make a presentation or introduce yourself and your company it’s obvious that you will be bringing your materials for the meeting.  But take an extra few minutes to make sure that you bring something a little special to leave behind as a thank you gift so that your customer knows you appreciate the time they spent with you.  Nothing works better than a beautifully arranged box of assorted hand-made chocolates.  These can be customized with your business card or logo in the box.    We highly recommend that you add a hand-written note of appreciation.  This will open more doors than any amount of phone calls or emails ever could.

When In Doubt, Go Without
This old rule-of-thumb works for planning your wardrobe for the meeting, but won’t work when it comes to showing your customers how much you appreciate them.  If you happen to be short on time or didn’t plan ahead to be able to bring a thank you gift with you, don’t worry.  You can always order an amazing gift basket of goodies that can be sent to your customer’s office with plenty of goodies for the whole office to enjoy.  Custom made gift baskets with corporate branded logo candy wrappers will be a big hit and will let your client know that you care about more than just getting their business.  Keep it classy and remember to add a personalized thank you card reminding them of how much you appreciate their business.

Don’t Show Up Empty Handed
Handing out your business cards is a standard business practice when meeting someone for the first time.  But imagine you are meeting with an existing customer.  Wouldn’t it be fun to surprise them with a treat along with your business card?  Give your customer a chocolate business card with your company logo on it.  Tie it up with a nice wrapping and include your printed business card so they remember you and your meeting is sure to be a hit.

When it comes to customer service, meeting new clients and retaining existing customers, you only have one chance to make a great impression.  There are ways of standing out from your competition while being professional and classy at the same time.  Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe can help you plan your corporate gift giving strategy and can give you new, fresh ideas on how to wow your audience. We are now Certified Gift Designers so if you have questions or would like to send your best clients a gift basket with corporate branded candies and chocolates, contact us today.

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Trade Shows and Chocolate for Lead Generation

Posted on 08/08/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

corporate gift basketIs there any chance that your company may be participating in a trade show in an effort to generate sales leads?  If so, how do you differentiate your company from the sea of vendors for prospects?  How do you engage visitors and make them remember your company when they take home that bag of “chatchkas” and brochures?  We would like to offer some expert advice on how to generate more leads and be the stand out booth at your next trade show.

Because Design Matters

Aside from having some brochures, making sure your booth is organized and well designed is one of the ways you can attract more visitors into your booth. Don’t hang too many visuals, and make sure your message is clear.  A clear marketing message in your booth along with bright, happy colors and product examples will go a long way in gathering leads.
Connect With Prospects

Don’t let prospects walk by without engaging them. If they aren’t interested in what you are selling maybe they know someone who would be. Know your elevator speech and don’t be afraid to use it. Draw them in with humor and keep them interested with information. If you show you are interested in them, they will be more willing to stop and listen to you.

Give Them A Reason to Give Their Contact Information

The whole purpose of a trade show is to collect lead data for future sales follow up. You need to have an easy way for prospects to provide their information. Many trade shows offer badge scanners so you can collect data right at your booth or the organizers sometimes provide exhibitors with attendee lists. You may even want to keep a laptop that visitors can sign in on or even paper sheets for information collection. A nice fishbowl for a giveaway works well for business card collection.
Invite Existing Customers to Your Booth

This will create some excitement and urgency for visitors who are less familiar with your company, especially if several existing customers are filling your booth at the same time.

And Don’t Forget the Giveaways

Of course visitors will be expecting standard trade show fare with your corporate logo like pens, cups or backscratchers. You could be one of hundreds handing out these blasé branded plastic items, or you could be super cool and unique with your handouts and be the most wanted vendor on the floor!  Our recommendation to stand out and be remembered is to offer a branded chocolate gift. Whether a small sampler box of chocolates with your logo on it or a candy bar with a custom logo wrapper or even a logo chocolate lollipop there are many options for providing your corporate brand in chocolate for the most unique, memorable way to connect with your prospects.

If you are collecting business cards or names for a grand prize drawing at the end of the show why not make it a beautifully designed gift basket of chocolate.  This can be designed with several corporate logo items so that each and every time your prospects grabs for something delicious to snack on they see your brand!

We can’t think of a better way to make your company the most popular stop at the next trade show than to give out something that everyone lives. It’s even better when it’s branded with your logo.  Contact Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe today for more information or ideas on how to keep your corporate brand ahead of the competition. We provide many options for corporate gift giving as well as trade show gifts.

View our video on Corporate Gift Baskets here.

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How Long Does Chocolate Really Last

Posted on 07/26/2013 by Suzi   | No Comments

Suzi's Sweet Shoppe Homemade chocolateOne of the questions we get asked often, especially when our customers are buying gifts is “How long will this last?” Our answer to that question really depends on several factors and we want to break it all down so that you can plan your purchases for holidays and gift giving, or even just buying for yourself.

The first factor for how long your chocolate will last is whether or not has a filling.

For instance, if you have chocolate that is filled with some sort of fruit or cream you will want to consume that quicker than plain chocolate or chocolate with nuts.  Things like truffles and fudge have a shorter shelf life than chocolate with nuts, which has less of a shelf life than plain.  Hand-dipped fruits are the most perishable and should be given fresh and enjoyed immediately.

Where are you storing your chocolate?

The next key factor is where to keep your chocolate.  Obviously, you never want to expose it to heat or keep it in the car, but if you store your chocolate in a pantry – be sure it is dry and cool.  Many of our customers who are giving gifts buy them within a month of the actual holiday or gift-giving event and keep them in a cool, dry place.  If you are buying chocolate for yourself and want to keep it fresh longer you can keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it, up to 6 months.  Freezing can help you keep it even longer.  Keep in mind that refrigerating your chocolate can cause sweat that may not look aesthetically pleasing, so we don’t recommend refrigerating gifts.

Grades of chocolate matter.

There is a difference in the grade of chocolate whether for enjoying or cooking and the higher quality the chocolate, the longer it will last.  Our rule of thumb is to store our chocolate up to 12 months in a dry area with a temperature between 68-69 degrees, except for those that are filled, as mentioned above.

How to tell if it’s past it’s prime?

Food safety is extremely important, even with candy and chocolate.  If you see little white dots on the edge of the chocolate, then it’s drying out and getting old.  You can still cook with it, but eating it plain will not be as enjoyable.  Depending on the grade of the chocolate, it may start to taste waxy, but always use your best judgment and never consume anything that you do not feel is safe to eat.

By keeping your chocolate stored in a cool, dry place, in the refrigerator or freezer, sealed in a storage container or plastic wrap, you will be able to extend the shelf life for longer than you may think.  If you are unsure of the time frame for keeping chocolate, be sure to check with Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe before buying gifts or stocking up for yourself.  Suzi’s has great corporate gifts baskets and boxes for any occasion, so stop in or visit our website for more information.

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