Newsletter Changes – VERY important!

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 7, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, Tips and Helpful Hints, Uncategorized

By far, the most common thing heard from customers I spoke with in 2010 (either by phone or e-mail) was that they don’t seem to be getting our e-mail newsletters.  I’m not totally surprised … my former “second job” relied on mass e-mailing thousands of people, and from tests we did, we quickly realized that some newsletter systems had MUCH better delivery rates than others.  Unfortunately, “in-house” systems like the one Oak Court Creations has been using (handled by our shopping cart system) seem to have the most delivery issues.  It’s a HUGE problem when sending e-mails to certain domain addresses – particularly AOL, Yahoo, Comcast and Hotmail – because they have filters in place that are hard to get through, unless the e-mails come from what they call “trusted senders” (i.e., paid e-mail list services).

So sometime later in January, we’ll be switching our newsletter delivery over to AWeber Communications, one of the leading e-mailing services.

THE BAD NEWS – When we import our old mailing list into AWeber’s system, everyone whose e-mail address is imported will be automatically sent an e-mail invitation that will require them to click a link to confirm that they actually do want to be on our mailing list.  AWeber requires this to prevents anyone from signing you up without your knowledge.  Anyone who doesn’t click the link in the confirmation e-mail won’t be added to the new mailing list.

THE GOOD NEWS – If you haven’t been receiving our newsletters in the past, when you confirm that you want to stay on the list (see above), you should actually start GETTING THEM!  (g) I’ve sent some test mailings to selected e-mail addresses, and they seem to be going through just fine, even to AOL and Yahoo addresses!

When we get everyone moved to the new list, there will also be a brand-new newsletter signup box on the front page of the website. If you want to receive our newsletters, but don’t receive the invitation e-mail for the new list, just re-subscribe by using that box.  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but this is the only way to take care of most of the problems with non-delivery of the newsletters.

Our goal for 2011 is to be sending newsletters at least once a month, perhaps twice if things like new products warrant it.  We’ll also be offering subscriber-only coupons and specials occasionally – you won’t want to miss out on those, so if you get the invitation, be sure to click the link to confirm your subscription. Thanks in advance for your understanding!

PLEASE CLICK ON THE ACORN above if you would like to leave a comment.


Product Packaging

Posted by OakCourt on Feb 9, 2010 in Miscellaneous News, Tips and Helpful Hints

As some of you may know, once before, we tried using a local sheltered workshop for the disabled to do some of our packaging. Unfortunately, they wanted us to sign a contract for a steady amount of work on a weekly basis, and we simply couldn’t do that. The flow of product coming in and going out is definitely not a steady thing here! We didn’t give up on the idea, because we know that the concept works – we just needed to find the right group for us.

We’ve now found another workshop for the developmentally disabled that is eager and willing to take whatever work we can bring to them. They just got started recently, and we’re among their first customers. One of my friends has an adult son who is autistic, and Randy will be among the people working on our products. We had them do a “trial run” recently, to see how it would work, having them package air freshener samples for us to send out in orders and send to gatherings to be included in their goodie bags – and they did a very nice job. In exchange for very reasonable pricing per-piece on packaging and labeling, many of the items they’ll be packaging will now include an extra sticker (or an extra line on the regular label) showing that the item was packaged by InFocus Adult Day Services.

This is a real win-win situation for us … we get more time to spend on expanding the business instead of packaging product, and the workers there make some pocket money. For many of them, there is a great deal of comfort in the structure and routine of working there, and pride in completing their assigned tasks to the best of their abilities. Many care and education programs for the developmentally and physically challenged are facing serious budget cuts due to the state of the economy, and workshops like this help them bring in some much-needed revenue. This move will also allow us to keep our prices the same, even though many of our vendors raised THEIR prices in the past few months.

Several of our customers have gone on to follow our example, locating workshops in their area and having them do some light duty jobs for them, like wicking and labeling candle jars, bagging and labeling wax tarts, and shrinkwrapping and labeling bars of soap. The idea was originally given to me by Casey Kellar (formerly of Rainshadow Labs), who many of you know from the Chicago-Area Soap and Candlemakers’ Conferences. For many years, Rainshadow has kept their local workshop in existence by providing them with a large volume of packaging and labeling work. I thought surely there would be some sort of national association for these workshops, or governmental umbrella that they all operated under, and had hoped to be able to provide a link to help customers find the workshop(s) in their area…. however, that does not seem to be the case. According to directors of several workshops in the Chicago area, you can check your local phone book, or contact your state or county’s social services agency to locate the workshops in your area.

So, don’t be surprised in the coming months to see more of our products sporting the label from the workshop! They’ll be doing things like weighing out and labeling bags of dry goods and filling sample jars with lip balm base at first, and eventually work up to pumping out fragrance oils and base oils into bottles and measuring and cutting 10-yard packs of elastic cording. If the label isn’t exactly straight, or your 10-yard packs of cord aren’t precisely spot-on, please bear in mind that these were packaged with pride by someone who faces many challenges every day, and that with your purchase, you’ve allowed someone to be gainfully employed who otherwise wouldn’t have a job.




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