Archive | September 23, 2009

Get Your Business Ready For H1N1 Swine Flu

It is not even what would normally be considered flu season and already flu is making the rounds since kids went back to school. This has particularly been the case in the southeastern part of the U.S. Almost all of the current infections are believed to be of the H1N1 variety that caused the panic last spring in Mexico, and which has been declared a pandemic by WHO. In our local area here in Florida, we had several confirmed cases of H1N1 among students in our school district’s various summer activities, and since school started we’ve seen a cluster of flu-like illness at my daughter’s elementary school already.

And the flu season hasn’t even really started yet.

Seasonal flu vaccine is already available in many areas and the vaccine for H1N1 will start being available in the next few weeks. But it will be months before large populations have been vaccinated and had time to develop immunity from the H1N1 shot. In the meantime, the CDC and Department of Homeland Security are advising businesses to develop plans for dealing with sick employees and events like school shutdowns in their communities.

The Department of Homeland Security has made a booklet available to businesses to help them plan for, cope with and minimize the possible effect that H1N1 could have on their business. The book can be downloaded in pdf form or viewed on the website.


Shutterfly Tries Home Parties

There’s been a lot of adjustment being made lately in the home party industry because of the changing lifestyles of American families. Women (who make up most home party customers) don’t have the time anymore to attend home party events frequently for companies like Stampin’ Up!, Tupperware, and PartyLite. In the scrapbook industry, we’ve definitely seen companies struggle financially as a result of this shift. Most notably, Creative Memories filed bankruptcy last year partially due to declining sales.

Many home party companies have dealt with this by beginning offering their customers online shopping with their consultants, a more convenient option for customers with busy schedules. Now, in an interesting move, Shutterfly is attempting the reverse marketing move – shifting from online sales to home parties, at least for a single upcoming event.

Shutterfly is currently accepting applications for hosts for in-home parties to take place on November 7th, promoting its photo book and holiday card products for the holidays. Party hosts and guests (up to 14) will receive a free 8×8 photo book and a pack of holiday cards. Shutterfly is partnering with a site called House Party to offer party-planning services to their party hosts.

This concept is 180 degrees from what has been happening in the home party industry. It will be interesting to see if it is a success for them, or if they make these events a regular marketing tool.