Plan NOW for the Holidays! Starting NOW Makes Sense!

Haven't given it much thought yet? Well, the holidays will be here before you know it! Once November 1st hits, the stores put up all their Christmas decor! Having a plan NOW seems to make everything a lot easier and it makes the actual Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza season a whole lot less stressful. Especially when it comes to corporate as well as personal gifting. Here is what to do:
1. Know who you are buying gifts for. Some people only shop for close family and friends. Other people put together Christmas presents for their clients, co-workers, the postal worker, the dog walker, hairdresser, plumber, poker buddies, kid's teacher, and more. Decide on what you are comfortable with. 
2. Set a Budget. Keep a general idea of how much you will spend on each person. For instance, you will likely spend more money on your immediate family than on a co-worker. 
 
3. Decide on what sort of gift matches each person on your list. What do they like? Movies, books, games? Have a rough idea of what presents would please the people on your list. brainstorm ideas. Write the ideas down on your list. Listen to the person or other people for ideas, and write them down too. Keep this list in an easy-to-carry form, like tucked away in your wallet or checkbook for quick reference.
4. Put off procrastinating. Many people end up shopping last-minute because they put off the inevitable. Instead, make a plan with solid goals, dates, and timelines.For instance, shopping will be done by December 20th. Put aside two evenings, twice a week for 2 weeks to accomplish this task. Leave some wiggle-room in case something comes up, but don't keep making excuses. It can help to have someone who is good about shopping to keep you on track

Everyone Loves a Gift: 3 Ways to Integrate Gifting into Your Marketing Strategy

What’s the most precious and scarce commodity for a marketer? As former CMO of a software company, I discovered it was customer engagement. Like all marketers today, my team and I had many channels and tactics we could use to reach customers. Yet, we found that it was harder every day to cut through the noise to engage and motivate them.

The most valuable lesson we learned? A little appreciation and gratitude go a long way. And small rewards can drive big improvements in marketing results.

 

The Power of Gifting

We learned that no one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to feel appreciated. For example, thanking our webinar attendees with a Starbucks gift card—“Hey Jane! Join us for the webinar, and coffee is on us”—proved to boost in registration and attendance by an astounding 50%! And in our follow-up emails we would say, “Thanks for joining us! How was your coffee?” and link to a trial download or an ebook. We saw the highest click-through rate of all email campaigns. Why? Because we capitalized on an emotional trigger, motivating prospects to move to the next level.

We were inspired by marketers at companies like CVS, IBM, and Regal Entertainment that have achieved jaw-dropping increases in customer acquisition and sales by integrating gifting into campaigns. Gifting is a great way to boost event registrations, evaluations, demos, assessments, and consultations. It is also a great way to reward referrals and customer advocacy.

What makes gifting effective across such a wide range of campaigns? Here are three powerful reasons why gifting will increase engagement and transform your campaigns:

1. Response Rates and the Art of Motivation

Think about the number of invites and offers you get every week. I get at least a dozen interesting offers from the marketing community and vendors. But, like you, I’m busy and can’t do it all.

Your customers are in the same boat—bombarded with offers. A great way to get them to slow down, click, and fill out your form is to present them with a thank you gift. Or even better—a donation to the organization of their choice.

2. Empathy Builds Goodwill

Even in today’s noisy, digital landscape, one old-fashioned concept persists: goodwill.

When you build gifting into your campaigns, you’re saying: I respect your time. Empathy pulls the emotional levers that turn a cynical prospect into an engaged opportunity. It builds the goodwill for an attendee to request a product demo or start a conversation.

In the webinar example I provided above, follow-up emails become conversation starters: “Thanks for joining us! How was your coffee?” This simple question compels people to reply. Even if they aren’t ready to buy, the conversation still begins, and they remember your act of giving. Therefore, you’re on your way to building trust and goodwill.

3. Chain of Conversions

The first conversion bonanza you get from gifting is the immediate jump in response to your offer: webinar, demo, survey, etc. But wait, there’s more—a lot more. You can use the moment of gifting to drive more conversions down the funnel. For starters, a gift presented in an engaging manner will emphasize your message and create an emotional connection with your brand. Do it right, and you will be front and center in your buyers’ minds as they short list vendors (aka marketing’s #1 job).

Next, you can line up the right set of relevant content and offers. With the right timing, you will see high open rates and click-throughs on follow-up offers due to the goodwill and engagement you’ve gained. Oh, and your unsubscribe rates will decrease. Winning!

Traditionally, integrating gifting and rewards has required significant staff and budget to manage the logistics and administration. Procuring gifts, tracking responses to offers, arranging timely delivery, and measuring results can be daunting. Thankfully, the advent of digital gifts and marketing automation platforms is making this powerful marketing approach available to companies of all sizes.

Enter, Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms like Marketo make it easy to create gifting campaigns. You can target specific segments, present the offer on many channels, and track responses.

And gone are the days when gifting meant shipping physical items to customers. Today, marketers can choose from a wide range of compelling digital gifts, from the ever popular gift cards, to subscriptions, to music and movie services, to apps, to ebooks, and even to digital charitable donations. Without a doubt, there is a digital gift out there that fits your brand, customer audience, and marketing budget.

Gifting services like Rybbon integrate with Marketo to deliver these gifts nicely wrapped in your own branding and messaging. Digital gifts can be delivered and presented with the right context, timing, and impact via email, SMS, social media, and in-app push notifications. (Sorry, FedEx)!

The amazing thing about digital gifting is that you have visibility into when recipients actually receive the gift. Tracking gifting as activity allows you to fully capitalize on that emotional trigger to send a follow-up offer or notify sales of an interesting moment.

Marketing: Redux

Yes, it’s a noisy bazaar out there. Thus as marketers, it’s our job to be innovative, find an edge, and gain our customers’ attention. Marketing automation platforms have revolutionized how we market. Now it’s time to take it to the next level of engagement and motivation. Funny thing is, we can do this by bringing it back to old fashioned appreciation, gratitude, and goodwill.

 

Culled from Jignesh Shah - https://blog.marketo.com

 

 

10 Occasions for Giving Flowers

Perhaps the number one gift of all times are flowers, any kind of flowers, from bouquets of long stemmed roses to potted plants. It just takes a moment or two to consider all the flowers you’ve seen as gifts in your lifetime and look at the myriad of reasons for giving flowers and you could almost say they are the ‘universal gift.’ Here are the top 10 occasions for giving flowers as gifts.

 

1. DATES

While today, it is mostly considered an obsolete gesture to bring flowers on a first date, the idea of giving flowers to someone you've gone out with a few times is still a good one.

Flowers for a first date should not be overwhelming. Tulips, orchids, and dandelions are not intimidating to your new object of affection. If you’ve been going steady for some time, nothing is better than the traditional red rose.

2. VALENTINE’S DAY

Speaking of red roses, shades of red for love, pink for elegance, and yellow flowers in general for affection and joy are the perfect mix for a Valentine’s Day bouquet. Avoid yellow roses alone, however, as that represents friendship, not love. A yellow rose with a red tip, however, can symbolize both love and joy. For a newer relationship, purple roses signify enchantment in the budding couple. If you have been together a significant amount of time, or your spouse isn’t thrilled with roses, pink tulips are the perfect replacement.

3. ANNIVERSARY

Seasonal flowers go best with anniversaries, to represent the time of the year you are celebrating. For spring, choose pale, delicate flowers, such as the peony, peach blossom or cherry blossom. Summer flowers should be bright and vibrant – think yellow, gold or pink roses, or a bouquet of sunflowers.

Fall flowers are darker, but with rich colors, such as a lily. Gold roses come back into play here, matching the changing trees. Flowers blooming in winter include chrysanthemums, orchids, and pansies. Winter flowers bridge the rich colors of autumn with the pale colors of spring.

What is most important, however, is choosing a flower that represents your relationship. If your spouse particularly loves a certain flower, it’s best to showcase their favorite in a bouquet. There are also flowers that represent certain anniversaries: daisies for five years, daffodils for 10, roses for 15, and asters for 20.

4. MOTHER’S DAY

Reds and pinks to show love and admiration are the perfect touch, though it is hard to go wrong here with any choice you make. Carnations, roses (especially pink), and gerbera daisies can combine with yellow tulips or lilies – representing joy and affection – and make a vibrant bouquet any mother in your life will enjoy.

5. THANK YOU

Need a sophisticated way to say thank you to a colleague or good friend? Your best bet is their favorite flower, but if you are uncertain, go with a pale flower. Whites, pinks, and yellows show your appreciation. Carnations, lilies and daisies fit well into this category.

6. BIRTHDAY

Once again, if the recipient’s favorite flower is known, start with that. However, there are also flowers that correspond to each month. In the U.S., the flowers are carnation and snowdrop for January; primrose for February; daffodil for March; sweet pea for April; hawthorne and Lily of the Valley for May; rose and honeysuckle for June; water lily and delphinium for July; poppy and gladiolus for August; morning glory and aster for September; calendula and marigold for October; chrysanthemum and peony for November; and holly and narcissus for December.

7. GET WELL SOON

The first question regarding sending flowers to someone who is ill is where they are resting. If they are in the hospital, flowers should not be overly fragrant. Irises and tulips can be vibrant and add a touch of color to dreary hospital rooms. If they are at home, marigolds represent resilience while yellow flowers, such as daffodils representing rebirth, are bright and cheery. Avoid yellow daylilies, however, as they are associated with funerals.

8. FUNERALS

Funeral flowers are typically sent directly to the funeral home and serve as a tribute to the deceased. The size can vary, however, large and formal arrangements are most common. Colour matters alot as well. Blue, white and green are colours of peace, humility and calmness and are comforting during a sad time. Orange, white  and red can invoke energy and passion and should be sent when one is celebrating a life inspite of mourning the departed. Yellow daylilies represent the soul leaving the body, and are thus often found at funerals. 

9. SYMPATHY

Sympathy flowers are different from funeral flowers in that they are usually sent to the home of those grieving. Generally it is never too late to send these. Bright flowers, such as lilies and daisies, are recommended. Purples and blues can also represent hope and rebirth. If done in a bouquet, these are generally smaller than those meant for funerals.

10. Weddings

 

There are many traditions surrounding who gets what flowers in a wedding. The bride can choose a bouquet of any  type of flower of any colour she likes. Bridesmaids usually get a smaller version of the bride's bouquet. The groom and his groomsmen wear  boutonnieres that match the bride's bouquet. It is typically a no-no for guests to SEND flowers to the bride and groom as a gift on their wedding day.

 

Making your New Year’s resolution stick

Lose weight? Check. Start exercising? Check. Stop smoking? Check.

It can be daunting when your list of New Year’s Resolutions is as long as your holiday shopping list. In addition to the post-holiday slump, not being able to keep your resolutions by February, March or even late January may increase your anxiety. When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless. 

Culled from American Psychology Association

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx

Getting Ready for the Holidays- Part 1

It’s that time of year! 

While most of us love the holiday season, we can easily do without the crowds, the commercialism, and the associated pressures.  In a few days many of us will be celebrating Remembrance Day, followed by Thanksgiving (for our American friends), Christmas and New Years while others may be celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. In addition to those of you who will be travelling to visit family or having family come visit you, many of us are generally involved in additional activities that revolve around work, the kid’s school events, and miscellaneous charities.There is only so much time available, so by simplifying and getting organized you can actually have some time to enjoy the upcoming holidays.

Late October, Early November

  • If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you have started to finalize your travel plans; if you are driving make sure the vehicle has been tuned up, oil changed, & antifreeze levels and conditions have been checked
  • Start working on your gift giving lists, Holiday card lists, check up on your gift wrap, and shipping materials you have on hand / need
  • Set a Realistic Budget and write it down along with where the money is allocated
  • Post a Master Calendar with all the Holiday Events on it, where it is visible and able to be updated by all family members (make sure you add some down time for yourself)
  • Finish off your Menu Planning for each specific meal and get together at your place, or what you may be bringing to others
    • For the wine connoisseurs – select your holiday wines (including the ones that will be given as gifts) and purchase by the case to help save money
    • Inventory your pantry, refrigerator and freezer – make a comprehensive shopping list of necessities needed through the New Year. If you can buy everything upfront with the exception of perishable products (i.e. dairy, fresh meat, fruits and vegetables) you will save yourself a lot of aggravation.
    • While trying out a new recipe is great, you should try it out before hand – not on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
    • Order party trays and specialty foods at least two weeks in advance.
    • Prepare as much in advance as you can, then freeze it if possible.
  • If you are planning on eating out, or having the meals catered – make sure you lock in the reservations as early as possible, if you wait too long you might be enjoying TV dinners or scrambling like mad.
  • Time to de-clutter your house; get it ready for your guests, give you room for your decorations, etc…

 Culled from the HRTC 2009

 

 

Enrich Your Soul: Adopt a Pet

Are you part of the two thirds of Canadian or American households that have one or more pets? If so, consider yourself fortunate, as the health benefits of pet ownership are astounding: Rover, your beloved family dog, may extend your life expectancy! In fact, recent research from the University of Pennsylvania showed that among a group of seriously ill patients, only 6% of those who owned pets had died at the end of the study period, as opposed to 28% of non-pet owners.

Good for Your Heart and Soul

Rover offers you many other benefits—besides fetching your slippers and cleaning off your dinner plate. Pet owners typically have lower blood pressure, and stroking your pet’s soft fur is calming, both for you and him. Taking him for walks gets you moving and even socializing. Dog owners walk about 300 minutes per week. Widowed seniors in particular can benefit from the companionship of a pet. And pets can bring families together and teach children responsibility.

Incredibly, dogs can even detect cancer. Dogs have sniffed out skin, lung, bladder, and colon cancer. And British researchers have found that about a third of dogs display changes in behavior when their diabetic owners’ blood sugar drops. Your pup could save your life one day.

Considerations

Thinking of adding a pet to your family? A pet is a lot of responsibility, but with this responsibility comes rich rewards. Some things to consider before choosing a pet include:

  • If there are any allergies in the family (if so, consider a turtle or fish)
  • How much time you have to care for the pet (dogs require training and daily walks)
  • If you travel frequently, who will care for the pet?
  • If you have young children, what type of animal or breed would be best around youngsters?
  • What is the cost of food, veterinary bills, and any medications your pet may require?

If it’s time to add a pet to your family, there are many wonderful animals at your local OSPCA or ASPCA. Many pets are euthanized or die in gas chambers everyday, even puppies and kittens Please consider adopting a pet instead of purchasing one through a breeder. Teach your children about how to care for the animal. Show them how to clean litter boxes, groom, and hold the pet. If you pick the right animal you will add a loving and longtime member to your family.

15 Things to Put in Summer Gift Baskets

Summer with its longer days and warmer temperatures calls people to get outdoors and explore. It is prime travel season and a popular time to cook out. With all that in mind, here are 15 ideas about things that you can put in summer gift baskets for your friends and family to enjoy.

    • Beach Towel
    • Sunscreen
    • Flip Flops
    • Insulated Cup. I love Tervis Tumblers as they keep drinks cool for hours and don’t leave the dreaded drink rings.

 

 

    • Summer Scented Candle (Coconut, Lime, Fresh Linen, etc…)
    • Sunglasses
    • Spray Mister Bottle
    • Pool Float/Pool Noodle
    • Swim Goggles
    • Bug Spray
    • Color Changing Straws
    • Bubbles
    • Drink Mix (Lemonade, Hi-C)
    • Travel Pillow. This Mood Neck Pillow is just the ticket to comfort.
    • Shampoo/Conditioner Bottles (TSA Approved Size)
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