Holiday Thoughts for Marketers and Consumers

Shoppers surrounding clerk on Black Friday

Black Friday Becomes Black Thursday

The holidays are coming—you know it, I know it. They’re coming fast. You may have already heard the news that Walmart, Target and others are opening at 8 and 9pm Thanksgiving night. Disappointing.

I covered this last year and have not changed my opinion of this practice, so I won’t repeat myself. But really, must consumerism overtake the value of time spent with family and friends?

Marketing for the Holidays

For B2C marketers, this is a busy time of year. If you’re competing for customers, there are a ton of articles out there advising you on social marketing through the holidays.

I recommend you read, “Why Social Media Marketers Should Shelve Holiday Hard-Sell.” See why holiday-themed promotions often perform worse than non-holiday promotions in terms of engagement.

Reduce Your Stress Before the Holidays

So, what am I going to write about today? What you can do now to reduce some of the holiday stress marketers cause.

1. Create a separate email address for all your online shopping.

If you haven’t done this already, now is the time—before you start doing your holiday giving and shopping online. Retailers are about to flood your inbox with holiday promotional emails, making it difficult to find the emails you want and need to see. Make the switch and keep both boxes clean and easy to manage.

2. Unsubscribe from brands whose emails you’ve been deleting regularly.

You do not need to spend any more time on email than you do already. So why not take time now to unsubscribe from all those brands and websites you’re really not paying attention to anymore. You know you’ve been meaning to do it. Why procrastinate any longer?

3. Do as much shopping as you can online…early!

The earlier you can shop, the better. And really, as much as I enjoy shopping in actual stores, holiday shopping online is so much easier. No jammed parking lots with kamikaze drivers vying for that last open spot. Instead of driving all over or walking from store to store, you can simply go online one morning or night (maybe two or three) and get all your shopping done, shipped to you and even gift wrapped.

Yes, you might save some money by waiting, but you save time and sanity by making your shopping convenient for you. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time left to pick out a treat for yourself, volunteer your time for a good cause or spend more time with friends.

You don’t have to fall for the holiday hype. Live the holidays on your own terms. Retailers and marketers seem to be trying to take that away from you. It’s time to take it back.

Good luck! May you have the holiday season of your dreams…instead of your nightmares.

No Time to Read? Save It in Your Pocket for Later

Ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day for all you want to do? All you want to learn? All you want to read?

With social media and keeping up with e-mails, we’re all bombarded with a glut of information every day, all day long. I see interesting articles posted on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, and I feel like there’s not enough time to read them all.

As a writer, I often base my writing off research that includes many articles shared on LinkedIn and the other channels mentioned above. And often, when I’m searching on Google, I find other articles I want to save for later.

All of us find information every day on how to better ourselves, how to advance our careers, how to simply do our jobs better, how to keep up with the latest technology, and more.

How do you manage your time and still manage to read the important articles you need or want to read?

My answer is Pocket.

Screen grab from Pocket website "When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket."

I used to use Evernote, which I always liked but found myself not using. I guess, to me, it was a little clunky and time-consuming. I’m really not sure why I didn’t use it more, but the fact that I didn’t means it wasn’t for me.

Pocket (formerly called Read It Later) is easy and clean. You can use it to save articles, images and videos. Plus, you can tag each item into categories to easily find what you need when you need it.

I use Pocket on my laptop and tablet, and on both there are no messy format issues and saving items is quite easy.

While I was away this past weekend, the tablet app really came in handy. With only 20 minutes of free wifi at the airport, I cruised through different sites and quickly saved all the articles I wanted to read later. Then, I could read them on the plane or anytime, whether I had wifi or not!

That might be the best feature right there. It saves the article in a nice, clean format, that you can read on your own time, whether you’re online or not.

Don’t just take my word about the advantages of Pocket. See what ReadWriteWeb had to say about it:

Today’s Pocket pivot is a huge win for the potential of mass adoption of content shifting. It organizes saved links by content type, with separate tabs for articles, videos and images, and it displays them in a vivid grid with previews. Pocket has a real chance to reach mass adoption because it practically explains itself.

View Pocket’s own video to see how it works:

There are many other apps like Pocket you can use to save items for later perusal. Check them out on your own and talk to other users about them. Even watch the Hangout ReadWriteWeb had that influenced me to try Pocket out. They discuss a few of these so-called “content shifting” sites.

Two other sites, besides Pocket and Evernote, you may want to try include:

An added note, I just found this little trick to saving Google+ posts to read later. It’s from Dustin Stout from Hint: You can create a Read It Later circle.

So, now that you know about Pocket, you can save any of my blog posts you find interesting and save them to read later. Have fun!

And let me know if you find something better or if you have any advice to add.