How Not To Shop For The Christmas Holidays

There are many people who rush out on the day after Thanksgiving to begin their Christmas Shopping.

This is a rite of passage for many as this day declares that the Holiday Season is upon us. However, though there are many items on sale, this day proves nothing beyond misery. When you go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, you will fight the longest lines of the Christmas Season.

We need to review this “rite of passage” and ask ourselves: Is it worth it?

I know that many of us are inspired by looking at the bargains in the newspaper that will only be available on this day. We all know someone who has woken up at 5am just to be the first person there for a big sale. We know many other people who arrive at the store only to be told: “I am sorry…we are sold out of that item.”

This leads to a miserable day after Thanksgiving.

There are many alternatives to shopping at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving that will allow you to avoid this misery.

We live in a time now in which we can buy Christmas Gifts Online. Brick and mortar stores will often, not always, provide the exact same sale at their online store that they are giving you at the mall. This will allow you to avoid the long lines and still get great discounts.

Often times, the advertised sales can be beaten by online retailers such as Amazon.com. We often think that if we see a deal advertised in the paper that it will be the best deal that we can get. However, we need to remember that online retailers don’t often advertise in the newspaper. This allows them to pass the cost-savings on to you the consumer.

We can find the Best Christmas Gifts for 2008 in our living room while we sip coffee with our family members.

If you want to get out on the day after Thanksgiving just to experience that “rush”, that option is certainly available to you. But, for most of it, we don’t get great deals, we get a headache.

So, this year, on the day after Thanksgiving, enjoy breakfast with your family and then huddle around the computer where you will probably find better deals than are offered at the mall.

Dreams… Do You Have One?

One of the things that can be drummed out us as we age is our ability to dream. When we were younger they came so easily. Somewhere along the way this ability, those delicious ever changing desires, ambitions and dreams become so deeply buried we seem to be unable to find them. Where did they go? They are buried somewhere beneath a huge pile of that’s not the way it’s done, it won’t work, you’ll get hurt, you’ll be a failure, you’ll starve and I told you so until finally you simply stopped dreaming and became sensible. I am sure that each of us has a defining moment seared into our memory that illustrates the well intentioned conditioning to be sensible and conform.

For me it came in my senior year of high school. One of the courses I was taking was art. Every year at Christmas time, and back then it was simply called Christmas time, one of the annual projects was to draw and paint a Christmas theme on the window of a classroom door. We were instructed to look at Christmas cards for inspiration and find one that appealed to us to draw. I remember being very enthusiastic about this project and eager to make my window special. In fact it was my secret desire to make the best window of all. That’s right; my window would illicit awe in all those who passed it.

When the day came we were each assigned a window. We were to draw it in crayon first and once the teacher approved our draft we would complete it for our final grade. I had found what I considered to be a tender winter scene with a delicate reindeer standing in the snow beneath a barren tree gazing reflectively off to an unseen horizon. I was putting the final touches on my masterpiece when the teacher arrived to survey my work. To my surprise instead of the praise I was anticipating she took one look at the window and announced that a dead tree was not festive and she unceremoniously wiped my work away. She proceeded to draw three large Christmas balls on my window with a giant bow at the top and told me to paint it. I tried to explain that I intended to spray snow for the reindeer to stand in and all the other ideas I had for this window and how beautiful it was going to be but she merely scoffed and hurried away to the next students window. At first I was horrified then embarrassed and hurt and finally I became angry. I looked at the window and told her I would not paint it, this was her window and work and she should paint it. Long story short I landed in the principal’s office, my mother was called and a lengthy discussion ensued. I don’t remember all the details but I will never forget the feeling. This was art class and it was my belief that art was supposed to be unique. Art was about the artist’s vision. This was absolutely not my vision of the Christmas scene it was hers and I refused to paint it or yield; and neither did she. She was the teacher – I was the student and we were deadlocked. Although my mom was supportive, she tried to get me to paint the window and let it go. I needed the credit to graduate and my teacher assured us both, with the principal’s support, that she would flunk me if I did not paint the window. Without the credit I would not graduate with my class. The result; I was transferred to crafts class where I made a series of ceramic and melted plastic ashtrays which I still have to remind me of the day.

The bad news; I was never interested in art or drawing or painting again.

As I sat down to write this article I realized I hadn’t thought about this incident in a long time. One of the exercises in my coaching program is to write a vision of your life if anything were possible. It sounds like such a simple and easy project and yet it is so hard to get a genuine full blown dream out of someone! It is so hard to reach down beyond the years of conditioning and pull out the vision or passion you have for “something.” Every once in a while we see a glimpse of those who dare to dream, follow it and find the joy and success that life is really about. Like the gentleman with cerebral palsy who was told nothing could be done for his walk. He followed his passion to dance and found his walk improved in the process. Or the increasing number of people we hear about who pursue their forgotten goal of a degree and graduate from universities with their grandchildren. There are many stories and examples of people finding and pursuing their dreams at 50, 70, 80 years old and beyond who are enjoying the rewards of their success. Look for these stories instead of listening to that trained inner voice that says you can’t, you shouldn’t or you won’t. There are as many successes as there are failures. Those who succeed do not give up on their dream.

My advice:

Step out of the box! Go to the library or book store and find a book about odd ways to make a living. If you haven’t been dreaming in a while some of the outlandish ideas in these books can certainly tickle your funny bone as well as spur some new ideas and encourage you to explore some new interests!

Dare to dust off a long forgotten dream or craft a new one. Dig out your childhood photo albums and you’ll be surprised at the inspiration those memories can spark. You may not want to be a ballerina anymore but the memory of how dancing made you feel might trigger an interest in becoming an exercise, yoga or dance instructor. Or maybe your love of dogs will entice you to create a pet camp! Dogs deserve a vacation too you know!

Take a small risk each day, in doing so you will eventually build your confidence and find your dreams are not so farfetched after all.

Success is as varied as the number of people who achieve it. Your version of success is really all that counts. Sometimes doing what you really really love is worth more than money!

Recognize you have the huge advantage of experience, hindsight and wisdom. It’s a degree that can only be earned after many years of living.

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Top 5 Uses For Email Marketing

Email marketing can be used successfully in a number of ways to increase your sales, build your brand and help with customer retention and repeat business. A well crafted, well designed email to your customer base or client list can work wonders.

Here we discuss five ways you can use email marketing to improve your business.

1. Newsletters

Keeping in touch with your customers and clients through regular emails not only helps build your brand but also your reputation and their trust in you.
Keep a consistent look that includes your logo, brand colours and overall layout and you will become more and more memorable in the minds of your customers. Don’t be tempted to change your newsletter look every month. Speaking of which, a monthly newsletter is usually enough unless you work in a very fast-paced industry, in which case once a week MAXIMUM will be ok.

Your content should contain news about your company that your customers will find informative but above all useful. Information on new staff, especially customer facing staff, is a good idea, as are announcements about new services or products and any successes you have enjoyed.

You could also include an introductory paragraph from the Managing Directory or similar directly addressing the recipient. Personalisation works very well.

2. Special Promotions / Coupons

Email marketing is the perfect way to announce a special promotion and offer coupons to your customers.

Holiday promotions, such as discounts for Christmas or New Year sales, can be announced this way. If you want to clear leftover stock to make way for new products then a ‘massive sale’ email marketing campaign will help you get rid fast!
If you want to entice people into your high street properties and shops then emailing them a coupon they can print out and present for a discount or benefit when they buy is a great way to do it.

3. Event Announcements

Throwing a party, holding a seminar or organising an exhibition? Tell your customers and clients through a specially designed and copywritten email. Include dates, location, price and, of course, what the event is for and what they can expect to gain from it.

This sort of campaign could be a series of emails in the build up to the event, gradually announcing such things as guest speakers, special guests and the like.

4. eCards

This may sound like a silly idea but think about it for a second. Do you send your customers and clients Christmas cards every year? How much does that cost you? An eCard would reduce that cost to virtually nothing.

With the cost factor almost removed, you can now think about expanding the cards you send out. Why not send an eCard to your customers at Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day? Every card could be themed, contain a nice message for your customers AND include a call to action that could gain you more sales. Brilliant!

5. Business Updates / Press Releases

Email marketing can also be used to issue business updates, such as a change in phone number, office move or new website. The speed of delivery will ensure your change in circumstances reaches your customers and clients quickly, reducing the risk of confusion and lost calls / mail / contact!

And if you’re issuing a press release, then emailing it out to a press distribution list will save you time, money and deliver it faster and more directly, increasing the chances of you getting the coverage you desire.
When it comes to email marketing, the options are endless, these are just five. Pick the ones that suit your business best.

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