A Broad Abroad Talks Traveling Solo

Headshot Portraits

Paula Froelich, our favorite travel pro, is coming to Nashville to speak at our Red Letter Day and we couldn’t be more happy. Because she is the real thing – an adventure traveler, a storyteller, a speaker and an expert in travel marketing to women. In fact, she created a whole new travel category for women who travel solo – and enjoy it.

Overall, solo travelers comprise about 23% of all leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association and other research says nearly 40% of travelers say they would take a vacation by themselves if given the opportunity. Some 65% of women are taking vacations without a partner.

American women top the list in solo travel. Nine million American women traveled overseas alone last year. Reasons for solo leisure trips are different than business. The solo trips allow women to escape from everyday life, experience new cultures, travel at their own pace, and be free to make decisions and be themselves.

Couples like to take separate trips, especially when it comes to passions like adventure trips, interest-specific trips and taking up new activities.

Some might think that solo travel is for the 18-30 age group, but research suggests that the average solo traveler is 54.

Women often encounter special challenges in traveling solo such as getting the best rates when they travel solo. Dining solo or single rooms can still offer less than desirable options in some resorts. Travel companies are beginning to use less “romantic language” when marketing to solo travelers, understanding that not all solo travelers are single or looking to hook up.

Paula can help us navigate the travel space with ease. She was named one of Folio’s Top Women in Media in 2015 and is now Editor-at-Large at Yahoo. She spends her time traveling, writing, building partnerships and expanding her blog and video series “A Broad Abroad” across multiple platforms. In four short months as Editor in Chief of Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Travel became the largest travel content portal in the world, winning awards and consistently ranked #1 in the travel category under her leadership. Paula also launched several shows, including “A Broad Abroad,” the first female-hosted, travel adventure series of its kind.

Her adventures have taken her from Mexico to Egypt, from the ski slopes of Afghanistan to swimming with giant manta rays in Hawaii.

Do You Watch Brand Videos with the Sound Off? Most People Do.

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Okay, I admit some of my favorite videos on Facebook are things like dogs smiling, recipe videos, Dr. Jane Goodall releasing a gorilla back to nature, and a salsa dancing golden retriever.

And guess what? I watch all of them with the sound off. To marketers, that is autoplay video with sound. As much as 85% of video views on Facebook happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Most of us have news feeds full of short videos that feature text or captions narrating what is being seen on screen. The videos usually have narration, music and sound effects, but marketers make sure the videos can be understand without sound.

The new rules seem to be that you have to catch someone’s attention in three seconds and without sound. According to MEC North America, their branded videos average 85-9o% silent video views. Silent doesn’t mean consumers are less engaged. Internal studies conducted by the agency showed that KPIs like brand lift and intent to purchase were not affected by whether the viewer watched the video with the sound on or off.

So here’s the new rules for Facebook video, make sure your content can be understood without sound by adding readable captions, easy-to-understand visuals and an engaging start to capture their attention.

Considering a Text Campaign? Know the Facts.

photo-1434123700504-d8cfba6a12c8Texting is the number one activity on our smartphones and is one of the most efficient marketing vehicles.  Brands invest in SMS campaigns because 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt and almost 100% of all phone devices are SMS enabled.

Americans are addicted to texting on their smartphones. Pew Research discovered that text messaging (97%) is the most popular feature, followed by voice/video calls (92%), internet (89%) and email (88%).  Two-thirds of Millennials text more than 5 times a day.

But what do consumers think about text message marketing?  In a recent Direct Marketing Association survey, 70% of the sample revealed that they had responded to a marketing text message. To put this in perspective, the DMA adds that only 30% of those surveyed responded to a marketing email.

Another survey by SAP found the following:

64% of consumers think that businesses should converse with customers more often using SMS.

76% report that they are more likely to read a message sooner if it is an SMS/text message than if it is an email

70% feel using an SMS/text message is a good way for an organization to get their attention

64% think that organizations should use SMS/text messages more than they currently do

Texting is here to stay and brands need to find how it fits into their marketing.

 

8 Tips on Text Message Campaigns

iphone-for-texting-survey1Text campaigns can be used in multiple ways.  We have used it as a way to interact with healthcare workers who do not have time to access their office email frequently and for extremely loyal fans who want immediate, actionable interactions. Here are some things you should know about text campaigns.

1.  Create an Opt-in Campaign.  To develop a database, you will need to recruit participants through other channels.  In our instance, we used social media, direct mail and internal communications within hospitals – posters, digital media, flyer and table tents.  It is important to create a compelling reason for individuals to give up their privacy and allow your messages in.  We developed a giveaway for those who participated.  We also gave them clear communication on what to expect and why we were requesting their information.

2.  Have a clear call to action.  SMS campaigns are driven by 2 factors – the keyword and a short code. The keyword should be easy to remember for the brand.

3.  Make the offer easy to obtain.   Give them a promotional code in the message to use when they appear in your store/restaurant/site.  Make the landing page relevant to the SMS message if you send a link. Since some 50% of your subscribers will be responding via phone, make sure your page is responsive and clearly relates to the message you sent.

4.  Pay attention to frequency.  Ideally 2-4 texts per month is enough.  In fact, it is good to include your frequency in the “auto reply” to your keywords with something like “receive up to 4 text messages per month.”

5.  Respect your audience.  Realize that the persons who respond are really loyal to your brand.  Your text campaigns need to provide more than just selling messages.  Not all of the communication needs to be transaction-based.  You can provide helpful information to them, provide services not available to other consumers, send reminders, or invite them to events.

6.  Leverage the immediacy of texting.  A reminder of an event the day before, a news alert of a special need or weather closings are examples of the type of immediacy involved in text campaigns.

7.  Provide consistent communications.  Using the media consistently is important.  If you go months without connecting via SMS is likely going to cause a high unsubscribe rate with every send.  High profile brands typically send one text a week.  Every brand should develop their own optimized frequency.

8.  Measurement of campaigns.  Here are some types of metrics that can be used to measure your campaign – Subscriber Growth, Subscriber Churn, Keyword Engagement (using different keywords for different media to identify performance), Redemption Rate, and Cost per Redeeming Subscriber.

Mobile texting campaigns are a very private way to communicate with your consumers. And texting campaigns are a way to create stronger loyalty and engagement.  Go ahead and try it out.

Joanne Pulles on Making a Difference with the HCA Hope Fund

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As president of the HCA Hope Fund and the HCA Foundation, Joanne Pulles oversees activities that help and uplift thousands of HCA employees. We took the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the HCA Hope Fund to talk to Joanne about the Power of Hope. HCA Hope Fund has assisted more than 18,000 HCA employees and their families, but it is a marketing challenge to reach the more than 220,000 employees with the message of the Hope Fund.  Many healthcare employees are in clinical settings throughout the day without access to conventional methods.  Delivering  messages to them must take different forms like social media, texting, place-based media and direct mail.

1.  How did the HCA Hope Fund get started?

The HCA Hope Fund was born out of a desire from our employees to help their co-workers who had suffered loss after prominent natural disasters as well as individual losses from cancer, death, car accidents and more.  The out-pouring from employees in 2004 after Hurricane Charlie was the catalyst that launched our exploration to set up a fund as a public charity to help our 200,000 employees in times of crisis.  We had completed our application with the IRS for charitable status in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated our employees and facilities in the Gulf Coast.  With an emergency ruling from the IRS in-hand, we quickly went into operation assisting hundreds of our employees who had lost homes in the storm.

2.  What makes the HCA Hope Fund unique?  

It’s prominence in our culture.  We share stories with our employees every month on the what the fund has meant to their colleagues during their personal crisis.  Personal stories are also told locally in our hospitals from employees who want to their co-workers to know how they have been helped when they needed it the most.

Our leadership support is outstanding – from our executives at corporate and from our hospital leadership across the country.  Not only do they give generously from their personal resources, they lend their voice in staff meetings and employee communications to signal the fund’s importance as part of our wonderful culture at HCA.

3. Who are other companies like HCA who have instituted Employee Emergency Assistance Fund?

Many, many companies have employee relief funds. Some do it through a fund at a community foundation, which is an easier entry point, especially if you just want a fund set up for disasters. Other companies do it like we do at HCA – establish their fund as a public charity and invite employees to support each other in a true “employees helping employees” model that helps workers in a multitude of situations beyond their control such as a serious illness or injury, death in the family, disasters and more.

We are part of a growing group of companies who hold a conference each year and have quarterly phone calls to share best practices. This group includes Home Depot, Levi Strauss, Dollar General, Asurion, Macy’s, Cracker Barrel, PetSmart, and many others.

4. How do you promote the fund? What type of messaging resonates with donors?

We use multiple channels to promote the fund: company email and print communications, at-home mailers, social media like Twitter and Facebook, and even posters still get the attention of our employees who work in busy clinical settings. We have a compelling value proposition for employees when we ask them to contribute financially:

1. It is something they care deeply about – their co-workers in a crisis

2. Thanks to HCA, we are able to offer employees the chance to double their impact through company matching funds, which is a strong motivator for donors and

3. HCA also pays for the staff time that is allocated to the fund so that we have the ability to let employee donors know that none of their contribution goes toward administrative expenses – 100% goes directly to an employee in need. Donors love the value they get from contributing to this fund.

5. What makes the Hope Fund an important choice for employees among other non-profits they might support?

We see giving to the community through other charities as equally important as supporting our own employees through the Hope Fund.  We support more than 1,000 charities with millions of dollars annually through our employee giving campaign, corporate sponsorships and The HCA Foundation.  We offer the same match opportunity to an employee’s charity of choice as we offer for own employee relief fund.  We promote the idea that employees should make at least two gifts – one to our employees in need through the Hope Fund and another to their charity of choice.

6. What are some new ways you are working to reach employees?

It is a challenge to reach our employees in the course of their very important work saving lives and providing critical care in our hospitals and surgery centers. Last year, we can began new experiments with social media to provide other popular channels to connect with employees. We also conducted our first text message campaign. We are now exploring the effectiveness of sending more mail to employees’ homes. This is important for us because, when you are trying to reach your own employees for charitable giving, you tend to over-rely on the cheap and easy methods like company email. But raising funds through direct mail is still the most important tool for most charities and continues to show a positive ROI. Given the clinical nature of our business, this channel may need to become a bigger part of our approach.

7. What are the metrics you use to determine how successful your donor campaigns are?

We measure dollars (in total and by business units) like every other charity because, at the end of the day, this is what it takes to help our employees when they need it most. But our primary message and focus is not dollars – we do not set or impose dollar goals on any campaign leader in a business unit. What we want is engagement. We ask employees to just join our movement for as little as $1 per pay period. We believe the thousands of inspiring stories from our employees who have been helped will motivate donors to give at an appropriate amount that fits their individual capacity. This has worked well for us thus far and we have thousands of donors who give at “Leadership Circle” levels, which for us means gifts of at least $500 annually.

8. What continues to excite you about the Hope Fund?

For me, it is the feedback we receive routinely from employees who have been helped. As I sit here responding to your question, I am thinking about the letter I read this morning from a married couple (both employees) who were in a serious car accident last year. She took three pages to re-count her accident that almost claimed her life. She never expected to need the help of a fund like ours, but now she wants to remind us all that life can literally change in a split second. Unexpected bills began to pile up while she recovered for a period of months and was not able to work. It was the gift from her fellow co-workers that gave her hope during the most difficult battle of her life.

 

Our Favorite Business Productivity Tools for 2016

Screening-Trends-and-Predictions-for-2016We all need an array of productivity tools to help us work, share and survive our hectic marketing life.

What’s on our list?  19 Things we can’t live without!

1.  Buffer.  Okay, refer to our story on Buffer.  Buffer allows us to post content to multiple social media platforms in one easy click.  There’s even a handy browser tool that allows you to post while you are reading.  Link all your social profiles and share immediately or schedule posts for later.  Also Buffer has a beautiful social media image creation tool called Pablo.

2.  Socialoomph.com.  Our secret tool.  Socialoomph also allows us to post and schedule content as far in the future as we want, and as often as we want.  When friends say, “I see you on social media all the time; I don’t know how you do it,” I just smile and say thank you!

3.  Latergramme.me. This tool allows you to schedule your Instagram posts in advance.  Once your posts are scheduled, you only need to publish from your phone.

4.  Feedly is a news reading app that delivers news from RSS feeds.  I am still missing Google Reader but this is a good way to harness quick access to articles.

5.  WordPress is the blog platform I use for both LipstickEconomy.com and our website.  We have used WordPress for six years and often use it as the platform for websites we are building.  You can’t beat its open source platform and easy-to-use content management system.

6.  Google Analytics.  There are great new demographic and behavioral features in reporting now.

7.  FreeConferenceCall.com.  Yep, it’s free.  Conference calls for up to 100 people for six hours, although who would want to be on a call with that many people.  You can also record calls with MP3 playback.  Recording is helpful when you do interviews or don’t want to take notes.  We also use UberConference which has similar features and document sharing, also free.

8.  DropBox  and HighTail.  Dropbox is used for storing and sharing files and photos with clients and partners.  HighTail is great for storing and sharing large files easily.  We use HighTail for transferring large graphic files quickly and easily.

9.  Google Drive.  I use Google Drive for several organizations and clients where we need to easily share documents and files.  And you know, it’s free and awesome.

10.  Timetrade.com or ScheduleOnce are great tools for setting appointments online.  Excellent tools when you are scheduling interviews for groups of people.

11.  Grammarly or Hemingway.  Great tools for checking your grammar, your verbosity and your penchant for run-on sentences.

12.  Basecamp.  We use Basecamp for managing large projects with our clients.  Basecamp is considered the most popular project management software.

13. Emma and MailChimp for Email.  Why two?  Well, they offer different things for different clients.  Emma is changing constantly with great new features.  One of the things they offer is beautiful templates and custom creative.  Emma’s reporting is easy-to-read and they work well with franchise organizations.  Besides, they are a Nashville company!  Mailchimp is free for lists up to 2,000, good reporting, easy-to-build templates and cute illustrations of chimps.

14.  Canva and Pablo 2.0.  Both build amazing graphics for social media.  We love and use them both.  Powtoon is also a great resource for quick little videos with  templates ready for customization.

15.  SurveyMonkey.  Research is important for all businesses.  SurveyMonkey is good for informal research,  formal research and even collecting contact information.

16.  LinkedIn is both social media and a contact resource.  Download your connections to start your contact or newsletter list.

17.  Evernote.  Free note-taking app that is perfect for someone who saves everything.

18.  My iPhone.  My phone, my camera, my lifeline.  What else can I say?  Also a portable charger for traveling.

19.  Hubspot, Salesforce or Contactually.  CRMs for the real world based on the size of your business and pocketbook.

 

Banana Pudding with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream Is a Great Idea

IMG_2362Banana Pudding with  Peanut Butter Whipped Cream!  I know, it’s January and we are supposed to be talking about salads and diets.  But I just read an amazing post from Anne Lamott about the fallacy of diets, and I just got The Southerner’s Cookbook for Christmas. And Banana Pudding does have a marketing backstory with Nabisco Nilla Wafers. Enjoy this Elvis-inspired version fit for the King.

Banana Pudding

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 large ripe bananas, peeled and sliced in rounds (I used 8 bananas!)
4 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk (I used evaporated milk.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla wafers
 
Peanut Butter Topping
 
2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons cold heavy cream
¼ cup creamy peanut butter (I used 1/2 cup peanut butter.)
3 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crushed vanilla wafers
 

Pudding Preparation

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced bananas, tossing to coat, and salute for 3 to 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the bananas are soft and lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, and salt until smooth and pale in color.  In a large saucepan, come the half-and-half, milk, and remaining ½ cup sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed and lightly steaming.  Temper the egg yolk mixture: slowly whisk ½ cup of the hot half-and-half mixture into the yolk mixture.  Return the mixture to the saucepan with the half-and-half mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbles begin to form and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat; add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the vanilla and stir until the butter is melted.

Arrange a single layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 2-quart dish or trifle bowl.  Top with half of the sautéed bananas.  Spoon half of the pudding on top of the bananas; layer again with vanilla wafers, bananas, and the remaining pudding.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Peanut Butter Topping

Put the 2 tablespoons cream and the peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until creamy and thinned, about 30 seconds.  Let cool completely, then transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining 2 cups cream and confectioners’ sugar.  With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

To serve, line the rim of the serving dish with more vanilla wafers, dollop the topping over the pudding, and sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafers.

Recipes excerpted from “The Southerner’s Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories” by David DiBenedetto and the Editors of Garden & Gun (Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.

 

 

Bite-sized Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan-Pie-Bars-1Mini desserts are so great.  They allow our guests to indulge and feel guilt-free.  You can try a little pecan bar, a little cheese cake and a little churro bite.

At our house, we love pecan pie and these bars are a little bit of pecan heaven.  The secret ingredient is the Heath Bar bits!

JAMIE’S PECAN LITTLE BITS

SHORTBREAD CRUST

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter or margarine, cut into pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

PECAN FILLING

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons butter OR margarine, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 bag Heath Bar bits

DIRECTIONS

CRUST

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt with an electric mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Line your pan with foil. Press firmly and evenly into a greased 15 x 10-inch rimmed pan. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown.
FILLING

1
For FILLING: Beat eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in pecans and Heath Bar Bits.
2
Pour over hot crust; spread evenly.
3
Bake 25 minutes at 350°F until filling is firm around the edges and slightly firm in center. Cool completely on wire rack before serving

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls Anyone? Yes, Please.

IMG_1882We are a little pumpkin obsessed, so when we found a super easy recipe for this gooey, deliciousness, we said gotta have some.  If Fall begins when Starbucks starts serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then we say the Holiday Eating Season begins with these little lovelies. And here’s a little pumpkin factoid:  While sales of pumpkin-flavored items grew 11.6% this year, the actual volume of real pumpkin sales dropped 5%. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

CINNAMON ROLLS
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/4 cup pumpkin butter (Or apple butter)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk (more if you like a thin frosting)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Unroll sheet dough into one large rectangle. Spread pumpkin butter evenly over the dough. Evenly sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the pumpkin butter.

Starting with short side of the rectangle, roll up into a log. Using string, dental floss, or a serrated knife, cut the roll into 10 slices. Place slices, cut side down, in a greased 8 x 8 baking dish, or a left over Sister Schubert’s pan.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cinnamon rolls cool in pan for 5 minutes.

While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and milk. If the frosting is still too thick, add a little more milk and whisk until smooth.  Spread frosting over cinnamon rolls and serve! I always have leftover frosting, but use as much as you like:)