10 Marketing & Social Media Tactics to Boost Holiday Sales

Tis the season for holiday sales!

Shoppers are flocking online in search of gift giving ideas. According to Mashable, "65% of shoppers tap social media looking for the perfect gift … and two out of three shoppers purchased a gift they found via social media."

So what are the best ways to cash in on seasonal sales with your business?

Whether you are a service-based business or sell products, here's some suggestions to get in the spirit with holiday sales.

1) Learn from the Ghost of Christmas Past

Look at metrics from last year's holiday sales. What products were bestsellers? Which promotions created the largest lift in sales? What special offers were a total bomb?

Discover what worked and did not so you can capitalize on it when you plan this year's promotions.

2) Make a Holiday Social Media Cover Image

Decorate your social media business pages with a specially designed cover image. It's the perfect place to announce special holidays promotions and deals.

Be sure to create one for all of your social media accounts.

3) Use Holiday Hashtags

Twitter shoppers may use hashtags to find their next purchase. So take advantage of hashtags to get discovered.

Some popular hashtags include: #blackFriday, #DIY, #holidaysssavings, #stockingstuffers, #holidays, #Christmas, #Hannukah, #Kwanzaa, #NewYears

4) Create Social Media Graphics for Promos and Deals

Everyone loves getting a great deal when holiday shopping. Make festive graphics promoting special promotions that make purchasing the perfect item irresistible.

Deals can include:

• one day only,

• limited quantity sales,

• buy-one-get-one free,

• special discounts or holiday coupons.

Consider offering a "12 days of Christmas" promotion with a special deal each day!

Canva makes it easy to make custom holiday social media graphics.

5) Boost Sales with Free Shipping

Consider offering free shipping for holidays gifts. Create highly visible buttons or banners promoting it on your website.

Or you can boost the order size by offering free shipping on orders over a bigger dollar amount such as $ 100.

Studies show that shipping costs are one of the largest detracts to making a purchase online so this one tactic could result in big returns for you.

6) Offer Gift Ideas

Holiday shopping can be frustrating when you do not know what to buy for the person who has everything. You'll want to promote your bestselling gifts.

Make gift buying easy by sharing gift suggestions like:

• 5 gifts for mom,

• 10 gifts grandparents love,

• 5 gift ideas for tech savvy teens etc.

Then offer links to purchase each of the items you mention on your blog and on social media.

Better yet, if you have a blog, write articles based on these topics and refer to your products within the article with links back to the purchase page.

7) Write Reviews

If you offer one of the hot new products of the season, consider writing and reviewing a review about it on your blog. In this review you could mention your own offers that would be a great gift accompaniment.

As an example, do a review of the top three smart phone accessories for Mom this Christmas and share pictures of them with a red bow on them along with a side-by-side features comparison. Then mention how your offer go great with these gift ideas while including links to purchase.

You could also incorporate your Amazon affiliate link for those products

8) Suggest Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Help idea stumped shoppers by offering suggestions for small items for everyone on their shopping list!

Write a blog post with the hottest stocking stuffers for the season. Share daily stocking stuffer ideas on social media using hashtags like: # beststockingstuffers2016 #cheapstockingstuffers #stockingstuffersforwomen

9) Reward Loyal Customers

Offer to give a $ 100 Gift Card to a randomly selected customer cutting posting a picture or video with your product on social media. Set up a campaign having them use a special hash tag like #christmascountdown.

This can help your promotional campaigns to go viral as customers share on their timeline and family / friends see their post.

10) Share Holiday Spirit

Connect to the spirit of the holidays in your customer's hearts. Engage your customers by asking them their favorite holiday tradition.

Get people to interact with your brand by asking them to share:

a. Their most-loved family recipes from Thanksgiving or another holiday event.

b. What their most loved Christmas song is.

c. DIY Christmas decorating tips.

d. Easy gift wrapping suggestions.

Dedicated Hosting Servers – Choosing the Best

What are dedicated hosting servers?

Dedicated hosting servers, as the name implies, are servers leased to a single client and not shared with any others. In other words, if you were to sign up to a dedicated hosting plan, the server would be devoted and committed entirely to hosting your websites.

Why should I use dedicated hosting?

Dedicated hosting has a variety of advantages over shared hosting, particularly if you plan to run an ecommerce website or if you prefer a high level of control over resources.

The key advantages can be briefly summarised as follows:

  • CONTROL: over operating system and software applications
  • RELIABILITY: Reliability: quicker server response time and better performance as the server is not taxed by sharers
  • SECURITY: extremely high security is provided and you can implement your own security measures
  • RESOURCES: greater bandwidth available, ideal for high traffic and resource-intensive websites

What do I need to use dedicated hosting?

MANAGEMENT SKILLS

Although dedicated web hosting gives you the opportunity to fully manage your server, web hosts will provide varying levels of management for you, depending on your host and plan. In these cases, you will not need a high level of management skills.

FINANCES

Expect to pay more for dedicated web hosting that for shared.

What should I look for in a dedicated server?

RAM

It is crucial to have enough RAM. You should aim for at least 2 GB of RAM and the more the better. The number of concurrent users able to visit your site will be greatly affected by the amount of RAM you have. If you do not have enough RAM, under a significant load from a number of simultaneous users accessing your site, your site will crash (i.e. the Slashdot effect). This can particularly be a problem if you have database driven applications.

PROCESSOR

Choosing the best processor for your needs is also important. Intel Xeons and AMD Opterons are the current standard in server CPU architecture. Other CPUs are most likely outdated or are standard desktop CPUs and may not perform as well as the former under a significant network load.

DISK SPACE

Choose a plan with the amount you will need. Unless you will be serving up file and data archives and/or audio and video content (i.e. streaming media, mp3 downloads, etc) then disk space should not be a concern as all plans provide more than adequate amounts of disk space (e.g. 250 GB+). If you anticipate expansion, look into the flexibility of upgrade options.

BANDWIDTH (Monthly Transfer)

Look for 1000-2000 GB+, depending on your needs.

DATA CONNECTION SPEED

Look for 1000 Mbps, particularly if you are streaming video or have a large number of concurrent users. Otherwise 100 Mbps might suffice.

OPERATING SYSTEMS

Look for which are offered and what costs are involved. Many Linux distributions and BSD systems are available for free from the open source community, while Microsoft Windows Server involves a cost. Expect operating system updates to be provided.

MANAGEMENT / EASE OF USE

Look for how much management is included in the plan price. For ease of use, look for free inclusion of cPanel (web based administration). Look for hosts supporting server configuration, software, application, security and anti-virus updates, firewall services and monitoring. Be wary of the term “fully managed” as this means different things to different hosts. Investigate thoroughly.

SOFTWARE

What options do you have? What is included? Microsoft products? Look for control panel software.

SUPPORT

Look for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year phone / email technical support.

BACKUP AND RESTORATION

Look for what backup and restoration options are provided. Some plans come with two hard drives, allowing an easy back up solution.

IP ADDRESSES

Look for more than one, particularly if you plan to do ecommerce.

UPTIME GUARANTEE

Look for hosts guaranteeing 99.9 to 100% uptime and find out their compensation if it is not reached.

WEB HOSTING PRICE

Find out if there is a setup fee. Expect to pay $200+ per month for hosting.

Who provides top rated web hosting?

No doubt you will read different opinions in different places, but based on the criteria outlined above, I have identified a few stand-out dedicated web hosts with excellent reputations for quality and reliability. You will find details of these hosts at Web Host Choice [http://webhostchoice.info]

How to Talk to Your Spouse Who Says You Work Too Much

Strong marriages and relationships require attention from both partners. This balance of attention to spouse versus earning a living or furthering your career can be difficult to find. And, once you have found a balance that works in your relationship, things change and you have to find the balance again.

Why do some people overwork? The Overworking Spouse may be under considerable stress on the job, or may have a boss that demands long hours. Or maybe there are layoffs coming up and the less productive workers are the first to go. Maybe one partner has to work long hours just to support the family. On the other hand, the overworking spouse may be strongly identifying with career advancement to the exclusion of the marriage. Of course, we should be involved in work that is worthwhile, fulfilling and financially rewarding but over focus can put the marriage at risk.

What can happen when you put your work/career first? Your spouse may be feeling emotionally disconnected from you and lonely. There may be a buildup of resentment which can lead to anger and finally bitterness-towards you. This situation often leads to unhappiness and discord for the entire family.

As a psychologist who has worked for 20 years counseling couples in my therapy practice in North St. Paul, MN, I met with Amy and Josh with just this complaint. Amy was complaining that she was overburdened because Josh worked too much and left her with the responsibilities of home, children, and her own 40-hour job. He knew she was right but he felt defensive when she tried to tell him how to manage his work schedule. He’d started complaining that when wasn’t very affectionate lately and always blamed her disinterest in their physical intimacy on fatigue. He asked to meet with me individually after Amy had had a session to talk about her “side”of the problem. He was appreciative that she was not as naggy as she had been in the past, but he still felt blamed and criticized.

When Josh and I met, we talked of the reasons that he was spending so much time at work. The usual reasons people overwork is that they are feeling under considerable stress on the job, or may have a boss that demands long hours. Or maybe there are layoffs coming up and the less productive works are the first to go. Maybe one partner has to work long hours just to support the family. On the hand, the overworking spouse may be strongly identifying with career advancement to the exclusion of the marriage.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman, in their book 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, suggest the following questions:

1.What does your work mean to you?

2.What pleasure or satisfaction does work bring to you?

3.What need does working fulfill in your life?

4.Does your work related to some personal legacy you would like to contribute to the world?

In a discussion with Josh, he pointed out that he was trying to make headway in his career now, while he was still young and had the energy. He knew his wife was doing a good job parenting their two small children (3 years and 9 months) so he wanted to focus on earning good money for his family. At first, he couldn’t understand why Amy was complaining so much because he was doing all this work for her and their children. He felt it was his responsibility. He wanted to provide his children with a fund for their education.

I suggested he consider the questions listed above. He said that his work is very satisfying in that he felt very confident and capable at work. He also wanted to meet his father’s expectations who had had a successful career. His older two brothers had moved from job to job and he knew his father was disappointed that they had difficulty supporting their families.

It was important for Josh to understand the underlying reasons for his excessive hours at work. He did not have a demanding boss and he was in no threat of a layoff. He just wanted to do the right thing. He had not thought of himself as having value over and above that of a worker and wage earner. He resigned himself to have a discussion with Amy. He said he would try to listen carefully about what Amy was longing for when she complained to him. I suggested he try to imagine the experiences she wanted to have with him and not to focus on her criticisms.

When Amy and Josh came for the next couple’s session, they wanted to further discuss the overworking situation. (They no longer saw the problem as residing inside one of them but as a problem the two of them need to figure out.) Any was able to explain to him what she missed when he work so much. He came to get a sense that his contribution to their family was not solely a financial responsibility. He heard her tell him he was also loved, appreciated, and needed as a friend, confidant and co-parent. She especially enjoyed his easy humor with their children and felt he was the only one who would be able to provide that.

This was a difficult issue for this couple and it was not resolved quickly. They were able to discuss their needs and wants in a different way when they addressed the questions about the underlying reasons for their positions.

Life Insurance 101, An Explanation of Various Types of Life Insurance

TERM LIFE INSURANCE – Life insurance for a set number or years. You can choose from 5 to 30 year terms. No cash value, if you die during the term you collect the death benefit. The policy dies after the selected term has ended and you receive nothing unless you have a, return of premium rider or you convert the policy to some form of permanent insurance.

RETURN OF PREMIUM TERM INSURANCE (ROP) – A term insurance policy that returns all or a portion of premiums paid at the end of the term if the death benefit has not been paid.

SIMPLIFIED TERM INSURANCE – Term insurance which uses a simple application. Underwriting is done electronically. No underwriting requirements by the applicant unless red flags arise out of the electronic underwriting process. Policy is usually issued much quicker than regular term. There is a limit of death benefit for this type of policy ($350,000 or less) depending on the insurance carrier. This type of policy is generally more expensive because of additional risk by the insurance carrier. Less underwriting =more risk.

CRITICAL ILLNESS INSURANCE – Applied for as a stand-alone policy or as a rider to another life insurance policy. Pay immediate benefit for a covered illness even if death does not occur.

ACCIDENTAL DEATH INSURANCE – Pays benefit in event of a covered sudden accidental death. Applied for as a stand-alone policy or as a rider to another form of life insurance.

MORTGAGE PROTECTION INSURANCE OR DECREASING TERM INSURANCE – Term insurance that pays the balance of your mortgage should death occur. The amount of death benefit decreases to match the amount owed on mortgage. The insurance is set up to end at the same time your mortgage is set to end.

UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE (non variable) – Flexible premiums. Can be a permanent insurance as long as premiums are paid and policy is funded properly. Investment policy in which risk lies with insurance company.

Has a minimum guaranteed interest rate which differs by company. This policy has the ability to gain contract value. The death benefit can be set to level (death benefit stays the same throughout) or increasing (death benefit increases as contract value rises). You may obtain loans or make withdraws but you must be careful, if the policy is not funded, it will collapse.

VARIABLE UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE – Agent must have securities license to sell. Very similar to non-variable universal life. The difference is that the policy owner assumes investment risk. There is no guaranteed interest rate. Policy can collapse if investment does not do well and policy is not funded properly.

WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE – Simply put, you pay the premium and the policy will last your whole life. You usually have an option to borrow against the policy, amount depends on the value of the policy. This type of policy is usually much more expensive than the universal life policy.

GRADED BENEFITS WHOLE LIFE – Partial or no benefits paid until a named or tiered waiting period has passed. If you die before the waiting period has passed, you usually will receive the return of your premium payments with some sort of interest.

FINAL EXPENSE WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE – This type of whole life insurance is aimed at burial and funeral expenses and other final expenses. Usually, no medical exam required and death benefit is limited to $50,000 or less.

SINGLE PREMIUM WHOLE LIFE – This whole life policy is paid for by a single lump sum payment. In return the beneficiary receives a larger death benefit than the payment.

THINGS TO CONSIDER: You may be interested in mixing and matching different types of policies. For example; There is a need for 500k immediately. As time goes on, the kids have graduated college and are out of the house, the house is almost or totally paid off. Now the need is less. In this example you may want to purchase a 330k universal life and a 20 year 200k term. This plan will save you money and still protect your family for life.

Or, you may want to mix term, critical illness, accident, universal life, or whole life in various ways depending on your needs.

RIDERS:

Waiver of Premium Rider – pays life insurance premium if you become disabled and can’t work. There is usually a waiting period and rider usually expires at age 60 or 65.

Critical Illness Rider – Rider is explained above.

Return of Premium Rider – Rider is explained above.

Guaranteed Insurability Rider – this rider allows you to purchase an additional amount of life insurance at a later date without having to prove insurability again or take another medical exam.

Term Conversion Rider – allows you to convert a term insurance policy into a permanent policy without proving insurability again.

Accelerated Benefit Rider – this rider is only for permanent life insurance policies. This rider is usually included automatically for free. It allows you to collect a portion of your policy’s death benefit if you become terminally ill with a short life expectancy, usually one year. The portion paid out is subtracted from you policy’s death benefit.

Accidental Death Benefit Rider – This rider pays in addition to the death benefit if you die from an accident.

Child protection Rider – Usually used to pay final expenses if the unthinkable happens. Often, at a nominal cost and purchased in units of $1,000.

UNDERWRITING: requirements depend on insurance carrier, type of policy, amount of death benefit, age, build chart, gender, medical history, medications, family history, motor vehicle report, and other factors.

An application is always required, although, non-medical policies usually have a simple application.

Requirements could be: Paramed (certified medical processor or nurse comes to your place of choosing, takes you through a medical questionnaire, measures your height and weight, takes blood and urine sample, possibly EKG either resting or non-resting), Medical information from your physician or hospital, Medical exam, etc.

HEALTH CLASSES – Typical health classes would be, Preferred Best, Preferred, Select Standard, Standard, and then different nicotine classes such as, preferred nicotine, select nicotine, and standard nicotine.

It is possible to be rated less than standard depending on health and underwriting factors.

You must qualify for a health class. This is chosen by the underwriter after the underwriting process is complete. The agent can only quote you the different health classes but this can change with the underwriting process.