To Reach Vacationers, Advertising Needs to Change

28 Feb

advertising vacationersLast week, I escaped the cold New England winter for the warm, sunny skies of the Florida Keys. (Yes, that’s a photo from my stay. Did it grab you, or what?!) While driving on and off of the famous Seven Mile Bridge, I thought about the advertising techniques of the local and big box businesses that reside there.

Billboards plastered the sides of the highway touting everything from fish dinners to sandals to dolphin encounters. Much like any other mainstream vacation spot, this is a common practice, but for how long?

Businesses need to realize that traditional advertising, such as billboards, should not be the next thing around the bend. Change is coming, and in many cases, it has already arrived.

Instead of the construction of more billboards and signage, businesses are — and need to be — moving their messages to the palms of our hands. Today’s vacationer is not reading billboards, but rather searching their smartphones for the information they need. It’s about providing information at the time and place the consumer wants it. I’m not looking for dolphin encounters today, so why is that billboard telling me about it? That is not the right message.

There’s one more shift impacting today’s consumer. Today’s consumer is looking for information from their peers, not from companies. A vacationer wants to hear from other vacationers. Peer review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp are answering all of the questions consumers are asking. It’s immediate. Gone are the days of searching the local paper for restaurant ads. Now I can search for top restaurants in Key West faster than a chef can serve up oysters.

Today we have the opportunity to be targeted marketers with the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Take down the billboards and replace them with nests for the endangered birds. Let consumers do the talking to inform other consumers. Whether it’s cooking fish or selling goods, be exceptional at what you do. Only then will the vacationers come….and tell their friends.



Why True Happiness is the Answer to Life’s Toughest Questions

29 Jan

true happinessIt’s not often that the big questions and challenges in life are clearly marked with a right or wrong answer. Oftentimes they require deep thinking, the involvement of others, and time to debate it on your own.

Since my preteen years, I’ve been making lists to help me make those tough decisions, although back then, the challenges were more focused on which guy to date. Pro: John was funny. Con: John recently dated a friend of mine.

Nevertheless, I created lists of pros and cons, which I still do to this day. It helps me organize my thoughts and determine the most practical route possible. New wood floors. Pro: Pergo needs to go. Con: It’s a lot of money. The list goes on.

As we get older and face tougher decisions, ranging from career choices, to love, to growing our families, lists have a hard time giving us the answer. Perhaps lists never really provided the answer, but rather served as a way to organize our thoughts enough to help us find the answer for ourselves. No matter the case, lists don’t work all the time.

Therefore, I started seeking a new way to find the answers to the toughest questions. Recently, I think I found it. My husband and I used to talk for hours at a time, sometimes until the sun came up. We’d cover topics about our past, our future, and our hopes and dreams. Our conversations were inspiring and helpful and always ended with a smile, except for the sadness I felt when the conversation was over. I couldn’t get enough.

Recently, my husband and I had one of those conversations. It was 2am, a time I typically avoided given that we just recently got our nights back as young parents. However, that conversation was all about us, and it exhilarated all the feelings of love and hope that I’ve felt for the past 14 years that we’ve been together.

Of course, that conversation covered our challenges. And while all of these challenges couldn’t be solved in one night’s conversation, I realized that there was one thing that answered all of my burning questions. The answer was a question. The question: Would this provide true happiness?

I could now apply this question to concerns about career, growing a family, love and even wood floors. The yes/no answer to this question was deep. It came from the word “true” in the question. Would wood floors make me happy? Yes. Would wood floors provide true happiness? No. OK, off the list.

The answer to this question will not always be as easy as the wood floors answer, but it will come. We all know deep down whether what we’re doing, or not doing, is making us truly happy. Does your day-to-day job make you truly happy? If it does (like in my case), then smile and know you’re where you’re supposed to be. If you have major doubts, then maybe you need to take a second look.

True happiness is not always about us. If you want to move to a new city, but your spouse does not, or your kids have friends and a great support system where you are right now, would you really be happy with the move? True happiness, for me, is about the happiness of others. When my husband, son, brother or best friend is happy, then I am, too.

True happiness came to me at 2am. If someone asked me if my life equates to true happiness, I would shout, without a doubt, yes.

LinkedIn Publishing: Should You Do It in 2015?

20 Dec

2015-blogging2014 was the year of publishing for LinkedIn, as they opened their publishing platform to its members, enabling their influencers to create content. Soon after, the flood gates opened and anyone with a LinkedIn profile had their chance at publishing on the social network.

At the start, Forbes contributor, John Hall, feared the worst in this article, stating, “I had mixed feelings. The notion of a flood of terrible content on LinkedIn worried me.”

I have to admit, I felt the same way initially. With over 300 million members worldwide, the potential for finding strong, meaningful content amongst a sea of junk was much like finding Frosty the Snowman in a snowstorm. It was a free for all, with no consistency, structure, or strategy in the way content was created.

After LinkedIn publishing came out, the notifications started. For every LinkedIn published post, a notification was sent to the author’s network (depending on the notification settings), which meant more emails and LinkedIn notifications to comb through while using the site. It was becoming as messy as John Hall feared.

However, in the world of social media marketing and content marketing, one blog post on one website will be as loud as Silent Night. You spend all of this time crafting and creating it, only for it to die a quick, quiet death.

You’ve got to place your content where your audience spends their time. Cross-posting your content on Medium, Business2Community, LinkedIn and other sites will boost the exposure of your content, making it more accessible to those who want to read it.

With all of this in mind, LinkedIn is a great outlet to post content in 2015, if it’s a place where your audience spends their time. However, post there with these points in mind:

  • A regular cadence: don’t overload by posting everyday, but keep it consistent with weekly or monthly posts
  • Reuse/re-purpose content: reinventing the wheel with brand new content is not required here. Re-post existing content with a few tweaks to the headline to breathe new life into it. Think of it as a way to promote the content you already have.
  • Embed content: Get additional exposure of your infographics, Slideshare presentations, videos, etc. by embedding them in your LinkedIn posts
  • Relevant content: Share content relevant to your LinkedIn connections and the LinkedIn network overall. In other words, would I publish this post on LinkedIn? You bet I would.

I can guarantee there will be new and exciting technologies and channels to try in 2015, but LinkedIn is not something we should ignore or forget.

Happy Holidays and happy blogging!

Why We All Need a Personal Blog

22 Nov

personal-blogsWriting has been one of my favorite hobbies since I was 10. I have stacks of diaries, notepads, journals and blank books filled to the brim with my ideas, feelings, inventions, poems and short stories. Once my father bought the family’s first computer in the mid 90s, I was hooked. I’d open up text file after text file, writing short stories and poems. It was there that I wrote my first manuscript.

And so, as an adult, it’s no wonder that I have been blogging and managing blogs since 2011. Blogging was a natural evolution for me. It took my short stories and ideas out of blank books and let them live online. It enabled me to share my ideas with the world, gather feedback and revise. Blogging lets my ideas come alive, enabling me to learn more about people and the world than ever before.

Whether you’re a writer or not, blogging is a healthy way to share your ideas and thoughts. Having a personal blog creates a judgement-free zone for your ideas to thrive. You don’t have to be a great writer, or have a big following, or be an expert in a certain topic. Blogging enables you to write about what you love. It’s a breeding ground for creativity. And no matter who you are or what you do, you’re creative. We all are.

Personal blogs don’t require blog editors, editorial calendars, SEO, or a rigid approval chain. While all of these things are crucial in the business blogging world, personal blogs can defy all of that criteria. Reason being, personal blogs do not have the same goals as business blogs. Business blogs might look to grow pageviews, conversions, blog contributors, etc. A goal of a personal blog can simply be to have a place for the blogger to share and be themselves. My personal blog goal is to achieve a mental break (for myself and the reader).

Since I’ve been blogging, I have not written in a journal. Sometimes I think about the nostalgia of writing, and how I can tuck that away in a box that no one can open but me. However, for some reason, I stray from it. I think it’s because blogging has opened up a new world for me. I’ve met amazing people, worked at great companies, read some awe-inspiring posts, and written more than I ever have before. The writing doesn’t have to stop when you hit the last page of the blank book anymore. With blogging, your words live on forever, and the last page may never come.

Inspirational People Who Will Make You Work Harder

2 Nov

motivationMotivation can come from anywhere. Recently, I have been motivated and inspired by friends that have pushed themselves to places that many do not venture to go. Their hardworking yet humble mentalities boost my awe and excitement. Whether they know it or not, they inspire me to push myself each and every day. Here are their stories, which I hope inspire you, too.

My Neighbor and His Two Marathons in Two Months

My neighbor ran the Hartford Marathon on October 11th on a whim. He was prepping for the NYC Marathon, happening as I write this post, and saw the opportunity to run Hartford as well. Perhaps he saw it as good practice, but no matter what, it takes dedication and motivation to take that leap.

Takeaway: Take chances and try new things. You never know what you’ll achieve.

My Classmate and Her First Marathon

I recently became friends with a fellow tapper in my dance class. I found out she enjoyed running, so we started running together. She told me she was training for her first marathon, and I was inspired to help, so I ran with her during her initial training. She kept training hard, even missing some dance classes to focus on the marathon. In early October, she finished the race.

Takeaway: Establish your goal and take it one step at a time.

My Best Friend and Her Natural, Home Birth

While home birth and natural birth are commonplace in other countries, in America, they are rarities. My best friend naturally and calmly had her first child in the comfort of her own home, with her husband and midwives by her side. She did not worry about the norm. She focused on her baby and a way to bring him into the world that was the best for her and her family. Both mom and baby are healthy and happy.

Takeaway: Find the motivation from within and focus there.

My Dear Friend and her 70-Pound Weight Loss

My friend of nearly 20 years has always struggled with weight. She recently found her life partner, and with a wedding on the way, and a baby as her dream, she sought to lose weight. Her doctors helped her with surgery, but she was the only one who could truly lose the weight. Within the first four months, she lost over 70 pounds. Her goal of 100 pounds is not far away.

Takeaway: You are the only one that can truly make it happen.

My Husband and his Own Business

My husband left his full-time production company job nearly two years ago to pursue his own, cinematography and editing business. I was ready and excited to support him throughout the journey, but he didn’t need me. His business grows each month, and he has exciting clients and projects everyday. His dedication and passion for his work is infectious, and his tireless efforts have helped his business grow to new and exciting heights. He loves what he does for a living, and that only feeds into his work.

Takeaway: Do what you love and work hard at it.

My College Friend and his Shoulder and Brain Surgeries

A happy, healthy, successful friend of mine recently experienced two seizures, which turned out to be the result of a brain tumor. The seizures caused a fall that broke both of his shoulders. He needed surgery for his shoulders, as well as surgery for the removal of the brain tumor. He shared his story each and every day on Facebook, and on a custom site he built during his recovery. Not only is he miraculously recovering and now returning to work, but he’s built an online journal in the process. He is truly unstoppable.

Takeaway: Make the most of the situations life throws at you. Never give up.

My Young Friend who was Pregnant with Breast Cancer

A few years ago, my happy, healthy, younger friend was excited about getting pregnant and having her first child. During her pregnancy, she found out she had breast cancer. The process to remove the cancer was challenging, given that most medications would not be acceptable while pregnant. She knew she had to get through it to have her baby. She embraced her situation. She had a head shaving party. She shared her experience through online journals. She fought everyday. Today, her baby is three years old, and my friend is happy and healthy again.

Takeaway: Push forward and fight with everything you’ve got.

Who are the people in your life that inspire you? Do you have an inspirational story to share?

It’s Go Time: My Game Plan for Dreamforce 2014

11 Oct

Dreamforce 2014This is my fourth time at Dreamforce,’s user conference and the world’s largest cloud computing show located in San Francisco. While I have a few years of it under my belt, this is my first time as a non-salesforce employee. I’m going to Dreamforce to represent the fast-growing Salesforce partner, RingLead. I’m excited to bring even more energy, experience and ideas to this event as I have in years past.

If you’re new to Dreamforce or just looking for ways to get the most out of the show, here’s my plan for scheduling my days, and using helpful resources.

My Schedule

I love to live blog sessions and keynotes, and the content I create must appeal to Dreamforce attendees, Dreamforce fans that are interested but could not attend, and of course, other marketers. To make sure I appeal to this audience with my content, I plan my days ahead of time. With nearly 1,500 sessions, I need to know where I’m headed and when. Why plan ahead?

  • Some venues and sessions can be a 15 minute walk apart, so you need time to get there.
  • Sessions fill up so you’re not guaranteed a seat. Getting there early will give you a better shot.
  • Live blogging requires scheduling, planning and thinking ahead.

I, of course, did not mention the essentials of eating, bathroom breaks, checking work emails and stopping to say hello to people. With all of this in mind, here’s how I plan my days:

  • 1-2 sessions and one keynote per day. This gives me ample time to get to the sessions, plan ahead for blogging and makes sure I’m not running around like crazy. It’s manageable and still plenty of great content to digest. I make sure I get to the main keynotes because those are the most inspiring with amazing speakers.
  • Booth duty. RingLead has a booth at Moscone West (W827), so I plan to be there everyday to meet customers, colleagues, and coworkers. Spending that time at the booth is invaluable. I also love the Expo halls because you get to see all the great vendors (and grab some swag – RIngLead has t-shirts this year!).
  • Extracurricular events. The evenings are crucial times for networking with tons of awesome parties. I make sure to attend the events and parties with partners and people that I know and want to see. During the day, plenty of companies have restaurants, hotel conference rooms and spaces rented for charging up, relaxing and catching up on work, such as The Oasis by the Cloud Collective. And lastly, I always try to get a good run in, so I plan to do the DF14 Fun Run.

Helpful Resources

It’s tough to plan Dreamforce without some great tools. At the same time, you need these tools and resources throughout the show to make sure you get everywhere you need to be and make the most of your time. Here’s what I use.

If you’re going to Dreamforce, comment here or tweet me at @amandalnelson. It would be great to meet up!

Is Blogging the Best Medium?

21 Sep

I love you Blogs and CoffeeWriting is one of the most important aspects of my life. It’s my job, my hobby and my outlet. It keeps me grounded, but at the same time, lets me fly. I feel dedicated, passionate and inspired when I write.

Is blogging the best medium? I believe so. Here’s why.

Blogging is anything you want it to be

It can be a quick and painless post or a deeply researched piece. There are so many different styles and ways to blog that the medium itself is inspiring. You can write a haiku or a 2,000-word post. Either way, it’s blogging and either way, it can be engaging.

Blogging is about people

There are plenty of amazing blogs, but behind many of these great blogs are smart people. I’ve met some of the most inspiring people from blogging. It motivated me to write the next great post.

Blogging is a science

There are specific tactics to excel at blogging that help you grow your exposure, followers, traffic, comments and attention. Tapping into SEO, images, keywords, topical ideas, etc. can boost your blog’s success. It’s all about testing and finding the right ingredients to a successful blog.

Blogging is ongoing

There is no end to a blog. A blog does not go to print or sit on a shelf. It’s living and breathing and can be updated anytime. I love to go back and change old posts. Whether it’s a new headline, image, call to action, etc., it’s about looking at the blog overall and not just the latest post.

Blogging is accessible

It’s mobile, social, and just plain accessible.

Blogging can change your life

Having a blog is a great platform to stand on. It’s something to share in the interview process. It establishes credibility. It can help you get a job.

You can create and grow your personal brand with blogging. Your blog is a reflection of you.

Your blog is always there for you.

Your blog is ready and waiting for you to add to it, anytime and anywhere. When I sit down to blog, it’s just me, my laptop and my thoughts. I look forward to that precious time, and I look forward to those who want to read it.

Is blogging the best medium for you? Why or why not?

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