Smart Marketing

Do you notice when you’re being marketed to? It seems like more recently, I’ve noticed some marketers being smart about how they connect. Just today, Kevin Mullett pointed out (much to his dismay) that he acted on Facebook marketing yesterday.

KMullett_facebook ad worked_022813I wonder if anyone else notices when an ad works on them. My husband says I only notice things like this because I work in the field. What I’ve been noticing more recently, isn’t how or when I act on a message but rather on how a marketer reaches me.

Example: Yesterday, someone I work with sent an article my direction. After reading it and finding it valuable, I noticed I hadn’t previously heard of the publication. Of course, I looked to see if they had a social media presence and followed them on Twitter. Fast forward about 30 hours and an email lands in my inbox telling me to “Renew Your Free Subscription Today.” Wow! I never had a subscription but hey, if it’s free. That’s what they want me to think any way. (And I will probably sign up for it since it’s industry related content and someone I respect finds it to be valuable.)

Isn’t the sales funnel interesting? Am I the only one who notices these things?

DKNY Accused of Stealing Hundreds of Images From NYC Photographer | Adweek

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Last week, we were talking about the response to being hacked. Now the question is what is the right response to an ‘isolated error’ when the community is now a part of the conversation?

Read the link below for AdFreak’s highlight of the issue involving a deal that went south for a NYC photographer. Included is DKNY’s response not to pay the photographer for his work (they originally desired and then used) but rather to donate to charity.

DKNY Accused of Stealing Hundreds of Images From NYC Photographer | Adweek.

This is quite a sticky issue with many different points of view. I want to hear yours. Did DKNY do the right thing in the end?

The Good: A Tough Week in KC from KC Kids Doc

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Inspiring account of the good that is found in times of crisis. I can’t help but think my own community would respond in the same way. I certainly hope we would.

Take a moment and learn from the love in KC.

The Good: A Tough Week in KC | KC Kids Doc.

Responding to a Hack

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If you were on Facebook all day, you might not know Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked. Unique to this situation (from a PR perspective) is that the hackers gave credit to McDonald’s. Poor McDonald’s! A PR person’s worst nightmare may be having their social media account hacked. Next on the list might be getting credit where no credit is due wanted. (Mashable does a great job of sharing today’s activity in a timeline fashion if you’re interested.)

Inevitably over the next few days, both Burger King and McDonald’s will be studied for their response to this incident. Lucky for them, they have the benefit of learning from those who’ve gone before them like BP. Not being the leader in this instance is a good thing.

Just as the PR crisis happens via social media, so does the opportunity for others to respond and engage. Every story in the news can be shared or spark a conversation for you or your brand. The key is to not capitalize on them.

So what’s the right way to respond in the moment from your brand? Especially if your brand offers PR services. Locally, three marketing agencies posted a tweet and commentary on the situation. I screened their names and avatars so that opinion wouldn’t be generated based on the account. Each takes a different approach to joining the conversation on the topic. Each approach has benefits and potential downsides.AgencyB_burger king hack_021813AgencyC_burger king hack_021813AgencyA_burger king hack_021813Which firm do you think responded the best? What is your take-away from this situation that you can apply if (in your worst nightmare) your own organization faces a PR crisis?

Water for Lent

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No, I’m not giving up water for Lent. I am giving water for Lent.

Full disclosure, I’ve never participated in Lent before now. While half of my family is Catholic, we did not celebrate the Lenten season in my home. As an adult, I’ve seen others of many faiths choose something to give up for Lent. (Not always connected to a religious or faith observance.) I think because I’ve never fully understood it, I’ve never participated.

Until today that is when my friend Kristen shared a post on Facebook encouraging others to take part in 40 Days of Water. It was immediately what I needed for several reasons. The first is a bit selfish. I desperately need to increase my water intake for health reasons. What a better way to jump-start the effort than by creating a habit to support a great effort. But, as I learned more about it I realized that selfishness is exactly why I should be sacrificing and observing Lent.

40 Days of Water encourages individuals to give up their coffee, tea, and soda habits and drink tap water for the 40 days of Lent. This isn’t just a concept born out of slacktivism. Each week, Blood Water Mission asks you to donate back the amount you would’ve spent on these not-so-healthy and expensive beverages. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. The money you donate supports clean water projects in Uganda. (I believe this to be a true mission since my friend Kristen (mentioned above) personally knows the founder.)

Here is another reason I love this campaign so much. They’ve thought of everything! How do you know how much you should contribute? Because they’ve given you online and mobile tools to track your would-be consumption daily. They also know that giving is contagious so they’ve created social tools where you can share your progress and invite others to join you. (Click Here to View My Profile)

I cannot wait to see what the results are (health and dollars) at the end of my 40 Days of Water. If you see me around carrying my glass of water, I hope you’ll encourage me in this effort!

Do you observe Lent? Will you join me in 40 Days of Water?

Top 1% on LinkedIn. You too?

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“Heather, thanks for being part of an important milestone at LinkedIn.” That’s what the subject line read. I imagined the email would spell out a new product launch that I get to be a part of or that they were announcing they’d crossed a significant user milestone. Imagine my surprise curiosity when I saw this.

LinkedIn_Top 1% email_Feb 2012Call me a skeptic, but I just don’t see how I’m in the top 1% of viewed profiles. If I am, then I’m guessing I know several others who are in the same percentile. And if that’s true, the other 99% must not really use LinkedIn because it doesn’t seem hard to attract attention there.

I’m also curious if they sent out other 1% emails for different achievements. Did anyone receive a “Top 1% of profiles with the most connections” or the “Top 1% of the profiles receiving endorsements?” I wonder because I’m not sure what value there is in being viewed. Obviously there would be great value if I was job seeking. (I’m not. And I purposefully leave “seeking job opportunities” off my LinkedIn profile.) I’d rather score well for being active and engaging with others.

So here’s what I’m left wondering: How many of you also received the Top 1% email and do you find value in the knowledge and the potential of that statistics?

Building a Baby

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I’ve decided the anticipation you get from expecting a baby is similar to the anticipation you get when you are building a house. You wonder will it be a boy or will it be a girl? Will he or she be healthy? What will their personality be like?

This morning, we have the opportunity to go and have our first ultrasound so to speak. We are heading to the architect’s to see their first concepts at the floor plan, site plan and the 3-D of the outside of the home. There is excitement, but also present is that nervous anticipation you experience prior to the doctor’s visit where you get to see your baby for the first time or hear the heartbeat. At that moment, you know the baby is healthy and you’re on track for success.

Those feelings are what I’m feeling today. I’m excited but I’m also nervous and really looking forward to the completion of the home build. For us, this will be a long gestational period. You see, even a year from today we still won’t be in our finished home. We are purposefully extending the building timeline to fit our needs.

In other words, this baby is going to take a while to deliver and while we’re waiting you shouldn’t expect this blog turn into a design blog. Do expect a few updates now and then about the process of selling our current house and the building process. We’re really enjoying looking forward and working with the local team we’ve assembled to build our forever home. It’s going to be a great addition to our Team.

Do One Thing Every Monday This Year

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A huge shout out to Jon Swanson for this inspiration. I enjoy reading Jon’s blog “300 words a day” for his wisdom. This post however, hit the nail on the head for me.

You see, I realized I hadn’t done my Three Words for 2013 yet and was struggling to generate any resolutions. And I was pretty ok with that. What I learned last year is that “big goals” don’t always work for me. I need actionable change that I can do incrementally, as I have time, that transform into habits.

Enter Jon’s list of items to select from every Monday. The result: 52 actions. In a row.

I’m on it. How about you?

Every Monday this year | 300 words a day.

There is still time to make this statement: “I’ve done this every Monday in 2013.”

All you have to do is one of these:

  1. Tell your child/children you are grateful they are alive.
  2. Ask God for wisdom for the decisions you have to make this week.
  3. Drink a large glass of water.
  4. Read Psalm 19.
  5. Write an encouraging email to a friend.
  6. On a scrap of paper, write one thing you want to implement from a sermon you heard on Sunday. Tape it to your monitor.
  7. Look at the sunrise. Or sunset.
  8. Read one chapter from the book that is on the top of your reading pile.
  9. Look in the mirror and say, “I glad that God made you.”
  10. Eat 100 calories less than you otherwise would.
  11. Hand $5 to someone that you don’t own money to.
  12. Unsubscribe from an e-newsletter that isn’t helping you as much anymore.
  13. Make a list of six things that have to be done by Friday.
  14. On a scrap of paper, write the name of one person you want to ask God to help. Tape it to your mirror.
  15. Extra difficulty: On a scrap of paper, write the name of one person who annoys you (or is trying to undermine you) and tape it to your mirror. Then ask God to bless them.
  16. Put a 90 minute appointment for thinking and writing on NEXT Monday’s calendar. (It’s too late for the 90 minutes today. But you can schedule it.)
  17. Clean one pile off your desk.
  18. Defer to someone else’s wishes for one specific thing.
  19. Unprocrastinate on one project.
  20. Stop. For 15 minutes.

You can fill in your own action. Just pick something. This offer expires at midnight, your time, on January 7, 2013. But if you start on January 14, you can still say “I’ve done this almost every Monday in 2013.”

The result? 52 actions. In a row.

Our Walt Disney World Tips

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Team Schoegler_Disney World_hschoeglerWe recently returned from our second visit to see the Mouse and castle and once again had a terrific experience. My in-laws are Disney pro’s and we had the benefit of traveling with them for the first visit. This time though, we were on our own (with a little help from Tour Guide Mike) and found a few great tricks you might like as well. In no particular order….

DO get tips from others. Obviously, my list (while long) is not the be-all-end-all. I mentioned Tour Guide Mike above, and I would recommend the $20 or so for his advice. We used it to help map out which parks we’d visit when, as well as a few nuances about where to sit, things you might not know or notice otherwise, and general guidance. Also talk to friends who’ve been and find out what their ‘don’t miss’ list includes.

DO or DON’T use the Dining Plan. Trip 1, we used the dining plan. It worked and we thought we’d always get it. Trip 2, we stayed at the The Dolphin (great value, all perks of a Disney property except access to the dining plan) so we paid cash for all meals. Between the cost savings of the hotel and being able to choose what we ate, we felt like we saved more money without it. Here’s why: when you use the Dining Plan, it comes with certain choices. A lot of times, the food would go to waste. We didn’t need the sandwich, fries AND cookie. By paying for the food ourselves, we didn’t spend any more than we would’ve on a dining plan (spent a bit less in fact) and we didn’t let things go to waste. We were also able to eat wherever and whenever we chose. For us, no dining plan worked best.

DO pay extra for the Park Hopper. Yes, it’s an extra charge but the flexibility it gives you is priceless. On our last day for example, there were a few ‘must-dos’ at both Magic Kingdom (MK) and Epcot (EP) that we wanted to do before leaving. We started at MK, checked those off the list and then went over to EP and back to MK for the evening light and firework shows. I’ve also heard of people using the hopper combined with a Fast Pass (FP) to make the most of their time. Example: send one family member with all tickets into Hollywood Studios (HS) early in the morning to get a FP for Toy Story Midway Mania. Then leave, and spend the morning at another park returning to HS to use the FP in the afternoon. (HINT: if you want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania at all, plan to do something similar or plan to spend all day in HS. The FPs run out every day and it can be a 2-3 hour wait for the ride.) We hopped every day of our second visit, seeing at least two parks each day.

DO pay attention to Extra Magic Hours (EMH). But don’t sacrifice your day kid’s normal sunny disposition to get there. Epcot_night_hschoeglerEven arriving at normal park opening hours puts you at an advantage to all the late risers.

DO pay attention to where you think everyone else will be (if crowds matter to you). Example, unless it’s the only day you can go and you must see the New Years Eve Fireworks, don’t go to Magic Kingdom that day. Everyone thinks they must be there too and it is crowded. Like way crowded. We went there early for the EMH but left after lunch and went to Hollywood Studios. If you can, try to go where everyone else is not. Use this theory when it comes to “next-days” as well. While NYE was ridiculous, New Years Day was amazing at Magic Kingdom! We walked straight on to so many rides all day long. It’s common sense really, if everyone went to MK one day, they’re likely at a different park the next day. Take advantage of moving away from the crowd.

DO get a Fast Pass for those rides or experiences that are “cannot miss” on your list. However, pay attention to the wait time versus the Fast Pass return time. Several times, the Fast Pass return time was an hour or more away while the wait time was only 10 minutes. Just get on the ride immediately in that case. Remember, you can only secure one FP at a time. And we also noticed that unlike our previous visit where you could return with a FP for several hours after the designated window, you could only use the FP during the time on the ticket. HINT: you need everyone’s park entry ticket for a fast pass distribution. So, if you’re sending one person to get them, make sure he or she has everyone’s ticket with them. We made the newbie mistake of sending my husband with only his. Hopefully this hint saves you some time. 🙂

DO experience a character dining experience (or two). On each of our visits, we did one Mickey and Friends experience and one Princess experience. Here are the ones we’ve tried and our thoughts:

  • Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) – C and Goofy at Tusker House_hschoeglerbreakfast, lunch, dinner; photo not included. $$ Meet Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy while enjoying world-cuisine. My husband and I both found food we enjoyed and the kids could select from their favorites like PB&J, corndogs, chicken strips, etc. Good price for the characters and it was one more thing we could do during the day inside Animal Kingdom. Tip: you get a photo with Donald and the beginning of the meal, but he doesn’t sign autographs.
  • Chef Mickey’s (The Contemporary) –  Chef Mickey dinner_hschoegler breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner; photo not included. $$-$$$ Meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. This is a good option that doesn’t require you to pay for a park pass. The food was good and there were many options. Unlike Tusker House, your photo at the beginning is with a Mickey Statue so you do meet and get autographs from all the characters.
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot) – G with Mary Poppins_hschoeglerbreakfast, lunch, dinner; photo included. $$-$$$ Meet Cinderella, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Ariel, Mary Poppins, and Snow White. This is a buffet and we dined at breakfast and were able to choose from a number of pastries and breakfast foods. The highlight is you get to meet some of the characters (Belle and Mary Poppins) you don’t meet at the Cinderella’s Royal Table option. It also gives one more reason to visit Epcot.
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) – G at Cinderella's Royal Table_hschoeglerbreakfast and lunch; photo included. $$$ Nothing quite compares to the wonder of dining inside Cinderella’s castle. Meet Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Snow White and others as available (we also met Jasmine and the website lists Belle). This is a bit more expensive but definitely worth the price. Each child receives a wishing wand or sword (based on gender) and a wishing star. All meals are plated and adults are able to choose from several options. My selection was a divided plate with six-eight items! Our two-year old qualified as an “infant” which means we didn’t pay for his meal. However, they still brought him out a plate with two french toast sticks and then we shared from our plates.

DO book character dining and other dining reservations in advance. How far in advance? As soon as you are able. You can make reservations 6 months prior to the date of your visit. Mark your calendar, literally, to call and make reservations if you want to dine at Be Our Guest for dinner or experience Cinderella’s Royal Table. And DO plan ahead. Have an idea of your itinerary (which parks will you be at on what day). You’ll want to make your reservations based around your schedule rather than your schedule based around your reservations. Especially if you opt to not get hopper passes.

DO meet and greet the characters. First, buy or BYO an autograph book and pen. We purchased one fKs Chip and Dale_hschoegleror each of our kids as they wanted to meet different characters. This also makes a great souvenir! The best way to plan how you’ll do this is to grab a Times Guide as you enter the park. (Located just beyond the gates, they are a single sheet card always Ks with Alice_hschoeglerdisplayed with the four-color park guide/map.) The Times Guide tells when and where shows, parades, fireworks, etc. will take place but also lists which characters are in the park that day, where they are located and what times they are available. For our kids, meeting the real characters is a really big deal. We averaged meeting over 20 characters during each of our WDW trips. That said, maybe you don’t need to meet as many. Pick the one or two you need to meet and take advantage of the character dining experiences for the others.

DO allow yourself to flex and multitask. For example, if you want to experience “Enchanted Tales with Belle” and ride “The Little MerAriel's Underwater Adventure_hschoeglermaid – Ariel’s Underwater Adventure,” cross them off the list based on line length, wait times and FP availability. Don’t be set in stone on the order you do things. Also, look for opportunities to do two things at once. Example: while we waited in line to meet Merida, my husband stayed and ate a snack with our son while I took our daughter to ride the Tea Cups, which were right around the corner with no wait. This allowed her to check one of her must-do’s (Tea Cups) off her list while still moving us forward in line.

DO let yourself be a kid, experience the magic and create magical memories for your kids. Being Silly at Disney_hschoeglerThis is a time where we regularly participate in the imagination our kids are experience. Of course that is the “real” Tinkerbell! Of course Cinderella lives in that castle! Of course Mickey remembers you from dinner! Whatever it is they’re wondering about, support their imagination. From a grown-up perspective, take time to appreciate the logistics and customer service juggernauts that are Disney cast members. Really, there is never a worry about something going wrong when you’re in the Mouse’s house. They have it down to a T.

DO recreate our favorite Disney moment for your own children. Just do it quietly in case there are other children thinking the same thing standing on the bridge beside you. 🙂

Finally, here are a few random things we found to be very helpful across the parks:

Magic Kingdom

  • When you’re entering Magic Kingdom, look at the lines for both the Monorail and the Ferry. Both take you to the front gates but one will always be quicker based on what everyone else is doing.
  • There is a clean, large bathroom that is very under-utilized located behind the Cheshire Cafe (between the castle and the tea cups across from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe).
  • Excellent menu option for an inexpensive quick-service meal with plenty of indoor seating is the Diamond Horseshoe. Located in Liberty Square, the guide says it is open seasonally. We enjoyed it over the Christmas/New Year holiday.Dumbo the Flying Elephant_night_hschoegler
  • The new Dumbo the Flying Elephant experience is just that. With two rides, the waits are manageable and many times absent. What you don’t see is that under the tent, there are circus experiences for your child to enjoy while you wait. Very cool!
  • Daisy, Minnie, Donald and Goofy are ‘hiding’ in the back of the park with short waits. Under the red tent in the new Circus area, this is a great location to meet the characters while most will wait at the front of the park to meet Mickey and the Princesses.
  • If you have a Jessie (Toy Story) fan, you won’t meet her at Hollywood Studios with the other characters, but you will over in Frontierland. Head over to Splash Mountain, under the railroad tracks toward the back. She’ll be there without too long of a line to wait in.

Animal Kingdom

  • Definitely use a FP for the Kilimanjaro SafariKilimanjaro Safari_hschoegler. We timed it with our Tusker House character meal. Right as we were going in to be seated, my husband went and secured the FP for us since it’s in the same part of the part (Africa). We were able to enjoy our meal with the characters and then walk over (and essentially right on) to the Safari.
  • On the Safari, ask if you can sit in the back row. This allows you to have an unobstructed view. Having sat several places, the back row gives the best views by far.

Hollywood Studios

  • Meet McQueen and Mater back in Streets of America.Meeting McQueen and Mater_hschoegler They don’t sign autographs (real cars can’t of course) but the pictures are great and you won’t have to wait two hours to meet these characters.
  • For a sandwich large enough to share, desserts worth drooling over and other snacks, don’t miss quick-serve dining at Starring Rolls Cafe between Animation Courtyard and Sunset Boulevard.
  • If you want to see Fantasmic, take everyone’s advice and get there 60-90 minutes ahead of time. The line will start to form on Sunset Boulevard. Jump in. If you’re ok with eating while standing, grab some pizza from the vendor along Sunset Boulevard and enjoy your meal while you wait. (Talk about multitasking!)
  • If you’re there at the holidays, definitely go see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Walk around and take it all in (including the snow falling from the sky!). These musically timed light displays put the ones you’ve seen on YouTube to shame.Osborne Family Lights_Hschoegler

Best Shopping – There are three large stores that offer the widest amount of merchandise around Disney. They are the Emporium on Main Street in Magic Kingdom; Mouse Gear inside Epcot; and World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney. My new favorite though may be the Big Top Souvenirs under the blue big top in the Circus in the new Fantasyland inside Magic Kingdom. My daughter purchased a stuffed Dumbo and Mom stuffed animal set there that we didn’t see in any other location. They also have a large dessert bar in the center of the tent.

Best Entertainment

– Magic Kingdom:

  • C as a plate in Enchanted Tales with Belle_hschoeglerPhilharMagic – it’s really a 4D experience with a short wait (and FP if needed) that gets you out of any weather elements you need a break from. A favorite of everyone from our 2 year old to 35 year old.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle – Definitely worth the wait if you are visiting with kids. You enter Belle’s house but end up in the Beast’s castle by walking through a magic mirror. (Very cool!) There are a few main parts that they will assign to children but after that, they’ll ask if anyone else would like a part. Be sure that your kids raise their hands then so they have an opportunity to meet and have a photo with Belle. (Our two year old did this and he was a Plate. 🙂 Very cute and very good ‘part’ for him.)Pete's Dragon_main street electrical parade_hschoegler
  • Main Street Electrical Parade – all your favorite characters and princesses illuminated with colorful lights on this twice a night parade. This is a don’t miss for our family.

– Animal Kingdom – Festival of the Lion King. We saw “Finding Nemo – The Musical” during our first visit and passed for our second if that’s any indication.

– Hollywood Studios – Fantasmic. That said, I recommend itFantasmic Finale_hschoegler for an older group. My children had to close their eyes through a large portion of it. No sense putting fear in their heads before bed at the “happiest place on earth.” Similar to Finding Nemo in AK, we passed on “Voyage of the Little Mermaid” and “Beauty & The Beast – Live on Stage” during our second visit.

– Epcot – IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. This is a large fireworks show. While it is beautiful and something I recommend not missing, don’t watch it if your kids are not fans of loud booms. Fireworks aren’t for everyone.

I hope these tips help you have a magical time!

Our Most Magical Disney Moment

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I don’t remember how it started. I’d like to think it was a stroke of genius I had. Regardless, this little story has become our favorite Disney memory and one you can easily experience for yourself.

Cinderella's Castle_night time holidayDuring the Magic Kingdom Wishes Fireworks performance, Tinkerbell herself “flies” from Cinderella’s castle into the park and over the crowd. Since she flies on a guide wire that’s visible during the day (most won’t notice it), parents can easily pick out a point in the park under the wire to stand and watch the nighttime show. We select a spot on the bridge to Tomorrowland.

As we discuss our plans for the day, we talk about the fireworks and what the kids can expect. (Here’s where we add in our own story.) We told our daughter that every night, Tinkerbell chooses one special child to fly over. For her, the thought of the possibility of being selected by Tinkerbell is thrilling.

That night, we stand on the bridge underneath the wire. Since we know what is coming, we wait with as much anticipation as she does when Tinkerbell appears atop the castle. During our first visit, our daughter was beyond belief when she exclaimed “She picked ME!” as Tink flew overhead.

Fast forward to our second trip. We didn’t talk too much about the flight and selection of a special child. However, we took our place on the bridge and awaited the display.

She picked ME!

She picked ME!

This was her face beaming as Tink flew over her again. She said, “For the first time in my life, one of my wishes just came true. I wished she’d pick me again.”

Yep, I cried. I love this little tradition we’ve created. It’s definitely become my favorite Disney moment.