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Taking a Chance in Cabo

6 Apr

It’s no secret that I like to travel – especially when it involves escaping to a warm, sandy beach when good ol’ Minnesota has been boasting some of the coldest temperatures on record. More than 40 days with temperatures below ZERO, I mean — really? I had somehow convinced myself that traveling to Key Largo in December would suffice for a warm vacation until spring rolled around. That lasted until about January 1. I started looking for beach destination vacations after I somehow managed to lock myself out of the house one morning with poor baby Sophie when the air temperature was -13 degrees.

I am a huge proponent of online reviews. I don’t book a hotel room or a restaurant reservation until I’ve read at least a few reviews online about others’ experiences. Have I met any of these people before? Most likely not, but I am putting my trust in them that they reviewed the establishment honestly and fair. And to this date, I’ve had pretty decent success.

After introducing my husband to all-inclusive resorts last year, he’s basically refused to go to anything but when a beach is involved. He likes that he can go get a mango-tango fruity drink anytime he pleases (and I won’t deny I don’t mind indulging in unlimited chips & guac). I started our vacation search in Mexico – typically cheaper than the Caribbean islands, but it was spring break time…. so, yeah. For the same cost of a trip with 37 layovers to Cancun, we could get a one-stop layover trip to Cabo. Done and done.

Cabo shoreline

Our Cabo view for the week.

My last trip to Cabo was a memorable one – and not for the reasons you’d think. My cousin and I got food poisoning from one of the buffets – and I’ve never looked a turkey the same again. This time around I was determined to find a resort where the threat of food poisoning was minimized (read: waaaay nicer). One resort that caught my eye was the Royal Decameron in San Jose del Cabo; it had recently gone under new ownership and was completely renovated. The resort was significantly smaller than the Hyatt’s of the area, but still donned the same views and was competitively priced.

Cabo beach

San Jose del Cabo beach by morning.

The pictures piqued my interest so I went straight to the reviews section – nothing by 4 and 5 stars. The further in-depth I read though, I learned the Royal Decameron used to be a nudist resort of types – but under new management, changed the way they did business. The only complaint I consistently come up within the reviews was despite changing how they did business, there was still evidence of the previous ownership throughout the resort by way of provocative paintings. Through numerous complaints, current ownership – rather than replace the paintings – hired what had to have been an amateur artist to paint ‘fig’ leaves to cover certain body parts. I found the paintings more humorous than offensive – especially with the added ‘leaves’ (which looked more like Christmas trees). We decided to book the trip and take a chance on a newly renovated, former nudist resort.

Our cab ride from the airport to the resort left us feeling like we had made a mistake. When we told the cab driver where to take us, he chuckled and said, “oh, the swingers resort?” AH, what?! Had new ownership only transformed the former nudist to a now swingers resort? What did we get ourselves into?! We had a sense of relief to find out that it was also a former swingers/nudist resort.

We gambled and won. The online reviews, once again, did not lead me astray. We enjoyed our time at the modestly-clothed, newly renovated resort and would welcome the opportunity to stay the Royal Decameron again.

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Fitting It All In

6 Mar

My husband and I got a puppy over Christmas. She’s a five-month old yellow lab and is the sole reason the Caribou Coffee down the street from us is boasting huge profits for the last three months.

How does society expect you to work full time, attend and participate in industry networking events, maintain a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym (or yoga classes), blog for yourself, play with a puppy enough to exhaust her, have a sit down dinner with your spouse/family (which is a must in our household), entertain an attention-deprived cat, catch up on a favorite TV show, call friends and family to see what’s new, and still get enough sleep to function the next day? Plus, eventually, we’ll add a kid or two into the mix. Yet somehow, we’re still able to fit it all in.

For many business owners, digital marketing is what gets axed from the plan – whether it be because of resources, time or finances. Websites are sub-par and social media profiles are lacking in appearance, engagement (or existence). But your online presence is one that nearly every single one of your customers will see in one way or the other. From someone Googling an address (local search), to searching for contact information (schema updated), shopping online (website), researching (blog), or interacting (social media), your online presence is become vital to adapt and thrive in a modern marketing world.

Digital marketing is an ongoing task, no doubt. However, minor updates here and there can do wonders for your online visibility. For social media profiles, make sure your cover photos, about & contact information are up-to-date, and you link to your website. When you run a promotion, have a sale, launch a new product, receive an accolade or have community exposure, write a quick post. Social media is a free (for now) publicity tool where you can control the messaging about your brand. For your website, check for broken links and regularly update content on your pages to reflect your current business products, services or practices. Always make sure contact information is current so your customer can contact you!

As you evaluate your company and your marketing needs, don’t forget about online. Online and mobile visibility is only going to grow, and with the ability to control your presence, the decision should be easy. Cutting corners shouldn’t be about sacrificing your business’ presence; if you’re strapped for time, small changes here and there should suffice. But don’t forget about it altogether. You’re only hurting yourself in the long run when you’re stuck playing a game of catch up.

If we can somehow find the time to keep an insanely energetic puppy and a self-proclaimed attention-deprived cat entertained thoroughly enough, on top of all of our other daily obligations, your business will thrive when you find time to fit digital marketing in.

Social Media: Creepy or Strategic

7 Dec

I tweet. Not a lot, but I tweet. And my tweets are pretty random covering all things I’m into or enjoy, including online marketing, country music, Wisconsin Badgers (or UW-alum related anything), baseball, my love-hate relationship with the Minnesota Twins, traveling, beaches, my husband’s goofy antics, and my cat’s quirks (soon-to-be puppy, too!).

My husband and I are avid watchers of The Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights. We were late to the party, so we caught up on the first five seasons in just a couple weeks. For those who aren’t familiar, Sheldon’s character likes a particular song sung to him when he’s not feeling well – and it goes a little something like this: “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.”

Recently, I tweeted a picture of Max (my adorably fat cat) sleeping, along with the latter part of that song. Purina, who I don’t even follow on Twitter (nor do they follow me), responded to my tweet.

While I do feed Max Purina-brand food – and continue to do so – I was taken aback by their response.

Creepy or strategic?

I was bothered at first. Purina doesn’t follow me. A more applicable situation for them to respond with that tweet was if I had said something or asked about pets dreaming. But I didn’t. I simply shared a picture of my cat sleeping and mentioned nothing of the sort about dreaming. Have I wondered if Max dreams while he’s asleep (especially when I see his whiskers twitching)? Sure. But not aloud – or on social media. Creepy.

It was strategic of them in the fact that I AM talking about their response. It got me to notice their brand and I clicked through the link to see what it was about because I was curious. Online marketing is half about your presence, half about the user experience you create and half about relationship building. Yes, RELATIONSHIP building. In order to earn links, clicks, share, mentions, likes, tweets, circles and pins, users have to know about your brand and trust or believe in what you’re selling.

So as an online marketer, I respect the fact they’re trying to make conversation with a potential client. However, develop more of a relationship before inserting random remarks about my cat’s dreams!

End rant.