Ceara Milligan

Creativity: Unplugged

Once upon a time, human beings existed without spending an average of 8-10 hours a day staring at screens. Behaviorists are learning that clutter is the enemy of cleverness. Sometimes our brains just need a bit of quiet time to sort things out. That’s why our “Aha!” moments usually occur when we’re not in front of a glowing rectangle. That very well might explain the cliché that it’s between rinsing and repeating when the big idea hits. So, I’m thinking, why not take a brief “tech timeout” and explore more opportunities to stay creative sans pixels?

Here’s my baker’s dozen to get started, but feel free to make your own:

  1. Write. With pen and paper. Buy the most durable notebook and longest lasting pen you can find. Bring them with you wherever you go. Jot down ideas, dreams, stories, or things you need to remember.
  2. Get up. Take a small walk around the office every hour or so. Better yet, venture outside. The fresh air and natural surroundings will reenergize your mind and body.
  3. Attend concerts. Fewer things are more invigorating than seeing a live show.
  4. Exercise. No excuses. Just do it.
  5. Drink. Lots. Of. H2O. Coffee is a miraculous pick-me-up, but water is the best thing you can feed your body.
  6. Take a 15-minute power nap to boost your memory, cognitive skills, and energy level.
  7. Strike up a conversation with a stranger: your cab driver, a tenant in the elevator, the person walking next to you on the sidewalk. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.
  8. Travel. Expanding our knowledge of foreign places and cultures is one of the best ways to gain respect for the world in which we live.
  9. Wake up and smell the roses, literally. Our sense of smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence our mood, and even affect our work performance.
  10. Read a book. A wise man once said, “Reading is good. Can we start the story now?”
  11. Meditate. We all can feel overwhelmed by the stressors life throws our way every single day. Allow yourself to regain a sense of tranquility no matter what is happening around you.
  12. Dig through old artwork, projects, and photographs. Taking a walk down Memory Lane lets you to realize how far you’ve come over the years.
  13. Surround yourself with creative people. Hint: Look around.

When your brain switches gears, even just for a few minutes, it will feel refreshed as you return to the task at hand, and you will feel more productive, more inspired, and, yes, more creative. In the end, it seems the best app for that is no app at all.

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Rick Daggett

Insight Summit Series: The 2014 Digital Summit

I’m excited to announce that for the second year in a row, Laughlin Constable is partnering with the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University to bring about the Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit.

Last year’s Digital Summit featured some of the industry’s top digital minds, including thought leaders from brands and organizations such as McDonald’s, Master Lock and the Obama Re-election campaign.

This year’s Digital Summit, held on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014, will carry that tradition forward by featuring speakers from Harley-Davidson Motor Company, AOL, Tinder, Rockwell Automation and Turner Broadcasting, just to name a few.

The Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, part of the Insight Summit Series, is designed to cover the topics that are most relevant to marketers in the digital age: from strategy to user experience, content, e-commerce, SEO, mobile, integrated campaigns, online advertising, analytics, the “internet of things” and more.

Beyond providing a venue for professionals and practitioners to come together to share ideas and insights, the Digital Summit also seeks to support the next wave of digital practitioners. Proceeds from the Digital Summit benefit a scholarship fund for students at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. In addition, the Eisner Creative Foundation is providing scholarships for students to attend the Digital Summit to learn firsthand about the latest trends and challenges in digital marketing.

For more information, and to register for the Summit, visit insightsummitseries.com/digital

Laughlin Constable’s Paul Brienza, EVP, Digital and Sean Barry, VP, Digital will kick things off the day of the Summit by taking the stage for the opening keynote address. Paul & Sean will speak to how digital practitioners can bridge the gap between marketing and technology.

In addition, LC’s Brady Pierchalski will lead a session speaking to how UX is your customer and consumer’s best friend (and therefore yours, as well.)

The full lineup of speakers is impressive. Check out the schedule for the Digital Summit and be sure to register today. Last year’s event sold-out, so don’t wait. Make it happen. Be a part of a full day’s worth of insights, strategies, best practices and networking with some of the folks leading the charge in today’s digital world.

We hope to see you there.

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Michael Jeary

Where have all the silos gone?

Not long ago the advertising business was characterized by a landscape of fiefdoms populated by silos. It was a place where marketing disciplines such as: public relations and promotion, direct marketing and strategic planning, creative ideation and media, were each housed in separate companies and, if not, were certainly grouped in discrete divisions within an agency. Each discipline was isolated from the other; focused on perfecting its own response to a client’s business challenge and motivated by garnering a larger share of a client’s budget.

Today, compelled by shrinking revenues/margins, pushed by consumer-empowering technologies and demanded by impatient CMO’s, those fiefdoms have morphed into sandboxes and the silos have given way to open floor plans where interdisciplinary teamwork is the culture and a fully integrated strategic plan is the common goal.

At Laughlin Constable, we consider ourselves lucky to have forecasted early the impact of these prevailing winds. Today, LC is an independent, fully integrated, mid-size agency. We work with clients of all sizes; across many sectors and disciplines. Our defined and repeatable processes are employed on every client engagement. They are designed to identify the ideal “organizing concept” which is then translated into every element of the integrated marketing plan. Our objective is consistent messaging that connects with the consumer at every step along his or her decision journey.

 

What this means for our clients is a unique agency partnership, where we team seamlessly and efficiently between and among brand strategy, creative, PR, social, digital, media and tracking analytics to develop and consistently execute integrated marketing program in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

 

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Adam Fiul

Recruiting in the Digital Age

Landing your first gig at an integrated advertising agency is like solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle. Different factors must align in order to find a solution to the question: “How do I get my foot in the door at an agency?” If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know where to begin, have no fear.  Here are some tips to get you started.

Let’s start with the almighty resume and cover letter. Draft them, proof them, have a professor, mentor, parent, friend or colleague proof them, then repeat that process, again and again. Doing this will not only help free your resume of costly spelling and grammatical errors, it will also help you discover your strengths and what areas you need to improve on.

After reaching out to your favorite professors, mentors, parents, friends and colleagues, it is time to network with them. Leverage their connections, just like you leverage your friend’s knowledge to win a game of trivia.  See who they can put you in contact with, ask for tips and advice, learn from their mistakes, and stay connected with them throughout your career. With the rise of social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to connect and stay connected with your peers and colleagues. As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers.”

The digital age also provides job seekers with a unique edge not seen in previous generations. Now, with the advent of niche social media sites and a multitude of other free multimedia tools, it is easier than ever to share your creative work and past experiences with potential employers. For example: you can upload your creative pieces to free online portfolio sites, upload your broadcast material to YouTube, showcase your writing skills by creating and maintaining a blog, or show off the latest coding tricks you’ve learned by designing your own website. Including links to these sites when applying for jobs will demonstrate your creative abilities and will increase your chances of being noticed.

Setting yourself apart from the pack is an important part of landing a coveted job at an integrated agency, and leveraging your support network, creative material, and social media tools together will greatly increase the likelihood of getting noticed. One commonality our employees share is their ability to stand out from the rest, because as we say at Laughlin Constable, “Our business creates ideas, and our ideas create business,” and in order to create those award winning ideas, we must employ the top talent around.

Looking to land a job at Laughlin Constable?  Check out the career section on our website, connect with us on LinkedIn, and see what we’re all about over on our Facebook page.

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Jenny Futrell

3 Facts About Email in 2014

2013 was quite the year for email. It seems that more emails than ever are being sent. (16 million to be exact for the LC Email Marketing team — one of its busiest years on record.) Additionally, more emails are being opened on mobile devices, quickly making email the number one activity performed on mobile devices and the second influence on mobile shopping.

Looking ahead in 2014, marketers should anticipate how this effective channel will continue to grow and change in the New Year.

47 percent of emails are opened on a mobile or tablet device, according to Litmus, with mobile opens predicted to reach 50 percent by early 2014. How can marketers capitalize on this trend? Two words: responsive design. Two of my favorite emails that embrace a mobile-first approach include the:

  • Wisconsin Traveler email: See the completely responsive email, re-designed by the LC team, as you move the corners of your browser in and out and watch the design move and change to best fit the size of your screen.
  • ESPN Fantasy Football email: This weekly email’ outdated template was updated to utilize mobile-friendly design techniques, such as large call to action buttons and a single column layout. View the before and after and be wowed at the difference these design elements make.

Testing can make a difference, in millions. Through more and more testing, emails will continue to be improved and optimized in 2014 — improving the experience for subscribers and the results for marketers. Continue A/B testing different elements of your campaign, such as offers, send days and times, subject lines, call to action placement, and other design elements to maximize your results. Just how big of a difference can testing make?  According to this Business Week article, A/B subject line testing by the Obama email team brought in an additional $2.1 million — for one email.

It’s email, not e-mail. You’re going to be seeing more email and less e-mail in 2014. It was just announced that the New York Times has updated its stylebook and joined other hyphen-less supporters like the Oxford English Dictionary and the Associated Press. Merriam-Webster, however, still supports the hyphen. While less business-oriented than my first two facts, it’s one that hyphen haters (like me) can appreciate.

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2014 Media Trends

Does the fast-paced digital ecosystem make your head spin?  Do you feel it’s impossible to keep up with the next industry buzzword?  Laughlin Constable can help.  Here at LC, we work hard at staying on top of these trends and applying them to our daily practices.  We enjoy seeing where the industry is heading and what that means for us as marketers.  We are optimistic about the future and look forward to exploring it together with our clients.

Enjoy the chart below, which takes a deeper look into four topics you’ve likely heard about but still might be unclear on… native advertising, online viewability, big data and programmatic buying.

[click the image to enlarge it]

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Steve Laughlin

The Year Of Opposing Forces

Steve Laughlin was a speaker at the Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast on Friday, January 17 in downtown Milwaukee. For those who couldn’t attend, here are his remarks on the year ahead. 

What no one predicted for last year was that people who study language would discover a universal word that has the same meaning everywhere.  As reported in the New York Times on Saturday, November 9th, 2013, the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics discovered that across all 5 continents languages all had a strikingly similar word.  What is universally understood worldwide is the word, “huh?”  Whatever confuses us as humans we all react the same.  We say, “huh?” The Max Planck Institute is named after the physicist who came up with the theory of quantum physics.  So you might wonder why they would study psycholinguistics?  Well I have a theory about that.  Physicists are always tackling stupifying questions that leave the rest of us saying “huh?”

Interesting coincidence, though, technology will drive marketers to be more universal in their language in the future.

We do know that regardless of where things seem to be going, they are getting there faster.  Technology is accelerating the pace of change.  According to Moore’s law computing power doubles every 18 months.  The implications for marketing and technology are that expectations will also accelerate for faster downloads and richer content.

I’d like to look at 2014 as a year of opposing forces.  There’s a kind of spy vs. spy backdrop when we think of the collection of big data by big governments or big companies and how vulnerable we might be to those who hack or abuse it. Target is one company very visibly caught between these two forces right now.

Another opposing force is the trend for the big to continue to get bigger, creating a vacuum that will be filled by smaller start-ups creating an opposing force of risk takers and innovators.  This phenomenon has created a brand landscape that can be easily illustrated over a few beers – familiar reference for any Milwaukeean.  If you’re going to buy a couple of cases of beer for a weekend with friends, you might pick up Coors Light or Miller Lite.  Ironically, big market forces mean they now come from the same company.  But, you’d also be likely to throw in a six-pack or two of Spotted Cow, a perfect example of a small, craft beer taking advantage of the opposing force that drives people to also want something special and different.

This same thing is played out in chain restaurants versus a growing movement to locally grown and sourced foods – the farm to table movement.  Or the consolidation of huge package-goods companies while competition springs up from small brands begun by artisans and entrepreneurs.

Another opposing force to watch is the ongoing battle between price and quality.  It’s going to get even tougher through technology.  The ability of people to access the cheapest pricing through the Internet plays into the hands of the low-cost producers, accelerating the decline of companies offering parity products with higher cost structures.  Conversely, the survival instinct will drive competitors to add real value through better service, product improvements or whole new products.

There’s been a lot of media coverage of the growing gap between the richest Americans and the rest of the country.  Beyond the political implications, these opposing forces will impact marketing with even greater price, promotion and packaging competition for existing mass brands and even more innovation leading to added value start-ups and more line-extensions from premium brands.

Technology will be the centerpiece for product innovation.  At this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, appliances talked to one another and to the consumers who use them.  Now you can text your new LG refrigerator and tell it, “I’m going vacation.” Your refrigerator might text back, “Great shall I go into low power mode?” We’ll really have something when it can tell you that you have three eggs, fresh spinach and a bit of feta cheese in case you’d like an omelet when you get home.  You can bet someone is working on app for that.

Last fall, our company needed dozens of inexpensive model lungs to scatter around Seattle, Washington as part of a viral marketing campaign for the Lung Cancer Alliance.  We couldn’t find a vendor to do the job fast enough or cheap enough, so we bought a 3-D printer and made them over a weekend.  If you’re in manufacturing or marketing, you’ll have your eye on 3-D printing’s potential for product development in 2014.

Remember some years ago when people predicted the interactive television?  Your remote would let you stop a program and buy something?  Well smart TVs arrived in 2013, but the real news is that they got smart about delivering content in new ways, bypassing DVRs and Blue-Ray players to let you directly access on-line content sellers.

What’s really interesting is the interaction that was predicted came from other devices. Without interrupting our viewing, we used our phone, laptop or tablet to interact elsewhere.  And not just some of us, Forbes reported that in 2013, over 60% of adults watching television were texting at the same time.

For the first time TV, which is viewed about the same amount of time as ever – about 271 minutes per day – has been surpassed by the use of digital devices.  People spend an average 310 minutes of their time a day on their PDAs.  This might explain why the Internet is now getting 25% of all advertising dollars being spent by marketers.

Marketing is essentially the sharing of information that can lead to a sale, or increase customer loyalty.  In this regard technology and marketing will intertwine in many more ways.  Big data will make it easier to target customers and understand their behavior, those who opt in to marketers will be more willing to compromise their privacy for a richer experience and higher level of service.

Also, in 2013 for the first time, most web searches originated from a mobile device.  This trend could have the greatest impact on marketing and technology initiatives for business in 2014 and beyond.

Businesses will need to create mobile friendly content, instantly available content and richer content. In both b2c marketing and b2b marketing, mobile will drive how customers and consumers interact with your content.  Sales people or consumers accessing product or service information will be expecting everything they seek to be available on a mobile device.

All other things being equal, content management will play a big role in winning and losing in this year’s marketplace.  Basically if you have old data in old places that can’t be combined and shared with new data from new places, you’ll have some new problems.

CRM, or customer relationship marketing, will explode given new technologies of big data and more accessibility through smart media devices to the kind of content that drives loyalty.

Here are a couple corporate opposing forces to keep an eye on to have a sense to where the rest of the marketplace will go…

Google vs. Apple.  This isn’t just Android versus IOS operating systems at war.  This is Google maps versus Apple’s new commitment to an open-source mapping platform out of Europe called OpenStreetMap.

Google has an armada of people and vehicles with cameras roaming the earth to provide real photo accuracy to all their maps.  Open source will let Apple’s platform be updated directly by people in the neighborhood.  For example, local merchants can upload updates depicting changes in business facades as they happen.  Either way, the information we get from search will be incredibly more detailed.

With most searches now originating on a mobile device, it’s increasingly important for the search algorithm to consider the location of the searcher in providing results.  In the future, for device makers and content managers, having the most accurate maps and related content will be a new battleground.

Marketers, the future is now.  Your content has to be mobile friendly and your messaging has to be locally relevant.  Advances in mapping technology are creating a huge opportunity for you.

Netflix versus Cable.  Netflix took on Blockbuster by putting the CD movie library on-line and shipping content overnight for less.  Then they bet the brand and invested in streaming.  Then they raised the stakes and a year ago entered the production business creating their own proprietary content with the show House of Cards.  Last Sunday evening one of their stars, Robin Wright, took home a Golden Globe award for that show.  Marketers, the message here is you need to look ever farther into technology and ask yourself how you can use it to get ahead of the competition.  Those who stick to their business models because it’s what they’re known for – think sending movies by mail – might be reminded it’s really having the best movies and being the only placed to get them.  Another lesson we can learn from Netflix is it’s not enough to aim at your target customer, with the pace of change in technology today, you can’t be afraid to lead that target a bit.  Or you just might miss.

I started with a reference to researchers looking for commonalities in language.  I think they may have overlooked a few universal words that marketers and consumers have known about for years.  They’re called brand names.  Coke.  McDonalds, Hilton, BMW, Nike, IBM even OshKosh B’Gosh have the same meaning on all five continents. English will continue to be the default language of marketing, but because of cultural differences you’ll have to choose your words more carefully than ever.

But there’s another reason choose your words more carefully on the horizon . . . and this is the biggie.

The Oxford word of the year in 2013 was “selfie.” Technology allows us to take more and share more pictures than ever.  Think of the rapid rise of Instagram and Pinterest and then think about the impact they will have on marketing.  It’s the rise of pictures over words. If your product or service gets pinned, there’s a real good chance it will also get purchased.  You’ll be telling your story visually.

These changes are coming fast.  If you want to know how fast just ask the 400,000 people who worked at Kodak a few years ago.  Or the 13 people who worked for Instagram when Facebook gave them a billion dollars for their start-up business just little over a year ago.

So what do I really know about the coming changes in marketing and technology?  It’s that none of us want to be the one standing around afterward who’ll be saying, “Huh?”

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Ilana R. Borzak

Fight or Fright: Public Speaking

As an advertising professional, I frequently present my work and ideas to groups of people, often a nerve-wracking task. Too often, I decided, so I started reading about what I could do. Below are some of my findings: 

 

I blame my pre-performance nerves on our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They needed their community to survive and generations of living with this truth embedded the understanding in all of our brains: Social death is actual death.  So we automatically react when we sense that our social reputation is in danger. Like when we get on stage for a performance and essentially create an opportunity for others to judge us. Our brains, no matter how forgiving the audience, still thinks it’s about to confront a potentially lethal situation.

It immediately reacts and forces our bodies into ‘fight or flight’ mode to create the energy it thinks its owner needs to survive. Unfortunately this includes sweaty hands, shaky knees and churning stomach. While much of the reaction is instinctual, we can develop better skills by focusing on three particular areas: perspective, practice, and breathing.

Perspective is recognizing that the fear is in your head. In the worst-case scenario, you mess up and someone laughs. Your friends and family are not going to abandon you and you will not be left to die. Keep that in mind as you approach the podium. You put yourself in a lot more danger when you get on an airplane.

Practice. The more times you do something, like feel pre-speech anxiety, the more you understand the experience and can cope. Find opportunities to practice. Toastmasters is great and is in nearly every city. I recently joined and already feel more comfortable under the spotlight.

Don’t forget to breathe. It’s proven to relax. Brazilian psychologists found that professional musicians who do deep-breathing exercises before a show feel less shaky and nervous.  The deep breathing movement sends signals through your body to relax, essentially waging war against your body’s fight-or-flight response. Do it enough times, and the breathing will triumph.

I’ve explained why we have stage fright, the mechanics behind it, and how we can fight it. Hopefully the knowledge will help each of us present with a lot more confidence. Yet, be easy on yourself. As I mentioned, some of the reactions are out of our control. The trick is to manage them the best we can until even the managing part becomes second nature.

 

Sources:

  1. http://blog.ted.com/2013/10/16/required-watching-for-any-ted-speaker-the-science-of-stage-fright/
  2. http://lifehacker.com/what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-have-stage-fright-493170800
  3. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0046597

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Ceara Milligan

Get Connected. Your Customers Expect It.

Meet Taylor. Her fancy for high fashion has had her seeking online retail therapy for the majority of her 23 years. Dying to don the latest trend-setting little black dress, Taylor clicks – impulsively adding this stunner to her favorite online retailer’s shopping cart. Her mind starts to fill with visions of her flaunting the piece at her best friend’s New Year’s Eve party when she suddenly remembers she’s low on cash until her next payday.

Like most her age, Taylor goes about her day driving through the digital space. At each turn she is reminded of this fabulous frock; Facebook retargeting, delightful email reminders, banner ads. Payday arrives and the LBD is finally hers. After completing a survey and becoming a Facebook “Like,” Taylor now receives frequent discounts and engaging content focused on her fashion-forward lifestyle. Let the loyalty games begin!

Nikesh Arora, SVP and Chief Business Officer at Google, recently stated, “There is reasonable probability that in the next five years, half of all advertising will occur online.” It is also projected that over the next five years, CMOs will be involved in IT more than CIOs. Online shopping is becoming the preferred method for many consumers across generations, whether it is on desktop browsers, mobile browsers, or app-based storefronts and thus, digital marketing budgets are expected to continue to grow considerably in 2014. Today, they are already averaging 30% of overall media spend.

The challenge? Not all marketing executives, media planners, analytics experts, or IT managers have the tools and actionable data they need to make informed decisions about how to utilize their budgets. More importantly, marketers get why tying these marketing channels together in real-time is valuable, but making it happen seems like an insurmountable and very expensive proposition. Companies need to focus on being omnipresent; in other words, the brand should appear in all the right channels at all the right moments throughout the customer decision journey. Customer engagement isn’t just a “nice-to-have” in today’s ever-changing world. Customer engagement is a “must-have.” Customers expect their voices to be heard anywhere at any time, and then receive an accurate, personal, pleasing response as quickly as possible.

The good news for our industry is that it is continually on the rise. Laughlin Constable has worked with hundreds of brands throughout the decades, guiding them through these challenges. Our agency has helped our clients create smarter strategies and enable real-time, omnichannel marketing that is already leading to improved engagement, conversion and loyalty. More great products, solutions and case studies are on the way; so stay tuned, or should we say, stay connected!

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Stephanie Schrandt

Bigger isn’t always better. A holiday season challenge.

This time of year is known for grand gestures, expensive gifts, glitz and glitter, but is that really what the holidays are all about? Your schedule is probably jam packed with parties, gift exchanges and weekends at the mall.  Don’t get me wrong, mine is too, but I also try to take a step back, be thankful and do what I can to extend kindness to others.

As a new parent, I find myself very aware of other people and their actions. Wondering if they realize that they just let a door slam in someone’s face or that they didn’t make eye contact with someone ringing them up at a store because they were on their phone.

It’s important to not let yourself get into the rut of feeling like you can’t give enough to make a difference so you don’t give at all. So, this is your challenge should you choose to accept it.

I challenge you to do a good deed every single day this month. The only catch is that is has to be something you wouldn’t typically do. If you always hold doors for people that doesn’t count. If you’re the person who hugs everyone – find something else.

The point is really to remember that regardless of your beliefs or holiday traditions, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Every single day. And trust me when I say, if you make the effort, the reward is huge. Oh, and don’t feel like you have to stop at the end of December. Kindness is welcome all year round.

Need a little help? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  •  Compliment a stranger
  • Open a door for someone pushing a stroller (trust me on this one)
  • Buy the coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks
  • Send a card to a friend you haven’t seen in a while (Not an email. Go to the store. Buy a card. Find a stamp and mail it.)
  • Offer to help a friend with a project they are working on
  • Pick up the tab when out to lunch with a friend
  • Take the dog for a walk, in the snow, when it’s freezing cold (pets deserve kindness too)
  • Leave a note for or send a text to someone you love saying you hope they have a great day
  • Bring breakfast into the office
  • Give a hug (or an extra one) to someone who needs it
  • If you live in a snowy climate, shovel your neighbors’ sidewalk after you’re done with yours

And now some more traditional ones….

  • Give a few extra dollars to the folks ringing the bells outside of stores
  • Donate to your favorite charity
  • Volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen
  • Volunteer to distribute gifts/sing carols at a local hospital or nursing home

 

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