I was shocked when my friend who was given an incredible Mac computer as a wedding, told me this week she had learned that trips booked from a Mac are automatically more expensive than trips booked from a PC.  She went as far as calling her father who owns a PC and step by step they scheduled a trip together.  In the end, her trip cost around $130 more!!

As this was researched, I found it to be very true. Orbit claims that Mac users pay roughly 30% more for hotel bookings.  Business use data that proves Mac users are more likely to book four and five star hotels.  However, my friend who did her own price comparison was not trying to spend more.  In fact, what really hurts about her situation is that when her son was born, the first 6 months of his life were going from one NICU to another as he was born with a heart defect and had to have heart surgery.

During this time, my friend booked trip after trip using her gifted Mac to book her trips to be with her ill son.  This aspect of Mac’s policy made it more of a personal issue to me.  It’s not true that all Mac owners are automatically wealthier; however, they are charged more because of the type of computer they own.  I believe this isn’t going to create good will and trust with consumers, which is vital in all businesses.

It’s completely unfair that Mac users who book from Orbit will pay up to $30 more a night for their hotel room. Luckily I don’t book trips often, and I work off of a PC for now, but I’ll be vigilant to tell my Mac using friends to be wary.  I’m positive my mother and father in law probably are doing the same thing without knowing from their refurbished Mac laptop they bought off ebay.  In my neck of the woods, owning a Mac over a PC means you probably got lucky or you really saved for it, in most cases it’s certainly not because of wealth!!

Over the past few years, I’ve come to realize online shopping is for me.  I used to live an hour away from any Walmart or mall, but now living in Morgantown, I’m just as attracted to online shopping.  This Friday what started as a trip for a few ingredients for a dinner party and a punch bowl became a full blown shopping extravaganza.  I went to Aldi’s, Walmart, (Cici’s Pizza because I was starving), TJ Max, Petco, and finally the mall.  I spent over $300 on a trip to get “just a few things.”

Last year online shoppers spent $816 million on Black Friday.  In addition to Black Friday shopping, an additional $2.3 billion over Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday.  I believe it is my goal to never become a dollar of those statistics.  Going out to stores to fight for a slight deal is ludicrous, sitting at the comfort of my home computer, the odds are more likely that I’d take advantage of a good deal.

I have admittedly done some shopping in stores for Christmas gifts, but the bulk was purchased online.  The items I ordered from Ebay for my husband less than two weeks ago have already arrived.  The orders I made from Amazon have not yet arrived, but I have confirmation tracking that assures the items will be here this week. 

Between comfort, convenience, and saving my feet, I’m a sold online shopper.  Businesses that make it easier to do so will only benefit more and more in the future.  If there is free shipping or a coupon code that saves the consumer more money, those incentives will encourage them to purchase more online.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s reliable if you know what you’re doing.  In this little elf’s opinion, cyber shopping is the only way to go!!    

Recently I began to notice the option to purchase gifts for Facebook friends from a link that is connected to birthday, engagement, or marriage announcements.  The user is actually allowed to purchase a small gift for the person whom they are recognizing.  I thought it was a lot of pressure to tell all my Facebook friends happy birthday on the correct day, and now we have the option of buying real gifts to be redeemed.

This had been something users were unable to do from mobile devices.  Now both Android and ISO users can also purchase gifts through Facebook.  Of course, Facebook makes a profit off of every gift that is purchased through the social media site.  To me, this is taking things a bit too far.  Though it is a solid marketing plan for Facebook and participating companies, the idea of gift giving should be personal.  Making it yet another excuse to avoid contact and maintain a social media relationship seems unfair and disrespectful in many aspects.

Of course there has to be benefits for FB friends who live far away and would appreciate the gesture.  Lucky recipients can receive gift certificates from Starbucks, for example.  Facebook contains a plethora of information on its users.  It stands to reason that it is a company who could certainly cater gifts specifically to the user’s interests. Though this has not yet caught on for myself, or any of my social media family, it does seem to be a solid plan.

Well for all the grumbling an IMC student can do to herself, print media is still relevant in a modern market.  I rarely read a newspaper, I don’t read magazines, and I throw away the bulk of junk mail I receive.  So why do we still have print advertisements?

It seems that they are still readily available and valid.  Working closely with my sister in her chiropractic business has brought this reality to me even more lately.  Two months ago business was down and the piggy bank was hurting.  This month when we spoke, she told me about the new TV and blue-ray system she just bought.  I though well… business must be up.

Marketing alone is time consuming and always evolving.  It’s not the chiropractor’s job to do all the marketing work.  But in her own business it was.  Recently after adding a new staff member, and new vigor to the game, things are looking up.  My sister told me that it’s the marketing she does today that she will see three months from now.  I don’t think she doesn’t see the benefits her efforts in social media are bringing to her.

My next goal is to get a QR code imbedded into all of the print ads she releases to bring them back to the website and social media components of the business.  I’m a 21st century learner and teacher.  I cannot go back in time and become the Mad Men advertiser of the 1960s.  I’ll never aspire to be another Don Draper.

In an ever evolving world of social media and online advertisements, how will print ads stand the test of time?  I believe it is dependent on the ability for magazines and newspapers to maintain being in print.  It cannot be said that there will be a paper copy of many current print publications in the future.  We can only wait and see and evolve as the times change.

There has been such a swift change in the last 20 years that it seems irrational to make a full blown decision right now.  For now we must include all areas in order to be successful.  A positive IMC campaign will include a dash of social media, a sprinkle of web articles, with a hint of print ads.

Since the beginning of 2012, I have joined in the 12 million users on Pinterest.  Pinterest is an online scrapbook where the user can find useful information and save it in organized categories on their own personalized page.  My personal Pinterest has become pretty wonderful, and super useful.  Many people, mostly men, might not understand the power of Pinterest.

Anyone who joins is able to put photos of different things ranging from crafts, travel, fashion, food, décor, etc.  Those photos then link to tutorials on how to create the projects or cook the dishes shown.  Users are able to save the links they find interesting and use them at any time.  It is also a social media site because friends are able to comment on pins or tag friends.  At the time I signed up, my Facebook friends using Pinterest too were all there for me to see their pins too.

I plan to save money this holiday season by using my crafting pins and making many of my gifts this year.  (Grad school isn’t easy on the shopping budget!!)  However, there are people making money from Pinterest even though there isn’t corporate advertisement on the site.  Pinterest does not include advertisements on their website in any form.  It is based only on individual pins. 

Business are trending their pins in order to increase sales this holiday season.  Pinterest is currently having a 30 day calendar of pin boards by popular artists, celebrities, and businesses.  For a local crafter or artist, I can see the opportunity that lies in pinning items to Pinterest.  There is a specific link for gifts where one may chose the amount of money they would wish to spend.  This links to pins of items for sale on Etsy.  The purchases are not made on Pinterest, but the user is able to link to them. 

There is risk to this wonderful world of pinning.  Ideas are not original and they can be taken.  I’ve got my own Pinterest inspired original art all over my house and office now.  I could sell it just the same as the people from whom I attained the ideas.  It’s so much fun to spend time looking at the many photos, stories, and ideas on Pinterest.  It can become quite addictive.  Though I’ll not spend any money from the site specifically, my local craft store will benefit from the purchases I continue to make in order to make my own creations.

According to January announcement by Forbes, I am just one of the 125 million users of Pandora radio.  Usually it plays in my office and car up to six hours a day. It is convenient in so many ways because one can form their own personalized station.  My stations range from classic rock, to rap, 90’s music, folk rock, and even Christmas music.  The great thing about Pandora is, it’s free, and you can “thumbs down” songs you don’t like, and “thumbs up” the songs you do, and then your station plays more songs like that. 

Saying that Pandora is free is true, but there are advertisements.  Not excessive or annoyingly, but every five songs or so, there’s a short advertisement.  I’ve noticed that they mostly have music predominant in the message so it seems to blend in with the radio station, and the voices selling the product get right to the point about what product they are selling. 

How Pandora chooses what advertisements to air is based on the user’s personal information.  I had once thought that it was funny, no matter the station, the ads still follow me around.  One might assume they would differ based on the music type.  In a video by Pandora, one sees how the age, gender, demographics, and interests of the listener is used to specifically target its advertisements to cater to the likes and needs of that person individually.

Emerging media through smart phones is evolving.  Changes are being made to the types of ads companies use on satellite and online radio.  Competing companies are stepping in to challenge the hold Pandora already has on the Internet radio market.  New York Times reported big name company, Apple is working to create their own similar radio like Pandora.   As an avid smart phone user, and Internet radio listener, I challenge companies to continue to outdo one another as long as it can stay free with minimal advertisements.    

Recently Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast of the United States.  Living in West Virginia, I was lucky to be in a place where I only experienced little snow.  Other areas in my state got up to three feet of snow, and have gone without electricity for over a week now.  Reports have been made on television and in all the news regarding the loss of profit many businesses are suffering, in addition to the tragic loss of all families involved in the natural disaster are only beginning to face.

Casinos in New Jersey lost millions of dollars every day they had to remain closed through the storm.  Even MTV’s famous Jersey Shore t-shirt store, The Shore Store suffered immense damage as did the rest of Sea Side Heights.  Large and small, businesses have suffered and continue to suffer.  The amounts of stores and business that have been completely destroyed have left many without a job.   

It is good to know, however, that many predominant companies are assisting in aiding the victims of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.  These large businesses have joined to help victims by raising money and assisting with all vital life necessities.  Auto companies are also assisting in the recovery of the damage caused by the catastrophic damage Hurricane Sandy caused throughout the Eastern United States.