Mobile Marketing- Don’t Get Stuck in the Past

Starting to learn mobile marketing can be daunting for some, it takes lots of background knowledge along with understanding all your options and how to best optimize your results. Mobile marketing is exactly as it sounds:

Marketing on or with a mobile device, i.e. cellphone or tablet.

For most mobile marketing techniques we need to understand the web:

“The primary design principle underlying the web’s usefulness and growth is universality.”

Tim Berners-Lee

Many people think of the “mobile web” differently than “the web“. There isn’t actually a mobile web just as much as their isn’t a laptop web, there is only one web. You can modify your marketing depending on screen size and view ports that may make the web look slightly different on a mobile device and on a laptop.

Now that we know a little bit about the web, I know that many people are still skeptics on if they should actually use mobile marketing techniques or not. Let’s go through some facts from the Pew Research Center.

9 out of 10 American adults own a cellphone

What are they doing?

It’s no secret that people seem to be addicted to their phones, some people (29% as stated above) can’t live without their phones. We know people have them and now we know what they use them for. You have to keep ahead of the game to stay relevant in any industry and mobile isn’t an exception.

Mobile Ads

Mobile ads appear in three different ways:

  1. In a mobile device with a full browser, i.e. smart phone or tablet.
  2. Mobile applications
  3. Devices that make calls, i.e. any cellphone

 

is the biggest power house that every mobile marketer needs to understand!

 

Google has three main mobile marketing advertisements that matter most to mobile marketers. (Note: They also have ads specific for app engagement and/or app downloads.)

Text Ads

These ads look like the most common ads you may be familiar with if you have done any Adwords campaign with Google before. Google automatically will include your Adword campaign in mobile searches but you do have the option to opt out of this. Some marketers opt out so they can create mobile-only ads that they have strategically created for mobile users. To make regular ads mobile friendly, use extensions offered by Google, you will not only receive a higher Ad Rank (ranking within a users search) but you will also be giving your users a better customer experience. Make sure to use the site link, call out, and location extensions to help increase click through rates and make customers happier. Be aware that mobile text ads have higher competition because there is less space to put ads on mobile devices. Using those extensions will help you beat out the competition.

Mobile Image Ads

Image ads are very similar to regular image ads you may already have with Google but you need to make sure you have opted in on the Display Network. We have two types of mobile image ads, banner ads (small strip ads) and interstitial ads (full screen ads). Size matters when choosing photos for these types of ads. To make sure you can run a mobile image ad on mobile apps, you need to have a 320 pixel by 50 pixel photo.

Banner Ad

 

Interstitial Ad

 

Banner ads are the most used mobile image ads. They are have 5 different photo sizes available (in pixels):

320 x 50, 468 x 60, 728 x 90, & 300 x 250

Interstitial ads are ads that are in full screen of the users mobile device. They tend to have higher click through rates, but they also usually have a higher Cost Per Click rate. They have three different mobile phone sizes & two different tablet sizes (in pixels):

Mobile phone: 300 x 250, 320 x 480, & 480 x 320 Tablets: 1024 x 768 & 768 x 1024

 

Call-Only Ads

These are meant to provide business phone numbers to anyone with a mobile device. This doesn’t provide web traffic but instead phone traffic. These types of ads can be more easily beneficial for businesses if they use an extension in the ad instead.


Okay, so now we understand some basic aspects of the types of ads we can create for mobile. Another very important note is that since April 21st,

Google expanded their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

This means that when a user is conducting a Google search on a mobile device, more mobile friendly websites will be higher than other websites almost regardless of SEO. For example, if you and your competitor has similar SEO tactics and paid digital marketing campaigns, they could still be higher in the users Google search if their website is more mobile friendly.

Mobile First Approach

“Prepares you for the explosive growth and new opportunities on the mobile internet, forces you to focus, and enables you to innovate in ways you previously couldn’t.”

Luke Wroblewski

When designing your website, starting with mobile can help you exponentially. The many different mobile websites we will get through will prove this even more. The mobile first approach has three main elements to focus on:

  1. Simplify the content
  2. Prioritize they layout
  3. Optimize the user experience

When looking at a mobile website realize that your screen real-estate  is very valuable but also very limiting. By simplifying the content, you take out those unnecessary stock photos that will only take up screen space. You can’t be taking up that space unlike a desktop design so prioritizing your content and knowing what your user will want to see is very important. Take a look at your Google Analytics or any website analytics you have and see what content mobile users are looking at. Finally, we need to make sure our users have a good experience on our mobile sites or they will just click off and move on to the competition.

Mobile Sites

Now that we know mobile sites are important, we have to go through your different options of making your site mobile-friendly.

Fluid Layouts

Layouts that scale based on the size of the view port

Take a look at the GIF above from FROONT, we see one mobile site with relative units and one with static units. The option with relative units changes based on percentages. This allows your website to keep the design you worked so hard on within all platforms. This is a great starting point for any website starting to go mobile because you know your website won’t look strange or have divisions of the site in spots you didn’t intend them to be. The problem is the user experience for fluid websites, the user is now looking at the very small website and will have to zoom in and out the find the information they are looking for.

Adaptive Layouts

To design for controlled adaptation

When creating an active design, you are quite literally designing a website for each device and concept. You will most commonly have a desktop design, a tablet design, and a mobile phone design as the photo above shows from left to right of the Boston Globe. You need to understand your user when creating adaptive designs and understand what information they are looking for while on your site when using those specific devices. As you look at your analytics, find the correlations between mobile user bounce rates on certain pages and mobile user time spent on other content.

Responsive Design

Flexible and universal for optimal customer experience

All responsive designs are adaptive but not all adaptive designs are responsive. Take a look at the GIF by FROONT above, the adaptive design is designed for specific concepts. That means the adaptive design needs to be in specific view port ranges for the website have an optimal user experience. The Responsive design however is the able to be in any view size and work as you have always wanted it to. Now how does that work? Take a look below:

 

Breakpoints are very important to responsive designs. This is showing us that we can chose what divisions of our website will go if the screen port gets smaller. This is however more advanced work and takes much more time to complete. Good thing that developers have tried to make our lives much easier with a few tools:

Bootstrap and jQuery Mobile

An open source, free framework to more easily build responsive websites

These programs help developers design responsive websites much easier. These are free frameworks that anyone can access the CSS and Java files to integrate into their websites.

Bootstrap, owned by Twitter is the most widely used source today. jQuery Mobile has more smartphone-friendly features like the swipe actions. So why do people use Bootstrap more? One important reason is that if jQuery is not integrated into your website properly, your website will run much slower than before. I suggest talking with your developer and find out what sources they are more familiar with.


Now, we have gone through a lot of mobile marketing already but we aren’t finished yet! So take a second before we go into mobile apps and social media marketing.

Mobile Applications

We know that 64% of the American adult population owns a smartphone. Where there are smartphones, there are apps! We will start to understand how to choose if creating an app is best for your business goals and what is the most important information to have once you decided to create one!

Choosing to Develop an App

 A mobile application is a software application that works on a specific mobile device’s operating system and is downloaded to the device to perform a specific set of functions.

Dave Klein

When I’m asked what are the most important aspect to consider when choosing to develop an app or only have a mobile site I lean towards:

  • Reach
  • Experience
  • Cost
  • Maintenance

Below, I have created an easy chart to explain each point’s existence through mobile websites and mobile apps:

 

Basically, you need to understand exactly what you want your app to do and figure if creating an app would be more beneficial to you and your customers than just a mobile site.

Creating a Mobile App

If you have chosen to make a mobile app, you now have many more choices ahead of you! The first would be to decide how you’re going to create an app. The three main ways you can get an app developed are to:

  1. Hire a developer
  2. Learn to Code
  3. Use an App Creator

Hiring a developer can be expensive but it is the more secure way to get what you want from your app. If you chose to hire a developer make sure to ask about all your options and that you understand their pricing structure. You could learn to code yourself. This is a very timely objective depending on your current coding knowledge and spare time. This can also be extremely beneficial since you can create exactly what you want and for the price of your time. Be aware that courses aren’t always cheap but you can learn a lot online! The last option is to use an app creator tool. These are typically the cheapest and easiest way to get an app developed. You do usually have to understand you can’t do everything you want with these but it’s a great starting point.

Make sure to have a clear concept of your app before going ahead!

Map out exactly how you want your app to work along with how you want it to look. This will make sure there is no confusion between any developers you may hire and if you learn to code you can understand exactly if you’ll be able to create this app effectively.


 Now, you know what goes into app development and you can start to understand if developing an app is best for your business. We are going into the last section of our mobile marketing info session, social media!

Social Media

Social media is a very important aspect of marketing now so it is no surprise that it has a big effect on mobile marketing!

Social Media 101

User generated content (UGC) on the web 2.0

This is the mostly widely used academic definition of social media. Social media allows users from around the world create and share content on what we call the web 2.0. The web 1.0 was when you only had HTML and had to call someone to change your website. There was no user base to it, but now we can create content and post it in real time!

There are 9 different types of social media sites:

  1. Social Network
  2. Social Bookmarking
  3. Social News
  4. Social Sharing
  5. Social Events
  6. Blogs
  7. Microblogs
  8. Wikis
  9. Forums/Message Boards

We aren’t going to get into too much of these but we need to understand some of the most popular sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google Plus
  • SnapChat

Know the User

So we learned a little about who is on each platform but what exactly are they doing on social media? The Groundswell Tool was developed to tell us just that! They are 6 different user types:

  1. Creator
  2. Critic
  3. Collector
  4. Joiner
  5. Spectator
  6. Inactive

Creators are those who create original content i.e. blog posts. Critics are those who write reviews or comment on websites. Collectors are those who tag/bookmark webpages, think Pinterest users. Joiners are those who use social media channels. Spectators are those who view the content on social media. and Inactive ore those who are signed up but do not participate in any of the previous activities.

Above, is an example of the small business owner target market in the United States. A majority of social media users are spectators so they are reading the content put out there. 35% are also critics so you could be getting reviews for your services from this target!

You know how your target market is engaging online but what social media channel is your target market on? Take a look at these demographics of popular social media channels by Pew Research Center. Be aware that you will be reaching different targets on different platforms and to know who you are already reaching on social media use social media analytic tools like Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, Simply Measured, etc.

Mobile-Only Platforms

We are going to talk briefly about two powerhouses that are mobile device only:

Insta Facts

  • 28% of American adult smartphone owners use Instagram
  • 18% of American adult cellphone owners use Instagram
  • 53% of American adults aged 18-29 use Instagram

We know that Instagram is owned by Facebook and is continuously increasingly in popularity. They have now started to have advertisements within their feed.

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Now, this isn’t open for any business to market on quite yet but make sure to keep an eye out in the future!

Snap Facts

  • 12% of American adult smartphone owners use SnapChat
  • 9% of American adult cellphone owners use SnapChat
  • 26% of American adults aged 18-29 use SnapChat

SnapChat is very popular for millennials, meaning it will be very important for anyone marketing to millennials! Marketers usually are hesitant to jump into SnapChat because it’s an unknown world for many. My suggestion would be to create a story each day to upload to your story board about new products, sales, daily updates, etc. about your company. You can make SnapChat work so try out different ideas and see what works best for your audience!

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Are you Still Feeling Stuck?

We went through so much information and it’s completely understandable to still feel stuck and wondering what to do from here. Take the plunge and look into making your website mobile friendly and then more on from there! Here are my top 5 tips to help you through:

  1. Try out Google’s free Analytics Academy.
  2. Look into no-code programs like Weebly, AppyPie, Shoutem, Webydo.
  3. Reach out to professionals! I’m more than happy to help you out so just comment below!
  4. Reach out to local colleges, you never know what events or courses you could take!
  5. Attend webinars and marketing events.


Mobile Marketing eMaze Presentation

Mobile Marketing PDF

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Cheers to the New Year

NewYearsEve1There are a few times during the year when you can see fantastic firework shows, and New Year’s Eve is definitely one of them.  In New Hampshire especially, these fireworks tend to be more elaborate than the weekly ones you might see at amusement parks during the summer since they’re for a special occasion.  But the light show is only one part of these events – many local places host New Year’s Eve events and parties all day and well into the night, ensuring that your celebrating will be remembered all year!

 

Pats Peak – Henniker, New Hampshire

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If you, like many other New Hampshirites, are a fan of skiing or tubing as well as partying, then this is the place to be on New Year’s Eve!  Pats Peak is offering package ticket deals for their “New Year’s in Motion” Family Celebration which starts at 6pm and goes until midnight.  You’ll also find a comedy line up, three different food stations, live music, and much more!
  

Gunstock Mountain Resort – Gilford, New Hampshire

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From horse drawn carriage rides to a balloon artist and s’mores, Gunstock’s “Gunstock Rocks New Year’s Eve Celebration” has hours of events available for anyone to enjoy!  Get there at 4pm to experience everything this lively event has to offer and end the night with a beautiful fireworks show.  Tickets are available online, and if you already have a season pass, you already have your ticket!
  

New Hampshire’s Biggest New Year’s Eve Gala – Multiple Locations

If you’re looking for a fancier kind of night, the various galas being held around the state may be just what you want.  With ticket packages starting at $30, the price could be just right too.  Between dueling pianos, an unforgettable comedy club, a hypnotist, and your traditional toast and dancing, these will be the events everyone will be talking about!  Some packages for some locations are already sold out, so be sure to get yours while they’re still available!

Happy Holly-days!

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The great thing about December is that it’s the epitome of the holiday season.  No matter where you go, you’re bound to see holiday lights strung up, a wreath hung on a door, or maybe even a silly lit up reindeer on someone’s lawn.  December is a month for giving and celebrating, even if what you celebrate is somewhat obscure; you’ll be able to find something for everyone if you look in some unexpected places.

Holiday Décor

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Though you might have tons of old decorations stored away that you bring out each year, it never hurts to see what new things are out there.  If you’re the type of person that prefers a fresh, new tree every year, then you still have some time left!  Noel’s Tree Farm in Litchfield, NH not only has reasonably priced pre-cut trees if you’re not into physical labor, but you can cut your own, too.  Don’t forget to grab your popcorn and marshmallows while you’re there!  For one price and one stop shopping for other natural décor, Indian Hill Farm in South Hampton offers six different kinds of trees as well as hand-crafted kissing balls, wreaths, and more!  While off-season from selling ice cream and other delicious treats, Arnie’s Place in Concord stocks different kinds of goodies in the form of trees, wreaths, and kissing balls, all in one convenient location.

 

Gift Giving

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While seeing people open them and be delighted is always fun and heart-warming, gift giving for certain people can be nearly impossible and put a strain on your wallet. Before you begin your shopping, it’s a good idea to make a list with names, ideas, prices, and then whether or not you’ve gotten their gift yet.  Many of these templates are available in Microsoft Word or Excel, and can also be found in a simple Google search or made by hand.  For the hard people to shop in your life, food is always a good idea, especially local treats like jams, sweets, and any other foods you can think of!  Some people don’t like giving gift cards, but they’re usually well received; people love shopping for their own products! However, for shops that have a little bit of everything, check out The Common Man’s several locations throughout New Hampshire and the Shakers Gift Shop for hand-crafted gifts.  Who knows?  You may find just the thing someone is looking for!

 

Want More?

For more holiday décor and gift ideas, NH Magazine has great articles for locations all over the state.  From decorating inspiration and where to get those festive items to even more ideas to add to your shopping list, they truly have it all.

Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling…

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December is by far the busiest holiday month of the year.  While almost everyone celebrates their own traditions at home or in their own way, New Hampshire always has special things to offer for those who want to go out and enjoy events put on by the community.  Whether you’re looking for a cute activity for the kids or a festive date night, it’s sure to be a holly jolly good time!
 
 

Candlelight Stroll – Portsmouth, NH

Stroll-1

For the next three weekends from 5-9pm on Saturdays or 4-8pm on Sundays, the Strawbery Banke Museum is hosting its annual Candlelight Stroll.  With tickets available online and at the door, you have plenty of chances to experience live music, historic houses, outstanding holiday decorations, and so much more.
 
 

Ring in the Season – Exeter, NH

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This four day celebration, also put on every year, puts on a variety of events every day, most of them completely free.  Local favorites are the Festival of Trees, the Holiday Open House, and the Annual Holiday Parade.  There are activities for the kids and live music for the adults, so make sure to check the schedule to make sure you’re not missing anything!
 
 

The Manchester Christmas Parade – Manchester, NH

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If you can make it to Elm Street around 3pm on December 6th, you’re in for a treat – the annual parade’s floats and bands alone are exciting enough to make anyone want to go, but the real draw comes before the parade even starts.  Watching thousands of Santas jog together in a huge red and white blur affectionately called the ‘Santa Claus Shuffle’ is not only entertaining, but offers an opportunity for runners to be charitable near the holidays.
 
 

Santa at the Museum – Londonderry, NH

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Instead of trying to beat the rush for a quick picture with Santa at the mall in which many children end up looking terrified anyway, why not try a new and more fun encounter with Santa this year?  The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire has a visit from Santa planned for December 12th, complete with a photo opportunity, a story reading, and a special treat!
 
 

Family Gingerbread House Workshop – Dover, NH

Morrisons Christmas Food Lookbook (29th - 31st May 2013)If you’ve always wanted to build a gingerbread house but didn’t want to gather all the supplies or get your own house messy, The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is doing it for you!  Hosting four workshops on December 13th ranging from 9:30am to 4:30pm, members and non-members of the museum and their families can assemble that delicious treat!

Don’t Give Winter the Cold Shoulder

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With the first snowfall comes a whole slew of opportunities for things to do that you typically can’t do the rest of the year.  If you’re looking to keep active during the cold months you have access to winter sports, but if you’d rather have some recreational fun, more options become available in the winter as well.  Even if you’re not a fan of snow and the chill it brings, there’s plenty you can do while just observing the winter wonderland.
 

Skiing / Snowboarding / Snowshoeing

Pats Peak 09

One of the things New Hampshire is best known for is its various skiing options.  Though the most mountains and lodges are in the north, some mid-southern mountains are becoming more common, allowing residents and tourists alike to ski to their hearts content.

Manchester’s McIntyre Ski Area, in fact, is dubbed “Southern New Hampshire’s winter playground,” offering nine trails and two lifts, a newly built lodge, and and even a cafe.  Go a bit further north to Henniker to Pats Peak (pictured above), and make sure to check out their website to plan your trip!  You can rent your equipment and purchase your passes in advance, and be ready to go before you even get there.  Even further north in Andover you’ll find the multi-seasonal Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, which is operational all year.  During the winter the trails are available for skiing as well as snowshoeing.

This is a staple of many ski areas; offering multiple activities in one location.  All of the aforementioned not only have skiing capabilities but snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tubing (save the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail).
 

Ice Skating

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Ice skating, of course, can be a year round activity if you so choose it to be, but for most it’s associated with winter.  Whether you’re interested in skating on a pond with your own equipment or renting at a rink, New Hampshire has no lack of choices.

The i-Center in Salem holds public skate hours multiple days a week and offers renting options for functions or teams, as well as hosting skating lessons if you need a boost.  New Hampshire’s first two rink complex, Tri-Town Ice Arena in Hooksett, offers much of the same, but if you’re looking for ice skating they’re able to offer a lot more hours due to the extra rink.  The Rinks at Exeter in, you guessed it, Exeter, also offers many different and convenient hours of public skate, skate/hockey lessons, and even figure skating classes.  Ice rentals and birthday parties are also on the menu at this rink.  Make sure to check the schedule before heading out!
 

Indoor Activities

6287751503_e2ab73e176_zIf you’re like me and you grumble at the mention of the word ‘snow,’ don’t worry, you’re not doomed to be bored for the entire winter!  There are plenty of things you can do at home, or at least indoors, to keep yourself entertained and away from the chill.  How about a classic mug of hot cocoa?  Even better, drink it by the fire (or the heater) under some cozy blankets with a nice book or while watching your favorite show.  Too cliche?  As long as the roads aren’t dangerous, invite your friends over and have a fun day in with popcorn and candy and watch some movies.  If these ideas just aren’t your cup of tea, maybe one of these will be.  After all, we scrooges have to find some way to enjoy the winter!

A Big Day for Small Business

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With thousands of people still drawn in by the thrill of Black Friday, it’s easy to forget that there are other places to shop around the holidays besides well-known manufacturers. Gaining more popularity and loyal participants every year, Small Business Saturday is not only a great way to avoid the post-Thanksgiving rush, but a way to give back to your local community as well. As an added incentive, the founder of this day, American Express, always offers a little something to those who do choose to use their cards at their local businesses. This year, for every $10 or more spent in a qualifying business, cardholders will receive a $10 statement credit up to three times on the same card. Don’t go opening multiple cards just yet, though – registration for this promotion is limited, and starts November 16th at midnight (Mountain Standard Time).

 

Where to Shop

You probably have a few local shops in mind for the day if you plan to go shopping. To get the biggest bang for your buck, however, it may be worth it to explore the more densely populated shopping areas in New Hampshire and hit many shops at once. You’re more likely to find several shops that are participating in the American Express deal here than scattered around. If you do already have somewhere in mind, however, use this map to check and see if you can ‘shop small’ there.

Main Street Concord is a great place to go for a variety of steals and deals, and they’ve even compiled a list of certain shops that are offering their own special discounts on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. In case you needed another incentive to shop there, the downtown businesses are putting together raffles worth over $1,200 that can be won by going to various shops and filling out a passbook for an entry!

If you visit the Downtown Portsmouth area at night, you’ll find not only a variety of retailers where you can shop small, but you may just be entertained by some carolers as well! Portsmouth’s holiday beauty is not to be ignored, either; featured in Yankee magazine, the lights and decorations alone may draw you in.

Anyone who lives in or even lives near Manchester knows that Elm Street is a host to a vast number of shops and places to dine. But have you ever really walked it and checked out what it has to offer? Now may be the perfect opportunity, along with the rest of Downtown Manchester, to shop small and see what you might be missing.

A Feast to Remember

 

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Though the numbers differ slightly year to year, it’s definitive that over 90% of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving in some way.  Typically the tradition is reminiscent of ‘The First Thanksgiving’ held by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621 in which they gathered and ate the fruits of their bountiful harvest.  Other traditions were carried over from England, such as giving thanks to God.  Today, though some may still observe the religious connotations associated with the original holiday, most regard Thanksgiving as a day to spend with their families, eat a delicious meal, and be thankful for what they have.

 

Local Turkeys

One staple of the traditional Thanksgiving meal and the main dish is, of course, a turkey.  Many people place orders for turkeys months in advance, but there’s still plenty of time to pick one up before the holiday!  For free range and antibiotic free turkeys straight from the farm, Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner, NH has them available for November 25th and 26th or another date by request.  They even have online ordering available!  Similarly, Harrison’s Poultry Farm in Candia, NH takes pride in catering to their customers’ needs and offers turkeys with no added chemicals or hormones.  If you’d prefer to just pick up a turkey from the grocery store, The Fresh Market in Bedford, NH is probably your best bet – not only do they antibiotic-free raw turkeys from 10-24 lbs. available, but pre-cooked as well, lessening the time you’ll need to spend in the kitchen and away from your family on the big day.

 

Local Bakeries

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Not everyone has the time – or resources – to be able to produce a selection of baked goods that’s going to please an entire group of people.  For those who’d rather spend more time on the main meal, or even just want to try something new for dessert this year, it may be worth it to pick out a few things from your local bakery.  Queen City Cupcakes in Manchester, NH is accepting Thanksgiving orders until November 24th and offering a variety of flavors including pumpkin cheesecake, apple spice (gluten free!), and apple pie.  If you’re having a lot of people over for dinner, consider ordering in bulk to receive a discount!  Also taking orders is Blackberry Bakery in Londonderry, NH; if you’re looking for more variety in your desserts, they make and decorate an assortment of cakes, pies, and other pastries that will leave your mouth watering.  To specify a decoration a call or visit is recommended, but they have an online order form for your convenience as well.

 

Restaurants

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For those looking for a less conventional way to celebrate, or just a good meal, there are plenty of restaurants that stay open for your benefit and offer variations of Thanksgiving dishes.  Alan’s of Boscawen has both the traditional meal “with all the fixings” and a Thanksgiving buffet, depending on what you’re in the mood for, served from noon to six.  If any children or seniors will be dining with you, be sure to ask about discounts!  Belmont Hall & Restaurant in Manchester, NH offers a more general but no less appetizing Thanksgiving dinner for $11.99 including turkey and three sides, served from 11:30am to 3:30pm.  For a completely new experience for most, Valentino’s Restaurant & Lounge is the host of Hudson, NH’s coziest Italian and American dining experience, and their family style Thanksgiving will be no different.  For all of these locations, it’s best to call ahead for reservations or to check availability.

 

Did You Know?

It’s no secret that the day after Thanksgiving is notorious for being the busiest shopping day of the year – Black Friday.  Recently, however, more and more people have been saving their money (and minds) for just one more day in order to beat the huge rush and help out their community by buying instead on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This will also give you another day to relax and enjoy those leftovers.

Handmade Heaven

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane for a moment – years ago, your first few memorable Christmases, well before you had the means to afford actual gifts for your loved ones.  You wanted to get Mom and Dad a little something, and this is when we all discovered the joy of homemade gifts.  Crude and cheap as they may have been when made as children, it can’t be denied that they came from the heart and they were genuinely appreciated.  Nowadays you may feel tacky giving someone a homemade gift, but rising trends in well crafted and unique homemade products may make you think twice before hitting that big department store for all of your gifts.

More and more people are making a business out of their hobby and expanding the product width of local craft shows.  It’s not uncommon to find professional grade items and unique products you’re not likely to find on your casual mall trip, including wood carvings, ceramics, and so much more.  Not only might you find something that you or someone you know ends up loving, but you’re supporting an artist and your local community, encouraging them to produce more.  Additionally, these craft fairs tend to be laid out in a way that the consumers can see a wide variety of product in a smaller amount of space; a typical retail store may focus on one specific thing, costing you multiple trips to get your shopping done.  More stores are stocking homemade products as well, however, so don’t be surprised if you happen to pick up a brand that isn’t widely manufactured.

Upcoming Craft Fairs

Fall seems to be an extremely popular time for craft fairs, perhaps because the artists are trying to sell out their stock before the snow arrives.  Here’s a complete list of craft fairs happening in New Hampshire by date, and here are a few coming up soon!


New England Craft and Specialty Food Fair – Salem, NH

Nov 14-16
10am – 5pm
$7 admission
Rockingham Park Racetrack
79 Rockingham Park Blvd, Salem, NH

UUCM Holiday Faire – Manchester, NH

November 22
9am – 2pm
FREE
Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester
669 Union St, Manchester, NH 03104

Crafts at the Capitol – Concord, NH

November 22 & 23
10am – 5pm
FREE
Capitol Center for the Arts
44 S Main St, Concord, NH 03301

A-maize-ing Autumn Ideas

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Though the transition from warm summer days to chilly autumn nights may have you wanting to hide away curled up in a blanket at home, there’s certainly no lack of fun things to do in the fall.  With October comes all things Halloween and scary-themed in general, and the farms break out their most popular harvest attractions.  Often these are a cheap or free way to spend time and support the local farms, keeping these events up and running every year.  As always there are plenty of places to choose from in New Hampshire, so if you’re looking for an extensive list of attractions, try here.  But here are just a few of our suggestions!

Hayrides

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Whether you’re looking for a long and relaxing ride to enjoy the trails or a short and easy ride to the pick your own orchards, there’s a hayride made for you.  Pictured above, the hour and a half hayrides at Charmingfare Farm in Candia are $25, but they’re not your typical ride – halfway through expect a stop at a bonfire and treats of hot cocoa, hot dogs, and s’mores. Meadow Ledge Farm in Loudon offers a free ride to their apple orchards or country store, and if you’re going with a group you may want to look into J&F Farms, Inc. in Derry – they have a field trip/birthday party deal that includes a hayride, petting zoo, and corn maze (see below) for $8.

Corn Mazes

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Farms often engage in friendly competition to see who can create the most elaborate designs for their corn mazes, but no matter which one you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.  Beech Hill Farm in Hopkinton, whose maze is pictured above, hosts three different scavenger hunt mazes each year with clues hidden inside – can you find all the items? As mentioned before, J&F Farms, Inc. hosts a corn maze as well, standalone from the field trip package.  If you’re not careful you could spend the whole day there!  If you’re looking for a more dark theme, take a trip to The Dark Crop Haunted Corn Maze at Lavoie’s Farm in Hollis, an interactive and chilling event open to you for only $12 on select nights.  And speaking of haunted…

Haunted Attractions

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Haunted houses, haunted woods, haunted cemeteries…  If you want to be scared, there are people and places ready to do it.  Nightmare New England in Litchfield has five separate main attractions on location, a restaurant, a bar, and so many side attractions you’ll find yourself wondering if you haven’t really stepped into a haunted carnival (be sure to check dates for admission prices).  With their professional sets and collaboration, Fright Kingdom (pictured above) in Nashua and Haunted Acres in Candia make for unique visits that will either leave you wanting more or wanting to run!

Happy Haunting

Even before it’s officially October, stores and residential houses alike can be seen breaking out the Halloween decorations. Though the holiday has religious roots, today it’s celebrated worldwide more commercially; you’re much more likely to see kids running around in elaborate costumes looking for candy than a day-long festival dedicated to the day. Halloween night is certainly the most exciting for kids, but trick-or-treating isn’t the only way to celebrate – parties, haunted houses, or just plain old decorating are all popular forms of getting into the spirit of the holiday.

According to the National Retail Federation, 33% of Americans celebrating planned to start their Halloween shopping before October – just to be ready in time! Whether it’s to stay at home and give out candy or to prepare a costume, it can’t be denied that Halloween has a little something for everyone, and the same can be said for the local businesses that prepare for the holiday long before it arrives.

Costumes

Though we all started as princesses and pumpkins and whatever else our parents forced us to dress in, costumes don’t have to be limited to just the little ones. Party stores and specialty costume stores offer stock for all ages and usually encourage adults to participate with some of the more… risque takes on classic costumes. One of the local party supply stores that’s open all year round is Donovan’s Party & Novelty located in Concord, NH, where they not only have the things you need to dress up, but to throw a spooky-themed bash as well. Their costumes are in stock all year, so if you find yourself in need of something in the middle of the spring, they’ve got you covered. For a seasonal store you can stop by during your mall shopping, you might want to check out the Halloween Shoppe at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. Their stock is constantly updated with the newest items, and with the coupons available on their website you might just find a steal!

If you’re looking to save some money this year, why not try making your own costume? Often you can find clothes right from your own closet and accessorize with things you find around the house or cheap accessories from the local novelty store. Here’s a few ideas to get you started, but don’t be afraid to get creative – and scary!

Candy

For those with a sweet tooth out there, you don’t have to go trick-or-treating to get your fix. You could, of course, grab a few bags of the bulk Halloween candy for sale everywhere and say you’re giving it out when really you’re gonna devour it the second you get home – or you could invest in something even sweeter. Local candy shops have the dual benefit of being homemade and unique, sometimes providing candy that you won’t find anywhere else. Pearls Candy and Nuts in Salem, New Hampshire carries all the classics and prides themselves on being a nostalgic shop, but the Cadbury Screme Eggs and Gummi Brains are just a couple of ways they’ve gotten into the modern spirit. Similarly, Granite State Candy carries more kinds of Halloween-themed chocolate pops and candy corn mixes than you can think of, and in two locations. If you’re in the Concord or Manchester area and get that candy craving, they’ll have something for you.

But hey, maybe you do want to go trick-or-treating, or you have a child that does. If that’s the case, make sure you find out the time when your town will be tricking and treating here. The list is updated as times come in. Make sure to be safe too, and have a happy Halloween!