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Kate Stewart, Ph.D.

You’ve got a great idea for a business. You need to lose 10 lbs. You have a major report to write. But it’s not getting done.

You’re not alone and it’s not your fault.

For most people, the major challenge in life is not handling a crisis. No…it’s the daily demand to stay with the program. To accomplish your tasks day after day. To keep going in the face of drudgery, frustration, and boredom. Consistently choosing to do what needs to be done rather than what you want to do.

1. Don’t feel guilty – it’s not your fault.

Mark Twain said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” 95% of people admit to procrastinating. A quarter of these say procrastination is a chronic characteristic. Is it laziness? Is it perfectionism? Only rarely. Instead, it’s evolution.

The limbic system, or “reptile brain”, evolved early in our primate history and is similar to that of most creatures. It is controlled by instinct and enables us to meet our immediate survival needs. The prefrontal cortex, or executive function, evolved much later. Its job is to analyze and plan future benefits. Usually the limbic system and prefrontal cortex work together effectively. But when the limbic system is stimulated by immediate sensations, procrastination results. The long horizon view of the prefrontal cortex is cast aside to satisfy immediate desires.

It’s not our fault but we have to deal with it.

2. Know when procrastination makes sense.

Sometimes putting off tasks is more productive than compulsively tackling them. Do you have a niggling sense that you need more information, a different perspective, or better timing for your task? What you (and others) may see as procrastination may instead be resistance to the task due to an almost unconscious or instinctual recognition that delay is best.

When this happens, identify what you’re waiting for and plan flexibly based on this knowledge. Work on another task until you have everything you need to give ample attention to the first one.

3. Identify your procrastination triggers.

The more impulsive we are (see #1), the more we avoid the anxiety related to deadlines or long-term tasks. No, it’s not logical. Yes, it’s self-defeating. And yes, we all do it.

Spend time identifying what triggers your impulsiveness. Are the birds singing and golf course beckoning? Ask a friend to hide your clubs until the project is completed. Does a nap seem more inviting than writing that report? Plan your most important work first thing in the morning while you are still fresh.

4. Keep moving.

I’ve been reminded more than once that it’s easier to rudder a ship that is already moving. In those moments when you are tempted to take a break to avoid an unpleasant task, resist. Energy in motion tends to stay in motion. If you work at another task instead of resting, you will find it easier to approach the unpleasant task. Energy at rest tends to stay at rest. That one is self-explanatory.

Read the full article…

Ref: Ben Parr at Mashable.com

While the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami have passed, the recovery and mourning have just begun. The disaster could become the most expensive earthquake in history. The crisis could get even worse, depending on what happens next at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Now, more than ever, the Japanese people need our help and support to get through this crisis.

You don’t need to pack your bags and fly out to Japan to help, though. There are plenty of ways you can help online, whether it’s with your wallet or simply with your Twitter account. New technologies make it possible to lend a helping hand with your texts or even with virtual crops.

Every little bit counts. Here are a few ways you can help the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami:


1. Text to Donate


The American Red Cross has once again launched a texting campaign to raise money for relief efforts in the Pacific region. Last year, the Red Cross was able to raise over $20 million for Haiti relief through simple text donations.

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief, just text REDCROSS to 90999. Each text will provide $10 towards the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts.


2. Donate via Facebook


The Red Cross has also launched a campaign on Causes to raise at least $25,000 for relief efforts. By logging in to Facebook, you can donate anywhere from $10 to $500 to help Tsunami victims and their families.

As of publishing time, the Causes campaign has raised over $40,000 from over 1,000 donors and 3,000 promoters.


3. Buy Virtual Goods


Virtual sweet potatoes and the Japanese Tsunami may not seem related, but buying digital crops could help children affected by the earthquake.

Zynga, known for its effective social good campaigns, has partnered with Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund to get its users to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods in CityVille, FrontierVille, FarmVille and its other games.

100% of the proceeds from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows in FrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific. The world’s largest social gaming company is shooting to raise $2 million for relief efforts.

Zynga has raised millions of dollars over the last few years with these types of social good campaigns, most notably for the relief efforts in Haiti.

Read the full article for four additional suggestions…

article by Jamie Turner on MarketingProfs.com

We loved this article, as it will leave you knowing how to set appropriate goals for your social media campaigns, and how to demonstrate to management (or your accountant) that your investment of time and other resources was worth it.

Warning: Social media may be heading for a big crash in 2011.

It’s not going to crash because it’s ineffective. And it’s not going to crash because people stop using it. It might well crash because most businesses don’t know how to measure the ROI of their social media campaigns.

Are you one of those companies? Are you still trying to figure out how to measure a social media campaign and calculate your social media ROI?

Well, I have some good news. Social media can be measured and you can track its ROI—if you follow the simple steps outlined below.

Using Direct Marketing Techniques to Calculate ROI

If you run a direct-response campaign and spend $1, you’ll typically generate $10 or more in return. The direct-response industry knows that statistic because it’s been tracking the transactional data from direct mail, paid search, direct-response TV, and other campaigns for more than 50 years.

But what if you’re new to social media or new to the world of direct response metrics? What should you do then?

In How to Make Money with Social Media, I wrote about something called the 5-3-1 program, which involves understanding the five ways Fortune 500 companies use social media, the three categories of social media measurement, and the one direct response formula that all social media practitioners should know.

If you understand the components of the 5-3-1 program, you’ll have everything you need to calculate the ROI of your social media campaigns.

The Five Ways Fortune 500 Companies Use Social Media

Branding. Some companies use social media strictly as a branding tool. Typically, that means running a YouTube campaign that (hopefully) gets a lot of buzz around the water cooler. The most successful campaign of this type is the Old Spice YouTube video, which has more than 140 million impressions and, according to Nielsen, helped sales increase 27% in six months.

e-Commerce. If you can sell your product or service online, then you’ll want to drive people to a landing page where they can buy your goods. How can you accomplish this? Just do what Dell does: Tweet about special promotions for its Twitter followers. Dell can easily track their prospects’ behavior as they click the link, visit the landing page, and buy the product. Dell generates millions of dollars in revenue each quarter just from Twitter .

Research. Many companies are using social media as a tool to do simple, anecdotal research. Sometimes, that involves building a website to engage in dialogue with customers or prospects. Starbucks has done this famously with its MyStarbucksIdea.com website. Or, using social media as a research tool can be as simple as doing a poll on LinkedIn.

Customer Retention. A good rule of thumb is that it costs 3-5 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current one. Given that, wouldn’t it be smart to use social media as a tool to keep customers loyal and engaged? That’s what Comcast and Southwest Airlines do—they communicate via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to help solve customer-service issues.

Lead Generation. What do you do if you can’t sell your product or service online? You’ll want to do what many B2B companies do: use social media to drive prospects to a website where they can download a whitepaper, listen to a podcast, or watch a video. Once you’ve captured the prospect’s contact information, you can remarket to them via email, direct mail, or various other methods.

Read the full article…

By Joanne Fritz, nonprofit specialist, About.com

Word-of-mouth is the original “viral” marketing. When you are Twittering and Facebooking, don’t forget to make it possible for your supporters to spread the word about your organization by talking (voice-to-ear) to their friends. We often think of Facebook and Twitter when we hear the word “viral.” But, while you’re mastering social media, don’t neglect the simple, old fashioned word-of-mouth things you can do.

Here are three ways to facilitate face-to-face, phone-to-phone, and email-to-email transmission of information about your cause.

1. Provide an inexpensive brochure or handout wherever your volunteers, users, patrons, or supporters gather, pass through, or stop in.
I am a fervent user of a nonprofit community center…especially its exercise classes for people over 50. Unlike commercial gyms, this organization really likes and takes care of its older patrons.

Since I was going to a gathering of people who are in this age group, I stopped by the organization’s front desk recently, on my way from an exercise class, and asked for some flyers I could give to people at the function I would be attending.

Did they have anything? Nope. The best they could do was a bulky folder that is used as an orientation for new members. That was not what I needed. A little bi-fold brochure would have worked, or even a simply printed flyer. I could have taken several and passed them around to my dinner companions. I, like many people, am a great ambassador for organizations that I like and use. It is worth it to make that informal boosting easy for people like me.

2. Make reminder calls to people who have signed up for an event. Make follow-up phone calls to no-shows.
It’s a great idea to make all kinds of phone calls. For instance, have volunteers make a reminder call to people who have signed up for a special event. Even leaving a short message on people’s phones will work wonders to increase your attendance. It may even provide an opportunity for those who find they can’t attend to let you know and make arrangements to support you in some other way. This won’t work, obviously, for events that involve thousands, but it would for smaller, more intimate gatherings.

Go further, and make a follow-up call to those people who didn’t make it. Recently, I could not make it to a small event at a local nonprofit. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, I just had to make a choice at the last minute to do something else important. No one called me to find out why I was a no-show. Just a “we missed you” would have sufficed. If they had called, I would have apologized and asked when their next similar event was. Or, they might have even gotten me to volunteer for something. In any case, I would have appreciated the follow-up. It would have let me know that I was important to the organization.

3. Send an email immediately after you gather a person’s email.
Yes, that’s right. Gathering email addresses is an ongoing task if you ever hope to develop a viable email marketing or fundraising campaign. But, when I give my email, I never know if that email address actually gets put into a system and acted upon. Sometimes, my email is entered on a form of some sort, but more often it is a legal pad passed around and then tucked into someone’s purse. I always have a sinking feeling that my email address is going nowhere.

Why not dash off an acknowledgment email immediately to thank the person for their email address? It will first of all confirm that you do have an accurate email for them (if it bounces, make an effort to contact the person another way to correct the email address), and the recipient will know that you are on the ball. Furthermore, they won’t be surprised when they get your email newsletter or some other communication at a later time. Haven’t you sometimes wondered how someone got your email? That happens if it’s weeks or months between providing your email, and getting a communication.

Read the full article…

By Simon Payn, founder, Ready To Go Newsletters Blog

I was asked by a member of my insurance newsletters service last week about the best way to use newsletters to bring in new business.

Here’s what I will tell him. Of course, this applies to any business—not just insurance.

Why Newsletters Work to Bring in New Business
Newsletters are most famously used to keep in contact with past clients. That remains an important role.

Less well understood is why they work to bring in new business.
Newsletters’ success is down to two factors: platform and relationship building.

Success in business these days is more about being perceived as a trusted expert rather than a salesman. People are jaded with the old model of cold calls, persuasive closing techniques, and the general “push, push, push” of the old style of sales.

It’s much better to be seen as an expert in what you sell. Instead of just being someone who sells stuff, what you are instead is a trusted adviser. Most of your competitors haven’t grasped this yet, so it puts you ahead of them all.

After all, who would you rather do business with: A salesman or an expert?
Newsletters act as a platform to prove your expertise, because they allow you to write about what you know—to serve your readers by sharing your expertise.

On top of that, newsletters build a relationship with your prospects over time. And, as you know, relationships are at the core of most business transactions—especially in tough economic times. People want to do business with people they know. It’s safer and more rewarding that way.

By providing them useful information as a trusted adviser, you are growing a relationship of trust. That relationship will pay off when the client is ready to buy.

Finding New Prospects
So, what you are doing with your newsletter is using it to build relationships with prospects by using it as a platform to distinguish yourself as a trusted expert.

As there is a cost involved to producing and sending newsletters, it’s important to make sure you go where the customers are, and make sure your newsletter meets their needs.

It’s wise therefore to make a profile of your ideal customer: Where do they live? What do they read? Where do they hang out? Who do they do business with? What do they want? How can you serve them? Ask yourself: What issue (about what I offer) keeps them up at night—with either excitement or fear?

When you have done that, you are better positioned to know what to write about and how you can best serve them with your newsletter. You will also be in a better position to make them aware of you (and your newsletter) in the first place.

The bottom line is this: You need to be where customers are with information that answers the questions and concerns in their heads.

Bringing Prospects Into Your Realm
It is seldom cost effective to mail your newsletter right away to prospects—either by direct mail or by a door-drop. (The exception to this might be a real estate agent or local merchant who is using a newsletter to farm a very small neighborhood—after all, he knows where his prospects are!)

A better way is to give prospects a reason to raise their hands—a reason to say “OK, I’m open to what you offer. I might even buy one day!” By doing that, you’ll be using your newsletter budget effectively—marketing to those who want to hear from you.

(Sidebar: This is the concept of Permission Marketing, used most famously by Seth Godin in his book of the same name. The idea is that you will more successfully market to people who want to hear from you, rather than interrupting people who don’t want to hear from you. It’s the difference between receiving a newsletter from someone you know, and getting a telemarketing call from someone you don’t—about something you don’t care about. And it’s the foundation of all good email marketing, where anti-spam laws make it illegal to email people who haven’t expressed an interest in hearing from you.)

So how do you bring them into your realm? How do you get them to sign up and receive your newsletter? Here are some ways:

Go where your clients are: It’s better to distribute your newsletter with a rifle, rather than a shotgun. It’s more efficient that way. So, think of all the places your client is likely to hang out. And, think of other (non-competing) vendors with the same clients. Leave your newsletter in their offices and stores; do reciprocal advertising in their newsletters. Distribute your newsletter in the “social nodes”— the daycare centers; social centers; sports venues—in your community where your clients are likely to be.

Always be signing up: You’ve heard the motto: Always be closing. Instead, always be encouraging people to sign up to receive your newsletter. When you have a good conversation on the phone or meet them face-to-face, ask them if you can put them on your distribution list. Put a sign-up box on your website. Put a link to your newsletter on your email footer.

Add “bait” to encourage them to sign up: It’s not always enough to “just” sell your newsletter; you often need to give them an extra reason to sign up. That reason might be a special report on a subject they will find interesting and that is relevant to what you offer, or it might be the promise of discounts on future purchases. Always tell them how useful and entertaining your newsletter will be. Also, assure them that they won’t be spammed, either by email or postal mail.

Read the full article.

Good news for Boblog followers…

We’re coming back. We’ve upgraded our site and designed it for maximum usefulness to our visitors. This Blog is about how you can be more successful in your small business or nonprofit venture with smart, simple, DIY techniques.

Of course, if you don’t have the time or interest in doing-it-yourself, we’re more than happy to help.  Please let us know what you think of the new site and if you’re so inclined, follow this Blog on Twitter.

We’ll be posting several times a week to begin with.  In the meantime, please email us at bg@bgamedia.com. Anytime!

To your success!