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Good Manners Lead to a Healthy Organisation

Good manners is concerned with the consideration of other people, not just in extending kindness but in treating other people with respect. Apparently people with Good Manners not only consider others, but also take care of their own health and hygiene better than those with Bad Manners, and it isn't unusual for Good Manners to be adopted as approach to avoid health issues. Think about the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it campaign for Swine Flu, and the focus on the declining standard of Good Manners, such as hand washing after going to the toilet, which is feared to increase medical outbreaks in the future.

I nag my own children, in the same way my parents nagged me about having Good Manners, even simple things such as the importance of using their 'P's and Q's'. It now appears that Good Manners do matter, and, not just for the pleasantness they create, but are also important for our Health but what is the importance of Good Managers to Health in the Organisational setting.

For example, how many times have you been left feeling annoyed because someone didn't open a door for you when you were struggling with an armful of files or disgruntled at the person in the lift who didn't hold the doors to let you in? Simple common courtesies such as these are essential in the office setting because harmony is driven by social interaction that sticks to the accepted levels of behaviour. But office etiquette can be shaped by more than normal social good manners. Political and power artefacts such as car parking places, coffee runs, photocopier etiquette and when to, or not to interrupt can quickly derail a whole department if someone gets them wrong.

The absence of practicing Good Manners in the workplace, even by a few employees can cause major disruption to the engagement of employees and waste company time in resolving workplace disputes over seemingly minor incidents such as not leaving the hot desk the way it was found, leaving dirty cups in meeting room or the mess left in the coffee room or taking other employees food out of the fridge.

You may be aware of faux pas that you have experienced. One such incident that seems fairly minor but resulted in an individual being left humiliated and awkwardness in the department was the result of a manager attempting to create a great working environment. The manager bought in doughnuts and chose to share them with members of the department the problem was that there were two doughnuts and three employees; the faux pas was made worse when the manager actually decided who to offer the doughnuts to. Ouch.

Feedback is essential to ensuring the acceptability of behaviour and good manners are understood by everyone in the organisation such as Managers thanking employees for expected performance and also turning off phones and closing the lid of laptops to create the right environment for meetings. Some 'skills' such as active listening and not interrupting are Good Manners. They are common sense but also contribute significantly to a productive and motivating environment.

Good manners also extend to the external environment. Learning how to shake hands, make correct introductions, write thank you letters, respond to RSVP's, respond in a timely manner to phone messages, be a host, be a guest, dress for the occasion and dine with manners these are all nice social skills; but what a difference they make to the impression your customers have to the professionalism of your organisation. The way in which individual employees interact with customers will determine whether the customer has a positive or negative experience of the organisation.

Do organisation need to provide 'Good Manners' training for employees? Quite possibly, it might just be very good for your health.

Froot Loops Gets a Healthy Food Label?

My two young girls are mad about Froot Loops, the brightly coloured, sugar-laden cereal snack that turns parents naggy whenever their kids pick them up from the store shelves for obvious reasons - they are too unhealthy to be indulged in and there are far too many wiser choices of sweet treats such as fresh fruits, yoghurts, and honey sticks.

Recently, much to my disgust, I learned from the news that in a food-labeling campaign to help shoppers identify healthier food choices, Froot Loops has been given a Smart Choice checkmark! How did such a sugary snack win its endorsement as a nutritionally superior food for kids? What criteria are being used by the Smart Choice program run by food consortiums and nutrition experts? For sure you don't need to be a nutritionist to know the great amount of processed sugar in that cereal. You instantly know it when you put them in your mouth! And by just doing a little research, you'll find out that it is 41 percent processed white sugar and contains processed flour, partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, and synthetic colouring chemicals. So, isn't this too blatant a move, especially in these days when so many kids and parents are so deeply troubled by the obesity epidemic?

What came across as the biggest ridicule is how Dr Eileen Kennedy, dean of Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and president of the Smart Choices board tried to rationalize the recommendation of questionable choices such as Fudgsicles, Lunchables, Mayonnaise, and Froot Loops as Smart Choices. According to the New York Times,

She said the program was also influenced by research into consumer behaviour. That research showed that, while shoppers wanted more information, they did not want to hear negative messages or feel their choices were being dictated to them.

"The checkmark means the food item is a 'better for you' product, as opposed to having an x on it saying 'Don't eat this,' " Dr. Kennedy said. "Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn't have the checkmark, by implication it's not a 'better for you' product. They want to have a choice. They don't want to be told 'You must do this.' "

"You're rushing around, you're trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal," Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. "So Froot Loops is a better choice."

Since when consumers are complaining about food warnings? Choosing Froot Loops over doughnuts is considered "healthy eating for kids"? So doughnuts can also become healthy if they are compared to deep-fried Mars bar? It's hard to believe that a prominent nutrition expert would provide such an irrational, eye-popping report, but then, in the face of all the ongoing conflicts of interests between sales revenue and consumer's health benefits, it might not appear so bizarre after all. Nevertheless, let's all be very vigilant when it comes to appraising and selecting foods from the grocery. Apparently the food industry has skewed many of its decisions when setting nutritional criteria. Shortcomings in the food can now be quickly masked by highly regarded health food labels like the Smart Choices. A lot of cereals and breads made of refined grains can easily get the seal of approval by just adding a few minerals and vitamins. As food fraud turns rampant and dishonest food marketing gurus become more dextrous in their selling tactics, I think as consumers, we should also gear ourselves up for enough information to dodge and keep ourselves shielded from all the flying darts in the shops.

Lose 45 Pounds in a Safe and Healthy Way!

There are a lot of advertisements for wonder pills or wonder foods that promise rapid weight loss. Getting to the ideal weight seems like a race these days. The message is that if you are overweight then the fast way to get to the ideal weight is also the best way. In the process we don't realize that we can gain back all the weight we lose with the aid of these wonder drugs, and in fact gain a little more than what we actually lost.

Being overweight is definitely a risk factor for some diseases and chronic health conditions. Being fit and maintaining the ideal weight is the safest and most effective road to a long healthy life. But what are the safest and most effective methods to lose weight? Are these weight loss methods actually safe and are they approved by qualified medical doctors or validated by scientific research? These are very important questions.

Everywhere we look, we see billboards or television advertisements, which say, lose 45 pounds in 45 days or lose fat and stay slim and so on. Smart marketing gimmicks coupled with eye catching visuals in advertising campaigns attack the human psyche by appealing to the tendency to go for the fast solutions for their problems. To lose 45 pounds in itself is something like a small miracle, but to lose 45 pounds in 45 days is a health disaster waiting to happen.

People seldom take the time time to really think before making a decision these days. Many of the special drugs or pills that promise to help you to lose 45 pounds contain stimulants that may be potentially dangerous to your health or may have severe side effects. In many lifestyles, especially professional sports, it becomes necessary to lose weight in a very short period of time, but to lose that kind of weight in a such a short time with risky or prohibited substances will only bring health problems and sometimes even death to the user.

Lose 45 pounds the smart way. The time tested way of exercising and a eating a balanced diet should bring about the desired results in a reasonable amount of time. Healthy weight loss is estimated to be about 1-2 pounds a week for most people. Cardiovascular exercises, weight training or even yoga can help you lose weight and stay healthy for the rest of your life, and takes a minimum of effort if one puts one's mind to it. Body Mass Index or BMI is the best indicator of how healthy we are. By following these tips, achieving a healthy BMI is within reach, enabling us to live a longer, healthy and happier life.

Does this mean that all supplements are bad? No, of course not. There are legitimate supplements that will help you meet your weight loss goals. The important thing is that you do some research before trying any, and find the ones that work.

Prescription for Healthy Sales

Most companies today struggle with sales challenges. With economic instability and world conflict, these issues may seem to be externally afflicted; however, most businesses can utilize a sales check-up to determine areas of vulnerability and to uncover healthy, revitalized sales.

Sales is an operational area that confounds even the savviest executives from time to time. Determining when it is appropriate to call for reinforcement and when a simple adjustment to a vulnerable area will do can mean the difference between achieving results desired and a vicious cycle of one-time starts.

Companies in all industries face similar sales issues and the extent and complexity of sales challenges vary from company to company. However a simple sales check-up can help executives pinpoint where along the sales process their sales teams stepped off the golden patch.

The first step

The first step is the sales examination. Just like a doctor, this step takes the business vital signs to get an idea of the health of the sales organization.

In this phase, key employees talk about where the company is and whether they believe the cause is internal (the organization is responsible for what is going on) or external (that means someone else is impacting company efforts).

Internal issues may include fear or lack of certain skills or tools needed to be successful. External forces could point to something in the business or company that affects sales. This could be anything from poor customer service to unfulfilled customer expectations.

Key questions asked during this phase, include:

  • What are sales?
  • How do company sales stack up against sales goals?
  • How does the company set sales goals?

The more thorough the exam, the better the diagnosis tends to be. Working with the check-up allows participants to reap the full benefit. Companies find that simply taking the time to analyze the current situation yields positive results.

For instance, a large manufacturing company met for this phase. When company executives and sales professionals discussed each area systematically, they discovered that they were not meeting a critical client need. Their sales message lacked the necessary punch to move clients to buy.

With minimal adjustments, a coordinated marketing campaign and renewed sales vigor, the company was able to move sales upward very quickly. This was a problem the company struggled with for quite some time, but feared that hiring outside consultants would cost too much considering the company's already weakened sales. The end result, however, paid them 10 times over in increased sales, improved client relations and a turbo-charged sales force that looked forward to selling company products.

The diagnosis

Once a company has disclosed everything about its sales life, it is time to move to the diagnosis. This is where an objective third party can truly add value. Sometimes the issues hit too close to home. Sales consultants can walk through a sale with company sales representatives and provide great insight into what is working and what is not. Companies need a safe environment to explore what is happening so they can pinpoint what is causing the pain.

When choosing a consultant, select a professional who can be both objective and honest, and possesses a successful track record in sales. The diagnosis might be changing the sales approach or it might be to hire more capable sales people. It could be a combination of two or more things. What is important is figuring out what it is and moving past it.

The prescription

The next, and perhaps most active, phase is the prescription. During this phase, companies look at what they can reasonably accomplish today, tomorrow and in the future to move sales in the desired direction. This may begin with more aligned goals. Sometimes it can be as simple as that.

While setting goals may sound easy, it is far from that. Goal setting requires a structure that can ensure sales organizations are on the right track for its professionals and for the company.

Sales consultants who are also business-minded can determine other operational areas that may be affecting sales. Human resources, for example, may be hiring the wrong types of people for the sales positions. In this case, it may be determined that the company needs a shot in the arm, too. That's where sales consultants with business knowledge can help.

Here is a good example. A client's business was going well, but not great. It seemed like every time the owner would turn the sales corner, something would push him back. It did not take long to see that it was not his sales efforts that were impeding his success. It was his team delivering his company's services. He had some employees who were very nice people, but just not cut out for providing his service. When this part of his business was addressed, he could more readily focus on the business of his sales. His company has grown more than 30 percent in the last year. Needless to say, this is a great example of how sales were not the problem. The prescription involved human resource changes.

The next step to getting sales to a healthy level is a sales regimen. Once a specific diagnosis is made, the plan is developed to keep companies from returning to a vulnerable situation. A regimen is a plan that helps turn sales efforts into actual, measurable results. This plan outlines what the company will do, how often company professionals will do it, what executives can expect from these efforts and strategies on what to do when things just aren't going as planned. It's a scaffold for professionals to develop new habits that will make sales easier and that will not only help company sales grow, but will lock in more profitable sales. It's not enough to grow sales if greater profits aren't realized at the same time. Who wants to work more and make less?

When sick individuals see a doctor who sends them out the door with a shot and a prescription, what are the odds that that person will take all of their prescription?

Very few of us do exactly what we are supposed to do. We start feeling better, we get our energy back and the prescription goes by the wayside. We behave similarly with sales. Once a company has a regimen, it's tested and it's helping ailing sales, company professionals may feel like they are cured. It's hard to change - even when we are getting exactly what we want. In this case - more sales.

A sales check-up can help companies stay on track. Talking about what's working and what's not working will ingrain the process even more. The goal of a check up is to minimize the pain so it's not necessary to get another shot three months, six months or even a year down the road.

One particular company owner knew the importance of staying accountable to an objective third party. But, one day, industry issues hampered sales and internal conflict between two employees became almost too much to handle. The owner called to scale back sales consulting.

It's important to remember in this type of situation that conditions are temporary, but commitment to sales will last as long as the lifeline of the company. After just a short conversation, the owner decided to continue with sales check-ups and accepted a lower expectation due to these issues. The next month, the client was back on track having alleviated the temporary issues.

Staying on track

Once a company adopts a regimen, continues addressing what's working and what's not feels good about its progress, how do professionals stay on track? That's where a coach can make the difference between staying motivated and backsliding. Clients of The Sales Company, including owners and professionals, call us the boss's boss.

Becoming accountable to someone, even if that someone is within the company, equates to bottom line success. In a lot of ways, maintenance is the most important part of the sales program. But how do companies maintain the regimen?

The basics are the same for everyone. Apply the knowledge gleaned from the rest of the process and continue to expand sales endurance. Like any good maintenance training program, companies and sales professionals must push to work outside of their comfort zone- just a little everyday. Make one more phone call, use a different sales tool, push to exceed weekly sales goals. Every step taken toward growing the sales repertoire makes newly learned skills easier. Each skill builds upon another.

What are healthy sales?

And at the end of the sales road, sales professionals arrive at the healthy sales they've always wanted. But what are healthy sales? Healthy sales translate into an increased bottom line that delivers profits and more of the right customers the company wants. Sales success is about making sales efforts better and more effective. It's also about enjoying the process of sales. Working through each phase of the sales process will make sales activities more enjoyable. Companies will be able to forecast - accurately and predict-ably - sales performance.

A sales check-up provides the tools to help organizations meet future goals and continue to increase long-term objectives. It also sets a plan in place that helps diagnose and prescribe what's needed to transform future sales challenges into healthy sales.

No matter where a company is on the sales continuum, using a proven process makes the sales process easier and more profitable than imaginable!

Top 8 Ways to Make Your Marketing Messages Great

So Rice Crispies actually do not "help support your child's immunity" as formerly claimed in the Kellogg Company ads. Wow, a tasty cereal doesn't act like a wonder vaccine? Stunning.

The Federal Trade Commission did some fact checking about assertions made in Rice Crispies' ads and the government agency didn't like what they found. As a result, the FTC has enacted new restrictions under a settlement regarding health claims the company made about its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal.

Kellogg is barred from making claims about the benefits to cognitive health, process or function provided by any cereal or morning food or snack unless the claims are true and substantiated by the FTC.

You have a good product. Why not focus on that instead of making false claims that your target audiences would most likely ignore anyway? Health conscious adults would probably choose something other than Rice Crispies. The kids eating the cereal could care less about immunizations and the Moms who make most of the food purchases probably laughed off the claims as hyperbole.

While the Rice Crispies messaging was a bit off the mark, Kellogg's has a proud history of memorable story telling. Here are 8 Messaging "Musts" to help you tell your story in a similar manner:

• Drill Down--Focus on key target markets with the greatest potential. Kellogg's knows to target kids and Moms for many of their products.

• Simplify Your Message--Commit to one big idea. Healthy? Tasty? Fun? Unbelievable.

• Make it Memorable--Touch emotions and capture people's attention. Frosted Flakes. They're Grrreat!

• Less is More. Less graphics and copy, more white space. Look at the cover of the Cheez It box.

• Admit Weaknesses--People usually know or figure them out anyway. In the case of helping "support your child's immunity," Moms are skeptical of "too good to be true" statements.

• Make It About Them--Speak their language, in their terms. "Nutri-Grain Bars. Eat Better All Day."

• Tell Stories--The Special K Challenge campaign tells real stories about real people improving their lives.

• Don't Exaggerate! Focus on the true strengths of your product (Frosted Flakes -- Taste Grreat; Nutri-Grain Bars help you eat better), service or company and leave the hyperbole to your competitors.

Last but not least, Leggo my Eggo...

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Strategic Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

Healthy Eating Simplified

Healthy eating can be simple, inexpensive, and satisfying! Most people, including myself at one time, put off becoming a healthy eater because they hate the idea of giving up certain foods, establishing a complicated regiment, and the increased cost.

Let me let you in on a huge secret. Eating healthy foods is really an easy practice that can cost you less money and be more enjoyable to eat than your current diet. Let's break it down.

The basics of a healthy diet takes what you already know about food and reduces or eliminates the bad stuff that you also already know about -- fat, sugar, salt, and highly processed (junk) foods. If you are smart, you can purchase a full month of healthy groceries for less money than you would spend for your usual diet. This is especially true if you add in all the fast food meals and junk food snacks that you buy during any given month. Once your body adjusts to dramatically lower amounts of the bad stuff, and once you gain some knowledge about the amazing benefits of healthy eating on your body and mind, you'll gain more pleasure from eating than you ever did before.

Part of the pleasure that you'll feel will come from the satisfaction of taking control of what foods you put into your body. Up until the point when you know that you have taken control, you have given that control to others without really knowing it. You, like everyone else including me, have been brainwashed and manipulated through advertising to eat products created by companies striving for more profits! These companies have well paid teams of individuals who spend their days dreaming up products, tasty mixtures, and clever advertising campaigns to persuade you to buy, consume, and develop a habit.

Until relatively recent times, most of these products were developed with little if any regard to how they affected your health. Their only goal was to create products that sold well because they tasted good and made you feel good. Many of these products delivered on these promises but the pleasures were usually brief and they frequently damaged your body.

One of the best product marketing successes of all time is cigarettes. Here's a product that can kill you and is also highly addictive. The only thing I have to do as a producer of cigarettes is to persuade you to try it for a while and then I've got you hooked! Really hooked!

Here's a list of some well known products that give you a lot of brief pleasure, have little or no nutritional value, and can be damaging to your health: soft drinks, French fries, potato chips, corn chips, butter, sugar, salt, hamburgers, hotdogs, bacon, candy, ice cream, cookies, pies, and cakes.

In recent years, food companies have attempted to create healthier foods, but many still fool you with cleverly worded messages on their packaging. They use buzzwords like "All Natural," "Multi Grain," and "Low Fat" in large letters on the front of their products. Unless you read the list of ingredients on their label, you wouldn't know that these claims are misleading. For example, multi grain suggests healthy but unless they are multi "whole" grains its not that good for you. Here's another example. Low fat maybe true, but many manufacturers compensate to create taste by adding an unhealthy amount of sugar and/or salt.

Health advocates are wining the war and consumers are benefiting by having healthier foods and more information about products on their labels. This was brought about by the addition of the "Nutrition Facts" panel, which is required in the United States and other countries. There is also a lot more information about healthy eating available in a myriad of forms.

Once you've convinced yourself on the benefits of healthy eating, you'll find yourself reading the labels on food products, drawn to articles and books on nutrition, and eagerly putting what you've learned into practice. The payoff comes in the way that you look and feel. You'll lose unwanted weight, your complexion will improve, your energy will increase, and your moods will stabilize.

To your health and fitness,

Writing Effective Sales Messages

A sales letter is a document designed to generate sales. It is a distinctive type of persuasive letter. It persuades the reader to place an order, to request additional information, or to lend support to the product or service or cause being offered. For most sectors other than retail, a sales letter is the first and most important way of reaching new customers. The purpose in writing a sales message is to sell a product. It influences the reader to take a specific action by making an offer-not an announcement-to him. Sales letter attempts to persuade readers to spend their time and money on the value being offered. To sell, the sales letter must be specific, go to the right audience, appeal to the readers needs, and it must be informative.

Before writing the sales letter you need to plan about the type of sale campaign that you will conduct. Whether you will send a letter only or will you include brochures, reply forms, special inserts, samples, response cards etc.? How do you plan to market the product or service? Through the Internet, direct mail, email, direct sales, print advertising, etc.? Do you need other advertising or literature to support the sales letter? Who is your competition? How are they marketing this product or service? What is your advertising budget? Are your marketing hopes realistic? Another important decision is to determine the specific purpose of your letter. Whether you want your reader to call for a free video, presentation or demonstration? Or you want your reader to fill out an order form? For these you need to know and analyze your audience and the purpose for writing. Try to form a mental image of the typical buyer for the product you wish to sell. Ask yourself:

o Who is your prospective buyer?

o What motivates a person to buy this item?

o What might the reader want to know about this product?

o What does the product or service do for the one who needs it?

o What can the reader gain from buying it?

o What is unique selling point of the product or service?

o Does your offer appeal to the reader?

o Can you transform him from prospect to buyer?

A sales letter is one of the important instruments of sales promotion. The principles of effective sales letter depends on your communication skill and your ability to convince your reader to accept or act on your recommendations. You may be promoting a product, a service or an idea; your sales letter should catch the reader's attention, build interest, and motivate him to buy the product or service offered. A good sales letter should possess the following qualities:

Emphasize good looks

Design your document for visual impact. Make it easy to navigate so your reader reaches for it first-ahead of the competition's. You can create professional-looking templates for your sales letter that use your company logo, branding and colors.

'You' Attitude

The most effective word in a sales letter is "you". Never begin a letter with "I" because chances are the reader won't get to the second word. It all comes down to selling benefits - your prospects are not interested in the features of your products services, but in what how your products or services can benefit them. Then it must build a reader's trust. It should make generous use of "you" and "your" - so it is clear the customer's needs come first, not your desire to sell something.

Use bullets

The body of your letter should contain key points, shown by bullets. Use bullets because it makes the letter easy to read. As the writer or seller, you benefit by immediately pointing your reader in the direction of the important points you want to make.

Keep your letter brief

It's rare that someone is going to read anything past the first page, so keep your letter to one page. Staying at one page will also force you to be to the point, since a wordy letter is an ineffective letter.

Use statistics

Using statistics shows that you understand the issues of their business, while demonstrating that your product or service can solve a problem. It also gives your prospect a reason to support your product or service within the company.

Show your prospect's needs

Your sales letter is a very brief sales proposal, so you need to show that you are thinking about your prospect's needs. You might be hesitant to put your best ideas in your letter, fearing that your prospect will use them but not hire your company. That's a mistake. By putting your ideas in your letter, you will make your prospects feel like they are getting something already, and that they will benefit from your products or services. More importantly, you will be demonstrating that you are creative and have your client's best interests in mind.

Use right tone

Use the right tone in your writing. Use active voice. Use the present tense. Be positive. Avoid negatives. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

Proof read

Proof read your letter before you send it out. This will help you determine if your letter is clear and if you're getting your point across. Also, misspelled word or other careless mistake will give bad impression to the reader.

One of the most effective strategies to plan and write effective sales letter is to follow the four steps in your letter which are:

o Catch attention

o Build interest

o Establish credibility

o Motivate action

Catch attention

To be effective, a sales letter must catch reader's attention. Design your document for visual impact to catch the reader's attention by using graphics such as layout, colour scheme or illustrations. You can grab attention with an eye-catching headline or an interesting opening. This might be a question or statement. The opening should be short, honest, relevant, interesting and stimulating. Keep it quite general to appeal to as many people as possible. There are many possibilities for opening your sales letter that could persuade the reader to buy. Make a compelling promise for the reader, tell a story that the reader can identify with, make an announcement of a new product or service showcasing your unique selling point or ask a question.

The headline encourages your prospects and leads them to your next line. There you start to build their interest and ensure they read the next sentence and each subsequent one.

Build interest

Besides a powerful headline, your sales letter must have an immediate clear benefit for the intended audience. To build interest in your sales message you should highlight your product's central selling point, the single point around which you will build your sales message. Be upfront and bold about promising a prize or a tangible reward in exchange for time and attention. Whatever product or service you are selling you need to position it so that its benefits provide one or more of the following common desires:

- To make or save money

- To be healthy

- To be popular or to maintain a social status

- To have security

- To have free time or save labour

- To get entertainment, comfort or amusement

- To take advantage of opportunities

- To be good looking

- To achieve inner peace

Show them how your product will benefit them in making their lives better, safer or easier. How will it save them time, trouble, worry or money? Look at their ultimate goal and relate it to that. Why should they buy from you? For example, state what makes you an expert in your chosen field. How can you prove what you are claiming is true? Once you have listed down the key benefits of the service or product and positioned yourself as the person to deliver it, the time is right to deliver your sales pitch. Persuade your reader to buy based on the grounds of what the product or service does for him or her (benefit), not what the product or service is (feature)!

A benefit is what the product or service does, and what the buyer gains from the feature. A benefit is the specific outcome of the feature. A feature is something the product or service already has. Benefits are what motivate people to buy. Bullet point each benefit to make it easier to read. Think about every possible benefit your reader may derive from your product or service. In many cases, people will buy a product or service based on only one of the benefits you list.

Besides the benefit stated at the letter's opening, you can bolster interest by adding high-profile testimonials from associates or former clients. Testimonials from happy customers are very useful for this purpose, as are quotes from established third parties such as industry leaders or reputable specialists. Opinions, figures and independent statistics are also likely to reinforce your message. Ultimate motivations are what people "really" want. The product or service is just a vehicle to providing these benefits so make sure your sales letter focuses on these motivational factors.

Establish credibility

You need to establish credibility and be believable by the second paragraph. You must anticipate the reader's objections and doubts and offer counter arguments. There are several ways of overcoming reader's doubts which must be used with good judgment and should be related with the main appeal of the letter. You can provide testimonials, money-back guarantees, trial offers, attractive warranties or free samples. Using too many points to establish credibility will not be effective. To gain credibility for you and your request, present just one fact, strengthened, if necessary, by an opinion or fact as a proof.

Motivate action

It's important to remember that people are motivated to buy based on their emotions and justify their purchase based on logic only after the sale. This means that each step in the sales letter process must build on the reader's emotions to a point where they are motivated to take action. Encourage the reader to act by an easy and clear method of responding. Close with summarizing the central selling point and clear instructions for an easy action to be taken. To motivate, you can offer a gift, limit the offer, guarantee satisfaction, or promise an incentive.

End with an action: What result do you want from your letter? Are you looking to get a face-to-face appointment? Are you answering questions raised at a previous meeting? Do you want to make your prospect better informed? Do you need to get a signed contract? You need to close your letter by requesting a specific, quantifiable action. For example: "I will call you on Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m. to schedule meeting" or "Please return the enclosed contract by Friday, April 21, or call me if you have any other questions".


Like any other business letter, a sales letter has three parts - introduction, the body of the letter and the concluding paragraph. Let us examine in detail how to draft these three components of a sales letter. The important thing in a sales letter is the sequence which is as following:


Body of the letter



The introductory paragraph of a sales letter starts with an opening sentence which has a vital role to play. In many instances, the opening sentence is the only sentence that is read, so it must immediately appeal to reader's interests. There are several ways of writing an opening sentence in a sales letter, some of them are listed here with the examples: A provocative question: What would the leaning tower fall for? The leaning tower of Pisa would only be put to shame by architectural splendor that outshines its own like the new range of luxury bathroom accessories. What can you get these days for Rs. 15? Enjoy the finest that life has to offer just for Rs. 15 every month!

A striking information: We are the Number 1! We are the number 1 in revenue, customer base and customer satisfaction.

A story or an anecdote: Mr. Bala went shopping with his saving with our VISA credit card. What will you do with yours? Our credit card offers 5% bonus savings on all purchases for first six months.

A significant fact: Hearing Loss - you may not be aware of... Only about 25% of people who need hearing aid use them.

Most people have a vocabulary of 2-3,000 words and even a scholar uses no more then 5-6,000 words in his daily life. But there are around 500,000 words in English language and you can use many of them to enrich your vocabulary by using our 'Vocabulary Builder'.

Split opening: You know English, but are you quite fluent in it? It may sound incredible but classrooms can't help you achieve fluency. No, they can't. No! Nor can audio video sessions. Nor translation. But 'Rapid English Fluency' can help you.

A conditional sequence: If home is where the most number of accidents take place, think of Woodcoat Paint as insurance.

Special offers: Free gifts! Yours for giving the digest as a gift this Puja and Diwali - free diary for the year 2005 whether you order several subscriptions or just one will receive this big, handy year 2005 desk diary free.

Wings to give your children's career a head start! Avail the special offer of financial assistance for spectrum of educational opportunities in India and abroad.

Body of the letter

You may have a lead paragraph in the body of the letter. This part of the sales letter can be used to expand the promise made in the headline or used to deliver a second major benefit of the product or service. A sub-headline can also be used as the second part, to answer a question posed in the headline. For example, Part 1 could say: "Want to learn Kannada in 30 days?" Part 2 could say: "Well, here's how to . . ."

In the body of the sales letter you will begin to offer proof. You expand the theme, fill in details, offer proof, and show how you plan to fulfill the promise you made in the headline. Here, you give details of your unique selling point. You continue talking about the benefits and offer proof of the claim you made early. You share the details of the benefits. Prove your claim or statements by facts, logic or testimony. There are several ways of doing so, choose one that suits your products best. Following are some examples:

Trial offers: Get on the fitness trail! Enjoy our free offer to use our machine in comfort of your house for a week. If you are not satisfied we will take it back, no questions asked.

Guarantees: Guarantee of satisfaction

You always come first with us and your complete satisfaction is our prime concern. If you are not delighted with our product you may return it anytime for 100 % refund.

Free samples: To enable you to see for yourself how convenient it is to handle closet organizers, we are sending you a free sample.

Testimonials: Ritu Sharma, Bangalore: "How the web changed my world! It can change yours too. The Sify internet connectivity provided me the ability to communicate with people all over the planet and gave me access to information all around the world."

You need to explain the qualities of your product and its special features and convince your reader that your claims are true. Remember, by the end of the body, the goal is to create an emotional response that will cause the reader to do what you are now going to tell him to do.


In the closing part of your sales letter your goal is to motivate action. Recapitulate your points and make a final appeal. You may give a limited time offer, or limited quantity offer or special bargain etc. Use a Post Script. For example, "If you order before March 1, we will include a free . . ." Or "Money back guaranteed . . ." Or "Discount is good until . . ." If you ask the reader to order, support, or to contact you for the specified reason you must make it easy for him to reply. Support the sales letter with a post card or an order form. If appropriate, supply a toll free telephone number, an Email link, and or your URL. Always close with a thank you and use a signature at the end of the letter. Save one of the best points for last.

Bronto - The Force Behind Your Email Marketing Campaign

Millions of buyers and sellers generating countless transactions over the internet on daily basis are the proof of boundless popularity of ecommerce in recent times. As market size determines the level of competition, online trading can be really harsh on sellers in their efforts to make their presence felt. But this is a healthy situation to be in and if you are a businessman you can cash in on with positive approach and aggressive planning. Marketing is one tool you can utilize to combat competition and place yourself ahead of the rest for proper placement, projection and promotion of your products and services. In the internet domain, email marketing gives your business the strength to initiate long term relationship with customers for continuous growth and maximum output.

Bronto, the expert email marketing software believes that email marketing is as essential for your online business as your inventory, cash flow or suppliers. The well experienced Bronto totally understands the technical aspects of its trade and focuses on the targeted audience of your business to provide a matchless customer experience. With Bronto you can launch highly functional and thoroughly professional marketing campaign not only to attract new people into your customer-base but also to retain customers for repeat transactions. The advanced technology based on latest ecommerce trends working behind Bronto makes sure that picture perfect messages are delivered to the right buyers at the most appropriate time. On the other hand, you can be absolutely certain that Bronto will also take care of adverse associations and contacts disengagement so that your marketing return on investment (ROI) is increased.

The key elements like delivery monitoring, data integration and dedicated support for its clients establish Bronto as the leading email marketing software with complete solutions. The reporting and analysis aspect of Bronto includes various invaluable tools for real time tracking, graphics output for deliverability and assessment of such factors as conversion rate, ROI and website activities. The analytical features also include Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for performance evaluation whereas, other additional reports provide deep insight through useful standard as well as specially designed metrics like click-open ratio, turnover % and friend forwards. These powerful functions not only guarantee the success of your campaign but also allow you to dissect the results for better productivity in future.

Business development is directly proportional to the result of your marketing efforts and for once you need to realize that output of your ecommerce setup depends upon successful email marketing which is as easy for Bronto as boiling an egg.

Wellness Blogging to Inspire Healthy Behavior

The competition for your participants' time and attention has never been greater. You've done the table tents, the lunch 'n learns, and maybe even an online wellness campaign. Are you ready to take your message to the masses in a way that can capture even more eyeballs?

Start a blog -- and join the millions of people and businesses who have entered the blogosphere. What began as a way to maintain an online personal journal has become a wildly popular way for the like-minded to gather, families to connect, and businesses to reach a wider audience. According to the Pew Internet Study, data from July 2008 showed that 33% of US adults read blogs regularly, while 11% read blogs daily.

What could a health promotion blog do for your population? As long as your content is crisp, fresh, and engaging -- and updated regularly -- readers will come back for more. Your wellness campaigns will stay in front of them, and you can drive home behavior change messages disguised as entertaining blog posts. Here's how:

  • Know your audience. Design your blog with the user in mind. What topics would be most interesting and compelling for your target population based on your workplace culture and demographics? What are your top healthcare cost drivers, and how can you approach blog posts that address related behaviors?
  • Plan your blog presence. Some blogs are more formal and news oriented; others are more personal and chatty, while still others include a variety of posting styles. Because they're self-published, blogs have a more direct tone to them than most print articles. Position yourself as an authoritative voice on the topics you write about, but bring the message close to home -- something your readers can relate to. Make your blog the go-to place for:
    • Details about upcoming events
    • Commentary on breaking news and research findings
    • Success stories
    • Perspectives and insights on healthy living
    • Latest wellness team standings.
  • Identify key bloggers. Decide whether one person will do all the writing, or if team members will take turns. Invite others to serve as guest bloggers.
  • Read other blogs. Head to Technorati, Bloglines, or other blog indexes to search health-oriented blogs, and take notes. What engages you? What annoys you? What distracts you? What do you like best? The insights you gain as a blog reader will be extremely valuable as you develop your own.
  • Keep it brief. A blog isn't a place to post a 3-page article. Readers want snippets of useful, entertaining, or thought-provoking content -- they don't have the time or patience for much more. Link to a news item and add your own commentary to help your readers make sense of headlines related to their health and well-being.
  • Focus on specifics. The Huffington Post is the most-read blog today, with millions of hits every day. In their how-to book on blogging, Huffington Post editors recommend focusing on 1 nugget from a research finding, a quote, or news item. Because the nature of blogging is so immediate, you don't need to bore your readers with the whole context or background of an issue each time you post, the way traditional media do.
  • Relax. The thought of putting your opinions and musings out there for the world -- or at least your coworkers -- may feel intimidating. But many health promoters have a wealth of wisdom to share, from personal and professional experience. Modern participants don't want to only hear about what they should do, they need support in actually doing it. Your point of view on making sensible choices in a Thai restaurant or cultivating a more active family life may be just what they need to take the next step. Write conversationally, clearly, and concisely -- as if talking with friends or family; you'll get better with every post.
  • Cultivate community. Some bloggers allow readers to comment on posts and engage in conversation on a given topic -- but depending on the volume of feedback, you may not have time to address each question personally. Instead, post on a hot topic you see frequently in reader questions and comments. Invite reader input (on how they've overcome barriers to staying active, for example) and share it in a post to inspire others to do the same.

While blogging may sound like something exclusively for Gen Y, this communication venue continues to pick up enthusiasts from all generations, genders, and cultures. It's a unique way to reach participants with energizing, inspiring content and stimulate a healthy exchange of ideas. Consider the value that blogging could add to your health promotion efforts -- and make your voice heard in the online conversation.

If you'd like to see how Health Enhancement Systems has put a new twist on blogging to support engagement in wellness campaigns, sign up for a demo of our Feel Like a Million program at Our account representative will show you how "Dee Stress" shares ideas and insights on boosting energy and reducing stress at the PEP (Personal Energy Posts) page.

Aids: Massaging the Message of Hope

Medical and social scientists have described AIDS as a disease that ravages every aspect of people's lives, from the most intimate to the most public. They also pontificate that HIV/AIDS threatens to wipe out development gains in the world's poorer nations, as measured by life expectancy. South Africa's Health Minister says HIV/AIDS is threatening reversal of post-apartheid developmental gains. There is now widespread agreement that a key step in addressing the HIV epidemic is to get local people collectively to 'take ownership' of the problem, and the task of understanding the transmission and prevention of HIV is one that involves attention to a range of academic disciplines and level of analysis.

Mass Communication analysts have argued that mass media like newspapers and television have a wide-ranging influence over our experience and over public opinion. This is not just because they affect our attitude in specific ways, but because they are the means of access to the knowledge on which many social activities depend.

However in a recent study (2010) of three South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) TV shows and three advertising campaigns that were studied for their impact on people's health choices, the results aren't encouraging. The study - by Johns Hopkins Health and Education and its partners, studied the impact of TV shows and advertising campaigns on HIV/AIDS awareness. The Hopkins study reveals as much as it conceals the power of the mass media, and the extent to which it may assist in enhancing healthy lifestyle choices. The reality is that 77% of studied informants have not been exposed to the government primary campaign Khomanani, and 50% of those not exposed did not know that regular condoms use prevents HIV nor did they take an HIV test.

Clearly, the target is being missed, as the latest South African HIV prevalence figures tell the story. Statistics by the Department of Health show that in 2009, the HIV prevalence in the adult population (aged 15-49) was estimated at 17.8%; or 5.63 million adults and children were infected with HIV and AIDS. Of these, 5.3 million were adults aged 15 years and older, 3.3 million were females and 334000 were children. The key question is - why there is no discernable behavioural change despite the proliferations of these messages among the targeted groups?

I want to argue that the current methods of AIDS communication are merely information provisioning, hence limited success; whereas, we need to advance towards AIDS communication: interlinking traditional marketing communication mix, and stakeholder management. The rationale of stakeholder collaboration in the context of AIDS communication is that 'stakeholder partnerships offer the possibility for the evolution of an in-depth understanding of the way in which the epidemic is spreading in particular local contexts, which ideally has the potential to lead to the development of informed attempts to reshape these contexts in such a way that might limit its spread '.

I hold forth a view that in rare cases wherein information providers move beyond information provision: they merely glamouralise HIV/AIDS communication messages. The case in point is the HIV positive character in one of South Africa's soap operas and Love Life campaign's billboards with healthy looking teenagers proclaiming a future without HIV. We are yet to bury a celebrity on local soap operas that died as a result of AIDS. We are yet to see a character on local soap operas buying or using condoms during many implied sexual encounters on-screen or a Love Life billboard displaying a critically ill person. Yet, the spread of HIV is, for the most part, caused by having unprotected sex, (the risk increasing exponentially) with multiple partners - this remains the greatest risk factor for HIV in this region (sub-Saharan).

It is suggested that the subtext of these two AIDS campaigns mentioned here apart from adding glamour to AIDS messaging - they seem to suggest: either that it's cool to be HIV positive or that a solution lies in a distant future. We need to go back to basics - at the core of AIDS communication should be the demonstration of the virus dire consequences i.e. illness as a result of HIV opportunistic diseases, death and dire consequences for those left behind. Only then we can move towards the ABC of AIDS which emphasis abstinence and condom usage, and on the other end of the scale - access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

Compounding the problem is the media frenzy around celebrities (and would-be celebrities) after having publicly declared their status. None of these narratives (HIV public declarations) ever venture into the murky world of exactly how the virus was acquired, under what circumstances was the test done, and how many potential people might have been infected. Not a single person who ever disclosed his positive HIV status was ever asked about his partner/s state of mind, HIV status and how they plan to live a different life in-order to avoid, a) spreading the virus further, b) avoiding re-infection. I move for a paradigm shift in AIDS reporting in the media and a more nuanced approach to the communication/media ethics of AIDS reporting.

I conclude that the present HIV/AIDS messages are muted, often missing the target and hence they subsequently fail. I use the word muted to suggest that incorrect communication tactics, graphics, presentation, language use, frequency, medium and distribution channels, among others have been employed in the HIV/AIDS messaging. There is therefore justification in my thesis that this 'persuasive' discipline of mass media has not been deployed and exploited to its fullest potential in a battle against HIV/AIDS.

While medical professionals disperse Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), it is time for a multidisciplinary approach to scale up AIDS communication that will lead to tangible health enhancing lifestyle. AIDS messages should be not confined to special shows or advertisements such as Soul City, Scrutinise, Brothers for life, Siyanqoba Beat it, and Khomanani - AIDS communication should permeate all our everyday life in ways that we can't escape.

6 Tips for Running a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

Whether you are considering your first venture into mobile marketing, or you have several campaigns already under your belt. There are a few key things to bear in mind before proceeding.

  1. Keep it relevant - To maximise your possible returns on your mobile campaign, keep your content relevant to the audience that will see it, this will vastly increase the likelihood of seeing a return. For this reason we would generally recommend avoiding bulk text messaging, or in-app advertising which generally do not supply useful demographics to allow you to correctly target your campaign.
  2. Do not purchase lists of mobile numbers for your campaign - This public is constantly being bombarded with an increasing volume of unsolicited text messages and are beginning to tire of it. By purchasing a list of mobile numbers in order to broadcast SMS messages to, not only will you fall fowl of point 1 above, but you run the risk of annoying the very people you are targetting.
  3. Use bulk text messaging sparingly and have an opt-out - You've noted points one and two, but still think bulk messaging is the right solution for your business. Perhaps you have decided that it is a good way of pushing out information to your customers and others that have previously shown an interest in your products and services. We recommend using such promotional activities sparingly, even if the person knows who you are, and the content is relevant, it can still seem intrusive, and the more often you do it, the more intrusive it will be. Use it sparingly and ensure you have an easy 'opt-out' option that will ensure that person does not receive text messages from you again.
  4. Provide an opt-in text message solution - By using your traditional advertising channels, whether that be print or digital, you can promote an opt-in or even a one-shot mobile campaign. This is done by advertising the consumer to text a keyword to a short code in order to receive something in return. By doing so, they are giving you permission to send them something back but have also expressed an interest in what you do. Such campaigns can also be used to gather additional information, such as prompting the consumer to also include their email address in the original text message. There are mobile marketing platforms that will not only manage the text message response, but also fire off an email to the person automatically.
  5. Follow up wherever you can - For an opt-in campaign as explained in the previous point, you receive the consumer's mobile number, and in some cases their email address. Follow it up. That person has expressed an interest in your product or service so call them, engage and try to convert that warm lead into a sale. Retain that contact data for future marketing campaigns.
  6. Make it interesting - Whether you have an opt-in campaign, use bulk messaging, or in-app advertising, unless your promotion is interesting, it is going to be ignored. Offering vouchers or discounts by mobile is a powerful tool that can enable you to engage with the consumer. Alternatively give them something else of value that you feel will be useful to them, like a free e-book or a tip sheet. Anything you can offer the consumer in your campaign that has value to them combined with a low or even negligible cost to you will ensure your campaign achieves maximum levels of engagement.

Stick to these simple guidelines and you should start to see a healthy return on investment from your mobile efforts while building up trust and interest from your current and future customers.

Private Labeled Bottled Water and Political Campaigns - Pure Water for Memorable Campaign Events

Political campaigning is a very competitive business and events are an important part of political life and political campaigns. A well planned event can forcefully convey a clear political message and create political support for the candidate.

Political candidates hold many events like political rallies and fund raising as a means to reach out to voters. One of the basics of campaigning is that the candidate must develop a clear message and address it to their target audience. Events play an important part of this process. These meetings require detailed planning and resources and many organizations elect to utilize specialists in managing events.

Political campaigning is a complex undertaking with the development of a clear message, coordination of event schedules and maintaining critical timeline requirements of paramount importance. In addition to the logistics involved in planning the campaign forceful and consistent communication of the campaign message is a critical factor.

The Value of the Message

Political campaigning is all about the message.

A common message brings participants together and allows the candidate the ability to convey a strong reason why voters should show their support.

Management of the message also shows the voter how the candidate is different from the opponent and convinces voters to support the candidate. Effective communication of the message is critical therefore to the success of the campaign.

Promotional Items and Quality Communication

One aspect of communication is the use of personalized promotional items, effective banners and unique giveaways.

These items can be designed to impart an effective message and the use of high quality personalized giveaways creates a lasting impression and reinforces the campaign theme and message.

Private Label Drinking Water as an Effective Communication of the Message

Private label drinking water is an ideal and powerful way to promote a campaign message.

Essentially, private labeling allows campaigns to design and develop a label with a custom message and theme and attach that label to a bottle of healthy drinking water. A result of this process is the creation and promotion of a clear message that is tailored to the campaign and campaign events

Because of the immediate and permanent nature of the bottled water product, consumable advertising is created that leaves a lasting message in the mind of the audience.

One powerful feature of private label drinking water is the ability of a select few vendors to add the candidate's picture to the message on the bottle.

Some of the benefits of private labeled water include:

o A high-quality, effective and custom message.

o Pictures can be added to the label to better identify the message with the candidate.

o Messages can be modified to reflect events like political meetings and rallies and fund raising events. This is important as candidates go on the road to promote their campaigns.

o Individual users often carry the water with them and the message is further extended and promoted.

o Pure water is popular and universally accepted as contributing to good health. The message of the private label effectively reaches more prospects as use grows.

o Effective cost is low and response to the event message is immediate.

o Consumable, portable advertising creates a lasting message and impression.

What to Look for in a Private Label Water Supplier

There are a number of private label water suppliers but they vary widely in the quality of their product offerings. There are three areas to investigate when choosing a supplier:

Quality of Water

Events with a large number of participants require proper hydration with water of the highest quality. High quality water in terms of health and taste is also critical for the acceptance of the theme and event message.

If the water is low quality or tastes bad then the message will fail.

The best quality water on the market today is purified using a distillation/ filtration/ oxygenation process that removes all impurities, including all bacteria, and creates a light, refreshing taste.

Quality of Label Design and Production

The label is the message part of the product and poor-quality labels send a poor-quality message. Production of a poor-quality label is a waste of money and adversely affects the message and theme. For political candidates it is important to use a professional designer to impart a message of quality and add a high quality photo image of the candidate.

It is very important to know that the vast majority (almost all) of the private label opportunities in this country come from water resellers (not bottlers) with desktop-model "thermal" (or "thermal wax") printing devices with a quality level that cannot compare well to even consumer-grade inkjet printing devices widely available for less than $200 at your local electronics store. These label printers are very cheap in both quality and cost, typically ranging from $10-20k depending on configuration, and are widely used throughout the private label water industry because of their low cost.

In sharp contrast, a quality label, i.e., one that looks like a top-shelf brand that you might find in your local gourmet grocery store, needs to be produced with professional-quality equipment using professional-grade printing equipment. There are three types of printing equipment that can produce a high-quality label.

1. Rotary offset lithography;

2. Flexography; and

3. High-quality digital presses.

For most smaller runs (under about 10,000 units), digital equipment offered by Heidelberg or HP is the most cost effective solution, but instead of $10-20k, the minimum equipment costs for these professional solutions range from $750k to $1.25M per station.

These facts are very important to understand when choosing a private label bottler -- because those who sell low-quality labels would have you believe that nothing better is available because of the short runs required by private label customers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to succeed, your label must be professionally designed and produced with high-quality materials using a printing process that renders a high-quality result. Waterproof lamination is also required for long lasting labels. This is easily achieved for an affordable unit cost using the right equipment for the job.

Quality of Customer Service

The design and production of private labeled drinking water is complex and requires intense interaction between the customer and supplier. Communication and a culture of customer service excellence is a prerequisite to the creation of an effective theme message and a successful event. Without a significant commitment to customer service on the part of the supplier, the impact of the theme message will fail.

Choose a quality supplier to help develop and communicate your message and to create success for the political campaign event.

10 Promotional Stress Balls For Promoting Health Awareness Campaigns

It may not come as a surprise to you that one of the most popular uses of promotional stress balls is to promote healthy living. With so many heath themed stress shapes available, this makes sense. Stress toys come in over a thousand different shapes and there are plenty of health themed shapes. There are anatomical shapes, food shapes and sports shapes just to name a few. Here I would like to introduce the ten most popular shapes for getting healthy living messages out and literally into your target audience's hands.

The Fat Belly: This shape has been around for a while and it is one of my personal favourites. Manufactured in the UK, this top quality slow release fat belly shaped ball is ideal for promoting healthy eating and the affects that over eating, over drinking and not getting enough exercise can have on your body. Print the fat belly with your logo and message for a truly memorable and eye catching promotion.

Cigarette Pack: The cigarette pack is the same size as a normal pack of cigarettes and it can be printed up to full colour with your logo, message and/or details. One customer recently printed a picture of a diseased lung on the front similar to the warnings that are now being displayed on cigarette packs. It was a very successful anti-smoking message and these stress balls helped give people trying to stop smoking a stress relieving product to use instead of lighting up.

Apple Stress Shapes: There are many different fruit shapes such as apples, oranges, bananas and strawberries. Apples are the most popular. We all know the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," and these shapes get the message across in a fun low cost way. These fun shapes are very popular in schools to promote healthy eating.

Broccoli Shapes: Does your target audience eat enough greens? Of the many different vegetable shapes, broccoli stress toys are the most popular.

Liver Stress Toys: There are several different liver shapes to choose from. One of the best is manufactured in the UK. One side of the liver is smooth and healthy looking while the other looks very sick. These are perfect for helping people to understand the affect that too much drinking can have on their livers.

Prostate: More men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer than any other cancer with the majority of men being diagnosed over the age of 50. A recent campaign used prostate shaped stress relievers to get men in this age group to see their doctors and have a simple blood test done to see if they had the deadly disease. The campaign sought to tell men that they may not have any symptoms and that early detection through a simple blood test could save their lives.

Breast Shapes: There are a number of breast shapes available. These have been used very successfully in breast cancer awareness campaigns.

Football Stressball: There are many sports shapes available. It is difficult to know how many are used to promote healthy living but the football (soccer ball) is the biggest selling shape. If you are trying to get people to exercise more, you should look into the many shorts shapes available to you.

The Hamburger Shape: Hamburgers are loved worldwide but they are also not usually the healthiest of meals especially when you add the fries and soft drink. Print your healthy eating message on the upper bun. Fries and soft drink shaped stress balls are also available.

The Testicle Shape: There are many campaigns trying to get men to check themselves regularly for lumps. Doing so could save your life. 2500 of these shapes were recently handed out at a professional football game to get this very important life saving message to men and women attending the match.

Make Your Healthy Eating Campaign A Robust Success Promotional Stress Toys

For any kind of campaign involving food, promotional stress balls can't be beat. Promotional stress toys are already available in the shape of virtually every popular fruit and vegetable, realistically coloured and eye-pleasing.

With the slogan of your campaign printed right on the promotional stress ball, your message of healthy eating will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Logo printed stress toys are a fairly inexpensive promotional giveaway that have long-term residual effects, since those who receive them tend to hold on to them for months, even years.

For the uninitiated, personalised stress toys are squishy items that are a three dimensional representation of just about any object you can imagine. They are meant to be squeezed and kneaded to help alleviate mental and physical anguish, and can also be used to increase circulation in the arms and hands.

Arthritis symptoms can also be helped by squeezing a stress ball. Aside from being useful in this manner, they are a joy to hold in your hand and hard to put down.

The personalised stress ball has the distinction of being a promotional gift that is most likely to be displayed in the work area at arms reach, thus broadcasting your brand to all those in the work area.

The healthiest vegetables, as you already know, are of the cruciferous variety. You can promote the best eating in your printed stress toy by ordering them in the shapes of broccoli, cauliflower heads, cabbages or Brussels sprouts.

These vegetable are full of vitamins k and c, calcium, potassium, folic acid and iron, along with immune boosting, cancer fighting, anti-aging phytonutrients. Combined with your healthy eating slogan printed on it, your promotional stress toy in one of these shapes will serve as a daily reminder to eat more of these healthy items.

Promotional stress toys in the shape of fruits can induce a more mouth-watering response. Apples, oranges, bananas, cherries and berries are packed with essential vitamins, potassium, fiber and antioxidants.

They tend to remind their owners of juicy sweetness. The fruit-shaped promotional stress toy, combined with a vegetable-shaped stress reliever, can drive home the message of your healthy eating campaign like no other promotional gift.

Want to know more? Ask your promotional product supplier for some samples so that you can see for yourself why promotional stress toys can make the best ambassadors for your message. Then watch the smiles appear by the hundreds as you hand out your promotional stress balls.

Castors Support the Healthy Workplaces Campaign

Healthy Workplaces Campaign is a pan European campaign led by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work. This campaign will be running from 2010 and throughout the year of 2011. Before you all heave a sigh of disdain about all the health and safety campaigns and laws that are now in place, spare a thought for the twenty percent of workplace accidents that are directly related to maintenance operations. According to EUROSTAT-ESAW (European Statistics) poor equipment and poor machinery maintenance is in the top four reasons for workplace fatalities. The new campaign highlights these issues and in particular encourages companies to ensure regular maintenance and repair work is carried out to best practice guidelines. It also encourages companies to be aware that the majority of accidents happen during the repair and maintenance process.

Maintenance teams, more than most, owing to the nature of their jobs, are exposed to more workplace hazards than most. One of the hazards maintenance teams are exposed to is strenuous movements or working in awkward positions. Ensuring castors on heavy equipment and machinery are maintained and replaced is a vital part of the maintenance programme. Often castors as a component are overlooked, as the focus tends to be on the more expensive pieces of equipment and machinery. However, ignoring the maintenance of relatively inexpensive castors is done at your peril.

Castors and wheels are attached to equipment and machinery to ensure smooth and efficient manoeuvrability. If castors are over loaded, exposed to harsh chemicals, damaged by fork lift truck or pallet loaders on castors, serious damages and often failure can result. Castors on the whole are robust components; however any castor failure can have immediate impact on the smooth running in any warehouse, business or place of work. Regular maintenance of castors, by greasing the castors housing and checking the sound condition of the wheels is imperative. If any damage in the housing or wheel is identified immediate action to replace these castors is required. Replacement castors are easily sourced and a wide variety of shapes, styles and materials are available to suit all requirements.

The Healthy Workplaces campaign highlights hazards for maintenance teams, and offers practical solutions to businesses. Basics and best practices on how to do safe maintenance is a must read for most businesses. There are several common principles, one of which is ensuring the right equipment is available to the maintenance teams. Ensuring teams can access replacement castors are a must to ensure the safety of the team. Musculoskeletal disorders are common place and especially in high occurrences amongst maintenance teams. So making any heavy equipment and machinery more manoeuvrable ensures no extra force or strain is required to relocate it. In order to get the message across the Healthy Workplace campaign has a wealth of information on their web site and encourages businesses to support the campaign. The campaign also has the backing of the European Parliament and the European Commission. With such heavyweight supporters the campaign will run successfully until November 2011.

Promotional Stress Balls - Developing a Healthy Lifestyle

Promotional stress balls are not only used for promoting businesses. Very often they are used to promote special causes. This could be organisations seeking to promote further education, reducing stress or as I will discuss here in this article promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Promoting healthy lifestyles is easy with promotional stress balls. They come in so many shapes that increase the chance that the important message will be seen and read.

Take for example the cigarette and lungs shapes. Both of these stress shapes have plenty of print space for letting people know the dangers of smoking.

Other popular health shapes are the wine bottle, liver and diseased liver. Actually the wine bottle is just as often used for promoting festive parties but I'm sure you can see how they can be used to encourage people to drink less.

Food shapes are also used often. The fruit shapes are often used to promote cocktail bars and exotic holidays but they work equally as well promoting healthy living.

Vegetable stress relievers also work well with healthy living promotions. Order a selection of different shapes to decorate your trade show stand. The effect will be eye-catching to say the least.

You may also decide to look into the hamburger, fries and fizzy drink shapes. These look delicious but don't taste very good. If only the real things tasted that bad, healthy living campaigns may not be as necessary as they now are.

Over the past few years I have seen an increase in the amount of customers asking for body shapes to promote their message.

Two of the most popular are the butt shape and the fat tummy shape. Nothing gets people thinking about eating less at lunch time than a fat tummy stress ball sitting right in front of them on their desktop.

I know because I have personally had one on my desktop while on a diet when I was in training for a karate tournament. I can't say I didn't cheat from time to time but the stress ball did help.

Such promotional products are a light hearted and fun way to remind you to go for the fruit shake instead of the burger and fries.

Are you ready to check out all of the health themed stress relievers available to you?

You will be glad you did! Have fun... There are some really cool stress relievers just waiting for your important message.

Restaurant Marketing Help - Tips on Postcard Marketing Campaign

Making your customers feel that they are important to your restaurant is necessary to keep them coming back. With that, you need to be more personal with your marketing and postcard marketing campaign is just the solution. Using postcards, you can get in touch with your prospective clients and there is a great chance that your message will not end up in the trash bins. There are no envelopes to hinder your message and the can have eye-catching designs which make it more interesting to read.

You need to send your prospective restaurant patrons with compelling and enticing prints to get higher response. You also need to know when and how to send your postcard prints. Here are tips on postcard marketing campaign to help you promote your restaurant successfully:

Things to Consider for Successful Postcard Marketing

First up is to design your prints in a manner that will make them stand out. Remember that your prospects receive so many unsolicited emails every day. Any marketing material that is too generic has greater chance of being thrown than being read. You wouldn't want yours to be one of them. One of the tips on postcard marketing campaign that could help you is to collect postcards from your competitors (the restaurants in town), study their concepts and designs and create an even better one for your food outlet. Come out with a unique advertising message out of the data you have collected from your competitors. Know which works and which don't.

You need to make your prints easy to read and understand. Elaborate and intricate designs are cool but if your target audience can't relate to them, then these are useless. Likewise, the content should be easy to read and the message must be easy to understand.

Using your prints, you can establish rapport with your customers. Treat your postcards as not only a material to promote your restaurant. These should also bridge a good relationship between you and your customers. Your prints can serve as greeting cards that you can send your customers during holidays, birthdays or any special occasions. Instead of bluntly promoting your restaurant, your prints can serve as reminder for your prospects about eating healthy and reminding them of taking care of their health. As a subtle advertisement, you can state that the foods you serve are all healthy and made from fresh ingredients.

Another thing that you should consider for your marketing campaign is to regularly send your prints. Postcard marketing is not a one-time strategy. You need to follow up on your campaign and send a series of postcards to continuously remind people of your brand.

Postcard marketing is an essential strategy in promoting your restaurant but you have to know how to present them to your prospects. These should befriend your customers, stand out among other promotional materials out there and must be sent out regularly to get an even better response rate. The tips on postcard marketing campaign above can help you plan your next marketing campaign for your restaurant.

Election '08 - A Message to the "Undecideds"

As have many of you, I have been watching the progression of the upcoming Presidential election with stomach-churning, lip-biting, hand-wringing anticipation. After the 2004 election, when all sorts of election-day shenanigans led to George Bush's winning his second term, I became much more interested and really conscious of the political going-ons. I have since realized that it is important to pay attention to the fine print of things, otherwise we will get duped. That includes keeping a close watch on these "undecided" and "swing" voters.

With Senator Barack Obama--the first ever African American Presidential nominee-- at the forefront of the race, this is the most important election in my (and possibly every) generation's lifetime to date. The outcome of this event is critical and will directly impact our individual lives, our society, our nation and ultimately the world.

There is a lot at stake, and with so much mud-slinging less than twenty days until the November 4th election, there is still room for the pendulum to swing right, or in other words-- wrong. Each passing day is more critical than the one before it. Senator Obama's opponent, Republican nominee Senator John McCain, according to the latest polls, is losing the race. With his numbers down, the media scrutiny (for reasons such as: his choice of his --putting it nicely-- controversial running mate Governor Sarah Palin and his old age--he's 72 years old and has had several bouts with melanoma: a deadly form of skin cancer) his campaign's confidence is dwindling and things are getting ugly.

There are many dynamics at play as to why Senator Obama is ahead in the polls and this fact says so many good things about how much we have grown and who we are today as a country. But no matter, the current state of the Presidential race has caused the McCain-Palin campaign to take a sudden turn (or return) to spewing and inciting venomous negativity.

Within the past week, they have abandoned the issues (mind boggling with the crumbling economy at the forefront of the people's minds) and are aiming straight at the Obama campaign's jugular with personal character attacks, commercials which spew lies about his political intentions, and far-fetching accusations questioning his loyalties to America: "He pals around with domestic terrorists" and "His interests in America aren't the same as yours and mine". To this there were boo's from the crowd (sounding more like a lynch-mob) followed by screams of "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!" to which Palin only smiled and nodded her head as if in agreement.

These are just some examples of the hatred being incited by Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin (herself, a whole other story). It is clear that there are racially discriminating undertones to her remarks. And, unfortunately, there are people out there listening; people whose decisions are driven more by fear than by critical thinking; people who are blindly loyal to the GOP/Republican party; people who may feel they are not ready for a Black president; people who are simply undecided. Who are you Undecided's? To me, you are nameless, you are faceless but nonetheless very powerful-- even menacing-- because you can tilt the boat and toss us all into the ocean or --and hopefully-- help steer us into safe waters.

Life was good for the lot of us during President Clinton's reign. But things changed in 2000 when a young, ill-fitted Republican Governor George Bush was elected to office-- twice (!): We were attacked by terrorists, which led to us to a still active war in Iraq, lending reason (or excuse?) for constitutional amendments which now limit certain individual freedoms and rights to privacy; the mortgage industry went bankrupt and lead to an economic recession; and most recently Wall Street and the banking industry have plummeted causing an impending depression. As a result of these events there was government infighting about whether or not to rescue these corporate failures with a $700 billion dollar "bailout" Bill, which has since passed. And, let's not forget that upward of 750,000 jobs have been lost since January of this year. Things are bad in epic proportion and something has got to change. With John McCain's past of co-signing ninety five percent of Bush's policies, electing him would be equal to electing Bush for a third term.

I applaud Senator Obama's efforts during his long and drawn out campaign. He and his team have grown a grass-roots campaign to that of a global phenomenon-- and this feat speaks volumes about his leadership abilities. Again, he is ahead in the media polls and with many months of heavy-campaigning all over the nation; commercial ads, press interviews, town-hall speeches and large stadium-sized rallies, three- formal hour and a half televised debates-- things are still looking good for Senator Obama. But will he hold strong? It is clear that he and running-mate Senator Biden's supporters are steadfast, as it seems are McCain-Palin's. I mean, if their supporters are still committed to voting for them after all that has been said and done then they are obviously with them to the end no matter the consequence.

So, just as with the 2000 and 2004 elections, the win will depend on you "Undecideds". According to media polls there are eight percent of undecided and or swing-voters out there in society scratching your heads, non-committed to which nominee you want as the next Commander in Chief. I find it hard to believe or, better yet, understand how one doesn't see the facts, the evidence, that the past eight years of government has destroyed our economy; and still threatens our individual and societal livelihood and our nation's overall economic well-being. For all but one percent of the country, life as we have known it can change for the worse for years to come if the fundamentals of how our government is being run do not change. And, I have a feeling that you eight percenters are not a part of the one percent elite of whom our nation's economic downfall will not affect one way or another. And, since this is the case, how can you possibly consider voting for a nominee who will no doubt continue the trend of dis-acknowledging the poor, while attempting to eradicate the middle class, to keep the rich-- well, rich?

I am confused by the existence of undecided voters at this stage of the Presidential race. However, I cannot be so naïve as to believe that much of this indecisiveness is not a race issue. But, what else can it be? This is 2008, a time where racial and cultural lines are meshed more than they ever have been before. I mean, Senator Obama is proof of this with his half Kenyan half Anglo lineage. No doubt he is a Black man, and a great one at that. Well- educated; graduate of Columbia University, top in his Harvard Law class; magna cum laude, and the first Black President of the Harvard Law Review. Admiringly, he chose to work as a Community Organizer out of college instead of going directly into the corporate arena.

For eight years (1996-2004) he taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago where he was a Senior Lecturer and before that a Lecturer (1992-1996). He was elected to the Illinois State Senate and served from 1996-2004. Subsequently, in November 2004 he was elected to the U.S. State Senate and still holds his seat as he runs for U.S. President.

His other attributes are that he is socially adept, charismatic, in good physical shape, a skilled writer and speaker, a devoted husband and father, not to mention good looking. And as a matter-of-fact, he remains calm, cool and collected during the most pressured of times. Let's face it, the man has it all but this wasn't always so.

He was raised by his grandparents and his single mother who at a time had to rely on food stamps to put food on the table. He has lived the pains of the poor and is well-versed with the struggles and concerns of the working and middle class. He is a wonderful example not only to Black men but to all men . . . men and women, and especially our youth. He is proof that hard-work and dedication will get you far. He is the future of this country and has earned the necessary credentials and qualifications to effectively take on Washington as our next President of the United States.

And, his wife, Michelle, is a female version of him. Biographical reports say that she was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and went to work for the law firm Sidley Austin, on the staff of the Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Hospitals. She has since defected from corporate law to work directly with the disenfranchised. And, of course, we all know her now as a devoted wife and mother of their two little girls. Now, how can you doubt their abilities to represent our country with the intelligence, poise, dignity and good judgment with which we and the rest of the world deserve?

In comparison, what are McCain's credits? He graduated from the United States Naval Academy at the bottom of his class (reportedly, he ranked 894th in his class of 899, mostly due to disciplinary reasons . . . the "maverick" in him, I'm guessing), which is probably why you never hear him championing the importance of education. He later applied to the National War College but was turned down as "under qualified" by military brass. But he went straight to the top with an appeal-- to Secretary of the Navy, John Warner; a friend of his father's who overruled his initial denied entry. Not surprising. Okay-- he is a U.S. Navy veteran, a prisoner of war (POW) no-less. But here are some facts: While a navy airman he crashed three separate times, which investigators credit to flying skills and erred judgment-lightly termed mishaps. Regarding the most serious of the three accidents he was reportedly "clowning" around in a Skyraider over southern Spain when he flew into electrical wires, causing a blackout. While a POW it is said he was shot down and captured, again because of his self-proclaimed "maverick" ways. He brags in his autobiography that while captured he was offered an early release but insisted on staying imprisoned. But according to fellow POWs, last names Dramesi and Butler, McCain was no special case as many of them were given the same offer (he was one of 600 captured men). Accepting the release offer would have forced them to speak out against their country and lie about their treatment to the press and to do so would have been an abomination.

McCain's nickname while in captivity was "the crown prince" because he gave his captors enough information so that they would leave him the hell alone. This information, according to his own autobiography, included things such as him being the son of an admiral, providing the name of his ship, the number of raids he had flown, his squadron number, and the target of his final raid. His "singing" was despite an uber-rigid Code of Conduct that governed POWs: to give only their name, rank, date of birth and service number-and to make no "statements disloyal to my country". The son and grandson of admirals, he had a privileged status in the Navy and it is obvious that he had no problem using his status to deviate from policy and procedure. Just like George W. Bush III, he is the third generation of a family dynasty but is more mediocre than heir-worthy. Not to take anything away from his service to the country, but war hero? I think his merit may be a bit inflated.

He was a member of the U.S. House Of Representatives from 1983-1987. Interestingly, he got a tip that a Senate Seat was opening in Arizona and the very day the retiree made his announcement his wife Cindy bought him a home in the district so that he could qualify to run in the election. He did run and successfully won the seat to the Arizona State Senate in 1987 and now currently holds a seat as a Senior Senate member. Yes, he has twenty six years of experience as a Washington politician but I will take quality over quantity each and every time when given the choice. How about you?

Whichever way you want to call it, this is not the entire picture of John McCain. While being held captive in North Korea, he had a wife named Carol who waited for him devotedly and with worry while caring for there children back in the States. But after he returned, the war celebrity that he had become, he discovered that she had been disfigured in a car accident three years before. And, how did he show his love, appreciation and concern for his beloved wife? I will tell you how: by cheating on her, then later divorcing her, for his now wife (18 years his junior, former drug abusing, Anheuser- Bush beer heiress) Cindy.

According to biographical reports, "In 1989, Cindy McCain became addicted to Percocet and Vicodin, opioid painkillers, which she initially took to alleviate pain following two spinal surgeries for ruptured discs, and to ease emotional stress during the Keating Five affair. The addiction progressed to where she was taking upwards of twenty pills a day, and she resorted to having an AVMT physician write illegal prescriptions in the names of three AVMT employees without their knowledge." Bad judgment, anyone?

And, regarding the Keating Five affair, within which McCain was a heavy player-he personally had a hand in holding back federal regulators who were closing in on Charlie Keating, among other dirty dealings-- he was never admonished from guilt as the media has reported. Though, shamefully, he did only receive a slap on the wrist by the Senate Ethics Committee (they concluded it was "bad judgment") despite thousands of investors having lost entire savings. As a result, the Savings and Loan industry collapsed costing us taxpayers $3.4 billion dollars. Hmm, sound familiar?

May I also throw in that he voted against honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday steadfastly from 1983- 1989? Yes, let us add this alarming piece of information to the list. I can go on and on about McCain's' blatant lies, flip flopping on issues, horrible judgment, involvement in corporate corruption and morally and spiritually bankrupt campaign because there is SO much more to say. But do I really need to say more?

We need a diplomatic leader with good judgment, a sound mind, who is physically healthy and who actually has a soul. I always look at situations with three eyes, a critical mind, a keen Spirit, and well-tuned intuition-- as should you. Wake up people and make your decision! And, in case you still don't get it-- Obama-Biden '08!

How to Use Twitter As Part of a Successful Political Lobbying Campaign

Earlier this year, I was called in to run the social media aspect of a political lobbying campaign.

The campaign was a success, in no small part due to my use of Twitter:

* I "branded" the client's tweets with a permanent link to their website * I used a trustworthy Twitter application to help maintain our follows and unfollows * I tied our campaign to an easy two-word keyword phrase we wanted to "own" for the next 30 days

First, let's look at the basics:

The client -- a mid-sized professional association -- undertook a 30-day campaign, pressuring politicians to take their side on a particular issue.

During the month, the campaign got articles and op-eds on the subject placed in major media, pushed TV and radio shows to talk about it, and wrangle meetings with politicians who could help them achieve their 5-point program.

My job was to run the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the association's campaign.

These accounts had to be organic, lively and (hopefully) popular, to provide that all important "social proof" that tells stakeholders and decision makers, "This is an issue people care about."

(Note: they were not the client's main, pre-existing Twitter and Facebook accounts. The ones I was managing were set up to focus on this public policy issue, as was the special website they created. None of these destinations was built to last, but they still had to look attractive and welcoming, and spur action on the part of visitors.)

The new Twitter account literally started with a couple of followers: the client and the lobbyist who'd hired me.

To acquire "social proof" it is vital to get that follower number as high as possible, as soon as possible.

BUT if you try to grow your followers too quickly, Twitter will ban you as a spammer. (Take my word for it: I've learned that the hard way!)

First, I used MarketMeTweet to "brand" the client's tweets. For reasons of confidentiality, I'll pretend for the purposes of this case study that the keyword phrase we wanted to "own" during that month was "artificial sweetener."

So, using MarketMeTweet's easy branding feature, I changed the "via" line in the clients Twitter updates to read "Artificial Sweetener" and to link back to their special lobbying campaign website.

(Note: while not exactly "long tail," it's a two word phrase rather than just one, so you can get specific without running out of room. That's a better choice than just plain "sweetener" because you're more likely to connect with your audience the more specific you can be.)

Now, every time I sent out a client tweet, it read "via Artificial Sweetener." Not only do these keyworded links provide a boost of "Google juice", they attract clicks, which means more traffic to the client's website.

What other tricks did I use to increase the client's visibility?

One of MarketMeTweet's marketing tools is their "Reply Campaigns" function. Since our client's keyword phrase was "artificial sweetener," I set up a search for that keyword phrase, and wrote up a reply template tweet that said: "If you're interested in artificial sweetener issues, check this out," along with a link to the client's specially designed campaign website.

They'd created a short but powerful public service announcement to promote their cause, and people like short videos, so I linked directly to the page with the embedded video.

(Important: That page also had calls to action like "Sign our petition," "Follow us on Twitter" and "Join us on Facebook.")

I hit the "Run Now" button and immediately got to see all recent tweets about "artificial sweetener." When I spotted a tweet from someone who'd be likely to welcome our message, I hit the "Reply and Follow" option. This sent my template reply tweet to that person. I did that about five times in a row, then stopped.

Why? While it's tempting (believe me!) to get carried away and start replying to and following all these people who are interested in your topic, it's a mistake in Twitter's eyes.

Twitter will shut down your account, without warning, if they suspect you of spamming or being a robot.

Do something else for a half hour or an hour. (In my case, I tweaked the client's Facebook page, and collected news stories about artificial sweetener from my Google Alerts.) Then start the "Reply and Follow" routine again.

You'll find that lots of these people will follow you because you followed them. You also might discover, as I did, that there are lots of professional organizations and non-profits on Twitter that also care about artificial sweeteners. Follow them, then go straight to their Twitter account and check out their followers. Use your discretion, but essentially, their followers might be interested in what you have to say on the subject too.

However: I don't recommend following too many people at once. (See what I said about Twitter and spambots, above.) I set up TweetAdder to follow only about a dozen names at a time, and set the maximum per day to 50.

That's not a lot, and it's frustrating, especially if you are working on a time-sensitive project like I was. But the days are gone when you could just follow thousands of people a day on Twitter.

Throughout the day, I sent out general updates with links to breaking news about artificial sweetener, occasionally including a relevant synonymous hashtag, like "#saccharine" to increase the chances we'd be found in a search.

The key was sending out on-topic, helpful tweets: "If you care about x, see y;" "News story about artificial sweetener;" etc.

Since every update included a built-in branded link to the client's campaign site, I didn't have to squeeze their url into every single message.

And every tweet was well under the 140 character limit. Because when others retweet your update, their personal "@" information gets added on to it, too. So leave plenty of room in your message so their added info won't cut off your message. Try not to send out any tweet longer than 120 characters if you're hoping people with retweet it.

Making the messages relevant to other people's interests,rather than a non-stop stream of blegs to "sign our petition" was a good decision (if I do say so myself.)

By doing this routine, by the end of the week I'd managed to get a healthy looking number of followers. Some, like politicians and the heads of relevant non-profits, were people I'd DM'd with a link to our video. Others were acquired through TweetAdder.

Between that and people RT'ing our updates, we experienced slow but safe growth and exposure.

At the end of the month, word came that the association had landed meetings with decision makers and ultimately, were promised most of what they'd campaigned to achieve.

The clients were particularly impressed by the presence I'd been able to establish for them on Twitter. The sense that people online were talking about their issue really did make a difference in the way they were received by politicians.

Using tools like MarketMeTweet and TweetAdder were the key for me. There is simply no way we could have accomplished what we did without those labor saving applications.


* Brand your "via" line so that each update contains a link to your site and your keywords * Search out people on Twitter who are interested in your cause, and send them helpful, informative messages that aren't all about you * Use synonymous hashtags to help spread your message * Don't go overboard by trying to follow hundreds of people at once * Send personalized DMs to influencers * Every message should be clear, polite, helpful, topical and re-tweetable (Keep it well under 140 characters.) * Send your followers to pages with clear calls to action that help your cause: sign this petition, contact your local representative, etc. * Be patient. Twitter hates spammers and bots. Grow your following steadily.

Twitter is a great tool for all kinds of social media campaigns -- as long as it is used with care.