Archive for December 2007

Non-state Universities Could Positively Contribute to the National Development Process of Sri Lanka

This is the slideshow of the group presentation we did at PIM, on the topic "Non-state Universities in Sri Lanka". Some of the slides were modified, to include additional information which we covered during the presentation, but didn't included in the slides.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How to convince your boss, that investing in SMM is a worthwhile pursuit?

Social Media Marketing is relatively a new concept to the world, and lots of marketing professionals are finding it difficult to convince their top management about the importance of Social Media Marketing.
I stumbled upon with this masterpiece by randfish on I think this is a “complete A-Z guide to Social Media Marketing” subject.
Hmmmm…. May be it’s a bit too exaggerated, but let’s say “A complete guidance for some one trying to understand the basics of Social Media Marketing”.

Read the article on SeoMoz.Org

Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How to waste your e-mail marketing budget in 2 seconds?

We have people who talk about effective email marketing, ineffective email marketing, and spamming. Today I received an email from "iAgora team". I don't have any reasons to believe this is spam, because I did remembered the brand name, as some time back I used their website for getting some information.
But the question is about "how effective their email campaign was?"

Subject line: Merry Christmas. Win an iPod

Hmmmm.. Not bad. It does not rhyme or "go together" (Christmas & iPod?), but it did captured my attention. Nice job.

Dear Mr. [My Name],
As you know iAgora is about international mobility but there are many things we can't offer directly on the site. So we are going to expand our services with special offers from our international partners.
The first offer is an iPod Nano, so you can enjoy your international experiences even more! Read below to participate.

All the best,
The iAgora Team

First thing is "I didn't know iAgora is about international mobility". How did you assume that I know it? Apart from that, the message is precise and clean. The best part is "Read below to participate". That leads the reader for some engagement with their brand (iAgora), and encourage some action to the reader. (Action: Read below!)

Now, when I hear "Read below to participate", I "EXPECT" some more details about things like; what this competition is all about?, who can take part?, how the winners are selected?, am I eligible?, more and more questions. (If I am not interested, then there’s no problem at all. I will just delete it. Problem is, I’m interested in their deal!).

Now, the iAgora team has done all the hard part, of grabbing my attention and arousing my interest of “reading below”, I then scrolled down the email to see more details on "how to participate".

And this is what I had, when I "read below" (as they’v instructed me to do)

Travel the World with your iPod Nano

Enjoy your favourite music and carry bits of home with you anywhere you are.

The ideal companion for your international adventures.

Now that, after getting my precious attention on their offer, what iAgora pushing me to do is "Click here if you don't want to participate or receive other offers "

Funny, isn’t it?

Remember, they said "Read below to participate". And when I "read below", what I see is what I have to do, IF I DON"T WANT TO PARTICIPATE.

There's no any other link on the email, to read "more details about the competition". The one and only link posted on the mail is for "unsubscribing". There's no even a link to the official home page of

I followed that "one and only link" in hope of finding some information about the deal. And this is what I found. Again, the only thing that I could do on their website is "unsubscribing" from their mailing list!

Where's the most important part of an email marketing campaign? Call to action. Is iAgora's desired response for this email campaign is "unsubscribing”? Where are the information you promised me? You said, "Read below to participate"!

If what they are after is encouraging me to unsubscribe, this is a good example of a successful email marketing campaign.

Key learning points

If you make a promise to your reader, in an email marketing message, never forget to deliver what you've promised. Worst thing that you can do is, promising one thing and delivering completely the opposite side (as iAgora did here. Promise information on how to participate and delivering, what you have to do if you don't want to participate).

Use your message positively. Don't show your reader the way for negative responses (Like unsubscribing). Remember you pay a lot of money, to your email-marketing agency, to do all these stuff. You pay that, to get a positive reaction from the receivers. Not, to invite them for unsubscribing from your mailing list.

The hard part is to get your reader to click on a link in your mail. But, after doing that hard part, if the only option you reader is having is the “unsubscribe” button, then you have done something seriously wrong.

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

2007: The year of "Change Agents" for Social Media sites

By the year 2012, over 1 billion internet users will use social media sites, according to a recent report by eMarketer. Moreover, out of them, 75% will have access to broadband internet.
It's no surprise! "Social media driven internet” follows the same cycle of market adoption for any new product or service, as in the marketing theory books.

When first introduced, people feared of registering with social media sites, and exposing their personal information online. Lot of these people feared about the privacy of sensitive personal information. Only a handful of people wanted to test the waters. In theory, they are called the innovators. The geeks with low perceived risks of testing new things. Typically right brained.

Yet, there was another segment of users who wanted to register with these sites, but didn’t want to reveal their identity. It resulted in another big debate on "Is anonymity good for the web or not?"

However, today the user-generated internet is really taking off fast. People are willingly coming out and joining these sites without any fears. Still there are many concerns towards privacy issues, but the enthusiasm is higher than what it used to be in the beginning.

We can clearly see that 2007 was a real exponential point for social media sites. It was truly the year of "Change agents". One year back, there were too many people arguing that social networks are just a fad, and web 2.0 is yet another catch word. But, we come to the end of 2007, as the year which marked the most significant changes in internet. Seven out of top ten websites on Alexa rankings were social media sites, during last 3 months. But, in 2006 search engines dominated this top 10 list, with very little room for social media sites. According to this eMarketer predictions, next 4 years going to be the years for the Pragmatists. And, then we'll reach a point where the sustainability becomes an issue! 4 years ago, no one talked about web 2.0 or social media boom. Who knows what’s next in line, to replace these words?

Further reading
Social Media Future Bright, Challenging

Friday, December 21, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Making your Point with PowerPoint

I feel bit relieved today, after finishing the presentation for my MBA subject “Professional Communication”. The entire class was grouped into 9 teams of 8 students, and we were suppose to select a topic, and a theme (core argument) of our choice, and make a convincing presentation to an assumed audience of our choice.
Our group, opted for “arguing in favor of Non-state Universities in Sri Lanka”. Personally, I believe we did a decent job with the presentation, and hopefully the nights I spent sleepless, in preparation for the presentation would pay off.

But more than that, what’s important is the lessons we gathered by this interactive class room activity. Dr. Uditha Liyanage is our course instructor for this subject, and there were many good points made by him, about making effective oral presentations.

One key learning from the whole exercise for me, is the lesson about "Core point, and supportive points". Many of us don’t understand the difference between making a PowerPoint presentation, and writing an article on Microsoft Word. Why Microsoft wanted these two applications as two separate things, is because of an obvious reason!
In fact, most of the time what we do is writing an “article” into a PowerPoint show, and lable it as a “presentation”.

But, if you are trying to create an effective presentation, using PowerPoint, the rule number one is to “keep only the essence”. And that essence should support the core point that you are going to convince. By doing so, you can keep the audiance always active and engaged. But on the other hand, if you stuff in too many inoformation to your presentation slides, it will lead to clutter, and ultimately leading your audiance, for a small nap.

Why do you want to make a presentation? Because, you want to convince your target audience, with your core message, by making use of powerful communication tactics including tone of voice, visual aids, and other Para-verbal communication. On the other hand, if you want to make a detailed explanation to your target audience, what you can do is writing an article, containing all the details. But, most of us do it wrong, by stuffing too much of information into PowerPoint slides, and making the PPS an “article” itself!

Once again, the key learning point! PowerPoints should not be cluttered, and it should contain “Only” the things that really support your core point of the presentation. If you think otherwise, please use Microsoft word instead. PowrPoint is not for you.

(Photo credit:
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Google ads attacked by Trojan

Interesting story. Looks like, there's an industry opportunity for
"Anti-advirus software". Imagine, what some one can do to your Google
advertising campaign, if they can hijack your ads on the targeted sites?
Fearful, isn't it?

Read this

Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Fireworks at Buba Mount Lavinia

This is something I captured on my camera, last Friday night. It was our company annual party, and the peak of the night was a firework display by the venue organizers. Buba Restaurant in Mount Lavinia.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
Tag : ,

Procrastination Syndrome

Most of us, are suffering from this evil syndrome called “Procrastination” in our day to day life. It refers to the practice of always delaying what should have been ideally done now. And the victims have more than one reason to justify their decision of delaying,. “I don’t have time” is the most common reason. If there’s something to be done now, the right time for that is “now”. If you delay it even a one second, you are under the influence of Procrastination Syndrome.

I have met many people in my life, who always keep saying things like “Who got time to do all these things?” “I don’t have time” “Oh! You got extra time to chit chat with your friends on Messenger, but I’ve got work to do”

But, actually you’ll realize, at the end of the day those people haven’t completed a single thing, that they are suppose to do within the day. They come up with excuses “Because of task X, I had to delay task Y”. Then you have to ask “So, why haven’t you finished the task X?

The reality is, those people affected by procrastination keep delaying everything, giving one reason after another. At the end of the day, they have not been able to finish at least a thing, which they are supposed to finish. But, all day alone, they have been shouting to others “I’m busy! I don’t have time!
Study them carefully. These are the sad victims of Procrastination Syndrome. I used to be a one. But now I’m recovering, slowly but steadily!! But, I know, I have a long way to reach "full recovery".

Documented Procrastination

How many times you have started planning your day, with a “to do” list posted on your desk? How many times, you were advised by some time management expert, to maintain a planning diary?
If you are like me, I’m sure you would have received such advises once every two months or so, and tried such tactics to better plan the days work.

But, very few people actually end up in adopting it as a routine practice. Why? Because, for some reason, regardless of how organized we are with our “to do” list for the day, we fail to do most of the things written on that list, at least within a week from the originally planned date. Sometimes, we do better when we have no plans at all.

I think, the problem here is with a small psychological thing which goes with this whole concept of “plans”. When we “plan” something, unknowingly to us, our mind start to take the things we planned for granted. “Ah ha! It’s in my plans. I’ll do it”.

But when?

Planning is important. But it’s not important or even useful, as long as it stays as a mere piece of paper (Or a PDF document, for that matter).

But more than the plan itself, the execution of the plan is more important. In management, and in life, people give higher emphasis on plans, than to the execution of those plans. In fact, some people wrongly assume “Management is all about Plans”. Some companies hire “Managers” to create “Plans”. They enjoy, putting up MS Word documents and MS Excel sheets, full of “plans” and then formatting it with different font types, and sometimes with different colors!

In many of our companies, we have plans for almost everything! A plan for next years sales, a plan for employee motivation, a plan for a corporate social responsibility project, a disaster recovery plan (Well you can’t execute it anyway, until you face a disaster), a 5 S plan, a plan for customer acquisition, a plan for change requests, What a waste of papers!!! (Hard Drive space!!!)

Sometimes, plans can be interpreted as “Documented Procrastination”.

So, what’s actually wrong with Plans?

When some one gets heavily focused on plans, he tends to visualize those plans in action, inside his own mind. This state of the mind, will create a self satisfaction in the mind of the planner that “Ah! I have already planned it. I’m a better organized person now” or “Our Company has a plan for that!” That self satisfaction will deteriorate the urgency of putting the plan into action, at the right time. Every time he thinks of the plan; he will say to himself “Oh It’s in the plan. I will not forget it. Will do it later”.

This is where people get it wrong most of the time. Most people tend to think, when put into a plan “it’s done”. But it’s not. You have to make sure it for yourself that it’s actually “finished”. Otherwise, that thing will hang on your desk, in those sticky note pad things, for ever and forever.

But in contrast, if you start putting more weight on the execution part, you are always under pressure to put the plan into action.

Next time when you make a “to do” list, say to yourself that “It’s not a 'DONE' list, until I finish it off my self”. And all the time, include your method of how you going to do it within the day. Not just a couple of words to remind you what to do.

For example instead of writing “XYZ Ltd Invoice” in your to do list, for reminding you about a follow up with your accounts department on settling an invoice of a supplier, write down it as “Call John Doe and remind about XYZ Ltd invoice”. In this case, you know exactly what to do with “XYZ Ltd Invoice”, rather than noting the supplier’s name as a clue.

Two Minutes Theory

A good approach to tackle this problem is the “Two minutes theory”. If the thing that is pending to be done, takes less than 2 minutes to finish, do it now. Don’t delay it even a one second.
It may be an important telephone call to a client, replying to a mail from your boss, replying to a mail from a customer, a follow up call with one of your colleagues from another department, sending a fax to a supplier, checking a quotation and approving it, settling your phone bill through internet banking, doing a Google search about something your kid asked you last night and you promised to teach him/her it tonight; so on and so forth!

There are whole lot of official and personal matters, listed in your “to do” list, which can be finished off within 2 minutes. If you start cleaning those things off, that’s your first step towards fighting procrastination. When you finish those things off, you might be surprised how much extra time you have to do the rest of the work.

Now. Never say again “I don’t have time to do all these stuff!”. We all are born with 24 hours allocation per day. So there’s no reason why Bill Gates can do better than you, in time management.

"Procrastination is 'the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.' "- Wayne Dyer

Want to learn more about Procrastination Syndrome?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

'We simply did a bad job' handling Beacon" Says the Facebook CEO

It was only one month ago, Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook said "the next hundred years will be different for advertising, and it starts today.," in the launch of their new advertising platform, including a new project called "The Project Beacon".
Forget about the next hundred years, but only after one month he now says "We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it."
Read more about what Mark has to say.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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