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    Back Issues, Weekly
    Week Ending: March 30, 1996
    April 6, 1996
    It's the new cold war. Competition for Web mindshare (customer attention and loyalty) seems to escalate with the release of each new Netscape revision and plug-in. There's an ongoing audience development competition that is a complement to the technical race. As we see it, audience development has two major pieces:
    • Consistent delivery of content that meets the audience's needs
    • Constant marketing and promotion to grow awareness in the potential audience.
    While we like and use conventional marketing and promotion (press releases, print ads, media coverage), it's getting clearer that a certain range of inbound links really make the difference. (As a rule of thumb, we tell our clients that one link = 20 weekly visitors, on average)

    The great thing about the web is that you can see exactly who your competition is and what they are doing. You can even easily become a regular visitor to their site. By watching a competitor's technical evolution first hand, you can get an upclose view of their strategy and use it as a benchmark for making your own tactical decisions.

    Pick five competitors and watch their sites regularly. Use the URL Minder service to notify you of changes.

    Hot tip: Put the following code (modified to describe your page) at the top of each of your HTML pages to make sure that the search engines index you correctly.

    <META  name="description" 
    content="We specialize in grooming pink poodles.">
    <META  name="keywords" content="pet grooming Palo Alto dog">

    April 5, 1996
    We're all learning the practicalities of this medium together, big and small firms alike. Though we're rarely big boosters of the San Jose Mercury News, they have just added a major gem to the body of material on Web Advertising. Take a look at Advertising on the World Wide Web With Mercury Center. The document, designed to be a tutorial for new advertisers, comprehensively describes the ins and outs of the game from definitions of impressions to audits to responsibilities for success. We're adding it to the hall of fame.

    April 4, 1996
    At the bottom line, Electronic Marketing is still Marketing.David Tyler, a product manager in New Jersey, has placed a remarkably straightforward Marketing Strategy Development Outline on the web. Read it over. It's a great checklist for making sure that your bases are covered as you invest in Electronic Marketing.

    April 3, 1996
    What's the role of graphics in marketing? The question sounds funny when framed that way. The role of graphics in marketing is as one of a series of tools. All of the marketers tools are used to create a relationship and communications channel with a customer. No more, no less. It's been interesting to watch "coolness" shift from being a term to describe a special few to a commodity term. Increasingly, web customers are desensitized and unimpressed by complex graphics. (They probably do continue to impress and amaze website buyers, however.) In graphics, the strategic question is becoming "What's the best graphic to communicate our message?". It's a nice mature improvement from "What's the cooles graphic?"

    As usual, the web is a great competition leveler. As fast as you can develop an edge in graphics or any other technical area, a site pops up to share the secrets with the rest of the world. Take a look at Web Graphics Development Resources. Delivered as a service of Digital Frontiers (a firm that makes plug-ins for Photoshop), the site includes pointers to lots of tools and graphics resources including our favorites Pixelsite (for creating banners and 3d text and Royal Frazier's GIF89a-Based Animation Page.

    Interestingly, none of the three graphics resources mentioned are graphics intensive websites. They focus instead on delivering a useful service for potential clients

    April 2, 1996
    The One Source Group (a recruiting firm) has opened their Website. Featuring an eclectic mix of specialties (therapy, healthcare and data processing), the most interesting feature of the new enterprise is its solid emphasis on marketing. CEO Michael Gargan says "We are now linked to about 600 sites with more in process. Our press releases are leaving this week and are going to 200 magazines, 600 newspapers and about 400 assorted news letters." They get it! The initial launch has been cleverly orchestrated to include marketing.

    A look at the One Source Group's initial site shows nothing spectacular in the way of technology tricks or distinguishing services. Although their service offerings are somewhat unique in the industry, the company decided to optimize their investment away from site development and on to marketing. With 30 new sites entering the online recruiting industry each week, we think the strategy is very viable.

    According to this week's print version of New Media, the web is about to become littered with "ghost-sites" (we've been calling them cobweb sites). As Website owners discover that the One Source Group's approach to marketing is just the beginning of operating costs, many sites will fall by the wayside. The costs of operating and promoting a website will dwarf the development costs.

    April 1, 1996
    The browser wars are heating up. How do we know? Well, last night, as we were skipping between 3 differently named Netscape browsers (2.0 Java, 2.01 and 3.0 Atlas), having a really swell time watching them all crash, we noticed that there was no meaningful functional difference between them. Marketing betas is a term that comes to mind. Ultimately, we'll benefit greatly from the Netscape - Microsoft competition but, until it settles down a bit (not likely soon), the features competition and deal making news is likely to be pursued at the expense of customer satisfaction.

    A normal mistake (with expensive consequences) is attempting to stay completely abreast of the Technology without regard to customer benefit. We're as guilty (or more) of slipping into the tech-race as anyone. Three different versions of the same browser is reasonably solid evidence. Customer centeredness can slip out the window as you tag along in the macho features escalation contest.

    So what's the best thing for customers in this kind of environment? We think that market developers are required to provide counterpoint to the technology developers. It's how a stable playing field is consistently delivered to customers. Routine business requires routine interfaces and stability in the features. From time to time, the best strategy is to stay away from the leading edge, just a bit.

    For the next six to eight weeks, we'd suggest going slowly on new features introductions. Use it as a moment to beef up your content. Read Browser Watch regularly. Things will stabilize again at the formal release of Netscape 3.0.

    Try Freeloader

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    All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941