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    Back Issues, Weekly
    Week Ending: April 27, 1996
    April 27, 1996
    Great Examples of How Not To Do It

  • Buf Puf Products We imagine that 3M invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in this monstrosity. Note in particular the patronizing approach to the audience. (It's hidden under the awful graphics)

    April 26, 1996
    It's the last Friday of tax month and seems like a pefect time for our quarterly grump-a-thon. As you might guess, we get tons of email from wannabe marketers with a site that "just has to be listed". They all read something like this:

    Take a look at http://www.xxx.com

    Notice: no "hi, how are you"; no "here's a short description of the site"; and, no "here's why we think you should visit it". The mail contains the unwritten message..."We're too busy to tell you any more than this, but you seem to have all of the time in the world".

    At the other end of the spectrum are the gushy endless pieces of bad prose posing as press releases. Interestingly, they give the same message..."You seem to have all of the time in the world and we don't".

    Just because you can send email doesn't mean that you should.

    Outside of proposals, there are few pieces of text that are as important (and as hard to write well) as the simple request for attention. The characteristics of a great e-mail press release asking for a link are:

  • It's short, direct and very clear;
  • It explains what the link is
  • It explains why the link makes sense on the recipient's site
  • It explains exactly why the recipient should make the effort to review the site.

    Embedded in each of these requests, short or long, is your wish that the recipient do something for you. It's only reasonable that you should explain "WIIFT" (What's In It For Them). If you can't explain it in a short note, it's probably missing from your website.

    Always assume that the recipient of your marketing message is a busy person with many other ways to spend their time besides reading your mind. As a marketer, it's your job to consistently explain the benefits of your product, regardless of the audience. What the writers of these awful and lazy queries don't seem to understand is the dreadful consequences of a badly written piece of email. It's much better to build traffic very slowly than to try to build it quickly and let everyone know that you're an idiot.

    We always imagine what customer service must be like in the organizations that spawn this type of nonsense. We try to make sure that we never knowingly promote firms with this approach. Most people just throw them in the trash without thinking twice.

    April 25, 1996
    There's no shortage of places to promote your site. The largest problems in developing a proactive marketing campaign are: getting started and prioritizing the use of your resources.

    We got a piece of email from the friendly folks at 2Ask. Initially we yawned at the sprawling press release until we scanned past the "Free Banner Ad" offer.

    2Ask claims over 3.5 Million weekly hits and may well be a great place to advertise. It certainly belongs on your list of places to Free Banner Ad will give you an excuse to get started. It might even help build your traffic.

    April 24, 1996
    Where do you find humor in the fast paced world of net marketing and design? We giggled enough at the MRML (Mind Reading Markup Language) Page to want to share it with you. It takes some fairly hard shots at tha traditional marketing and advertising mindset. For a less technical line of humor, Suck is a popular and reliable source of sarcasm. Neither is dependent on overdone graphics to deliver their clear and targeted message. Surprisingly, they're both solid examples of what the web could be....precision targeted information delivery oriented towards very precise demographic/interest intersections.

    April 23, 1996
    Our enthusiasm for The Internet Marketing List flickers. On one level, the archives represent the single best starting point for learning about electronic marketing. On another, the constant onslaught of material is absolutely impossible to keep up with. Some of the really great minds in this business use the Marketing List as a way to announce new insights and projects. But, it's another "kissing frogs to find princes" situation that is so common in today's web.

    The current discussion centers on Yahoo's recent agreement to provide volume ads to Procter and Gamble on a "per click" basis. Roughly, this means that P&G pay a fee on the basis of how many people click on the ad rather than the (more like traditional publishing model) passive approach suggested in the San Jose Mercury's great Ad Tutorial. (Their pricing is based on the number of people who see the ad.)

    In the passive approach, advertising effectiveness is solely the responsibility of the advertiser. If the ad doesn't generate an effective return, that's too bad. In the active, per click, approach, advertising effectiveness is a function of a partnership between the advertisier and the information distributor. The risk is shared and (we assume) the rewards for success are also shared.

    From a traditional publishing perspective, this raises all sorts of red flags. In journalism school (from which most ideas about publishing emerge), the separation between publisher and editor is seen as the foundation of "objectivity". The struggle between the two functions is at the heart of most publishing operations.

    It was, in some ways, easier in the old days. Broadcast advertising was so terribly inexpensive that effectiveness rates between 0.5% and 3% were entirely acceptable. Targeting was based on broad demographics and products were "one size fits all." Today, however, the advertiser, the information distributor and the audience are part of an increasingly explicit relationship. In non-Web advertising, experiments with paying certain consumers to view ads are gaining momentum.

    We doubt that one final model for advertising effectiveness will emerge any time soon. Evolution is just not that simple. The uncertainty will cause increasingly close (or strained) relationships between publishers and advertisers. The final models will emerge from these changing partnerships.

    April 22, 1996
    Do you "own" your domain name? What's in a Name? is a site put together by three Georgetown University Law students to wrestle with that question. Currently, "any domain name owner is to loss of a domain name on just 30 days' notice, without any of the usual legal safeguards against loss of a valuable property right."

    The problem is that the contract to manage domain names is held by a private concern and operates out of the light of public scrutiny.

    The authors have drawn together nearly everything about the twenty-five publicly known domain name disputes, and provide a synopsis of each dispute as well as links to further information about them.

    It's a must read.

    April 21, 1996
    The web is a new world and many of the principles that make sense in this world are counter-intuitive.
  • There is no generic Internet, rather there are 750 or 800 adjacent markets.
  • Sales are a function of audience development.
  • To grow an audience, you have to give it away.
  • The best site gets you off the web.
  • Less is always more.

    It would be nice to pretend that the Web is an entirely undiscovered continent with completely new rules and processes. That's as simplistic as assuming that moving an enterprise to the web is a straightforward translation of existing business practice.

    Many businesses are reinventing the wheels of publishing and advertising as they enter this new marketplace. While getting your fingernails dirty, experimenting, failing and experimenting again, is critical to a long term success, there are some principles that translate readily into this environment.

    Learn from the best. We highly reccommend that you take 30 minutes to digest the Ogilvy and Mather BrandNet. These folks are the pros in the non-Web world. While their website is not a great example of Web marketing, they very thoroughly lay out the principles of brand development and management. It's up to you to think about how to apply these principles to the Web, but they provide a fantastic foundation..

    To quote them:
    A brand is more. A brand is how the consumers feel about a product; the affection the feel for it, the personality they ascribe to it, the trust and loyalty they give it. Above all -- the shared experience they have with it. This is obvious in products like American Express and Jaguar -- these products enjoy strong brand relationships with their users. But it's also the case with everyday products. Dove beauy bar has grown into a worldwide brand on the strength of its relationship with women users. So has Huggies. Hershey's Kisses, Guinness Stout, and Pepsi all mean much more to their users than chocolate, soda, and beer.


    A brand is the part of the product you can't put in the box. Because it is so intangible it is extremely valuable. Today more than ever marketers are placing great emphasis on the value and importance of their brands.

    On the web, the power to develop this brand identity is available using a combination of links, tailored experiences and recurring satisfaction.

    Try Freeloader

    Contacting Us
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