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Archives: Two Weeks Ending 9-07-96
Sales, Sales, Sales
While we prattle on about marketing, design and their inter-relationship, you'd be tempted to think that we've forgotten sales. Hardly.
Marketing is the foundation from which sales are executed. We're continually amazed at the number of firms that launch commercial websites without ever giving detailed consideration to their users and customers. We're much less amazed when they fail. As a medium, the Web is customer intensive. If your every design and research move is not built on a foundation of customer research and satisfaction, your yield will suffer greatly.
But, the only possible justification for marketing and design efforts is increased sales.
Who Knows What About Whom
Ongoing concerns about privacy and data discosure are slowly migrating towards the press. Where are the boundaries of data collection and disclosure on the Web? The answer is liable to directly impact your marketing costs.
We think that the Firefly Community Policy is an admirably comprehensive approach to the problem. (Firefly is a personal agent integrated with "community" that sells recorded music.) While we'd probably address the issues somewhat differently, the policy lays them out clearly. It's well worth a read.
What's interesting to us is that Firefly makes a big fuss about never selling the data. They never promise not to use it. The difference is smaller than you might imagine at first glance.
Negotiating Website Agreements
Get a copy of this month's Computer Law Observer by William S. Galkin, Esq. It covers the basics of a Website deveopment and maintenance agreement with clear nuggets about:
Back In One Piece
The desert trip evolved fairly rapidly and we ended up 1,000 miles beyond our destination looking at 800 year old web pages...pictograms in Dinosaur National Park. Imagine the story.
There's an interesting new resource emerging for users of direct email. The Direct Email Marketer's Association (DEMA) sponsors a mailing list with archives and other tips on their site. It has some interesting possibilities. We're increasingly irritated by the volume of poorly targeted and poorly written direct marketing material that seems to fill our inbasket.
On a related front, the number of list bombings appears to be growing. A list bombing involves being involuntarily subscribed to multiple high volume mailing lists. We expect the problem to be solved with increased levels of authentication for mailing lists.
We're Off To See The Wizard
We're taking a bit of a break over this long weekend. Look for a report from the Burning Man Festival or the Nevada Desert. We'll be back Monday, Tuesday at the latest.
Profound thanks to our spelling spotters...we just didn't have enough coffee the other day.
Help WMO Define Success
We're perpetual fans of the work at Who's Marketing Online (WMO). With a vastly improved design and increased market focus, the site is demonstrating the virtues of immersion in daily publishing....the market shapes you. We'd suggest that you take a moment to offer your site up as an example of success. Visit the Defining Success page at WMO and tell your story.
AT&T Unleashes Real Business Services
The tagline reads Welcome to a free gold mine of business news and information. After digging around for several hours, we're convinced that this isn't the usual net-hype. AT&T's Business Network is one of the few sites on the web requesting registration that we unconditionally recommend. Tucked into the lead article (about marketing to Generation X) is this gem:
There really is no marketing without marketing research. A lot of people just try to sell a product. But you're going to have to know your audience. So you start with research -- focus groups, surveys...
AT&T's Business Network practices what they preach, offering a rich array of tools (over 1,000 industry analyses) so that you can make your business a success.
Comparing Web Ad Brokers
If you're going to carry advertising on your website, you have three basic choices:
We like the brother-in-law solution. It's a time honored tactic for making small entrepreneurial businesses fly. If you can, get some very generous in-laws with very deep pockets. This isn't usually the most practical approach, however.
Given the relative costs and benefits of the first two approaches, we imagine that you'll ultimately use an ad broker. As a public service, Acme Laboratories has developed an ad broker comparison page. They've established accounts with 2 of the four best known brokers so you can see ad server performance. The page also includes targeted links into the broker's pages to help cut straight to the sales proposition. It's a nice piece of work.
Since there is a surplus of available advertising space, most brokers are offering very low payments for ad space. As the marketplace fills with competing brokers, those values will go up. Be wary of long-term deals and get a clear description of the broker's payment policies.
My Mamma Always Said: Life Is Like...
We're rarely at a loss for words. Placing, a new piece from Carl Steadman (who helped create Suck), leaves us struggling. Like the world it wrestles with, Placing is both Tired and Wired. It jumps out of every box we try to put it in.
What's the fuss? On the one hand, Placing is a series of very short vignettes next to a "money shot" (product photo) presented with a random entry point. No big deal, it borders on Gumpishness (Forrest). And, that's our problem.
The mechanics of advertising on the web elude safe categories. Is a website an ad? Does having ads on a website make the rest of the website "content"? If the "content" is clearly advertising, what's the relationship? Is content simply anything that "carries" an ad? Is a link an ad?
Every conversation that we have with our clients contains this tension to a degree. The old distinctions seem to melt when you apply them too hard. We reach those moments when language and insight fail. We have to admit that we're lost too, that partnership, with a lot of fault tolerance, is the only savvy business approach to this new beast.
In the press release describing the project, Steadman explains his theory that ads and products provide context. "Content" emerges from a background created by commercials. It's not some futuristic vision he's trying to explain, it's a way of thinking about the way that all media work today.
It gave us the kind of headache we love. The most productive work always has to do with unanswerable questions. Mr. Steadman has asked a good one. If you give it a hard chew, we think you'll find that you have fewer answers and better output.
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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