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The advertising
industry is on
the verge of
being shattered
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
Michael Strangelove

Advertising is
one of the minor
arts, so don't
be intimidated
by it. Try
not to lose
your sense of
Keep it fun.
Robert Bly

is more
it seems.
John Gall

The System
is its own
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser


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All material on
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© 1995. 1996 by IBN



C l i c k   o n c e   t o   r e c e i v e   o u r   o c c a s i o n a l   N e w s l e t t e r

Archives: Week Ending 09-29-96

September 28, 1996

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

If you haven't been watching, Ad Age is building a fantastic resource for Web Marketers. The site is deep and full of anecdotal evidence and some hard facts and statistics. It deserves a home on your bookmark list.

In the middle of this month, they published a piece called: How much will you pay for your site? It looks like the beginnings of a regular (maybe quarterly) feature that surveys site development costs from around the country.

The study was done by giving a group of participants from various cities three scenarios to bid. The results were categorized in a regional pricing Index.

The pricing "medians" range from outrageously low (Dallas) to outrageously high (San Francisco). There is nearly an order of magnitude difference in pricing between the extremes.

We're uncomfortable with the conclusions of the study, however. The largest price driver in site development is a combination of the customer's sophistication and involvement in the process. (The more sophisticated and involved the customer is, the more expensive the project). As San Francisco-centric as we are, we tend to see the low end as an unlikely success and the high end as being built on extensive experience. There's a problem with this sort of approach to studying the market price of a website: You can't compare the final work.

Even so, the Ad Age study begins to shed some light on a tough set of questions.

September 27, 1996

The Jimmy Stewart Approach:
Sticking To The Fundamentals

Each Friday morning, without fail, we get a folksy missive from Ken Leebow. Frankly, some weeks we trash it before reading...our tolerance for sugar is somewhat limited. But, slightly more often than not, we open the newsletter to see what Ken is up to.

Written in the fictional persona of "Norman", the newsletter points to marketing sites of interest and rambles on about Ken's various net-services. The beauty of "Norman" as spokesperson is that a simple view really reaches new users. It's easy to get overly impressed with our hipness and techno-sophistication. From time to time, "Norman" brings us back to earth and confronts us with the real fundamentals. New users are the life blood of net-growth at this juncture.

We've reprinted "Norman's" Ten Steps to Consider When Marketing Your Web Page. Somewhat sheepishly, we suggest that you subscribe to the weekly as well. Send a piece of email to

September 26, 1996

Product Definition 2

One of the hardest things to imagine about the web is that:

Everyone Is Saying The Same Thing

Really, take a close look at your competitors and find the meaningful differences. We say that there aren't many. The basic marketing question, "What is your unique selling proposition?" is usually unanswered in the sea of pretty graphics and interesting technical tricks.

Determining your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is not a simple thing. We suggest the following exercise:

  • Identify at least 10 of your competitors

  • Visit their websites and make a list of their market claims (best xxxx, largest yyyyy, most zzzz, cheapest aaaa, fastest bbbb and so on)

  • Cross out any claims that appear more than once

  • Anything that's left is a real USP

A USP can be based on any of the marketing basics: pricing, positioning, packaging or promotional attributes. Your USP should express the basic "theme" of your business. It is your way of explaining your position relative to your competition. With a clear USP, you are ready to begin thinking about Website Design.

September 25, 1996

What's a Product?

In the simplest terms, we think a web-based product is the intersection of a market and a service. If that sounds overly simplistic, think again. The tough part of the equation is understanding how the "features" of your service translate into "benefits" for a particular marketplace (set of customers).

It's likely to be the case that the same web service works well for both the "HotWired" and "Wall Street Journal" niches. One niche prizes innovation and design experimentation, the other looks for stability and reliability. How do you position a product to reach both audiences?

This is one of the places where site design, rooted in market research is the backbone of product definition. As a business person, you can try the C-Net or Yahoo approach (one size fits all). We think that tailoring your site design to the needs of specific customers makes more sense. The "one size fits all" strategy ultimately produces mediocre results for any individual customer. Since precise targeting is so feasible in this medium, we'd suggest that you tailor your site to the specific niches you want to reach.

September 24, 1996

Back In The Saddle Again

You probably noticed our somewhat sketchy appearances in the early part of September. We spent much of this month working at "start-up" speed with a client who is putting a fantastic web-based service together. We helped develop the rudiments of their marketing plan and organization.

In the 15 months that we've been publishing this newsletter, the web has matured significantly. Microniche marketing (focusing on specific targetable clients) appears to be the only cost effective method for simultaneously growing traffic and sales. While we were excited by the opportunity, we were reminded of the brutal work that precedes market success.

Our goal here at 1st Steps is to provide usable tools and experiences for marketers and designers. It's easy to assume that we know it all sitting comfortably in our offices dispensing advice. The proof is in well executed design and associated sales.

A successful web based enterprise is a smooth integration of:

  • Design
  • Customer Feedback
  • Product Definition
  • Market Definition and Planning
  • Promotion
  • Alliances
  • Collateral Materials
  • Price and Position
  • Market Research and Competitive Intelligence
  • Sales
  • Technical Coordination (and Execution)
  • Networking (in the Relationship sense)
  • Contractual Effectiveness
  • Capitalization (sweat or other equity)
Creating a smoothly functioning organization that accomplishes these tasks is not easy. Our "month in the trenches" reminded us of the courage and will required to bring a web based enterprise to life.

Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.

Try Freeloader

Check out the Archives....54 Weeks of Back issues including:

Two Weeks EndingSeptember 22, 1996 Including:
  • Negotiating Website Agreements
  • Personal Agents
  • Link Auction
  • The Customer's Heart
  • Thunder Lizard
  • Much, Much More
September 07, 1996 Including:
  • AT&T Business Network
  • Placing
  • Comparing Ad Brokers
  • Direct Email Marketer's Association
  • Lots of Tidbits
  • Much, Much More
August 24 1996 Including:
  • Search Voyeur
  • Who's Making Money
  • Simplicity In Design
  • New Thinking
  • Design For Navigation
  • International Usability
  • August 17 1996 Including:
    • Regional Yahoos
    • Big Dreams
    • Copy Editors
    • Cool Net Statistics Presentations
    • Browser Search
    • Give It Away To Keep It
  • August 10 1996 Including:
    • Useful Page Tools
    • Web Nuggets
    • Tropical Jim: Web Hero
    • Snafus And Apologies
    • Bright Spots At Apple
    • Mediums Are Not Markets
  • August 03 1996 (two weeks) Including:
    • Net Business Daily
    • The Project Oriented Economy
    • The Importance Of Customers
    • Computer Law Observer
    • 8 Corners Of ECommerce
    • Who's Doing Business
  • July 20 1996 Including:
    • Paying Viewers To See Ads
    • Grumpy About Apple
    • More Net Statistics
    • How Not To: I-Watch
    • Godzilla Uber Alles
  • July 13 1996 Including:
    • Multimedia Web
    • Selling Ads
    • An SIG Pidgin
    • News From The Front
    • Absolut-ly Fabulous
    • Tripod Redux
    • Jobs For Web Designers
  • July 06 1996 Including:
    • Makeovers R Us
    • JAvaScript Tip Of the Week
    • Microsoft Viruses
    • Sega Surfing
    • Jobs For Web Designers
    • Informant
    • IDML

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