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Advantage Enterprises of Portage, MI claim to provide "effective solutions for your Internet Marketing needs". All well and good.
What's wrong with this picture, and why wouldn't we give them any money?
Well, the problem starts with the URL. Respectable as AOL may be in some circles, we're afraid it just doesn't cut the mustard with us. Having an AOL address is on a par with having no eMail signature in terms of inspiring credibility, as far as we are concerned.
If an entrepreneur can't be bothered to shell out a mere $100 for his/her own domain name, we have to ask ourselves how serious they are...
Advantage's site features vaguely worded text which alludes to many thousands of dollars accruing to the innocent who sign up for their "service". Which remains undefined.
The Web is about one-to-one marketing. Advantage, it seems, is importing the methodolgy of broadcast marketing and promotion into the New Medium. Its approach is along the lines of late-night ads for juicers onlyavailable from a PO Box in West Virginia.
We have no inclination to find out whether or not Advantage can deliver on its vaguely-stated promises.
What we do know is that the lessons inherent in the design and approach of the site are ones from which we can all learn. --John Blower
OLAF - the Online Advertising Forum - is a great resource for anyone even peripherally involved in Web commerce.
The site has ten distinct areas, ranging from News (covering both new and traditional media), to pointers to what constitutes good creative work on the Web.
We were rather taken with the tone of The Rant (if not all of the content), a regular column by Tom Hespos.
The site is somewhat annoyingly framed, so we can't give you URLs to any of the individual sections.
But having said that, we must applaud the overall concept and execution of the design.
All "pages" are restricted to two frames, with the smaller running the width of the window along the bottom, and acting as a constant navigation bar. This frame configuration is pretty much the only one with aesthetic and practical utility, in our humble collective opinion.
The logo - a kind of "bullseye" with an eccentric center - is muted on the first page, but is boldly rendered on the rest of the site. Graphics are, on the whole, unobtrusive and fast-loading.
Check out OLAF - both for the marketing resources and the site itself.
Is Anybody There?An associate was recently idly thumbing through the Sunday Classifieds when a job caught his eye. We were mildly surprised to see him scanning the job ads, as we know him to be temperamentally and ideologically unsuited for regular employment...
Nonetheless, noting that the advertisement offered the opportunity to apply for the position via eMail, he spent a couple of hours tinkering with his resume and sent it off in the body of a mail.
That was three days ago. He has not yet received any acknowledgement that his mail has been received, let alone been contacted further in regard to his application.
He's now not so sure that he even wants to interview for the position for which he is so eminently suited...
For a recruiter to so aggressively solicit candidates both on- and off-line and then not to respond within 24 hours is unforgivable, and can seriously harm the recruiter's reputation in the market-place. This premise holds for any category of goods or services which request input from a potential customer.
It's not even as if it's that difficult!
If you are using Eudora Pro, it's the matter of a few minute's work to set up an auto-responder through the Filters menu.
People who use the Web expect a rapid response when they respond to a request for information, not unreasonably, in our opinion.
Setting up a simple auto-response should be an essential element of your marketing strategy in the New Medium.
In the eyes of our associate, PDG's credibility has been irreparably harmed. And remember, a dissatisfied customer (or potential candidate) will tell ten times as many people as a satisfied one...--John Blower
Curioser and Curioser...Our item yesterday about Traffic Magic prompted a mail from Terry Lewis of Lewis Publishing, who also expressed doubt about the veracity of the claims made by Traffic Magic.
Terry kindly pointed us to http://www.saveyourtime.com/Trafficmagic.htm, which yielded precious little hard information.
Apparently, if you give the folks at IncBase Digital Corp. between $300 and $800 a month (plus $100 "set-up fee"), they will increase the number of "hits" your site receives by between 20 and 80,000. A month.
So how do they do it? Well, the page whose file name is "faq.html" answers no questions, frequently asked or otherwise. It certainly doesn't stoop so low as to answer a simple (and presumably "frequently asked) question like "How does it work?".
It does, however, describe the report that you, lucky subscriber, will receive each and every month.
It contains gems such as:
Which are pretty much the kinds of numbers we get from our current server. At considerably less than $800/month.
The "homepage" contains the following "explanation":
Which we don't find very helpful at all in explaining how this miraculous increase in site traffic will be achieved. In fact, the word "useless" is the one that springs to our collective mind....
Now, if anyone is going to raid our corporate wallet for $800 a month (plus, of course, the "set-up fee"), we think we're entitled to a far fuller explanation of the process than the one we quote above, in order that our boffins can assess it.
So how about an explanation, Traffic Magic? We'll publish it in full without any editing. --John Blower
Nice Try - But No Cigar
The pick-up line was all but irresistible:
Terrific! Who wouldn't want to increase traffic at a stroke?
We duly fired off an eMail requesting further information as invited, saying we were interested and asking how this marvellous device worked. Which seemed quite reasonable, as we are sure you will agree.
The response was perplexing to say the least:
That wasn't quite the response we were looking for, and certainly didn't answer the simple question "How does it work?"
It got worse:
We don't think so. We'd like to know exactly what it is that we're buying.
We did a search in HotBot for IncBase Digital Corp., from whom the original mail apparently originated.
Perhaps IncBase Digital Corp. would care to provide us with the names of a few satisfied customers.
And a signature file that included a URL and phone and fax numbers would help allay our suspicions...--John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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