Friday, December 1, 2000
========December 4, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
A-spidering We Will Go (con't)
Another Partner Success Story
Here's An Idea For You From A Portal Partner
Time to Shop!
A-SPIDERING WE WILL GO
In the Nov. 20th issue of the Portal Partner Press, I mentioned the fact that SK is developing our own spider for the purpose of increasing SK's database faster and being able to offer it to all the partners. We're doing this to better enable us to capitalize on all the changes our competitors are making and put us in a stronger position to become known as a viable alternative to the major search services.
Dan has actually got the spider running. It is in beta and naturally we are experiencing some problems. Out of close to 10,000 sites we spidered, we were only able to add a few hundred. We have some challenges to overcome, mostly in the filtering process. The other big challenge is that we have to find a way to index sites that either don't have any meta tags, (you'd think every site would have them by now), or have meta tags that our spider can't read. We have to stay focused on doing it our way and not fall prey to the temptation to just use someone else's that just doesn't work the way we want it to. I see no advantage in doing the same thing a lot of other people are doing and have already proven that it doesn't work very well.
In order to be able to have the spider work effectively for SK as well as a wide variety of topic specific portals, we have to be able to include a lot of custom features that give as many people as possible as much flexibility as possible. No one has ever built a spider before with our types of services in mind. It ain't easy, but then few things worthy of doing rarely are. We are making very good progress and it won't be long before you can just type in a keyword list and let it run bringing you back hundreds of usable sites that relate to your portal without having to manually sift through all the sites and remove the stuff you don't want.
We see this as an excellent way to make our portals offer extreme value to webmasters and searchers alike. This is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way that we know of to get every portal built up to being a real resource for relevant topic specific information.
Finally, on the subject of portal spiders, we are building this so it can run off your computer as opposed to running off our servers. As most of you know, the problem with the spider your program has now is that it runs off our servers which slows it down way too much. It also forces you to severely limit the number of sites you can spider. By allowing you to run it off your PC, it doesn't slow down the other partners and it gives you much more control over what and how you want to do with it. We fully intend to impress the hell out of you!
ANOTHER PARTNER SUCCESS STORY
How would you like to see your portal featured on the front page of your local newspaper? Well it can happen just like it happened for Red, the owner of www.glendive-mt.com.
I was reading in the forum where Red made a reference to a comment I made about promoting your portal months ago, where I mentioned that the local newspaper is usually not a friend of yours because in effect, you are the paper's direct competitor. Actually, I stand by that statement but I should clarify. I said that most of us could not count on the local paper for support, UNLESS the story was newsworthy. If the story was newsworthy, now you had a good shot at getting some real publicity from your local paper. Also, the smaller the town you live in, the easier it is to make your portal newsworthy. Well, Red has done an excellent job of making her small town paper realize that her hometown portal IS newsworthy and it worked!
Her traffic is going up very nicely and her portal has now been established as THE internet resource for her community. Congratulations Red. We are all very proud of you!
If you would like to follow the story, get involved and learn how she did it, just go to the forums at http://forums.searchking.com. Once there, go to the Free For All, About the Web, SearchKing, And Portals section and click on the subject, "Wish Me Luck". Read, learn, ask questions and you may be the next portal partner I'm congratulating.
HERE'S ANOTHER IDEA FOR YOU FROM A PORTAL PARTNER
Another of our partners has sent me an article I'm very happy to publish. It is a very well-thought-out system for generating income using the tools you have with your portal. I'm not the final authority on this stuff, but after reading it myself, I was impressed enough that I thought sharing it with you all may make the difference for some of our partners who are having a hard time finding ways of making money with their portal.
Thanks to Keith Sager for the valuable input.
HOW TO BUILD TRAFFIC, BUILD YOUR BRAND, AND GET PAID TO DO IT!
Portal Partners, here is an idea that you can use to promote your portal, and get paid to do it. This idea was BORN for use on topic-specific portals. I do not know of this EXACT model in use anywhere else on the 'net. This concept is a traffic-generating, brand-building, money maker. I'm confident that if you brain-storm with this for awhile, you will get quite excited about various ways YOU can implement it to get paid to promote YOUR Portal...
Step #1 - Build a Specific-Topic Dictionary/Glossary for YOUR PORTAL
Step #2 - SELL sponsorships to each word or phrase definition in your DICTIONARY.
Each word or phrase definition in the dictionary/glossary will be sponsored with a two-line text ad (live link) at the top of the page. You, the Portal Partner will sell that definition sponsorship on a CPM, CPC, or month to month basis. I recommend selling each word definition at 5 to 10 cents per impression. If you cannot find sponsors for a particular word(s), use the spot to link to an affiliate program that you've signed up for (You ARE an AFFILIATE of related eCommerce websites, aren't you?) Again, related sites for related words. A Diamond Retailer would prefer the definition to the word "Diamond" over the word "Citrine." How's THAT for hyper-targeted advertising! It is BECAUSE of this highly targeted, focus advertising that you will be able to command up to $100/1000 impressions.
Step #3 - PAY webmasters of similar-content websites to USE YOUR DICTIONARY!
PAY other webmasters (with related content), to use YOUR DICTIONARY on their site as a service to THEIR visitors. I recommend paying webmasters 5 cents for each unique visit to their Dictionary ALPHABET PAGE ONLY. (The tracking of unique visitors to the "Alphabet" page can easily be accomplished by using readily available affiliate software). Provide a template that includes your "live-linked alphabet" for each webmaster, allowing them to place their logo at the top of the page. Now they have a semi-private-branded dictionary that THEY ARE GIVEN and PAID TO USE (THEY SHOULD BE QUITE HAPPY WITH THIS ARRANGEMENT!)
Now lets review what we have done...
You have YOUR DICTIONARY PAGES accessed on potentially hundreds of related content websites, and each access could be worth 50 cents or more! (as their visitor researches terminology, the sponsored definition income adds up!). EVERY PAGE has a link back to your PORTAL, either your HOMEPAGE or to WORD LIST pages. Every Dictionary ALPHABET PAGE on another related website LINKS TO YOUR DOMAIN, THUS PROVIDING THAT MUCH MORE RELEVANCY, PUSHING YOU HIGHER IN THE RANKINGS IN THE MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES. Every DICTIONARY PAGE VIEW on another site is a potential visitor to your site! Even if they do not click thru to your site, you are building BRAND-AWARENESS. Affiliate links you place in your dictionary will get much more mileage than just placing it on your site only!
HERE IS A CONSERVATIVE EXAMPLE:
50 Dictionaries X 10 users / day = 500 users / day X 5 cents per unique user = YOU PAY $25/day ----------------- 50 Dictionaries X 10 users / day X 4 definition impressions / user = 2000 impressions / day X 5 cents per impression = GET PAID $100/day ----------------- $100 Gross - $25 Expenses = $75 / day NET! X 30 days / month = $2250 / month NET PROCEEDS ($4500 / month @ .10/impression!)
PLUS GREATER RELEVANCY in the SEARCH ENGINES How much is that worth? Have you priced BUYING a higher listing in a search-engine lately? Hiring a SUBMISSION expert or PAY in the pay-per-click search engines is expensive!
PLUS THOUSANDS OF FREE CLICK-THRUS (FREE TRAFFIC!) Remember the link on every page: "This Dictionary Courtesy of www.you.com?" If 15% in the above example click-thru to your site, that is 9000 visitors/month FREE!
PLUS BRAND RECOGNITION Who has 100s of 1000s of Dollars to Pay for brand advertising? Get PAID to do it with your Dictionary/Glossary!
One final thought: The built in functionality in your SearchKing-based Portal could host your Dictionary. Bannermaster could track "Alphabet" pages, and the "branded site" feature of hyperseek could be set up to provide the drill-down functionality of the dictionary pages themselves.
I'm confident each of you will be able to add minor refinements to this concept, specific to your needs and your Portal goals. Just because I am unable to continue with www.JewelrySeeker.com, doesn't mean that this concept couldn't live on to build other great SearchKing Portals. I hope you can see the potential here. With very little modification, ANY PORTAL can take this methodology and make it a profit-generating, traffic-building brand-builder. I invite you to try it, and I solicit your comments.
Keith Sager www.jewelryseeker.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Domain and Portal-Pro 4sale www.jewelryseeker.com $500 I have to pull some "irons out of the fire." www.jewelryseeker.com is one of those "irons." If you are interested in an outstanding head-start on a portal pro, and you love jewelry, please consider buying this domain name and search engine setup. I would be available to share all the great ideas that I had planned for jewelryseeker.com. Thanks. Contact Keith Sager email@example.com 615-459-4317
TIME TO SHOP
Now that Thanksgiving is over, we all know what that means. CHRISTMAS!
As you get ready to do some online shopping, remember to show support for your portal partners and check the directory to see if what you are looking for may be offered by one of your portal partners. It is a very good way of us all showing support for each other.
That's it for this week portal kids. See you next week.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========December 11, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
A-spidering We Will Go (con't)
Speaking of Getting Submissions to Our Databases
We've got all the Affiliate Links Working Right
A-SPIDERING WE WILL GO
Okay, here's an update in the continuing saga of building a spider designed for portal partners. It's not going too good.
We keep running into problems that we weren't expecting that we have to stop and figure out custom solutions to and then go and write the scripts. It's just not as easy as you might think.
There are a lot of spider programs out there so I know we can do it. I'm not comfortable with using anyone else's spider because we have different needs and goals than most of our competitors and trying to modify someone else's solution is simply not going to work. We have to make too many concessions with someone else's program and we are at a point now where SK has the talent available to not have to settle for something that is not what we really need. There was a time very recently where this was not the case. Remember the chat, e-mail and the affiliate programs? Well that was before we had people like Dan and Dave.
In order to help you understand some of the challenges we are facing, I think it's important for me to share some of the things we have learned.
We are all search service owners. We all have the responsibility of providing a relevant, hi-quality database to our visitors. So the question is, where and how do we get that database?
As most of you know, I also own a search engine placement company so a great deal of my time is spent on consulting with clients on the subject of internet marketing. My favorite question to ask potential clients is, "Why would someone come to your site?" "What do you offer that is better, or at least different than your competitors site?" (You'd be amazed on how much money and time people spend on building their business without having an answer to this question).
If you ask yourself the same question, the obvious answer would be that you have a topic specific search service and that the results in your database to any topic specific search are human reviewed and highly relevant to that topic. Good answer! That will work, but again, where do we get that human reviewed relevant database?
Back in the early part of '97 Searchking had only been online a few weeks and our database was sitting in the hundreds of urls. We soon started getting contacted by submission services and we thought, "Here is our answer." So we allowed a couple of those people to add SK to their list of 10,000 engines and sure enough we started getting close to 4,000 submissions a day. It wasn't long before we had over 750,000 urls. A respectable little directory database right? --- WRONG!
We soon realized that the vast majority or those urls were nothing but spam trash. In fact most of those sites would have had to clean up a little just to elevate themselves to spam trash. We had a huge directory of CRAP! Actually, when our hard drives crashed back in February and we lost 80% of our data, it turned out to be a good thing. We have denied those auto submit programs for a long time now and with having to start all over with our database again, we now have close to 20,000 urls which is way too small, BUT the quality of our database is much, much better.
So, as a search service owner, you too are faced with needing to build your database but not just to build it but to build it right. At this point in time, I am convinced that there are no programs that can compare to the quality of results that can be built using the oldest technology of all. Good ole noggins and eyeballs. Human reviewed is simply the best way to get highly targeted, quality, relevant results.
As a portal partner, you have something that no other directory on the planet can compete with. The simple fact that you CARE about what goes into your directory more than anyone else.
There are basically two types of ways that human reviewed can operate. Well, three ways now that we have all made Searchking the largest community of portal owners in the world.
1. Volunteer editors. The Open Directory Project is of course the largest of this type of system. They have over 25,000 volunteer editors.
Now the question comes to mind, "Why would so many people want to devote their time to building up a quality category for a third party without getting paid? What's in it for them?"
Well, one thing that is in it for them is the fact that they have some degree of power over the category they edit. Naturally this means that, if they wanted to, they could take steps to insure that their own site got preferential treatment within that category. I'm not implying that everyone at ODP is only in it so they can get their own sites at the top, I am emphatically saying though that it does happen. This is one of the biggest complaints that the ODP has to deal with virtually every single day. I'm sure that there are some people that really are working very hard to help them build the best directory on the net, but it is certain that some people take advantage and that single fact alone gives you an edge.
Another point to consider is that there are limitations to just how much time and focus a volunteer can devote. At some point the volunteer is going to have to put more focus into putting a pork chop on the plate than in helping someone else for free. I happen to know through several friends and colleagues that ODP has literally thousands of unreviewed submissions on any given day. This illustrates my point. With 25,000 editors and thousands of unreviewed sites, obviously they haven't figured out the "perfect" way either. My point is that regardless of whether an editor is there to get their own site in or there as a hobby, there is just so much they are going to be able or willing to do. With you, it's not a hobby. It's your job, your livelihood, your baby.
#2. Compensated editors. Then you have competitors like Looksmart and Yahoo who pay their editors. This seems to me a much stiffer kind of competition because the guy writing the checks can set standards and levels of acceptable performance which in theory at least, should provide a higher, less questionable database.
The problem this system faces is again, just how much the editor really CARES about what he is adding or rejecting. With any kind of compensated editor system, it's a job. You do it for your income but at 5pm when the whistle blows and you head home the bottom line is that it's not your concern how good or bad that entire directory is. With you, you care just as much at 5pm as you do at 5am. Again, that's your edge.
#3. Owner reviewed I just realized that in all my travels on the net, I have never before heard this term used. Cool! We're developing our own industry specific jargon. Of course that and two nickels is worth just about a dime.
In my opinion, owner reviewed is the ONLY real answer at this time to developing the absolute highest quality, most relevant database. The owner is the only one who can really decide what is relevant to his searchers and then set the policies to ensure that those are the results that are actually displayed. Out of all the options and drawbacks to a human reviewed directory, owner reviewed is the one that makes the most sense with the least drawbacks and that is YOUR EDGE! That is what makes your directory better or at least different and that is the answer to the question why would someone use your directory as opposed to your competitors.
Assuming we can all agree on the points I've just made, then that brings us back to the original question. Where and how do we get that database?
I'm sure each of you reading this would already have thousands of relevant sites in your database except for the challenges that we are trying to deal with now. For you to find even the first relevant site, you may have to look at hundreds or even thousands and there is just not enough time for that. So the challenge is how to let you identify what you are wanting and then get a spider to quickly eliminate what you DON'T want so that you can review what you DO want. Sounds easy huh?
Every portal partner has a spider in the hyperseek program right now and yes it does help, but, it doesn't give you the power and the options you really need. Also, the learning curve is a little too steep and the resources it pulls from the server is too costly, hence -- the rub.
We are faced with two basic options right now. One is to run the spider from Searchking and then let each of you spider Searchking's database, or to give each partner the spider to put on their machine and then Searchking spider each partner's site. Either way has a lot of drawbacks and not the least of which is still going through thousands of sites to get even a few relevant ones.
Also, there is the problem with importing the site once we finally do get one. You'd think that almost every site in the world had metas but they don't and without them getting them into our databases is a problem. We have several options that look doable but no decisions yet as to which option is the best.
What we are looking at now is putting the spider on your machine. Setting up a simple admin panel to allow you to insert a small, focused keyword list into a field. Another field would be for you to assign a url to start the spider from. We don't really HAVE to have it, but we would add a third field for you to be able to list words to filter. Nothing spidered would show up in your directory until after you had reviewed it, but we know that some of our partners find a great deal of material on the net offensive and if I can help them from having to deal with anymore of it than absolutely necessary, I will.
You would send the spider to the location you wanted to start with and then the spider would look for those keywords in the tables we set up. The obvious things of course would be url, title, description, meta keyword tag, text and link titles. It would then find those appropriate sites and put them into a file. We would limit the size of the file to say 25 urls. In other words, when it found 25 potentially acceptable sites, the spider would stop,(this is to keep you from having 12,000 sites to review).
You would then go to this file and you would have to either accept, (move to your database), or delete the results. This solves the storage of millions of unwanted urls problem. Once you had moved or deleted the 25, you could start the spider where it left off or start somewhere new.
Keep in mind that none of this I'm discussing has been made into any kind of procedure. There is no point writing me or going to the forums and saying it won't work. We have decided nothing. I'm just sharing this with you to show the effort this is going to take and to ask for your input, not criticism. Anyway, I'll keep you posted.
SPEAKING OF GETTING SUBMISSIONS INTO OUR DATABASES
Jim Wilson of Virtual Promote www.virtualpromote.com has long been a good friend of Searchking's. Jim runs one of the biggest and most respected marketing sites on the net. He also publishes the Gazzette, a marketing and internet news e-zine with over 250,000 weekly readers, again, making his e-zine one of the biggest and most respected on the net.
Last week he sent me an e-mail which I posted in the forums, but it's important enough that I want to mention here in the Portal Partner Press as well. I urge you all to take advantage of his very generous offer to help not only me and Searchking, but each of you who cares enough about your site to take the time to capitalize on this opportunity. Here's the letter:
If you suggest to your portal operators that they should submit to the1000.com I'll make sure they get in and get a flow of submissions.
The 1000.com is a list of directories that Jim recommends his members submit to. It can really make your job a lot easier.
WE'VE GOT ALL THE AFFILIATE LINKS WORKING RIGHT
Since we made the change from Searchkingportal4u.com to free-web-hostingplus.com, our new portal partner sign ups have gone up dramatically. While this is very good, we had some problems getting the affiliate links moved and this was not so good.
We've taken care of that. You can now go to www.free-webhosting-plus.com/affiliate.htm or to www.searchkingportal4u.com/affiliate.htm
Ok, that's about it for this week portal kids. I want to remind all of you that this holiday season gives you a chance to take a look at what your partners are offering. You gotta shop anyway, why not at least try to spread some of those shopping dollars around to your portal partners. When you start looking for the hot new whiz bang this year, why not look for it first at the Searchking portal directory?
Also, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas in your hearts. Get out and smile at the people you see. Try to find joy in the smiles on the faces of others. Take heart in the laughter of the children. It's a wonderful world out there and I would like to see all of you enjoy it as much as I do.
Happy Holidays to You and Yours.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========December 18, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Banner Advertising is NOT Dead
What I Want for Christmas
BANNER ADVERTISING IS NOT DEAD
The stock market seems to be predicting the death of banner advertising on the net. A lot of dot com companies whose business model included generating revenue from ad sales have seen their stock drop from the hundreds of dollars a share to pennies in some cases. We've all seen banner ads that used to sell for as much as $90 a thousand impressions now going for $1 and less. For those of you who make money displaying banners for Commission Junction, Click 2 Net, Value Click and others, you've seen your impressions drop from as much as $3.50 per thousand to as little as .50 per thousand now, and that's if you're not getting dropped because you can't deliver 100,000 page views a day. Everything seems to point to the death of banners.
Now, let's all get a grip on ourselves and stop over-reacting to the hype that has led the internet for far too long. Let's get realistic and ask ourselves a question.
Do we really think that as long as there is a text driven net there will come a time when there will NOT be banner advertising? Maybe there won't be ads as we know them now, but trust me, there are going to be ads.
One of the biggest problems with banner advertising at the present is the simple fact that the vast majority of them are not targeted. There are far too many link exchanges, web rings, free-for-all pages and "drive 50,000 hits to your site" sites that are focusing on hits instead of sales. Everything, everywhere is hits, hits, hits. It seems no one is saying sales, sales, sales. To me this has always been ridiculous. How did we ever start putting the value of a hit above the value of a sale?
Most of these sites, even the ones that claim to "target" their ads, seem only interested in one more impression, one more click thru, one more hit. To most of the companies that I've dealt with, which include some of the most highly respected on the net, their idea of targeting seems to mean that they don't display porn ads unless you specifically ask for them. That's not targeting!
Let me ask you another question. How many hits does it take to make a sale?
The answer is ---- 1
That's right. If you show one banner and get one sale, you just made more money than the guy who had a million hits and no sales. Is that really such a weird concept?
I've been in the search engine placement business for over 5 years now and putting modesty aside for a while, I'm one of the very best at it. Few people know and understand how and why a search engine or directory does what it does better than yours truly. I'm amazed at the amount of potential clients that call me everyday wanting hits. In fact, I can't recall a single one of them that ever called me asking how to get sales, just hits. The majority of my time is spent in trying to get clients to realize that sales are what can justify my fees and not hits. In all my years in business, this little quirk is by far the strangest thing about doing business I've ever seen.
What would you think if I told you that as a portal partner, you have the ability to get as much as $500 per thousand impressions? Well, that's what I'm telling you.
There was recently a post in the SK forums, (which if you're not visiting everyday, you're only depriving yourself of very valuable information that could help you make money!), about one of our partners who had a great idea. He put up a lost pet site. He contacted a few local vets and got a very receptive response. He is already getting traffic to his lost pet site and by getting the local vets to put up posters or pass out cards with the url of the site, he will soon be getting hits to the page.
Now once you are getting traffic to a page like this, don't you think a vet might want to use this page to put up a "get your pet vaccinated this month and save 50%" banner? If this site only gets 100 visitors a month, those are the vet's target market and I can guarantee that at least one vet in the area would gladly pay $50 a month to sponsor that page. $50 per month for 10 months is $500. 100 impressions per month for 10 months and that's a thousand impressions. Viola! $500 per thousand impressions.
What if you put up a page about where to get fast food delivered and linked it from your front page. After a few weeks, it starts getting 100 visitors a month. I guarantee there will be some restaurant that will want those 100 visitors to think of them first and will be willing to pay you $50 a month for top listing, (nothing more than a text banner). Same deal as above.
Now, what if you can get that restaurant to have an online coupon where by using it you got one dinner free with the purchase of another? Now you can put on your front page, business cards, flyers and posters something about your hometown's ONLY online discount restaurant guide. Now you start getting 500 visitors a month. Now how many restaurants would be willing to pay that $50 bucks a month?
Grocery stores, clothing stores, doctors, lawyers, office supplies, the list goes on and on. This little strategy can be used in so many ways there is no way for me to sit here and think of all of them. My point is simply this. Banner ads are not dead. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay for advertising. The trick is to provide information that allows you to TARGET the audience.
Stop following the pack and doing what somebody else is doing just because you aren't sure enough of your own ideas. Start thinking outside the box. There has never before been a community of topic specific portal owners and THAT IS WHERE YOUR OPPORTUNITY LIES! Take advantage of it. Start thinking, start doing and start making some money!
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
From my wife: I just want you. Everything good the world has to offer, I already have and that is mostly because of you. Everything I am, I owe to you. While there are many people in my life, what you and I share is different, special. The time we shared together yesterday and the time we will share tomorrow, means much more to me than anything you could buy.
From my Mother: I want you to be here with me and know how much I love you.
From my children: I know how hard you have to work for your money. I don't need any more after shave or neckties. The only thing I want around my neck this Christmas is your arms. I want you to hug my neck. I want you to hug my neck with your stomachs and your pockets full.
From my family: I want you to think of me and know that I love you and wish only the best for you and your children.
From my friends: I want you to remember all the good times we've shared and remember why we're friends in the first place.
From my partners: I want your commitment to be the best you can be.
Merry Christmas to you all and God Bless.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
Wednesday, November 1, 2000
========November 6, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Ok, Now We're Talking to the Boss Cont'd
OK, NOW WE'RE TALKING TO THE BOSS
To refresh your memory, here's where we left off last week.
It's up to you to develop a presentation that you're comfortable with, but I will give you an example of what I would say and again, if you just do that word for word and then let me know what happens, you'll be bringing in those sales -- Guaranteed!
I would say, (after being introduced by the friend I had just made): "I'm developing an internet website about local businesses and I would very much like to list your business as well. I know how busy you must be and I don't want to waste your time, so I'll just ask you one question. Would you allow me to list your business in my web site if I can show you how it will improve your image within the community, bring in new customers and make you more money without it costing you a dime?"
You've communicated your intent. You've talked about things he understands, things like being busy and improving his image, that's establishing reality. You've done that by being honest, open and sympathetic to his situation. He should like that -- affinity. Now he's likely to say two things:
#1 I'm not interested. (see above #1)
#2. So how are you going to show me all that? Bingo! You're 90% of the way home to making this person your customer.
If you have established Affinity, Reality and Communication with this individual, he is VERY likely to say #2 as opposed to #1. If #1 is their answer, then you did NOT establish Affinity, Reality and Communication. You missed the boat somewhere and you probably know exactly where. It was when he crossed his arms over his chest, or it was when his eyes wandered away from yours and he feigned interest in something other than you. If you just take a minute and think about what happened, the signs were there for you to learn from.
Don't take this as a total failure. At least get his e-mail address and his permission to send him more information later.
Assuming you got the answer #2, now it's time to strengthen the bond you've started by following the basics. FEATURE - BENEFIT - ACTION.
Tell them what you will do, but most importantly, tell them how they benefit from what you do and then tell them what they need to do to get started. Again, I can't tell you without being there with you what EXACTLY to say, but I can tell you what I would say.
I would say: "The internet has become such a huge part of the lives of almost every human being in the world that it is not just a neat new tool, it is becoming a necessity for businesses just like a telephone or a copy machine. By having a web presence in your own hometown, it can open up new ways to answer customer questions. It makes you a leader in technology and by being in a hometown website, it shows you care about the community.
"This gives you a free salesman 24/7 without the expense of hiring someone. This shows you care about your customers and the service you can give them. It gives you an image of someone who is keeping up with the times and, it keeps them from going to a competitors website when they can't find yours.
"You can advertise specials, sales, new employees, new products as well as just your hours and location. It is faster, easier and much cheaper than a phone book ad. It can save you money, but more importantly, it can make you money.
"Naturally, just like you, I run a business and need to generate income to stay in business. Of course we offer several types of web design and development as well as several ways to advertise, but, I can't show the value of those services until I first show you the value of the hometown web site itself. That is why I'm willing to build you a first web site free of charge just so I can include your business on my website. Of course we're not talking about an entire site with ordering capabilities, product pictures and nice graphic design. Those things take time and of course I would love to do them for you but I can't make you rich for free, right?
"What I will do is build you a page with the basic information on it such as your location, your hours and any thing that you feel makes your business a good choice for potential customers. I'll do all that free of charge and all I ask is that when you have questions about the site, you'll ask me first. Fair enough? Ok, give me your business name, your hours and how to contact you and I'll have something for you to look at next week."
Believe it or not, most people are honest and if this person agrees to take the website for free and ask you questions first, they very likely will do just that. You do a good job, you treat them fairly and with respect and you will have yourself a client.
It is also very likely that this person has some ideas about the web already and has simply not found a way to provide function to his concept. He is very likely to start asking all kinds of questions and each question will provide you with an opportunity to just not say no.
Now all this discussion started because of Frederick's question about why the process wasn't working. All the words I've written can be interchanged with almost any combination of other words. what you say isn't as important as how you say it. The reason it wasn't working was because there was no Affinity, Reality and Communication. Get that part down and the world is at your feet.
Thanks to Frederick for sending in the following question:
Here's a question for our design guru--
Being from a construction background, my own web design work is usually square, orderly, with excellent navigation, and somewhat boring. My '1960 AREA WEBSITE AND DIRECTORY' is a departure from the strictly business stuff I have done in the past. This one is consumer, community, family, kids-seniors-moms and dads, pets, gardens, horoscopes et al.
Is excitement created simply by being disorderly, and is crowding everything together going to prevent visitors from getting bored?
This is a tough one, Frederick! Excitement is a very relative term when it comes to graphic design. What might be exciting on a game site could be considered chaotic on a business site, but each site needs to create a feeling of dynamic, exciting content that appeals to its target audience. Big sites, with lots of $$ to spend, tend to accomplish this by paying high end designers and programmers to keep things constantly moving. This doesn't necessarily mean that they use a lot of animation or flash movie type content, but they do tend to use programming to rotate or update content more frequently than can be done on a static html site. That said, you don't have to shell out big bucks to accomplish a similar feeling of excitement on your site.
You have already taken the first step in creating excitement on your portal. The very first thing that every designer needs to know about a planned site is the intended audience, and every decision about content, layout, colour scheme, etc. is based on that information. Your portal needs to appeal to families, so colour and dynamic content will be 2 of the most important elements in its design. Children tend to be attracted to bold primary and secondary colours, teens want things to be different every time they visit, and mom and dad want to easily find the information they need. Sounds like an impossible task, doesn't it? It isn't, really.
Let's start with navigation. Since you are going to be playing around with colour and content later, it's very important to establish a rock solid navigational system that can be carried throughout the site. Whatever else is happening on any given page, your visitors need to know how to get out or move on. You might want to use left hand navigation bars, or top and bottom, or you might want to fly in the face of tradition and use right hand navigation. Whichever you choose, you need to repeat it consistently throughout the site. You should also consider placing links to major pages at both top and bottom. Text links make for the fastest download times, but they can be a little boring. Graphic/text buttons look a little nicer, but they're pretty standard too. Amusing icons can be used to add a little excitement, as long as you make certain to use alt text to identify the links to those who might be confused by the cute little pictures.
On to colour! This is accomplished by using background colours (for tables and pages) and graphics. One or two GOOD graphics can turn up the excitement level by several notches. A splash of bold colour, here and there, can accentuate this effect. Don't be afraid to use strong colours. Primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (green, purple, orange) colours have broad appeal, and tend to work well together. They are particularly attractive to children. Just remember to leave some "white space" between your splashes of colour.
So you see, Frederick, chaos is not a necessary part of creating an exciting site. You have the basics already, with your insistence on good navigational structure, and identification of your target audience. You just need to "think outside the box" for a while, and let your imagination go. Play with rotating content. Experiment with colours that you wouldn't normally use. Let the creative side of your brain take over for a while.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
That will take care of it for another week. Don't forget to send in your questions. Remember that you can get more information specific to your question here than in the forums.
Have a great week!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========November 13, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Give Me a Chance
What the Future Holds
Looking For An Advice Columnist
GIVE ME A CHANCE
We've got the new free webhosting plus site up and running at www.free-webhosting-plus.com. It went live Saturday and already we can see a huge increase in responses. Last week we had a total of about 12 sign ups. In the last 48 hours we've had 14. We got a hit on our hands.
With this new site will come many changes and as with any changes in life it will cause some degree of concern. There are more features added, more options available and new pricing for several of these changes. Many of you are going to have questions as to how to best take advantage of the new process. Go to the forums for your answers. I will try to spend a little more time in there over the next few weeks for the specific purpose of making this transition as easy as possible for all of us.
The main thing I want everyone to understand is when I make a deal I keep it. Everyone that signed up for a portal plus or portal pro before the new site went live, (11-11-00), the rules that were posted at that time are the rules that apply to that account. If you signed up before the new rules were posted, then that is the deal you got on that account. Every feature, every option, everything you expected to get from that deal is what you will get. Every account that is taken with the new site up, those rules apply to those accounts. Every deal offered on the new site is exactly what you will get.
Now, all that I ask is for all of you to realize that the changes affect me just like they affect you. It is possible that we will make some mistakes until we develop the new procedures. If we do and you are not getting what you thought you had, don't get mad, (it just makes things harder and slows the process down), just let me know and give me a chance to take care of it.
In a little over a year of running this program, I have not mislead you, lied to you or tried to shy away from any responsibility. I'm the first to admit that I've made a lot of mistakes, but all in all, I've worked very hard to provide what I think is the just about the most unique opportunity on the net. Not so much for what I've done as much as for what I've tried to do and am continuing to try to do, I feel at the very least I should have earned your respect and trust. If you have a problem, just let me know and give me the chance to take care of it. Don't expect us to be able to do anymore than our best and cut us a little slack if we can't do what you want as fast as you want it. Expect the best from us and give us a little credit when you get our best.
At the very least, you can expect us to keep our word!
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
As I said, there have been a lot of changes made. I am extremely confident that these changes are for the good of Searchking, the members, the searching public, and the portal partners. The objective of these changes are to increase the number of people using the program to build topic-specific portals, to increase our income to the point of profitability and to provide more opportunity for success to our partners.
I'll give you a brief run-down on the things Searchking will be focusing on in the next few weeks.
After a year, the ad program for Searchking has never been working right. We basically generate absolutely nothing from our portal pluses. The whole idea of making Searchking advertising unique was that when you bought an ad on Searchking, you were buying an ad on thousands of other portals as well. Now that the new site is up, this is our first priority. We will focus on getting the text banners running on all pluses search results as well as getting the banner rotation program installed and stabilized on the power portals, the pluses and the e-mail program.
I'm very disappointed in our affiliate program. I'm not disappointed in the program itself, it works just fine. I'm disappointed in the way I have run it. We have far too few affiliates making far too few dollars. Over the next few weeks, we will be focusing on getting the affiliate program running right and making some money for our affiliates.
Our first step in this direction was to get the new site up. We now offer twice the hosting services we did before. We have the portal plus, which is free, the power portal which is basically a free homepage, the portal premium which is $20 per month, regular web hosting which is $20 per month, and the portal pro which is $49 per month. We also now offer all these paid services by the month, every 6 months and once a year. This alone should increase the dollar amount of those affiliate checks going out.
In addition, we have limited several features of the free programs and made the upgrades a paid solution. For example, with a new portal plus you still get a free classified program but it's limited to 25 ads. The objective here is to take the try it before you buy it concept to the next level. Searchking will give anyone wanting to build a quality web site or topic-specific portal site all the tools necessary absolutely free. Once the portal partner has had the chance to use those features, they can determine the value of those features for themselves. If it is a feature that can help in their success, then they will be expected to pay a small fee for it. If they feel they don't need it, they can use the free version and are not expected to pay for anything.
This makes the upgrades another very good way for the affiliates to earn income. As always, we will track for one year, anyone that signs up under that affiliates number. If within that year they upgrade to any paid version of anything, the affiliate gets paid for as long as that person continues to pay for the service they selected. This is a tremendous opportunity to build substantial residual income.
Speaking of features, we have several new feature upgrades already in the works. Once we get the ad program running, and the affiliate thing tightened up, the next thing we will focus on is new features. Some of the first new features we will be offering are:
An e-commerce solution with secure server, shopping cart, merchant accounts and custom order forms.
A homepage program so our partners can offer free web page hosting to their clients.
Professional stats, (Dave and I both are really disappointed in the current offering of stats programs and we think we have one that is much better. We have plans for offering this to the general public as a paid feature and of course do it using Searchking affiliates).
An affiliate program that portal partners can use on their own portals.
A real spider that all partners can use to build their own databases.
A mysql version and expanded search capabilities.
From there we are going to start looking into things like voice activation and recognition, video and audio applications and custom scripts. (Remember that issue of the Portal Partner Press where I talked about our goal being to provide function to concept? Well this is where all this part of these upgrades is going).
We plan on having the majority of these features operational within the first quarter of 2001 and the rest within a year from now.
While reading the staff lounge forums today, I got some news that really made my day. One of our very first portal partners became ill earlier this year. We were all really worried about her. Today she posted in the forums that she is feeling a lot better and is coming home to us all.
Karen Weber, you have been missed and we are all very happy to see you feeling well enough to become involved again. We look forward to many years of being able to work together for the good of us all.
There is also another little homecoming announcement I would like to make.
Most of you are all familiar with Netcommr. Well his name is Dave Donlinger and he is one of the people who has done a lot for a lot of partners in getting them over the humps. He has been an invaluable source of tech support in the forums. He single-handedly built the free-webhosting-plus site. He has just about rebuilt the portal program from the ground up. He has provided Searchking with a lot of unique custom scripts that no one else can offer, not to mention he has become a very important part of the Searchking machine.
Dave has worked for a company for over a year as the webmaster and promotion specialist and over this year has become increasingly unhappy with his employer and the more involved he got with Searchking, the more opportunity he saw. Dave informed me just the other day that he has decided to take me up on my offer and move to OKC for the sole purpose of getting Searchking to where we both think it can be. While this is going to be a behind the scenes kind of thing, I can assure you that this step will take Searchking and all your portals to a new level faster than anything else that could have happened. This is really going to start pushing things forward.
Now I'll go back to working on Mike, Shane and Dan.
Many thanks to Jacques for sending these questions:
The power html-build-Portal = cgi-build-Portal (or not)? Or too close to call? (a new expression I have learned this week)
Do I have to use an html-editor (Homesite, AceHtml) or can I use a WYSIWYG like Frontpage2000?
I have seen in the forums that Raffman (Rafferty) and Jane Ellen are occupied with the practical problems of html-build, ftp-upload and other things. Maybe there is one disadvantage: the reindexing of the database. How does it go in both systems? Automatic adaptation or total reindexing after each update?
I have made a link in my kite-website web.wanadoo.be/belkite/ but I don't think it works right (for the affiliate). Do you (or somebody else) see what's wrong?
The decision to use dynamic cgi or built html for your portal will depend on a number of things. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on which set of issues works best for your situation.
Dynamic cgi offers the fastest way to get your portal online, and maintain your site. Changes made in the template editor are immediately integrated into the site, with no further steps necessary. This might be the best option for someone new to the program, because it offers the fewest steps to publishing. This method also conserves server space, since all interior search engine pages are dynamically generated. This means that pages are created as needed, and disappear after use. They don't take up space in your site. If you have a large database, or limited space available, you probably want to consider using dynamic cgi to generate your internal Hyperseek pages.
That said, there are two major disadvantages to this method. Using dynamic cgi forces the server to work harder. It must create all of the internal Hyperseek pages from "scratch", every time someone clicks on a category link or performs a search. This can slow down your site, especially if the server is busy. The second major disadvantage is that dynamic pages cannot be indexed by search engines, because they don't really exist. If you choose the dynamic cgi option, only your home page will be indexable.
Built html gets rid of the disadvantages of the dynamic cgi method. Server response tends to be faster, because the pages already exist, and all of your category and subcategory pages can be indexed by the search engines. If you have a relatively small database, or lots of space on your site, this might be the option for you.
Of course, this method also has disadvantages. If your space is limited, you have a large database, or you have a lot of other services on your portal, built html might not be an option. Remember that using built html creates static html pages for each of your categories and subcategories, and each of those pages takes up space on the server. The larger your database, the more pages created, and the more space used.
The other disadvantage of built html is that template changes and new listings are not automatically integrated into the site. You must rebuild the html pages every time you add a listing, make a change to your templates, or have a new classified ad to be posted.
Text editor, or WYSIWYG? Hmm, tough question. WYSIWYG editors, like FrontPage 2000 are fine for doing your template layouts. If you aren't too sure of html, they can save you a lot of time. You do have to make certain that the program options are set so that the program does not "correct" any code that you enter, because all of your plugins will have to be added through the html view, or "add html" option. Most WYSIWYG editors also add in unnecessary bits of code that can be removed without affecting the page. FrontPage 2000 tends to add in extra div and center tags, sometimes in the most ridiculous places (like between table cells). These can, and should, be removed once you are comfortable "reading" html. Getting rid of the extra tags, and taking out unnecessary indentation in the html code can shave one to two seconds off your page download time. That's a nice bonus for taking the time to learn a little bit about html.
SearchKing affiliate links should always end with the affiliate number. They should look like this: http://secure.interferenza.net/searchkingportal4u/al/affiliates.cgi?YOURAFFILIATENUMBER Just replace YOURAFFILIATENUMBER with the actual number you were assigned.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at email@example.com
LOOKING FOR AN ADVICE COLUMNIST
Lynne, I want to say publicly how much I appreciate the job you are doing. You have given so much to so many without ever asking for anything in return. That says a lot about you and I want you to know that I for one think you are a very special person and I am very proud to have someone like you as a partner.
Lynne's forte is design not marketing. She is an excellent marketer for sure, but that is not what she feels is her best point. So, we are still looking for someone who wants to take on the job of advice columnist on the topic of portal marketing. We had someone that just could not get their schedule worked out, so we have that spot open if anyone would like to become famous.
You don't have to be some "expert". The net has plenty of those already. You just have to care about your portal partners enough to want to do what you can to help. If you're interested, let me know in e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, that's it for another week kids. Send me those Ask Lynne questions! We don't want her getting used to time off do we?
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========November 20, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Opportunity is Knocking Our Doors Down
A spidering We Will Go
SK Affiliate Program
Have a Great Holiday
OPPORTUNITY IS KNOCKING OUR DOORS DOWN
This past week or so has seen some major changes in the world of search services. It's actually been going on since GoTo started its pay for placement bidding service two years ago, then Yahoo upped the ante with it's paid review guarantee. This last couple of weeks though has caused quite an uproar, at least among webmasters who specialize in guaranteeing top spots on those major search services.
This last two weeks has seen the announcement by GoTo.com that now their results will be displayed on the top of the results for AOL, Netscape, Lycos, Hot Bot and Alta Vista. This pretty much answers the question that has been raging for the last several months: Are free listings in the search engines a thing of the past? Well, maybe not quite yet, but it appears obvious that it won't be long.
I've been a member and a moderator for several years of some of the biggest search engine placement forums on the net and I frequent them almost daily. The topic of what is going to happen to the search engine placement business has been hotly debated recently with most views leaning towards gloom and doom. The general consensus is why would anyone pay a search engine placement service when they can pay the search engine directly?
This particular question is exclusive to the placement industry and I don't see it as being really important to us as portal owners. What I do see as significant is the other questions such as what about the little guy? Does this mean now that the only people who have a chance at success are the ones that can afford to buy their search engine listings?
At first glance, those questions above seem reasonable, except for people like us.
Where are people who can't afford to pay $3.47 a click going to go? Where are people who run small businesses with no intention of becoming the next Yahoo going to go? Where can a guy just get a break? One answer that comes to mind is Searchking.
We are all sitting in an incredible position of being able to capitalize on all this upheaval. We are building the world's only community of topic specific portals. By using Searchking and it's directory as a foundation we are in a position to offer everyone regardless of their budget, a place to get their website seen, honestly and fairly.
While at this time, the major amount of dissention is coming from search engine placement people, it's not going to be long before every webmaster in the world is very aware of what is happening at the majors. Do you think the first thing they might do is start looking for alternatives? Do you think once they realize they are not going to come up in the top 10 of Alta Vista without paying through the nose for it regardless of how much hidden text they put on their page, that they might start considering the value of targeted traffic from a topic specific search engine?
Alta Vista is supposed to be one of the fastest indexing search engines around and it takes a minimum of a week to ten days. Now you have to pay for the privilege of waiting 10 days. Searchking indexes instantly, the same as everyone of your portals can.
Once you are in Alta Vista, if you make changes to your site, it can take literally months to get your changes updated. Searchking allows you to edit your site instantly. Do these sound like features that may be appealing to someone once they discover they have to pay for the service those engines offer?
For a long time now I've been concerned with marketing Searchking and it's portal program. All of a sudden I see a way that our competitors are going to start marketing for us. Marketing is still going to be an important factor in our future plans, all I'm saying is that our market has just increased by thousands of percentage points and it's due to the decisions THEY made and not ones we have made. One of our biggest challenges has been how to get webmasters and searchers to see the value in our service and our philosophy and that job has just gotten a lot easier.
Another aspect of this is that right now the same press that caused so much excitement in tech stocks just a mere 18 months ago, now seems to delight in putting every internet company failure as the top headline. Again, this gets the gloom and doom guys posting feverishly in their respective forums announcing that e-commerce is dead, the future of the internet is bleak and so on. Absolutely ridiculous! Nothing could be further from the truth.
The only thing that is coming to an end are companies that never should have been valued in the 100's of millions of dollars in the first place. All that has happened is that the venture capitalists have proved that in spite of their greed, they are not as smart as they thought they were.
Do any of you really think the internet is going away? That people are going to decide that since pets.com went broke, there is no value to the net? Again, absolutely ridiculous. The promise of the net is as alive as it was in the 60's. What is dying is the mad dash for getting rich quick. Far too many companies went public for the simple reason they could. They couldn't see past their own wallets and now the fiddler has to be paid.
Internet companies that were so over-valued were in such a hurry to cash in that they didn't look realistically at what they were claiming to be able to do. The internet was never intended to be the world's shopping mall, it was intended to pass information more quickly, more reliably and more securely. While those companies were correct in assuming that a part of any retail sale involves the exchange of information, they missed the boat in not realizing that the information was the key and not the fact that now people all over the world could give their credit card number to a company they never heard of before, had no idea of who they were or if they could be trusted, wait 3-7-10-or 30 days to get the product they bought, wondering the whole time if they made a good decision or if they just did the stupidest thing of their life, then pay shipping charges which in most cases just deleted the savings they made buying online, assuming of course they actually got the product they ordered. Other than that, no problem.
That is not to say that retail is not going to be a big part of this whole internet thing. As with any public medium, the net will be supported and driven by advertising and the end result of advertising is sales, but still the key to this whole process is the fast, easy and secure exchange of information. What is a good source of information? A topic specific or hometown portal maybe? See where I'm going with this? This is why I see all the gloom and doom stuff going on right now as nothing but opportunity for us.
Now, one other factor comes into play here in regards to all these internet companies going broke. Trust. Some of the names of those companies just kill me. E-clamation.com Napster. Like the guy who paid 7 million for business.com. With a name like that you KNOW you can trust this person. Trust is something you build. Everyone of you reading this know of some business in your town that has been open for 10 - 20 or even 100 years. Why do you think that is? Do you figure it's because they spam like crazy or is it more likely that they have proven themselves to be fair and honest and simply do what they say they will do? My guess is the latter.
Well for anyone who cares to take the time, read some of the information posted on Searchking. That information has not changed for over three years. It expresses our commitment to honesty, fairness and doing what we say we will do. While the concept is not new, I challenge anyone to find similar statements on any of the major engines. We're honest and we're proud of it.
Now for three and a half years I've had to listen to people telling me I'm crazy for not cashing in. For not accepting VC funding and grabbing all I could get like everybody else. Well I'm the first to admit that my sanity may indeed be questionable, but not about this. I was never in it for the money. I was in it for the long haul and I am as convinced as ever that in the end, the businesses that will still be here and really make money are the ones that people can come to trust. I want that to be Searchking and it's portal partners. We will be the ones left standing when all the spammers and the money grabbers have all moved on to greener pastures. There is value in honesty and fairness and I intend to prove it with your help or die trying!
I'm sure that some of you are not seeing this wonderful opportunity I'm talking about. How does being honest and not making sales make us money Bob? If that's what you think I've said then you're mistaken. Actually, I'm saying just the opposite. For the next few issues I'm going to be exploring some of what I see as the possibilities we all have by running a topic specific portal, focusing on what I and Searchking intend to do to help. In fact, I'll start now.
A'SPIDERING WE WILL GO
As I've said, one of the keys of capitalizing on the promise of the net is in supplying relevant information. Our portals are an excellent way of doing that, but we need content in our databases. Now just like you, I'm a search service owner and I'm faced with the same problems that you are. The catch 22 to filling our databases is we need traffic to get submissions which we use as content and we need content to get the traffic. That basically leaves us with two options. Either sit patiently and wait for our databases to build up or go get the content we need.
Back when I had Sarge doing the programming for Searchking, one of the first things we built was a spider. We ran into a problem when once we spidered and added a site, the owner of that site could not then become a member and be able to edit his own site. At the time Sarge didn't have the ability or the time to address the problem so we just left it alone. So, for almost three years, Searchking lacked quality content for far too many keyword searches.
Then along comes Dan. Dan is putting the finishing touches on a spider that will go get data, insert it into the database and still be able to identify whose site it is so that once the site is entered, the owner of that site, (who cares enough to take the time), can go in and easily set up their account and edit their listings.
Also, we are finally able to address a major concern of mine that has been kicking my hiney for the whole time I've been involved with Searchking. PORN! While Searchking has never discriminated against any legal business, (except hate sites of which some have not been officially termed illegal), the one thing that has always really made me angry, are people that would list their sites under keywords their site didn't belong under. The VAST majority of these problems have come from the adult industry. Keywords like dolls, toys, kids and things like that have always been a severe problem and has no doubt cost Searchking thousands of people that otherwise may have enjoyed their experience. This has come directly from the fact that we assume people are honest and therefore allow them to have their sites indexed instantly. That philosophy has, for the most part worked out very well and I'm very proud of that, but the sad fact is that due to a few people who couldn't care less about you or me or anyone else as long as they could get one more hit, it has seriously hindered what Searchking should be.
The voting was supposed to take care of this problem. The idea was that any webmaster who pulled that little stunt would be voted down within minutes and have to realize that his time had just been wasted and there were other engines where he could get a better return on his investment of time. The thing I overlooked is that, anyone who types in dolls and then gets back some filthy, disgusting title and description doesn't feel much like voting or doing anything other than hitting the back button never to return. Making sure to pass the word along to all her friends in the process.
Finally, Dan has changed all that. The spider is set up to filter out the words that I find objectionable. I'm confident that my word list is pretty much the same as yours would be. Now this isn't perfect anymore than anyone else's system is perfect, but it is much, much better and at least puts Searchking in a position very similar to our competitors. Now that the filter is installed in the spider, it is a simple process to include that filter in the main engines as well so from now on, (it isn't quite operational yet but will be very soon), any submission that we spider or that is hand submitted, that contains any of those words will be sent to a file that will be human reviewed. This should leave us with only real spam and low quality sites to deal with and without the nasty stuff coming up on un-related stuff, we expect more people to start using the voting feature and that will eliminate the chaff from the wheat. The crap drops to the bottom and the gold goes to the top. We have a quality, human reviewed, fair, honest and free search engine. I'm excited.
The reason I'm telling you all this is that one of our objectives with this spider is to be able to offer it to our partners as well. One of the main features of Searchking is in being able to offer a portal about a keyword as opposed to just a listing of sites. Well that means that my reputation is tied to yours and if I'm going to have a quality service using you, then you have to have a quality service as well.
We're signing up portal partners like crazy due to the new free thing. Of course the problem with that is a lot of people signing up just want something for free and have no intention of really putting any kind of work into their portal. BUT, some of them do realize the value of the program and for those people, I'll build their database for them if I have to.
I don't have any details worked out yet so I can't give you any as to how this is going to work, but you know that if I tell you it's coming, it's coming!
SK AFFILIATE PROGRAM
Another important aspect of sharing in this opportunity is the SK affiliate program. Dave is building our own program to enable us to automate the process more and to keep better track of all sales. We are focusing on upgrades as a marketing strategy as well as ad sales and we want all partners to be affiliates and share in that.
Setting this thing up is not as easy as you might think. The one we have now works fine for what it does and we will continue to use it until the new one is running, but we don't want to put the new one out until we have had time to think it through and make sure that it is going to be what we want. Also, we are going to be building it as an upgrade for our partners too. If it works for Searchking, it will work for you.
There is an affiliate link at the bottom of the Portal Partner Press and I urge you to use it if you're not already an affiliate. As I said, the one we have works just fine, it's just not all that we want.
I realize that most of what I've been talking about here today is controversial and I'm sure I've stirred some pretty strong emotions and opinions on the subject. I urge you to send them my way. Whether you agree with me or not, I want to hear what you have to say. I would love to be able to open a serious discussion about all this. What's on your mind? Let me know!
Also, I didn't get an Ask Lynne question this week. I guess everybody has gotten their portals exactly the way they want them and don't have anymore questions. C'mon kids, get involved and take advantage of what so many people are trying so hard to provide you with!
I'm so excited about all the stuff I've been talking about that I have an urge to go on, but I won't. I'll let this be it for now and wish all our American partners a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Also, there won't be an issue of the PPP next week. I'll be in New Orleans for the holidays and want a little time for myself and Kathi (The world's most neglected wife. She deserves much better than she gets from me most of the time).
Now get out there and do some shopping online! Check the portal directory first though.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
Sunday, October 1, 2000
========October 9, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
About four years ago I was asked by a top placement client of Magic-city's, who happened to have just started a web marketing newsletter, if I would be willing to contribute some search engine placement tips. Thinking #1, I'd like to help my client, and #2 figuring it wouldn't hurt to get a little more exposure, I agreed. After my first article, my client had several e-mails from readers asking him questions about search engine placement. He forwarded these questions to me, I answered them the best I could and sent them back. He then published those questions and answers in his next issue.
Over the next few weeks, my regular contribution evolved into a weekly "Ask Bob" column. Somehow I had turned into a kind of Dear Abby of search engines. Two things quickly became apparent to me and my client. This was working! He went from a little over 200 subscribers to over 3,000 in about a month. For myself, I noticed a substantial increase in online orders and phone calls from potential clients. Obviously this was a win-win situation.
I had been writing this "Ask Bob" column for about two months when someone contacted me who had read the Web Gold and asked if I would be willing to do the same for her E-zine. Since it had worked out so well with the first one, I readily agreed. Her little internet rag had about 2,500 readers so now I was up to over 5,000 people a week reading my articles. Then another came along with over 20,000 readers. Then another with over 100,000 readers.
This was getting out of hand. While I enjoyed the increased sales, (the phone was ringing off the hook), I found I was getting slammed by all the questions pouring in. I had to make the decision to limit my time in doing this even though I enjoyed it immensely. Not only were my sales going up, I had developed the reputation as a search engine "expert" and I was able to help a lot of people and have a direct impact on the way the net was working, but the fact remained that I was running out of time. I just couldn't do anymore than I was doing and still be able to run my business. So I stopped accepting any more offers to write for newsletters and I started limiting the questions to just one or two a week from each of the publications. Now, I continued to still write a lot of articles for various internet publications, mostly because I enjoyed it but also because I realized the extreme marketing value of having thousands of people reading my articles, but I did limit the "Ask Bob" stuff because that was a weekly thing and just writing articles I could do at my leisure.
I've been doing this "Ask Bob" thing for a long time now and after all this time, I still enjoy a level of respect in this industry that few of my competitors have. It has been the single biggest reason for my search engine placement company's continued growth and success. It has been an excellent source of "free" promotion and no small contribution to my image on the web.
The reason I am telling you this has a direct relation to Searchking and specifically the Portal Partner Press.
For the last few weeks now, I've been mentioning the fact that we are getting very close to making some dramatic changes to the portal program. We are re-vamping the sign up page and the procedures to enable us to be able to offer the plus for free. We have an advertising campaign planned which will involve strictly e-zine and newsletter subscribers with a budget of almost 20% of our monthly gross going to pay for strategically placed ads to targeted audiences. We will change the focus of our program from portal hosting to free web hosting plus. We will push the fact that Searchking is the only free web host in the world offering a web site PLUS a search engine, PLUS a forum, PLUS a classified program, PLUS your own vanity e-mail. That's a lot of features for any web host and we expect to increase our partner base from the hundreds to the thousands in the next few weeks. I'm projecting over 10,000 portal partners by the end of this year.
Now, the purpose of the portal partner press has always been to educate and motivate our partners. In keeping with that objective, I would like to do whatever I can to increase the value of the PPP. One way of doing that is to make the PPP more interactive and the best way I know of doing that is to do the "Ask Bob" thing. Only Bob gets asked enough as it is. I want to use the same concept, only with other partners.
I want to invite some of you to become "portal experts" by doing a weekly column for the PPP. I have room for about three or four of you experts to do a weekly "Ask Me" column covering different topics of interest in regards to the portal program. I would like to see things covered like portal marketing, portal search engine placement, portal software and portal development.
We will start just like I did with the Ask Bob thing. You will write a short article about your chosen topic. We will include a short bio for you and then ask all the partners to submit any question they have. I'll send you the question, you answer it, and we publish it in the next week's issue.
The advantage to me is the increased value of the PPP to our partners and the advantage to you is the exposure and the opportunity to become established as an "expert" on your topic. At the beginning, the extreme value of providing this kind of a service may not be readily apparent to you. We are still small and being a Searchking portal expert may not have a lot of clout right now, BUT, Searchking is in a position to become the world leader in providing portal software. Over the next 12 to 36 months it is very likely that the topic specific portal market will be dominated by Searchking. Once we start seeing numbers of portal partners in the tens of thousands and maybe even in the millions, being a Searchking portal expert may now be quite a financial feather in your cap. I'd like the chance to make you famous.
If you're interested in this deal, just send me a short article on the topic you choose and a bio. After reading them, I'll make my decision and send you an e-mail letting you know if you're the one for that topic. Send the article, or any comments or suggestions you have, to email@example.com.
Okay, so how do I make those nifty, teensy graphics?
Graphic file size is something that every webmaster has to deal with on a regular basis. Those of us who create graphics for a living have a whole slew of tools that we can use to optimize graphics for fast download, but not everyone wants, or can afford, the software that we rely on for image optimization. So, if you can't afford, or don't want to buy, things like Photoshop, or CorelDraw / PhotoPaint, how do you go about getting your image files down to a size that won't take a week to download? Fear not, there is a way!
Most of you have at least one image creation program. Maybe you bought FrontPage, and have MS Image Composer. Or you might have Paint Shop Pro. Or you did some hunting around and found one of the free image creation programs that are available for download. Whatever program you have, and whatever optimization tools it has, chances are that the files it creates are not as small as they could be. That's okay, because I'm going to tell you how to get those file sizes down, without losing a whole lot of image quality.
Let's assume that you're working with a photograph that you want to put on your web site. The first thing you'll need to do is take a good close look at that photo, and decide just how much of it you really need. Cropping off exterior, unwanted portions of your photo is the first step in getting the file size under control. (Important note: never work on the original image. Always make a copy, and work from that copy.) Once you've decided that all you really want from this photo is the dog in the Santa hat, and part of the Christmas tree behind him, you can use your cropping tool to cut out everything else. Presto, you've probably just cut your file size in half.
Next, we're going to take a look at the image resolution. Odds are that it's at either 150 or 300 dpi (dots per inch), which is great for printing, but BAD for web graphics. Since all monitors display at 72 dpi, we can safely change the image resolution to match, as long as we can select a "resample" or "maintain image size" option to go with the resolution change. Presto again! Your file size is probably less than half what it was before the resolution change.
Now it's time to take a look at how much space you have available on your web page. Let's say the space is about 150 pixels wide, but, whoops, your photo is 235 pixels wide. No problem! Your program should have an image size tool. Go into it, and tell it how wide you need your photo to be, and MAKE SURE you select "maintain aspect ratio". This will tell the program to resize the image proportionally, so that it doesn't get all distorted. And, presto yet again! Your file size just got smaller.
Time to save your work. Since we're working with a photo, we need to save the file as a jpg. Most current image programs will offer you a compression ratio option when saving jpgs. If yours does, "medium" is probably a good choice.
Now, let's check the file size. Hmm, 9k. Not bad, but that will add about 5 seconds to your page download time, at 28.8. You've already done as much optimizing as your graphics program will allow you to do, how on earth are you going to get that file any smaller?
Not to worry. There are several good, online image compressing services available. The best I've found is at www.spinwave.com. They offer visitors the chance to compress individual images online, using their jpg cruncher or gif cruncher programs. You can play around with different compression ratios, and pick the result that you like best. If you want to give the programs a real workout, you can download the free trials, and crunch away to your heart's content. Then, if you REALLY like the programs, you can actually buy them for a very reasonable price (around $50 US).
Hey presto! You've got a nice looking image that's optimized so that it will download quickly, and you haven't had to go out and spend $1000 to do it.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication. You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Bob's for you
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========October 16, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Home Town Portals - Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money
Ask Lynne About Portal Design
Ask Andre About Portal Marketing
HOMETOWN PORTALS - MO MONEY, MO MONEY, MO MONEY
About three months ago, I did a series of articles about the advantages and opportunities of bringing the internet to main street by running a hometown portal. I spent a good deal of time sharing some ideas of how I would do it in the hopes of motivating at least a percentage of our partners to focus on this concept. It worked and several of you have started building these hometown portals using some of my ideas and incorporating your own as well. This is wonderful!
A big part of the concept revolved around using web hosting and web site design as a service to offer to your local businesses as a way of generating steady, residual income. Today, I'd like to expound on that concept a little in the hopes of giving all you hometown portal owners a little more incentive to go out there, hit the street and start making that $300,000 a year so I can start bragging about it.
Those national and global job directories are absolutely great. For all those people who want to re-locate to exotic locations around the country or around the globe, just go to one of those big job sites, browse the listings, post your resume and with a little luck, you're packing your bags and moving to that hot spot you've always dreamed of and doing it with that dream job to boot. But what about a guy or gal that likes living where they are, in your hometown? Maybe they don't want to move to Malaysia, maybe they just want to find a job. What about the business owner who needs a webmaster but doesn't want to spend the money to find, interview and then re-locate Mohammed from Kuwaiti, he just needs to hire another employee? Where do they go? Well, if you would just offer the service, they could very likely be going to you.
Over the weekend I ran across this little tidbit. OklahomaCityHelpWanted.com. Take a quick look at this site and see if you see the opportunities I see. These folks make a few bucks by hosting and maintaining websites for professional job placement companies. They make money by posting ads from employers looking for help. They offer free resume placement with free updates, BUT, they will also help you prepare your resume for a fee. They also run other kinds of ads, (notice the little box with the poll?). I quickly see another way to make a few bucks by hosting pages for companies and job seekers. You could also tie this in as a freebie for clients whose sites you are already maintaining. Let's assume you have a restaurant for a client. Restaurants are always needing additional staff, so it's pretty likely they would be willing to pay another $20 a month or so for you to maintain a help wanted page for them.
This is a very nice site and there is absolutely nothing on it that your portal could not do. In fact, your portal can do much more. If you look at the site like I did, as a portal owner, you'll see a couple of handy little features that this site does not offer. Like a search engine. They offer a way to search ads all right, but there is no directory on the front page offering categories which you as a portal owner could charge extra for to get top placement, or to hilight certain ads etc. It also doesn't offer any type of vanity e-mail which could be of extreme value to some clients or visitors. Finally, it doesn't offer any type of forum for people to ask questions in and get answers from. All these things YOU can offer.
MO MONEY - MO MONEY - MO MONEY
Here's another little approach to kind of the same thing as the help wanted idea. In every town there are real estate agents. The bigger the town the more real estate agents. While this industry has latched onto the internet in a big way, it certainly does not mean that all agents are web savvy enough to build and maintain their own websites. My guess is their job is to sell real estate and not build web sites. This means there is a lot of opportunity.
By using a portal, why not have yourdomain.com/realestate? You could host pages for different agencies for a monthly fee. For those of you that read my article about using digital cameras to bring life to your hometown site, you could charge the agent for taking digital pictures of the property.
Just by using apartments, residential housing for sale, residential housing for lease, commercial properties, and corporate housing, those alone are enough to build a pretty decent directory. Again, charge realtors for hosting, maintenance, advertising, digital photos, top placement in the search results and anything else you can think of and you have built a pretty good source of steady, residual income. Not to mention the fact that you have incorporated a very valuable resource about your community which only enhances your website and it's value to all visitors. Anyway you look at it, this is a good thing.
One of the great things about this concept is that by using the same old "DON'T SELL ANYTHING - JUST DON'T SAY NO" approach, sales should be as easy as falling off a log. Just walk into any real estate office and ask to speak their webmaster. No matter who they send out to talk to you, just ask permission to link your site to theirs. If they ask you if you could build a website for them, just don't say no! Once you have even one or two of your local realtors, the others can't say no. Once they start calling you, you can just about name your price.
Once again, don't take my word for it, try it for yourself. I can almost guarantee you that if you just pick up the phone, go to your local yellow pages and call 5 realtors, ask for their webmaster then ask permission to link to their site, at least one of them is going to ask what you charge to build a "real estate" site. Do it and then write me with your results and if you can prove I'm wrong, I'll publish your comments and make a public apology. One of my favorite sayings is, "I could be wrong ---- but I'm not!"
MO MONEY MO MONEY MO MONEY!
Last week I told you all about my experiences with the ASK BOB articles I write and asked if any of you would like to do the same type of thing in the Portal Partner Press. I've had two people respond this last week that I think will be a fine addition to the editorial staff, (loosely translated means people that I can get to do work for free).
One is Lynne Scott who you all should know by now as our resident portal design expert. Lynne is going to be absolutely excellent for answering any kind of design questions. Not only does she have the experience to know how to build great looking portals, she knows how to build them so they can make you money! I encourage any one that asks her a question to pay very close attention to her answers. She is the kind of person who can make all the difference in the world when it comes to making the site look and perform at it's best. She is the kind of person you could expect to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars just for consulting, but because you're a portal partner, you can pick her brain for free.
The other person is Andre Foisy. He is going to answer any of your portal marketing questions. Having a website is one thing, making it sell is another. Andre has been involved in several aspects of net marketing for several years now and knows where to get the answers to questions regarding marketing.
Each of these folks have contributed articles for your enjoyment today and as a way of introducing the new ASK LYNNE ABOUT PORTAL DESIGN and ASK ANDRE ABOUT PORTAL MARKETING FEATURES, we will be running as regular additions to the Portal Partner Press. Simply send any question you have of Lynne or Andre to email@example.com. I'll forward them to the right person and then publish the answers to your questions in next week's edition.
ASK LYNNE ABOUT PORTAL DESIGN
My Plugins are Bouncing All Over the Place
No, the server isn't on drugs. No, there's probably nothing wrong with your html. This one happens because of differences in the way browsers render code. Plugin elements that are perfectly centered in Internet Explorer show up left justified in Netscape Navigator. That's because most versions of NN don't recognize paragraph alignment for comment tags.
If you're using a wysiwyg editor, you probably just clicked on the center button, then added in your plugin code. The result is usually something that looks like this:
Works great in IE, but in NN the search box will show up left aligned, even if you add in a closing paragraph tag. Not to worry, it can be fixed.
Open your page in Notepad, and find the plugin. Then delete the
On the line following the plugin, add
You should now have this:
Check it out. Your search box should now be beautifully centered in both IE and NN!
A word of caution here. Some newer html validators will tell you that the center /center notation is obsolete, and that you should use p align="center". While, strictly speaking, this may be true, you'll never get those plugins to line up properly, in all browsers, using the p align= method. In this case, newer does not equal better.
Just a note, this will be the last "Lynne's Tips" article that I write for the PPP. Starting next week, this column will become "Ask Lynne", and I'll try to answer your design related questions. So, if you have any burning questions, be sure to send them to the email addy Bob set up for this, and I'll try to answer as many of them as I can!
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
ASK ANDRE ABOUT PORTAL MARKETING
THE POWER OF GIVING. If You can't Give It... You Can't Sell It! ©2000 - Andre Foisy
A few years ago I was working as an account manager for a very big computer applications training school. The main part of the task was to find people, the ones in charge of the computer training department, from different organizations, and GIVE them, totally FREE, the computer training application course of their choice.
We Were Giving Away FREE Computer Training Courses!
Hey, doesn't this remind you of something? FREE Stuff!
Why in the world are we doing that? You may ask...
The reason we were giving away free courses was to DRAW IN the ones who had the everyday difficult task of computer training and user support in their organization. We wanted them to come in so we could show them the quality of our installations, classrooms and latest technology equipment. We wanted to give them the opportunity to try out our high tech training classes. We knew that once they experienced the quality of our classes they would buy more course packages to train their own employees.
If you can't give it... You Can't Sell It!
In order to succeed in business, especially online, you have to make sales presentations.
A Lot Of Presentations!
In order to make sales presentations from your Web site, you have to DRAW people IN to your Web Site. You must give them a reason to visit your site so you can give them a presentation on your products/services as in an Infomercial. Yes, think of your Web site as an Infomercial and build it as is. Why? Simple... have you ever watched an Infomercial on TV? Do you think they would do more and more of these if they weren't making tons of money? That could be another subject but, just remember that for 30 minutes all they do in their presentation is express benefits, Benefits and BENEFITS.
To DRAW people IN to your Web site you must absolutely GIVE them a REASON (people are always asking "What's in it for me?") to visit your Web site. The easiest and most simple way to DRAW people IN to your Web site is by GIVING them something of real VALUE for FREE.
Find something that your target market might be interested in and try to provide it for FREE. This should be something that you don't have to spend money to provide. For example, let's say you have an online computer/software store, you could easily draw in a lot of people to you Web site by promoting everywhere that you are offering FREE answers on computer or software technical questions.
FREE Answers To Your Technical, Hardware and Software Questions! Click Here --&qt; [.]
Visit our Hardware and Software Computer Online Store! Click Here --> [.]
Quite frankly! Where would you go if you'd need information and/or help and you'd have to choose between the two above ads?
Of course, the first place! The reason is simple, people are not naturally going online to buy their computer stuff. They are going online, first for their entertainment, and second to get information. All studies are showing that people are going online, at first, for those two main reasons.
If you were offering free answers to computer problems, they would go to your site even if they don't need computer stuff right now... because they deal every day with computer hardware and software problems. They don't need or want to know that it's a computer store that's offering the service (yes, people are selfish, aren't you?), all they want to know is that if they have problems, you guys can help them, and for FREE.
If you see an ad about online computer stuff and you don't need any right now... you won't pay a visit to this site. But, if you've just found a place where you can get FREE help on your everyday computer problems... not only will you probably take a peak at the site but you will probably bookmark it and come back often for your little technical needs.
See my point? This is a "valuable service" that people can use for FREE provided by your online computer store. It's up to YOU then - while your visitors are using your FREE service and browsing your site - to make your sales presentations. Now, guess where our new FRIENDS are going to buy their next computer stuff? That's right! Especially if you have good quality products/services... at the right price!
Now you see, with this example, that the computer store has found a way to DRAW people IN to their Web site. Their Online Store in fact. They have been able to GIVE their target market something of VALUE for FREE. Now they are qualified to sell them something. They have such a good presentation and VALUE that they don't even need to really SELL anything... People are more than HAPPY TO BUY from them because they provide such a great service.
Internet Culture is what it is! If you can GIVE me something of real VALUE for FREE... I might be interested in doing business with you. "Please educate me... I don't know about everything yet!" We are all looking for free stuff because we are used to that. In the beginning everything was FREE on the Internet. Free, Interesting and FUN, with GOOD VALUE.
Education is probably the hottest product that you can sell online and the most beautiful part is that you can acquire it and provide it, both for FREE.
These principles are applicable to any kind of business that you would like to drive online. Whether you want to promote online stores, MLMs, associate/affiliate or reseller programs, your home-based business or your big corporation. To Win Online, you must provide Netizens with FREE and VALUABLE services and/or information and/or products.
Unless you have the zillions budget for advertising on the Net, giving the advantage of the "numbers game" to big corporations, the only way you can drive repeated traffic to your site and succeed online is by giving away something of value to people.
Provide what we are all looking for at first... Entertainment and Information.
As another example, if you sell vitamins on the Net, you're probably as concerned as I am about health issues. Of course the first reason I'm going on the Net is not to buy vitamins... but to find information and be entertained. So don't try to get my attention with ads like this...
We got The best Vitamins on the Net!
New Miracle product to give you more power!
or even worse
Make Tons of Money Selling our Vitamins! (Hypy, isn't it?)
I don't care about "best vitamins" or "miracle products", and I don't care about selling it either. There's zillions of "best vitamins" and "miracle products" online and they all want me to sell or buy their products. On the other hand if you provide me valuable information as:
"Instantly! Relieve Stress! Do it yourself. It's easy, fun, and it brings a lot of satisfaction. We have a free educational report waiting just for you right now at: [yourautoresponder] or visit our Web site at: [http://YOUR_URL.com] <-- Click Here:)"
(note: it would be even more powerful if the URL was [http://outofstress.com/do_it_yourself.html], but that would be another subject to discuss... :) )
And of course, if your site provides me with what I'm looking for and "MORE"
... then I'll probably bookmark your site, subscribe to your newsletter, mailing list, BBS, contest... etc... By keeping me running in an informative and valuable content Web site, you'll have plenty of time to make all the products/services sales presentations you want.
Now, becoming not just a regular user, but a friend of yours, you have my confidence, we have networked together, we now know each other, if ever I need what you are selling I will certainly buy it from you.
Don't you think ?
If you can GIVE people something of VALUE for FREE, you can DRAW them IN to your Web site for your presentations... and make a LOT OF SALES!
If you can't give it... You Can't Sell It!
(c)2000 - Andre Foisy - MICMegaComm.com Andre Foisy is building a community of worldwide netizens interested in learning how to properly, ethically and successfully conduct business in the New Economy, with Internet technologies. FREE Internet Business Education and free access to our secret web site! Jump now to MICMegaComm.com!
Well portal kids, that will do it for another week. I want to hear from you. Tell me if what we are sharing with you here is working. Tell me if there is anything more we can do to help you help yourself. Remember, if we're not doing good then tell us, but if we ARE doing good, then tell somebody else!!
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========October 23, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Okay, So Don't Ask
Now This Is Feedback!
OKAY, SO DON'T ASK
Two weeks ago, in the October 9th issue of the PPP, I asked for resident experts to offer their services and unique insight into building better portals to all our portal partners in the form of a weekly discussion in the Press. We were very fortunate to have two highly qualified people respond, offering to cover two of the most important aspects of portal building. One was the area of design and the other marketing.
Last week, I published a short article from both of our "experts". These were intended to give you an idea of what quality of support you could expect in the form of answers to your questions.
I was a little disappointed this last week not to receive a single question from any member for either of the two people who have so graciously agreed to help. I realize that it may be from some lack of instructions on my part. Maybe I didn't make it very clear what we were doing and how it was supposed to work.
In this issue, I'm going to attempt to make it as easy and clear as absolutely possible for everyone reading this to "see" the incredible value of the service these fine folks are offering and make it just as easy and clear to "see" how to take advantage of this resource.
The thing is, this program has the potential to make any one of you realize your web dreams. This is by far the most powerful tool I've ever seen on the net. Want to be the next Yahoo? This portal program can do it! No matter what your chosen subject matter is, this portal program at the very least, can build a much better website than the vast majority of your competitors in any field. The problem with anything this powerful is, you have to learn how to use it to it's full advantage. Even the experts will tell you that.
Realizing education being probably the single most important factor in building the best site possible, we have gone to great lengths to make getting that education as easy as we know how. There are so many people involved in this project that see the value of this program and have therefore unselfishly offered their own time to try to help. This ASK LYNNE and ASK ANDRE thing is just another extension of that commitment and to see it go to waste would be a real shame.
When it comes to building a portal, there are no library books to read. There are no seminars to attend. There is no home study course you can buy. The best chance for you to build a better site is to help your fellow partners build a better site. The best chance for any one of us to succeed, is to see all of us succeed. By helping each other and the open exchange of knowledge and ideas, we open more doors together than any one of us could ever hope to have the time to open on our own.
Now, with this ASK thing, we have something that has never before been available on the web. Once again we are making history and blazing a trail for building a better internet. You have only as far away as your fingertips, a resource that is simply not available anywhere else on the face of the planet.
Unless all of you are completely satisfied that you have already built the absolute best site possible, that you have already become aware of and mastered all the incredibly powerful features that the Searchking portal program offers, then some of you MUST have some questions. Those questions can do so much more than simply get you an answer. They get EVERYBODY an answer. The questions you ask are read by others who may be needing the same answers even if they don't yet know they need those answers. Even the "experts" are going to learn from your questions because even they don't have all the answers, but they are the kind of people who will not mislead you. They are the kind of people who will work their tails off to get you the right answers and then share what they learn. Can you all see the power in that?
Of course, if there is just not any need for a service like this, I don't want to waste anyone's time and I will discontinue the ASK series for the Portal Partner Press. I truly hope that is not the case. This is just too good to pass up in my opinion. I honestly hope that you see the wonderful things we are trying to do and take advantage of the resource made available to you.
Now, anyone that has a question about designing or marketing their portal, please send an e-mail to email@example.com with either ASK LYNNE, (for design questions), or ASK ANDRE, (for marketing questions), in the subject line. I will forward those questions on to Lynne or Andre and publish their answers in the next issue for all to enjoy. So come on kids, here's a great little freebie for you, -- USE IT!
NOW THIS IS FEEDBACK!
This weeks PPP has a theme and that theme is the value of communication. We can all go on our merry way paying little or no attention to the plight of our fellow partners and the world will keep spinning. We can participate or we can ignore, it's our own decision. After all, we are all self-determined human beings and we have the right to decide for ourselves how we want to pursue happiness. So the decision to be an individual or an individual that is part of a group is strictly up to us, BUT, before we decide the cost of communicating is too high a price to pay to justify our time, maybe we should consider the profit from sharing with each other. Instead of looking at how much time it costs us, maybe we should consider how much time it SAVES us.
While I consider myself to be pretty good at figuring things out on my own, the credit for the vast majority of my education goes to others and not to myself. Had it not been for the help, advice and communication of others, I certainly would not have had enough sense to even be writing this to you all now. I believe that we all benefit so much from learning from the experience of others that it is only the foolish man indeed who sees himself as a self-made man. To me, a self-made man is the one who has enough gumption to learn from others. How do we learn from others -- we communicate.
Now, this past week I got an e-mail from one of our oldest (in terms of being a partner longest. I don't think anyone is older than me.), portal partners. This is a partner that read my article in the PPP and took it to heart. He actually got off his butt and applied some of the concepts that I had proposed. However, just listening is not communicating. That is just listening. Listening and then responding is communicating and that is just what this person has done.
This is absolutely wonderful! This gives us all a chance to see more than one side of a conversation. It gives us the opportunity to put our heads together and figure out a solution to specific problems. It makes us creative. It makes us smart and it makes us more successful! Here is the letter.
Well, you asked!!
About three months ago, I did a series of articles about the advantages and opportunities of bringing the internet to main street by running a hometown portal...
.."DON'T SELL ANYTHING - JUST DON'T SAY NO" approach, sales should be as easy as falling off a log....
...Do it and then write me with your results and if you can prove I'm wrong, I'll publish your comments and make a public apology....
I don't want you to make a public apology because it's probably me that's got it wrong. And I promise not to use the line -- but my area is different! We've already discussed that. But further guidance would be appreciated. (And it might make a good topic for PPP.)
Here's the story --
I have created a hometown portal - fm1960.searchking.com. Being a suburban area of the fourth largest city in the US, perhaps we get more telemarketing calls than most, more solicitors and salesmen walking from business to business trying to part business owners from their money. Your idea of 'Don't sell - just don't say No!' seemed to be just the ticket for here.
I went from business to business asking for permission to link to their website. I have a young lady working this with me, but as she was having no success, I thought I ought to get out there and see firsthand what she was facing.
The response was mostly 'Huh?' which quickly turned to the stock reply 'Not interested.' Clearly they weren't getting it, and I was not getting the opportunity to explain it. Several people who did understand what I was asking said they couldn't give me permission to put their company in my directory and the person I needed to speak with wasn't there and would I come back?! I decided to change my approach to the following--
I went breezing in, with 'Do you guys have a website?' If the answer was Yes, I said 'Great! What's the URL - the web address? 'Cos I'd like to put you in my directory.' Mostly, they didn't know what the address was and there was never anyone available to tell us. When they had the URL to hand I took it and went my way, but it became clear that most did not have a website and had said Yes to my question because they thought I wanted to sell them one and saying they already had one would get rid of me quicker. But now they were embarrassed and wanted me to leave before I discovered the lie.
So I changed that approach to walking smartly through the door with a demeanor that suggested I was in a hurry and wanted to leave as quickly as they wanted me to. My line was 'I just stopped in to get one of your business cards, please.' Every time they reached for a business card without hesitation. (What are business cards for, after all, but to give away to people?) Whether they asked the reason or not, I produced one of my cards and explained that I was building an internet directory for this area and was going to put their website in it. (Not 'May I?' - I was going to!) They did have a website, didn't they? I looked for the URL on their business card and if there was one there, or they could give me one, I thanked them and left. One more entry into the database.
But if they did not have a website, I acted all disappointed for them - 'Oh dear. If you don't have a website, then I can't put you in my directory and I can't send you any new customers, can I?' Pause. Isn't this where they are supposed to say, How can I get a website? Well, someone forget to give them the script, because no-one has said that so far.
I filled the pregnant pause with, 'Have you thought about getting a website?' Only 2 so far have said 'Yes they had thought about it.' Again, pause. Here would do just as well for them to say, 'How can I get one?' or 'How much would one cost?' Nothing!
At this point, I was unable to play the 'Don't sell-just don't say No' game any further as we stood staring at one another in perfect silence. I put on my salesman's hat and started to sell, but they had only *thought* about it (if they truly had) and certainly weren't ready for a sales pitch.
As I analyze the forgoing, it seems to me that we have been taking the right road, bringing our prospect along with us, but the prospect just hasn't been inclined to play the game. Perhaps 'sales-wariness' has taught them that 'How can I get one?' or 'How much would one cost?' is the death-knell of sales-resistance.
Whatever the cause, we have not sold a single webpage, hosting contract, advertising space, sponsorship or anything else (but we do have a nice website, if I say so myself, with about 120 entries in the directory!)
All advice gratefully received.
Frederick Pearce firstname.lastname@example.org Houston, Texas
The Business Start Page: bspage.com
--where entrepreneurs start each business day---
SMALL BIZ SEARCH: smallbiz.searchking.com
Okay, first off, don't take this as a failure. As you said yourself, you have a nice website and that alone is going to bring you paying customers at some point.
Secondly, just as I said, I have published the letter for all to read and I am also publicly saying, "I'm sorry". I apologize to anyone who took my advice and had to spend their time without getting results. I do apologize.
Now, this is going to get us somewhere. This is so very cool! WE WILL get the answer to this. Is there a chance that we're all wrong? That the internet is not an important part of any business. Is the net just for some people and not all people? Is there a chance that whoever is not on the net now just doesn't need to be?
Maybe they aren't jumping up and down to pay us to build them a web presence, but it is NOT because there is not value to them being on the web. It is simply the fact that they don't see the value in it yet.
So, do we give up and starve? Do we accept defeat and walk away thinking there's no opportunity in this web thingee? Or do we accept that it is US doing something wrong and then get to work figuring out what it is we're doing wrong?
I've spent about 25 years in sales. About 10 of those years in outside sales doing exactly what you described above. Walking in and grabbing the first person that showed their face and then setting about making a living at getting that person to do what I needed them to do to make me a living. I know exactly what is wrong Fred and I'll tell you now.
You're thinking like a salesman and acting like something else.
The "just don't say no" article was written with a specific purpose and a specific target audience in mind. Throughout my life, most of the people I have met consider themselves NOT a salesman. We've all heard people say things like, "oh I can't sell, I'm not a salesman" or "I could never sell anything". Well that old cliche about there being two kinds of people in the world, the ones that think they can and the ones that think they can't and they're both right, has been taken to heart by me as a truism ever since I was a very young man. That article was written to motivate and educate those people because whether we know it or not, we are all salesmen. The man who makes a living building furniture actually makes his living by SELLING furniture and not just making it. The lawyer wins cases by selling the jury to his way of thinking. Even when we go to work, we are selling ourselves to our boss. We sell ourselves at the very least everyday to our spouses, our friends, our customers and just about everybody we meet. If that were not true, the make-up business wouldn't sell billions of dollars a year in products. There wouldn't be upscale clothing stores, beauty shops, barber shops, saunas, spas and so on. Those are all businesses built on the premise of selling tools so we can sell ourselves.
Back in the early eighties, I was working for a company called New Antiques. We sold antique reproductions in solid oak. As a store manager, I had a standing ad for salesmen yet, 8 out of 10 people who came in looking for a job were wanting the warehouse position. A job that paid only a few cents over minimum wage. The effect of this was that I had 5 delivery drivers/warehousemen and only myself and two other sales staff. On Saturdays we would get swamped and it was hard to serve everyone so I got the bright idea of telling my warehouse staff to not sell anything, just show the customers what we had and then write down the item description and bring it to me and I would do the selling. Well guess what, sales went through the roof! Those warehouse guys sold their tails off as long as they didn't have to deal with the fact they were salesmen. I learned that it was much easier to change my procedures than to change their perceptions. That was what I was doing with the article about don't sell anything, just don't say no. I was trying to show that there was a way to believe you were NOT selling and yet still get customers and income.
My intention was to take the feedback I got from those people and develop a series of articles that would over time, make the entire process very easy to understand and more importantly, very effective. I was also planning on using the feedback to start going into more depth about sales approaches as well. The problem was that until now I got no feedback. Now that I have that feedback, I'd like to start that process now.
As I said, you're problem is that you are thinking like a salesman and acting like something else. You were laboring under the misconception that the article I wrote was intended to present you with an opportunity to "trick" people into buying from you. Don't feel bad, most people think that all salesmen have some magic bag of tricks waiting to pull on the next sucker, which is why people are leery of salesman and why some people think they could never do it when they do it everyday. Actually, that sounds a little too negative. I think it's a much better situation if you were thinking I was giving you a way to break down their skepticism and get them to open up to you. That is why I owe you an apology. I should have made myself more clear whether I got feedback or not.
The trick to sales is honesty. If you think like a salesman, then by God, sell them!
Ok, before any kind of deal can be made between any two or more people, there has to be three elements present. Affinity, reality and communication. This is like three sides of a triangle. You can't have one without the other two. Affinity is simply that emotional feeling that you get when you like someone or are attracted to them for some reason. You understand them and see them as having things about them that is similar to you. Reality is simply the agreement that things are what they are. That blue is blue and that hot is hot. Communication is simply the art of getting your ideas and feelings across to the other person and then being able to understand them when they do the same with you.
Let me give you an example. If you walk into a store with a pig under your arm and the first person you see you ask, "how do you like my rose?", you will not have affinity, or reality. The person looks at your pig and thinks you're a nut because they don't see a rose. There is no communication because there is no affinity or reality. Perhaps where you come from a pig is called a rose and if you had the opportunity to communicate, you could possibly explain that to the person, that would be communicating. Once they understood that, they could see there was a reason for the misunderstanding, that would be reality and once there was reality and communication, now they don't see you as a nut but as a person and there is the affinity.
When you walked into the store thinking like a salesman but acting like a web developer, you might as well have had a pig under your arm. They didn't trust you, (affinity), they didn't understand you, (reality), and they didn't want to open up to you, (communicating). So now let's explore some ways of getting that affinity, reality, communication thing going.
You are a salesman Fred. You've been in business for quite some time and you know what you want from your prospective client. You want their business. Tell them that! That at least forms reality. Now the challenge is communication.
We first have to realize that most likely the person you first deal with is not the person that makes the decision to buy something. The person you are talking to is very likely an under-paid, over-worked employee whose main job is to keep the person who writes the checks from dealing with people he doesn't want to deal with. This is the first person you need to establish some kind of affinity with. They are expecting you to say something like, "may I speak to the boss?" This is just as bad as a retailer saying, "may I help you". It's the kiss of death.
If it were me and my objective was to establish some kind of affinity, I would say something like, "you look like you could use a raise and I'm here to ask you to help me get you that raise. I'm building a web site about my hometown and I need to represent this business to make the best web page I can. We're already getting hundreds of people a day coming to the page and seeing your neighbors and competitors and I can send those customer to this store just as easy. This internet thing is getting big. More customers means more money and when the boss sees that you were a big part in getting that extra money, that raise shouldn't be far behind". "All I want is your permission to link to your website and if you don't have one, I'll build one for you for free! Think we could talk your boss into some free advertising on the internet?"
If you'll notice in the little presentation above, I covered all the three bases. I communicated in a way that we could both share reality with the statement about the internet getting big. Even if she is not a net savvy person, she watches TV, she reads the paper and she can easily identify with that statement. I formed an affinity very quickly by sympathizing with HER situation by talking about her raise. Finally, I asked for her help. The way I presented this limits her options to the point that I can assume her reaction is going to fall into three basic categories. She is either going to be hostile, she is going to be guarded or she is going to be receptive. Of course there could be other things that she would do but these are going to cover the options of the vast majority of people. Now, all I have to do is plan what I am going to do for each of those scenarios. If she furrows her brow, crosses her arms and frowns, she is communicating hostility. If she stands an inordinate distance from me with her arms crossed, she is telling me she is not sold, she is guarded. If she is leaning in towards me, smiling and looking at my eyes as I speak, she is communicating an affinity. She likes me and she likes what I'm saying.
Once we determine which reaction she is going to take, we have several choices of which direction we are going to take. This is my point. We can take this entire process and develop it into a presentation that will work most of the time with most of the people, but only if we share the results of our experiments. I'm really very good at this kind of thing because I've done it so many times with so many things. We can work this down to a science if we just talk about it.
Now, next week I will start going into a little more depth about how to move this process to the next step and that is how to get to the right person who can make a decision and then use their decision to help us achieve our own goals. Even if they just take the free webpage, (which the kind of page I'm thinking of, you may be overcharging for if it's free), we will still make a customer of this person because we will have started educating the person to the value of our service which is the key to this. Educating the person to the value of the service. If they understand what it's worth to them, you have a customer.
I realize that all this affinity stuff may sound a little mystical. It's really just a matter of terminology. It is nothing more than the process of talking to people and listening to people so that you can put their needs and desires above your own. You can't address their needs and desires if you can't communicate to the point that you know what those desires are. Again, the key is honesty. Don't try to look for an easy way or look for some kind of trick. Just be who you are and if who you are is a salesman, be proud of that and be the best salesman you can be. If you are not a salesman but are a web developer, then be that. By being that, you are going to be doing and saying things a lot different but it will still get you customers if you just tell them what you want and when they ask if they can have that too, don't say no.
Like I said, next issue, I'll address what happens if we get thrown out or if we get to talk to the boss. I'll take the viewpoint of the salesman and we will start developing a presentation that includes the basic elements of a sale which are simply explaining Feature, Benefit and Action and overcoming Objections, but of course there is no need to go into that until you are talking to the person who writes the checks.
The single most important factor to keep in mind through this week is DON'T GIVE UP! If you keep at it maybe you will fail, but if you give up, it is certain that you will fail! This can be done and you have too much invested already to quit. You are already way ahead of the game.
One final thing Fred, those 120 links you have already, PUT OUT A NEWSLETTER! Start sending something at least once a month to those people focusing on what the internet is doing for them and what you are doing for them. Be sure to include your name, url and phone number in every issue. This keeps your name in front of them and makes it easy to get a hold of you. Try to give them things in your newsletter that improves their site or shows them how to use their site better. Trust me, some of them will have questions and who do you think they will look to for answers?
For all of you. Send me your letters!! Communicate with me. Tell me what's going on out there. If you will give me a little, I promise to give back a lot!
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========October 30, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Now This Is Feedback!
How About Another Success Story?
Ok, Now We're Talking to the Boss
NOW THIS IS FEEDBACK!
WOW! This week we've had a terrific response. We've had so many "ASK LYNNE and ANDRE" questions that I can't run them all in one issue, so I'll be posting the one I got from Lynne this week and then publish the others in upcoming issues.
I didn't get an answer from Andre this week. It may be just be the fact that it's a new process and it will take a little schedule juggling for us both to get it down to a simple procedure. Since I didn't get his answer this week, of course I can't run it. I plan on running it in the next issue but if for some reason we can't get things worked out, I'll be looking for a portal partner to take over the resident marketing expert position.
Even without Andre's contribution, we have plenty of useful content for this issue. In fact, maybe the MOST useful content in the form of feedback from a portal partner we've ever had. While I want to thank all the people who sent in questions and feedback this week, (that feedback from all the partners is going to prove to be VERY valuable to us all), I got the letter I've been waiting several months for! The letter from a portal partner who told me about his experience with using the ideas we've discussed, putting his own brand of creativity to compliment it and making a SUCCESS! I think you are going to enjoy reading this letter as much as anything you've ever read before in any marketing newsletter you have ever seen. It is absolutely wonderful. I hope you find it as exciting as I did.
Here's the letter:
Great News From a Portal Partner!
I'd like to share with you and the other portal partners some feedback about my recent success with my portal.
I read the feedback in last weeks PPP about the challenges in trying to create income with the town portals.
I too have had the same difficulties over the past year until three weeks ago. In the last three weeks I have made over $2000 from a system I developed and I expect to bring in over $5000 in November!
How do I do it? Here's how:
First, trying to "sell" a business listing or a web page can be difficult because it is an intangible item (like selling insurance). It is more of an educational process since many businesses do not know why they should be online.
However, approaching them first with a tangible item that they know and understand works far better. Combine that with a non-selling approach and I am amazed at the number of businesses (even large franchises) that are eager to hear what I have to say.
Basically, I tell them that what I am doing is helping local *non-competing* businesses to work together to send each other new customers. I am simply coordinating their efforts and helping them share the costs amongst each other. Each business participates by handing out a coupon sheet to their customers over a one month period. The coupon sheet has one special offer from each of the 10 participating businesses.
Included within the coupon sheet is a method for building an email mailing list of their customers that they can use to send weekly or monthly notices of specials, promotions, discounts and new products or services at virtually no cost.
The way that I do this is by including a link to my website where their customers can sign up for a free draw (tons of free advertising for my site).
Here are the details:
• 10 non-competing local businesses work together to send each other customers through a flyer.
• Each flyer contains 10 individual coupons for a special offer from each of the participants.
• Each participating business hands these flyers to their customers after their purchase.
• The flyer has a second function of sending customers to our web site where customers can subscribe to their weekly/monthly updates newsletter. They offer a free prize in a monthly draw as an incentive for customers to subscribe.
• Visitors to this site will enter their name and email address to enter the draw.
• This list (*that belongs to them only*) will be given to them after the program is over (one month).
Now they have an email mailing list that they can send email to weekly or monthly with special offers or just updates on upcoming new products or services.
Part two of the program is optional but extremely powerful. Once they have an email mailing list, you can arrange joint venture programs between them and other non-competing local businesses to make special offers to each other's lists - and you take a percentage for setting it up!
I charge them only $197, which is far less than they would pay if they printed and distributed 10,000 flyers themselves.
After one week I had one customer who called and said she had already recovered her investment. What a great testimonial!
If any town portal partner has any questions about my system they can reach me at email@example.com
Regards, Jim MacDonald Edmonton, AB
PS: persistence combined with creativity does work!
How about a big hand for Jim. I am very proud and I hope to be just as proud of many more of you very soon.
What you do with your time and your portal is your business of course, but if you don't take advantage of this opportunity and pick this man's brain and use what he has to say to motivate and inspire you, I think you're nuts! This is not an ad. This is not spam. This is not reading some "insider's secrets" or all the rest of the net crap that we all get subjected to. This is real! This is honest and this is true. This is such an exceptional opportunity for all of us, I truly hope you see it and gain from it.
GOOD JOB JIM!!!
HOW ABOUT ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY?
Wait, wait. I'm not done bragging yet. Remember an article I ran a few weeks back about a program called E-Womp? One partner that I know of decided to take a look and sent me a letter this past week telling me his story.
I very much like your newsletter and I wanted to compliment you for a great idea you gave us a few weeks ago: eWOMP.
eWOMP's fully-hosted, turnkey customer acquisition solution, deployable in minutes, helps you create, execute and intelligently manage your Word-of-Mouth PlatformT. No other marketing product, tool or service is more compelling or cost-effective. And best of all, eWOMP's technology is available for free at www.ewomp.com!
We implemented it after I read your newsletter and here is what we have learned so far. eWOMP's proprietary technology coupled with its extensive expertise gives our business a platform that will:
• Dramatically lower the cost of acquiring each new customer.
• Extend the reach, length and stickiness of our marketing campaigns.
• Deploy targeted incentives to boost click-through and conversion rates.
• Create a better and more manageable experience for our users.
• Increase our customer loyalty and lifetime value.
We are so happy with the concept that we are looking to expand the program to a complete, coordinated lead referral program. Stay Tuned!!
Best regards, Daniel Prins
PS if you want to learn more about eWOMP contact Jordan Wallach at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (877) 463-9667, ext. 30
OK, NOW WE'RE TALKING TO THE BOSS
As I promised last week, we will continue our discussion on how to make customers out of your business contacts. Ok, now that we have established communication, reality and affinity with the person at the counter, (or the first person you talk to when you walk in), there are basically three things they can do or say.
#1. We're not interested! If they said this, obviously you did NOT establish any kind of affinity. The best thing to do is not waste your time or theirs. Thank them and leave. Once you leave though, stop for a few minutes and reflect on what happened. You're a decent person. There is absolutely no reason for someone to not like you unless you communicated something they could not establish a reality with. In other words, you did or said something that "put them off". Try to remember what it was and then --- don't do or say that again.
#2. He's not in. This is not a failure or a rejection. If you have established an affinity with this person, there is no reason to assume they would lie to you. If they tell you they're not in, then very likely they're not in.
The thing to do here is use that relationship you've built with the person. You can logically assume that the owner of this business has a great deal of faith and trust in this person. After all they trust this person to make the first impression. It is also logical to assume that this person has some degree of influence over the person you need to speak to. The person that makes the decisions. Use that influence. It is very likely that this person is going to mention you to their boss when they return. You want them speaking of you and your business in a positive light.
When the person you need to speak to is not in, this just means that it's time to prepare. Get the information you need to be able to intelligently present your business. When is the best time to catch them? Do they have a website already? Have they ever talked about the web before? If so, what did they say? Is it a man or a woman? How long have they been in business? What is the phone number and what is the e-mail, (very important getting the e-mail). Tell this person how much you want to see them get that raise, thank them for all their help and let them know you'll be back.
#3. Yeah, let me tell him you're here. Bingo! Once you're in there, again you have to establish those three things. Communication, reality and affinity. The fastest and easiest way to do this is by telling the truth.
There are as many ways of doing this as there are people, so it's up to you to develop a presentation that you're comfortable with, but I will give you an example of what I would say and again, if you just do that word for word and then let me know what happens, you'll be bringing in those sales -- Guaranteed!
I would say, (after being introduced by the friend I had just made): I'm developing an internet website about local businesses and I would very much like to list your business as well. I know how busy you must be and I don't want to waste your time so I'll just ask you one question. Would you allow me to list your business in my web site if I can show you how it will improve your image within the community, bring in new customers and make you more money without it costing you a dime?
You've communicated your intent. You've talked about things he understands, things like being busy and improving his image, that's establishing reality. You've done that by being honest, open and sympathetic to his situation. He should like that -- affinity. Now he's likely to say one of two things:
#1 I'm not interested. (see above #1)
#2. So how are you going to show me all that? Bingo! You're 90% of the way home to making this person your customer. I'll finish this little series up next week so this issue won't be so long.
And last but certainly not least: ASK LYNNE
Thanks to Frank for submitting the following questions:
1.When designing a page does the desktop size I'm currently using decide the size the page will be formatted into?
2.How often do you resend your pages to all the major search engines? Is it only when you create a new page or is it on a prearranged schedule?
1. Generally speaking, web pages size according to the resolution the visitor's monitor is set at, unless the designer specifies that the page should be a certain size. Your desktop formatting should not affect the way your site visitors see your website, unless you specify a particular pixel width for tables, and set all of your content into those tables.
Since monitor resolution can vary from 640 x 480 pixels up to 1600 x 1200 pixels, or higher, most designers will set tables for a percentage of screen width so that they can automatically resize to fit the visitor's browser window. Sometimes inexperienced webmasters make the mistake of placing graphics wider than the narrowest estimated screen size into their tables, and this can cause an unwanted horizontal scroll at low resolutions. For example, if you have a table divided into 2 columns and place a 250 pixel wide graphic in one column, and a standard 468 x 60 banner in the other, your page will have a horizontal scroll at 640 x 480 resolution (250 + 468 = 718 pixels wide).
It is important to remember that the 640 pixel screen width is for the entire screen, not just the web page. Browser scroll bars and extra doodads take up some of that space, so it's safest to make certain that the tables you create don't have to expand to more than 600 pixels wide. To do this, just set your table and cell widths to a percentage value, and make certain that the graphics placed in various columns of a single table don't total more than 600 pixels wide. This will allow your pages to resize according to whatever resolution your visitors have their monitors set at, and prevent the dreaded horizontal scroll.
2. Arrgghhh! Search engine submission! I would gladly defer to Bob on this one, but he sent it to me, so I'll take a shot at it. Personally, I use the submit and ignore method. That is, I submit a site, check to make certain that it's listed, and then ignore it until after I make some significant change to the content, or until I discover that it has somehow disappeared from a particular engine.
I should probably note that I don't rely on the SE's for a major portion of my traffic. Graphic design keywords return anywhere from 250,000 to millions of pages on the major SE's, and getting high rankings for them is next to impossible. Relying on SE's to send a steady flow of traffic in such a competitive area would be business suicide. The majority of the traffic to my main site comes from link partnerships, awards links, and my portals, with a significant portion coming from various directories. I find that getting listed in the dmoz.org directory is the most effective way to generate traffic from a wide variety of SE's, meta-searches, and other directories.
I should also note that I refuse to pay places like Yahoo and LookSmart for the privilege of having an unidentified editor take a 30 second look at my site and then send me a rejection letter (there are, after all, millions of graphic design sites already listed in these places. Why would they want to add another one?). If I'm going to pay for a listing, it's at goto.com, where I know that the money is actually generating targeted traffic.
Others will disagree with me, and their methods work for them. Many people submit and resubmit their sites on a regular schedule, hoping to improve their rankings for particular keywords. Others submit, tweak their pages and submit again, in a never ending cycle. Of course, with more and more SE's charging for submissions, this practice may soon come to an end. Even AltaVista is starting to recommend that webmasters use the LookSmart express submit (for $199 US) to improve their chances of getting listed. Given the fact that it's getting harder and harder to find the free URL submit at AV, I'm expecting it to disappear altogether in the near future. Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication. You can contact Lynne at email@example.com
Well portal kids, that's it for another week. I want to tell you all again how much I appreciate your feedback. It is truly a wonderful, wonderful thing. I never intended for the PPP to be a vehicle for me talking to you. If you just want to read some so-called expert telling you what to do, there are literally thousands of e-zines and newsletters you can find besides this one that will do just that. I wanted the Portal Partner Press to be different, unique, valuable and truly interactive and that can not happen without you and your input. The difference between most newsletters and mine is that most publishers think the newsletter belongs to them. I believe this newsletter belongs to YOU. Use it!
For all our American partners, have a safe and happy Halloween and for the rest of our partners around the globe --- BOO!
This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa