Tuesday, August 1, 2000
PoRTAL PARTNER PRESS August 2000
========August 3, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Weekly Portal Owner's Diary
Don't Sell Anything
Affiliate Contest Update
Anyone Interested in Working With Me to Make a Buck?
Bob's Sales Tip of the Week Help Wanted
WEEKLY PORTAL OWNER'S DIARY
Well, last week I asked for testimonials and I didn't set the world on fire but I did get a couple that I feel I should share with everyone. Before I do, I would like to point something out. I CAN HELP YOU MAKE MONEY!
I know that if you've been on the web for more than a week, you've already seen hundreds of ads from people claiming to be able to do what I just claimed. The difference is I'm telling you the truth and I can prove it. My background has been in sales and marketing for the vast majority of my life. I've been able to provide myself and my family with a good living since the age of 16, (yes, I got married a little young even for Oklahoma and no, not to my cousin.), based on my sales and marketing skills. I've owned a lot of small businesses and almost all were started with absolutely no money. I have a lot of experience in manufacturing, retail furniture, the restaurant business, quick printing, rent-to-own and now internet marketing. I understand human nature, I understand sales and I'm not a bad teacher. If you'll let me, I can help you make money.
I'm a member of a very popular forum for people trying to learn about search engines and how to use them to their advantage. I'm talking about Virtual Promote and the Search Engine Forums. They have some 45,000 registered members all who come there to either teach or learn or both. This past week I got involved in a discussion about Alta Vista's so-called new policy of determining relevancy based on the "theme" of a site. This has been a fairly controversial issue that, as usual, has been made much more difficult and confusing than it really is simply because some people just don't get it, some people enjoy talking to hear the sound of their own voice and some people just have a natural tendency to pick something to death.
After some 50 posts in this particular thread, I decided to try to help and of course stirred up as many questions as I supplied answers for. Finally after some time, there was a post from someone I could not identify. I don't know who this person is by their handle. If I knew their name I'm sure I would probably recognize them but I don't. Anyway, I'll show that person's post here.
TheDirector Member Posts: 42 Registered: Feb 2000 posted 07-31-2000 11:21 PM
Bob, I thought you retired for good. Looks like your back to give away the farm. Everyone in here (this forum) should feel lucky. There was a day when no less than $250 a half hour would get much less info from him. What I have learned from Bob has bought me a 6 bdrm house on 2 acres and a life I never would have had financially had I not come across him by sheer luck. Themes are not some new concept, he taught me about them over a year ago. All I can say is Bob please be quiet and go back into hiding. Hiding is what all real masters do as I will go back to now. Bye all. searchengineforums.com/Forum1/HTML/001986.html
Here's a letter I received this past week after asking for some testimonials from our portal partners:
Hey Bob, Just thought I'd let you know that my main portal is at #5 on Google and I have one of my other sites at #2 on the Google web directory both under "(keyword removed)" I am kicking ass with the portal and it is bringing in almost as many hits and leads off Google as my site removed.com brings in off Yahoo. Also the portal is at #12 on Google/Yahoo which brings in more hits. Most of what I have learned I have learned from you and John so I just wanted to let you know that I am a happy Magic-city customer. Thanks,
Jim XXXXX ERC
Here's another. This one from a partner who took advantage of the 10 banners for a year for $200 deal. (I bet some of you guys wish now you'd have taken that one more seriously):
My banners at SearchKing have been up about two weeks so I wanted to let you know some results.
You may recall I submitted ten using this pattern: banner: www.i81.com%2Fnmtips%2Fsk1%2Fbanner.gif" target=_new http://www.i81.com/nmtips/sk1/banner.gif link: http://nmtips.com/sk1
My results so far: ad click thrus sk1 13 sk2 9 sk3 2 sk4 9 sk5 16 sk6 6 sk7 7 sk8 5 sk9 3 sk10 6
Approximately one half of the clicks have come from MSIE 5.0 and about 80% have been thru MSIE in all versions.
I am pleased with the results and wanted to thank you for all you are doing!
I also spoke to another partner just yesterday and she informed me that she has made over $25,000 just from helping people build their portals using the exact same program all of you have now. She has built a very nice client base including one in the works that alone will double that $25,000 figure!
In addition, one of her clients has a portal that she helped build and now she is generating well over a grand a month selling ads on her own portal.
I'm not taking anything away from anyone. I only provided the tools. As I said in the forums, I can give you advice, I can give you tools, I can even give you authority, but power is the one thing I can't give anyone. Power you have to take! It's power, the power to make things happen, that is the key to success. These people are people just like you that allowed me to help in one way or another and then took the power to make something happen.
As I said last week, I'm going to be changing the "tone" of the PPP from me just telling you all the problems I run into as a portal owner myself, to more of a "Let's stop whining and make a buck here" kind of thing. Now for those of you who are not afraid of taking the power, I'm going to try to help. I'm going to suggest some things to you that I guarantee will allow you to use this program to quit your day job, put your kids through college, take that dream vacation, build that house you've always wanted, just about anything you want to do can be done if you simply open your mind, let me help and take the power.
DON'T SELL ANYTHING
In over 30 years in the old sales game, the one statement I hear more than anything else is "oh I'm not a salesman". Fine, you don't have to be. I'm, going to show you a way now that you don't have to "sell" anything and still make money. Real money!
First, use this portal program for one of the main things it was intended for. A hometown portal. From the very beginning, Searchking's goal with the portal program was to bring the internet to main street. After 5 years on the net, I still can not order a pizza and get it delivered using the internet. It is very hard to find a local doctor, a local mechanic, a local clothing store that is having a sale. Go ahead, go to Yahoo and type in clothing sale and see what you get back for results. HAH! This is coming. If you don't do it, rest assured, someone else will!
This program was built to allow the person with a limited knowledge of the technical side of the net, but with a desire for success, to build a portal about their own hometown. To make this work, you need a search engine, a forum, a classifieds program, an e-mail program and a chat program. This program has all those components. It has everything you need right now to go out and start building your own hometown portal.
Ok, get your hometown.searchking.com portal plus. If you live in a big town, then focus on specific topics that relate to your hometown, such as dininginla.searchking.com or LAlawyers.searchking.com If you're in a town of about 25,000 people and up then an all-purpose portal about that town will work just fine. If your in a town with less than 25,000, then a county specific portal may be best as long as there are enough towns in your driving area to bring the total of all the small towns up to about 25,000. A portal pro with it's own domain name would be best, but a portal plus for $29 will work just as well. Remember that the programs are identical except the pro has more space, it's own domain name and you get to keep all the advertising, but the plus will do all the things a pro will do AND you can always upgrade later, so the objection of "I can't afford it right now" is not a factor. You can tell me you don't have the time, you can tell me you don't like the idea, you can even tell me you hate my picture, but don't tell me you can't afford to invest $29 in your own business.
Now, build your site. Choose any subject you have an interest in as a focus. It could be local sports. It could be local business. It could be local churches, schools, recreation, entertainment, just about anything. Once you have your content started, go to a local print shop and order 1,000 flyers 2-up. This means they will print 1,000 8 and 1/2 x 11 flyers cut in half to make 2,000 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 flyers. You can make your own master to run the copies for off your own computer. Say anything you like about your portal as long as you make sure the url is on the flyer. Don't make it too wordy. Keep it short and simple with your url very prominent. Now pass these flyers out at laundry mats, dry cleaners, convenience stores, grocery store bulletin boards, church bulletin boards, car shows, state fairs, local merchants' counters. Pass them out as people walk by at the mall. Tape them to bathroom walls. Stick them on telephone poles. Hire cub scouts to pass them out door-to-door. Do any and all of these things until the 2,000 flyers are gone. Now you have traffic! Have that same printshop print you up some business cards at the same time. Make sure your url and phone number at least are on those cards. All together with the flyers and the cards, for one color printing you're looking at less than $50.
Here comes the part about don't sell anything. You're asking yourself, " fine I've done a lot of work but how does that make me money?" One of the links you are going to put on your front page is something about eating out in your hometown. This link should take your local visitors to a page where they are encouraged to use your search engine to find websites about local restaurants. Now walk into any pizza joint or any restaurant for that matter and ask whoever comes to the counter one question, "Can I have permission to link my local portal to your website?" That's it.
Now the person at the counter is going to do one of two things. They are going to go get the manager, (the person you want to hear this one question), or they are going to ask you to repeat what you just said. Everyone knows what the internet is, yet few people, especially small businesses, understand the value of it. If the manager of this establishment knows enough about the internet to have a website, he is going to tell you of course you can link to my website. If he doesn't have a website, he is either going to tell you he's not interested, or he is going to ask you something like, "how do I get a website?"
If he says, "I'm not interested", ask if it's all right if you leave some flyers on the counter or in the window. If he says yes do it. If he says no, thank him and leave a business card. Remember, no matter what you do, you'll never not sell everybody, at least not the first time.
If he says, "how do I get a website?", Don't sell him anything, just tell him what you charge to build a site and to host it. If you tell him about $250 for set up of a basic website and $39 a month for hosting and maintenance, about 1 out of three people will sign up right then and there. Another one of out of three will ask for your card and call you later. Now, you didn't sell anything. You just didn't say no when he asked for something.
Once you get a few restaurants, add a link from your hometown portals' front page that says something like: Hometown After Dark or What to do in our hometown and then use the exact same approach on dinner clubs, taverns and bars. A link that says: hometown doctors. Same approach. don't sell anything to the doctors, just don't say no. Hometown mechanics, hometown clothing stores, video stores. lawyers, accountants, etc. etc. etc.
I was explaining this process to a partner last week and he said, why wouldn't someone just use the yellow pages? Good question. The answer - people don't pay $2,000 for a phone book. People that buy computers WANT to use them! They want to justify the expense and they want to feel comfortable doing it. You can't do much more to feel comfortable than hanging out with people you have something in common with. People in your own hometown.
If you would take this approach, in about 10 hours a week for two weeks, you will have brought in a minimum of over a thousand dollars in set up fees and over $150 a month in hosting fees. Now, next week we'll start talking about how to not sell advertising using some really neat little scripts that Searchking is developing for the sole purpose of making not selling advertising easy for you.
Some of you may be saying, "that sounds good but I'm handicapped, I'm too tired to go outside, I'm not comfortable talking to people". No problem. If you don't want to not sell internet stuff, somebody in your town would love to! Simply print some copies off your computer saying, "help wanted in my new internet business. Make up to $500 per week" and put your phone number on it. Place these flyers on the bulletin board of your local college, tech school or high school. When the calls come in, (and they will), tell them how to not sell and just not say no and tell them they get $100 for each set up and $10 a month for every hosting account and hire the first kid that says ok. Hire the first 10 if you like. In fact the more you hire, the more money the faster you'll make. So, whether you do it, or whether you have it done, just remember, Don't sell anything, just don't say no!
I will go one step even further. I am so positive that anyone that follows this step-by-step process of making money with a hometown portal WILL make money, that I'll put my money where my mouth is. If any one of you tries this system out for just 30 days and will tell me that they followed the steps and it did NOT work, I'll pay for your printing, I'll refund whatever you paid for the portal AND I'll pay you $100 for your trouble! Portal partners, if any of you can find anything on the world wide web that comes even close to this deal, you better take it!
By the same token, if any of you do try this process and see that it really works just as easy as I said it does, then TELL ME! I want something in writing from you saying "Wow Bob, you were right. I hired a high school kid that only works two hours a day three days a week and he brought in 6 new clients in the first week"!
If any of you have any other suggestions or questions, I want to hear them. Send them to me at email@example.com and I'll be happy to publish them in the PPP for group discussion.
AFFILIATE CONTEST UPDATE
Congratulations! Mike Rotter, You're a Winner!
Mike Rotter won the affiliate contest for the month of July with a total of 3 sign ups. Too easy! Now he's $100 richer. I've already asked Mike to make a post in the forums about his secrets of success and what he did to get that many sign ups. :-)
We will be running this contest again in the near future but I think I'll wait and add a little more value to the Searchking portal program. Look for the contest to come back around again about September or October.
ANYONE INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH ME TO MAKE A BUCK?
Last week I spoke to all you partners about the fact that I get approached on almost a daily basis with people wanting me to promote their product or service through some type of affiliate deal. As a matter of fact, I just got off the phone with ah-ha.com. This is a search engine that pays you $10 cpm for using their results. Now this is not something that Searchking would be interested in, however, I could see where some of you might. In SK's case, if we get 10,000 searches a day that would come out to a little over 3 grand a month. So while this may be contradictory to SK's goals, it may not be to all portal partners.
Here are a couple of feedbacks I got last week in response to that article.
Bob, you said:
...if you would be interested in setting up some type of system where I could try to finagle some kind of a deal for us as a community of portals as opposed to me just blowing them all off? If anyone has some opinions on this, why not send me an email. If I get a few and it makes me think there is an opportunity here, I'll start running this "make a buck" thing as a weekly column and we could all discuss it, figure it out and implement it. ...
I think this would be an excellent idea. Would it be possible or practical or even worth it to consider a sort of 'Commission Junction' type arrangement for portal owners. This would do several things--
1. It would be an added benefit to sell portals.
2. An added incentive to vendors to make their products and programs available.
3. The accumulation of commissions into one monthly check would be an incentive to portal partners to participate.
I'm sure there would be other advantages, too, and SK could charge either or both an override commission on every sale or a lump sum fee from vendors to join the program.
Name: SK Junction
I'm a YES for making a buck!
If we were to pursue this kind of thing, we would need a review board. Someone or some group to take a look at each proposal and either approve or reject each one. We would also need someone to take charge of a program like this and not only encourage, train and motivate the partners but be able to handle tech problems as well.
It appears to me that we would need a little more discussion in this area to help develop the policies and procedures for such an undertaking. Anyone interested in further discussion? Anyone interested in volunteering?
BOB'S SALES TIP OF THE WEEK
Last week I focused on Feature, Benefit and Action. This week I'll focus on another key element to closing a sale on a website.
Just like in the real world, objections are the single biggest reason you don't have a higher sales to visitors ratio. In the real world a salesman has the opportunity to hear the objection and then overcome those objections. On a website, you're deprived of that opportunity. Have you ever wondered why you can get 100 visits to your order form, (for those of you that even track that), but only get 10 actual orders? Well, that's why. They had an objection that you did not overcome.
In the real world the most common objections are things like:
• I need to talk it over with my spouse
• I'm not sure it is going to fit
• I'm not sure it's going to go with everything else I've got
• I can't afford it right now
On a website, these all apply just as much BUT there is a new one thrown in here. "How do I know I can trust you to actually send me what I think I'm ordering?" This is by far the biggest online objection.
There are as many ways to overcome objections as there are objections themselves, which makes it impossible for me to be able to tell you the perfect answer for every situation. My best advice however, is to cover as many bases as you can and be creative. Since the web is bringing in new objections, we need to be able to come with new ways to overcome them. What I did was develop the try it before you buy it and our sales have gone up dramatically.
Answer as many questions as you can think of up front. How big it is, what color it is, how it looks, how it feels, how it tastes, etc. and then look for creative ways to make that visitor know that they can trust you to actually send them what they THINK they are getting. Most of us get into trouble with the what they "think" they are getting part. Most of us falsely assume that everyone knows what it is we're offering. The most common mistake I see on commercial sites is overselling. Statements like "it's great" "the hottest thing on the net" "make your sales explode". When you look at those statements honestly, you can easily see why I may see it as one thing while HE may see it as something else. Don't oversell, be descriptive and factual and most importantly try to overcome their objections.
I realize this PPP has gotten a little long. I'm sorry, but there's some really good stuff in this one. I'll wrap up this week's issue with a little help wanted notice.
Whether you realize it or not, I'm giving away a lot. I'm doing everything I can think of to help YOU be successful. I know that my success lies in yours but the fact remains that I am giving away a lot. The truth is I can't do it all by myself. I need your help too and there are some things that you could do that would help me a lot and at the same time help you also because just as my success lies in you, so does yours lie in mine. What I'm going to ask you for won't take up more than a few minutes of your time and it won't cost you a dime.
There is post going on in the Virtual Promote forum about Searchking. Virtual Promote is the forums that I mentioned earlier in the PPP. It is a very large community that is comprised mostly of webmasters and they are important to me and to all of us. Please take a minute to visit, register as a new member, (it's fast and painless), and post in the forums that relate to Searchking. Here is the url of the forums: searchengineforums.com/bin/Ultimate.cgi The particular thread I'm referring to is in the topic "Other Engines" and the title of the thread is "anyone know anything about Searchking".
Don't post an ad or oversell us. Just post your honest opinions about SK and let them know you're a portal partner. In addition, most of you belong to at least some forums. Don't spam them or anything but when you get the chance, tell them you're a portal partner and tell them about Searchking.
OK, I'll shut up now. C Ya next week.
This Bob's for you !
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========August 11, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
How to get that "killer" domain name for your hometown portal
Why your local newspaper isn't your friend
What people are saying about the hometown portals
Banner ad sale
HOW TO GET THAT KILLER DOMAIN NAME FOR YOUR HOMETOWN PORTAL
Being in the guaranteed search engine placement business gives me the opportunity to become a little more familiar with the problem of domain name selection than the average webmaster. With my placement company, Magic-city.net, one of the first challenges we have to overcome is finding the "perfect" domain name. We try to get the targeted keywords in the name as well as make it easy to remember and easy to spell and type into a browser.
I have heard several statements around the net that all the good names are taken. This is simply not true. What is true is that a large majority of the obvious ones are taken but the obvious ones are not the same thing as all the good ones.
Now in regards to the subject we have been focused on this last issue or two of the Portal Partner Press, which is of course, making money by bringing the internet to your main street with a hometown portal, the challenge isn't nearly as hard as you might think.
Being in Oklahoma, and in Oklahoma City specifically, Oklahoma City is a little long, so I'm going to use the town of Tulsa for the purpose of illustration. So, every time you see me reference Tulsa, just replace it in your mind with the name of your town. Here is the easiest little trick to securing a killer domain name.
Naturally, we would all think our first choice would be to get Tulsa.com This name, of course, is taken. 1stTulsa.com is not. 1stTulsa.com or Tulsa1st.com could both be VERY effective for the purpose of making money with a hometown portal. At the time of this publication being prepared, both of those names were available, (hint hint to anyone living in Tulsa!). My guess is not long after some 2,000 read this PPP, (assuming of course that anyone actually reads them), one or both of those names will be gone.
My advice to anyone reading this that likes this idea and finds the name available, don't wait! Don't call a friend, don't do it after dinner, don't wait until you finish reading this. GO GET IT NOW! You can register a domain name at Directnic.com for $15 a year. For $15 bucks and if you want this name --- GO GET IT NOW!
Okay, let's say 1stTulsa.com doesn't float your boat, don't ring your bell, doesn't blow up your skirt, and doesn't torque your rod. Here is another killer domain name trick. Newspaper names.
The tulsademocrat.com The tulsapicayune.com The tulsasun.com The tulsadaily.com and of course my personal favorite, thetulsatimes.com or even just tulsatimes.com or tulsatime.com I urge a little caution in this area of strategy as I am not an attorney and I wouldn't want any of you to get into a legal dispute with anyone that may claim you are trying to trade off of their good names by way of copyright infringement. To my knowledge though, as long as your intent was not to capitalize on the fact that some business in New Orleans also used the name Picayune, and if you don't pick the exact name of your own local newspaper, I think you'll be all right. Did I mention that I'm not a lawyer?
Finally, specific areas of interest in local portals. Let's assume you live in a very large metropolitan area like Dallas or Los Angeles. This doesn't mean that the opportunity for you to be successful is not there because you can't dominate the market as someone in a much smaller town could. It may just mean that you need to approach it differently.
You can bet your bottom dollar that LA.com, dallas.com are gone! So are going to be a lot more BUT, simply pick a more specific area to focus on and a whole world of names become available. How about dallassports.com LAlawyers.com, tulsadoctors.com, mechanicstulsa.com, tulsaarts.com (which reminds me of a kind of funny I had imparted to me by one of our partners, Lynne Scott, in chat last night. She recounted the story of the problems the man had who wanted a good name for his art site. He wanted something that described his business and yet was easy to remember, so he picked worldofart.com then was confused when he started getting e-mails and calls expecting answer to questions of a gastronomic expulsion nature. I myself can relate. I registered the name Portal King.com only to have a call very quickly asking if I was the one who ran Poor Talking, (portalking.com). Of course I told him no and I had no idea of what he was talking about. I've wondered many times since just how much money I threw out the window that day).
One little tip, be careful when you select the name that it looks the same to you as it does to everyone else, especially if you have an interest in the arts field.
WHY YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER ISN'T YOUR FRIEND
I've had several partners mention to me that they had considered using their local paper as a source of promotion either by nature of paid advertisements or by publishing a "news" story about them or their site. My advice is always to avoid the local paper like the plague. Now this is a generality and there may be exceptions that would make my advice some of the worst. Of course if your local paper is willing to show your hometown portal support, the benefit could be immense and far-reaching.
I still say though that unless you're sleeping with the publisher or editor, or you happen to have in your possession photos of the editor or publisher in the nude and in the company of someone other than their spouse, I feel it unreasonable to expect any help at all from you local paper. You need to remember that once you hit the street selling ads, either classifieds or display, either online or off, you become a direct competitor of your local newspaper.
Most local papers are family owned and have been owned by the same family for several generations. They typically wield a lot of power in the community. It would be against their better judgment and good business sense to help you sell more ads in any fashion. My advice to you portal partners who get into the hometown portal business is to realize that your involvement with your local paper should probably be about the same as if you were in the furniture business and getting involved with the furniture dealer down the street. Of course you would watch out for him as a competitor to stay abreast of anything he might do that would have an effect on your business, but you certainly wouldn't expect him to put your flyer in his front window, which is basically the same thing you would be expecting your local paper to do by expecting them to run a story on you.
The best I feel you could hope for is that they would take your money and run an ad you placed just like any body else's. I think expecting any recognition from you or your hometown portal borders on ludicrous. Of course there is always a possibility that you or your site may do something that is newsworthy enough to justify having your name in print, but even in that event, remember the paper has the power to CHOOSE what is newsworthy or not and my guess is that, to the paper, there is little you could do short of throwing your body in front of a bullet intended for the President, that would make them consider your efforts newsworthy enough to justify promoting you or your site and helping you sell more ads.
The worst you could expect would be they take your money for the ad and misspell your url. Make a mistake on your phone number or simply find a "special" spot to place your ad which brings minimal response at best. There exists the possibility of the them running an editorial about how many people have lost money dealing with internet companies and at least off-handedly referring to you or someone like you. Remember the last time you saw an article in your local paper about anyone local having a web business? Microsoft stories, of course. The stock market fluctuating over tech stocks? Yes. Seen anything positive about local web stuff lately?
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE HOMETOWN PORTALS
Last week if you recall, I made a plea for feedback. I invited all of you to send me your ideas and questions and input about the whole "making money with a hometown portal" concept. Well, I won't run them all because there were too many of them but I will run what I think is pertinent. Remember also, that I usually remove the names and urls to protect the privacy and the idea of what the partners are telling me. I wouldn't want to share what was the intellectual property of someone only to have someone else think it was a great idea and then go do it with giving proper credit and/or compensation for the person actually responsible for the idea.
Great articles. I just have one question-how can I approach a business owner and tell him that he needs to spend 250 dollars for the development of a website? I guess the real question is I am not a professional website developer, I mean I have developed my own, but not anyone else's. How can I show him that it would be to his advantage to hire me, vice going to the local computer store and having them develop his web page? And would this work for the Power Portal or was this just for the Pro Portal owners? I have been toying with this ideal for some time and feel very inept in designing webpages.
I never suggested you approach a business and tell them they NEEDED anything. All I suggested was to ask them if you could link your portal to their site and IF they asked you if you could help them with a site, just don't tell them no. Just tell them what you charge.
If you have built your own website and don't consider yourself a professional, it is for one reason only. You haven't charged anyone yet. You are free to charge whatever you like of course, but I can assure you that the time you took to learn to build your own justifies the expense of at LEAST $250. That business owner doesn't have time to learn how to do it or it would already be done! Having you do it for him is worth the money I'm suggesting! All you have to do to let me prove it to you is just don't tell someone no! Tell them Ok, for $250.
Finally, no the Power portal will not work for the hometown portal application. The power portal does not have it's own search engine and that is a must!
Hello Bob, Reading your previous newsletter a couple days ago - focusing on local information services and your challenge to follow and succeed is truly inspiring!
I am planning to take that challenge - still not sure about the level we are going to do this at - City or County!
I had signed up for a portal plus about a week ago, have spent several days testing, making mistakes, etc., - pabizz.searchking.com that I have playing with- that is not what I am writing about although I will be canceling out on this one.... especially since reading your newsletter - the state of PA is general......... County level may be also.
Question - If I go with a different Portal Plus option to set up our site and decide to go to the Portal Pro at a later date, is there any problem transferring my links; site; and maintaining what we build?
I already own the domain name and would need to transfer that to your server I know - until that would be done I can always redirect to either of the portals.
Looking forward to the next newsletter......
Thank you for the letter John. I feel like I have finally found a way to show a lot of our partners the power this program has. Not power to show cute little links or the power to install cgi this and cgi that, but the power to change our lives. To generate income from our online efforts and to build successful online businesses! I've had about 15 letters so far this week much like yours. DO IT! I will help all I absolutely can and I will not let you down.
As for your question about transferring from a portal plus to a portal pro. Yes. It is done by using a .tar file to copy your database and then uploading it to another directory. If you aren't familiar with the process, we can help. Of course we would have to charge a nominal fee for our time, (remember I have to pay these tech people what they think they're worth), and it would just depend on how big your database was, but I can assure you you'd be looking at 10's of dollars as opposed to hundreds.
The biggest drawback to switching though is not in moving the database, it's in how much time and effort you have in promoting the site. Pa.searchking.com is a far cry from 1stpa.com for example and you may find that there is much more expense involved in promoting the new url than there is in having us move the database. As you said when you mentioned re-directing, there is always more than one way to "skin a cat", and in bob world, anything is possible, it's just that there is something to be said for making people feel like they know you and the site which is where the value of branding comes in.
One thing I'd like to mention is that the process I spoke about in the "Don't sell anything" part of the Portal Partner Press would work just fine without even having a site! Just by contacting a few potential sponsors and asking if you can link to them from your "soon to be launched" local portal would very likely bring the same results as if the site was already up. Just by telling people about the concept will establish you as somewhat of an expert on the internet, web site building and e-commerce. Those people are going to want to capitalize on your experience and insight. Few people will fail to see the possible rewards from such an endeavor.
You could easily make only a few "don't sell anything" calls and get commitments and web design jobs to easily cover the expense of a portal pro before it ever went online and before you ever had to commit to a dime! I don't mean to make you feel like I'm pushing you. You do what you want to do when you want to do it, but we all have a little pressure on us from competition. I'm not the smartest guy in the world and I know others are starting to realize the advantages of hometown portals just like we do. Searchking alone is projecting 10,000 portal partners over the next 12 months. Right now, statistics show that less than one third of your local businesses even have websites, while those same statistics show that over 80% have shown an interest in developing an online presence. We both know that the internet is not going to get any smaller and the simple fact is that if you "don't sell anything" to them, it won't be long before someone else will.
Good Luck Bob Massa Searchking, Inc.
BANNER AD SALE
Some of you may remember that a while back I made you all an offer. The offer was 10 targeted keyword graphic banner ads for one year for $200. In other words, give me your banner and pick 10 keywords or phrases you want that ad to display under and I would run it for a full year for $200.
Well, we have finally gotten our new admin panel and ad network running. We can now install these banner ads much easier and faster, and just like I said last time, space I got, advertisers I want!
I will make that offer once again only to my portal partners. This could come in handy for some of you new hometown portal owners. You could pick generic keywords that relate to your hometown and then resell them. At $200 a year for 10, that puts your cost at $1.60 per keyword per month. You could sell them to your new advertisers for $3.20 a month and double your money. Or offer them a special. Let you build their website and throw in a banner ad!
Now, in an effort to hit your "hot button", maybe 10 keywords aren't enough. I'll give you 20 for $300 and I'll give you 50 for $600 which puts your cost at $1 per month for each keyword!
Maybe your not in a position to spend $200 or $300 or $600. Okay, how about 10 keywords for 6 months for $120. 5 keywords for 6 months for $60
There is no order form for this offer. You will just have to e-mail and tell me you want them. I need the url to find the banner, the url you want me to link the banner to, the deal you want and the payment info. I can have your ad running usually the same day. Send the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to make it clear that this is NOT for the keyword text banners above the search results. I won't sell those that cheap again. I am talking about the graphic banners that display at the top of the page.
Finally, we now offer the bottom of the page results as well. These would be the same ad you would expect to see at the top of the page, only these would be at the bottom. I'll give you the exact same deal as above for HALF PRICE. Any deal you want. The 20 keywords, the 10 the 50, one year or 6 months, bottom spot half price.
That'll wrap it up for another week. By the way, anyone noticing the numbers in the forums? That tells you one thing, we're getting more portal partners! Thank all of you that have been helping in keeping the forums so active and of such high quality.
This Bob's for you!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========August 18, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
What People are Saying About Hometown Portals
OK, Now I'm Building 15 Websites a Week, What Do I Do With the Money?
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT HOMETOWN PORTALS
Let's start off this week's issue with a little feedback from one of our partners who has been bitten by the hometown portal bug.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the great service that you provide. I always assumed that owning a search engine would be out of my league. Now I own three search engines - http://www.**********.com, http://*********.searchking.com and http://*****.searchking.com. I will soon be upgrading the custom products search engine to a portal pro. I have already purchased the domain name (******.com).
My main focus right now is on the local Portal. I have been reading your PPP and taken your advice. I have just launched the "try it before you buy it" idea for advertising. I know I should have it set up to accept credit cards so that I would have an almost definite sale but that cost $400 and I can't really afford that right now. When their 30-day free trial is over I will email them with their stats and convince them to start paying for their advertisement.
I have also implemented some of my own ideas. I have just launched the "free business web page" this is similar to a xoom free page, but I am providing it for my hometown based businesses only. It is set up in a framed page where the bottom portion is advertising my portal and the rest of the page is used for the business. http://www.********.com/template.htm There are almost 10,000 businesses in my town but only 2,000 have web sites. Unbelievable!! If just 20% of the other 8,000 businesses sign up for a free web page that will be a lot of great exposure for The Hometown portal.
The reason I am writing to you today is for some advice. I am trying to figure out the best way to market these new free pages on a tight budget. I thought of sending out flyers or advertising in the local paper but I am not sure if these are effective enough. I have also thought of taking out a loan and gaining a lot of exposure for the portal and the free web pages by advertising on local radio, newspapers and tourist magazines, I could also hire some sales staff to call local businesses. What is your advice, Bob?
I thank you in advance, Keep up the good work!
Only 20% of the businesses having websites, THERE IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY!
Two weeks ago in the portal partner press, I wrote an article about "don't sell anything". You are in a perfect position to take EXTREME advantage of that approach.
Simply hit the street. Start with pizza joints and small family owned restaurants because they are the ones that are usually desperate for more cheap advertising.
Just walk in with your business card or flyer and ask for permission to link your portal to their website. Tell them a little about how your portal is to serve the needs of the community and you don't feel it would be of as much value to the community without providing a link to a well-established restaurant like theirs. When they tell you they don't have a website, act surprised and tell them that they really should since it's the wave of the future and having a professional website is so inexpensive. The restaurant is going to do one of two things.
#1 He is going to blow you off and show no interest, in which case you leave him a flyer and ask him to call if he changes his mind and then go to the next one on your list.
#2. He is going to ask how much a website costs, at which point you tell him you charge $250 to set it up and $39 a month to host it once he approves it. See, you don't sell anything -- you just don't say no.
Tell him it includes something. A free banner for a month, his restaurant listed on your flyer for a month, his coupons available on line, something. Keep in mind, this guy is not familiar with the internet, so telling him stuff about top placement or buying ads on your portal is pointless at this time, (that comes later after you've educated him to the value of those ads).
Simply pull out your pad and write down what he thinks he wants on his website, pull out your receipt book and write him a receipt for the $289, (set up and first month hosting), and then don't stop that day until you have at least two others. That's $867 for the day in income. That night start building these sites. Tomorrow go do it again. Another $867. After a 5 day week that's $4,335 now next week find you a high school student as a contract laborer to do EXACTLY what you did last week. Pay him a guarantee of say $150 a week BUT he gets a $50 commission on each website deal he brings you. Let him/her handle the website "don't sell anythings" because you are building the websites.
Now if you can hold your numbers at 3 a day for 5 days each week, you're grossing $4335 a week and paying your little high school kid $750 a week, (my guess is he's a happy camper and turning into one hell of a Don't sell anything kind of guy), leaving you $3585 profit. Now you have other competing businesses calling YOU. Now it's time to hire another high school kid, (or several for that matter), to build these 3 or 4 page websites for you, (again as contract labor) and pay them say $50 for each one. It shouldn't take much more than about 3 to 4 hours per site, so the kid that does 5 a week is making $250 a week in about 15 to 20 hours a week. (Another happy camper who has all of his friends with a computer calling you asking for a job!).
Once you have this done, you PROMOTE. Keep in mind that you now have about $2500 a week to play with. Hold tri-cycle races with a grand prize of $100 at local bars and restaurants. Have a movie day where you pay the tickets of say 200 underprivileged kids to go to the movie. Donate money to the homeless. With each and every one of these promos, get a co-sponsor. It probably won't be the local paper, (see last weeks PPP), but it can certainly be radio and TV stations, large restaurants, auto dealers, hospitals, law firms, churches and on and on. Of course with each promotion, new advertsing sales opportunities are there as well. Best of all, you start associating your portal with other local well-established, well-respected businesses in your hometown building invaluable, instant credibility, (not to mention advertising), for your portal!
There are a million ways to make this thing work, but this is DEFINTELY one way it will work!
Keep this in mind. There will always be things that you could use as an excuse not to act. You mentioned not having a merchant account. DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU! If you wait for everything to be perfect, you'll never be done waiting. Do it! Do it NOW! After just one day of working up the guts to just get out of your chair and ask a few business owners if you can link your portal to their site, I guarantee you will have a whole new attitude and an internet business off the ground.
OK, NOW I'M BUILDING 15 WEBSITES A WEEK, WHAT DO I DO WITH THE MONEY?
As illustrated by the correspondence above, with not a lot of effort, you can now be generating over $10,000 per month in profit, so the question comes to mind, what are you going to do with that much extra money?
Keeping in mind that this income is in addition to whatever income you had last week, what do we want? Are we through? Are we ready to have that new car, that vacation home, that new big screen? Of course the money you make is yours and you can do whatever you like with it, but I would like to make a couple of observations based on my own experience.
An additional $120,000 a year may SOUND like the answer to all your problems. It may SEEM like, if you could ever find a way to generate that much additional income, life would be like heaven on earth. Well, in my experience, no doubt, it is pretty darn good, but the bottom line is, it ain't enough. No matter how much of an increase in income you have, trust me, your lifestyle and the bills that lifestyle will generate, will increase in direct relation to the amount of increase in your income. The more we make, the more we spend.
Your business also has a lifestyle. If your business doesn't continue to grow, you can't expect to stay abreast of the competition. There never comes a point that your business does not require more capital to be able to grow. In many ways growth = expense. So if you take the attitude that all the money you bring in can be spent entirely on personal self-gratification with little or no regard to your business lifestyle, even in light of the fact that it is the business which afforded you the money to alter your lifestyle in the first place, it is very likely, and maybe even inevitable, that the income will soon no longer be available and the pain of losing something you had is far greater than the pain of simply wishing you had something you never had before.
My advice, with the assumption that you want an increased level of lifestyle to continue, is to realize that your business deserves some of that money so that it can continue to generate more income for you. You are going to need certain things for that business to enable you to offer more and better services. More and better services mean more traffic. More traffic means more page views and more page views mean more inventory for you to generate more income with through sponsorships and ad sales.
Assuming further that ad sales is a primary function of your hometown portal, (and it definitely should be), then setting aside money for the purpose of improving and adding services makes a lot of sense. So, when it comes to setting a budget for such growth, where do we put our focus?
In the beginning, at least, we need to focus on putting the least amount of resources into the things with the most potential return. From here we could all go into long, heated debates about what things that relate to a hometown portal provide the greatest potential of return. Software immediately comes to mind and not to downplay the importance of software, I do want to mention there is, or at least can be, considerable strain on resources other than money. For example, with every software addition to your portal, tech support can be a real problem. Any software you add has to impress the user NOT you. If you think it is just the coolest thing since sliced bread, BUT, even a small portion of your overall users can not understand it, see the value in it, or be able to figure it out, they start e-mailing you with questions that pertain to tech support. The time you spend on answering these questions and dealing with trying to resolve problems, is time that could have been spent on things like promoting your portal, selling ads and increasing your client base. Choose your software upgrades VERY carefully.
Software is so appealing to us all as portal owners because we realize the extreme value of creating an interactive experience with our users. We know that users expect a certain degree of technology to be able to justify the purchase of their computers in the first place, and in providing a certain amount of technology which they can fully understand, use and see the value of, increases the value of our portal, causes bookmarks and causes people to spread the word to their friends and families, which of course, ultimately increases traffic which increases ad sales which increases income. From this postulate, we could then assume that the things that would generate the most potential growth, are the things that offer easy to understand, easy to use technology that offers interactivity with your portal and the user.
Following the line of thinking we have started here, which is to put the least amount of resources into the things which generate the most potential return, our objective is to find those things that people will love and yet cost us little to provide.
Ever heard the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words"? In the case of our hometown portals, little could be said with more impact to the objective of providing the most with the least expense. Digital photography. You can buy a digital camera for under $300. A really good one for under $1,000. Once the photograph is taken it is a simple and very inexpensive process to upload the photo as a gif or jpeg file. Once done, these are very easy for anyone to open by simply clicking a link. Without even getting into a discussion of a digital camcorder and the minute cost of setting up streaming video, and the extreme benefit this would provide to an advertiser and the opportunity of greatly enhanced revenue, (what would a business owner be willing to pay for a top placement in your search engine? Would he be willing to pay more if he could have a link to a video of his product or service as well as a link to a webpage?), in terms of increased hosting and increased set up fees. For the purpose of our discussion here, taking into consideration our obvious time constraints, let's simply explore the possibilities of a digital camera. what would a digital camera do for me and my hometown portal? The possibilities are endless, but I will point out a few that have become obvious to me.
Make your hometown portal come alive with pictures. As I have been searching for other hometown portals, (there are getting to be a few which is why I keep harping on everyone to take advantage of this now!), the one thing that comes to my mind is that these portals look like little more than a fancy way to sell advertising. There is nothing wrong with that except that they are missing the boat. Most of these sites look "dead". Which is to say, they don't look alive. The best way to make the site look alive is to give people the pictures of a living community. Take photos of sports events, parades, community award ceremonies, political figures. You could even go so far as posting photos of buildings going up, pictures of gas stations signs involved in a price war, and ESPECIALLY look for humor such as signs the letters have fallen off of leaving a different message than the one that was intended. Pictures of kids playing in the park. Pictures of people playing golf, and people doing deeds in service of their fellow man within your community.
A word of warning before you go out and start taking pictures of individuals and trademarked institutions. There are laws assigning rights to individuals and businesses that could make you liable for publishing pictures or images of them without their permission. So don't be foolish. If you photograph someone, get their permission to use their likeness on your website before you put it there.
A really nice little strategy would be to do a "man in the street" feature. Once a month or once a week, you could go to your local mall or to the corner of main and 1st street and simply ask the people walking by their opinion of a specific topic that you think would be of interest to a certain segment of your visitors. Get their statements, take their picture and post it on your site. It would be a lot of fun, it would give you a lot of exposure, it wouldn't cost much and it would attract a certain amount of visitors to come back each week or month as the page was updated. If I took your picture and asked your opinion of something and told you it was going to be on my hometown portal, do you think you might tell your Mom? Your friends? Your co-workers? This is one way you start building traffic to your site.
Next week, we'll talk more about some of the possibilities that streaming video would give you. Specifically, I'd like to bring to your attention just how much money is spent on political ads and how easy it would be for a hometown portal to become accepted as "press" without having to have a degree in journalism. How would you like to be able to make an extra $120,000 a year AND get in free to local plays, trade shows, movies, restaurants and political meetings as a member of the "press" doing an interview or review? It would be TOO easy!
As always, I want to hear your ideas and opinions too. My philosophy is, what I do doesn't matter, it's only what YOU do that is important. I've brought up some things here that have GOT to have piqued your interest. Do you agree with me? Do you think I'm nuts, and most importantly, do you see something I don't?
We have had almost 30 people in the last two weeks sign up now for what they obviously intend to make into hometown portals. Well, I'm talkin' the talk, but you kids are walking the walk. Tell us about it. Are you having fun yet? Is it working just like I said it would? Are you making an impact in your community? Inquiring portal minds want to know.
Well kids, that's enough for this week.
Remember, This Bob's for you.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========August 25, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
What Our Portal Partners are Saying
Lights, Camera, Action!
What should We Say on Those Flyers Bob?
WHAT OUR PORTAL PARTNERS ARE SAYING
We've had several interesting letters from portal partners this past week, (I think the hometown portal idea has struck pay dirt), including the idea about putting webcams in daycare centers for parents to be able to check on their children during the workday and the lady who has figured out a way to charge for classifieds on her portal only AFTER an item has been sold, (both EXCELLENT ideas by the way), but there is not enough room in the PPP for all the letters I've been getting. I can't run all the letters I get of course, so if I don't publish yours, don't take it to mean your idea doesn't have merit. It simply means that I had to make a decision on which ones to run THIS week. I may very well run yours later, but even if I don't, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate them or that I don't consider each one carefully.
I'd like to start this week off with one I have from an ex-portal partner. This does not show me in the most favorable light and I'm sure many of you will wonder why I would even publish such a letter. My objective here is to show each of you that even though you may be trying your best, you will have some people who just don't appreciate your efforts. The point is to remember that you can not make everybody happy and that the important thing is not to let negative things change your positive attitude.
Mr. King Please remove me from all your databases and mailing list. I cancelled my account long before my 30 day trial was expired. Still I was billed. We are adding your site to the "Rip-Off Web 100", this is a list of the top 100 web sites that will likely rip you off.
P.S. we have notified VISA with a formal complaint about your business practices. Again congradulations!!
Dave ****** CEO The *****
Here is my reply:
Dave, from the tone of your letter, I assume there is nothing I can say to convince you that we simply made a mistake and would have not charged you had we received your cancellation notice. The internet being what it is, the fact that we maintain and support over 2000 portal partners, and the fact that we're human makes it very likely that once in a while we may "drop the ball".
I tried to pull up the site the-werx.searchking.com and it is not available, which indicates to me that you did send notification and it's a matter of someone on my staff did not follow procedure. For that I apologize. Of course, with the actions you have already taken, there is not much I can do that I'm aware of to get your refund quicker. Had I been notified of the circumstances BEFORE you contacted Visa, I would have simply had accounting reverse the charge. THAT is our business practice. I certainly did not do all the work and spend all the money I have to build Searchking and the portal program just to be able to "steal" your or anyone else's $29.
However, that is not the reason for the letter. The main reason I'm writing you is to ask you please to re-send the cancellation notice for our files. I honestly have no record of ever getting one. It is important to me to be able to avoid situations like this in the future and without knowing who got the notice, it makes it difficult for me to know where to focus on improving. Please send the notice to either this address or to
Finally, I can appreciate your concern for wanting to "let the internet know" who is and who is not a rip-off, however, in this case, you are making a mistake. There are a lot of people who do make a living by trying to cheat people out of small amounts of money, but I am not one of them. A mistake has been made, but all in all, I work VERY hard to provide an honest and fair atmosphere for all of our partners to do business in. The internet needs people like you and myself who are willing to do what it takes to do the right thing, and by putting my name on a list such as you mentioned is doing a dis-service to all concerned. Had you have been with us a little longer and spent any amount of time in the forums, you would see that I could not have built a community with as much respect for me, my company and for each other by trying to cheat anyone.
We have portal partners cancel all the time and that does not concern me, not everyone is into building portals with a program as complicated as the one Searchking offers, I do mind you leaving thinking there is the slightest possibility that my objective in offering this program was to steal your $29. If you are a professional, I think you will be able to understand my concerns and give me the benefit of the doubt here and tell me what you would like me to do to prove to you that you are over-reacting and making a mistake, not as bad as the one that we made, but a mistake nonetheless. Also, if you are a professional, then I already know that you too have made mistakes and did not want people you had dealt with in good faith feeling like they had been cheated.
If you are not a professional and just a person who likes to threaten people when something doesn't go your way, then there is nothing I can do to convince you to change your mind, and I won't expect any response. Furthermore, if you develop a practice of posting negative things about people publicly without giving them the chance to rectify problems, then your business will suffer and after a period of time, no one will be listening to what you are trying to say anyway.
So, what can I do to make this situation work out where we can part company with mutual respect?
Bob Massa Searchking, Inc.
I had everybody in our office search through every file we could find on this partner and this portal and nowhere did we find any reference to his cancellation notice. Also, I never received a response back from him. As I told Dave, I don't work this hard and I haven't invested as much as I have with the objective of cheating someone every now and then out of $29. In my mind, for anyone to assume such a ridiculous thing is nothing short of absurd. So keep in mind that not everyone in this world is a nice person and sometimes we are forced to deal with these people, but we are not forced to let their problems become our own.
On a lighter note, here's a little ditty that brighten my day almost as old Dave darkened it.
Hello, I am a Portal Partner, but I must confess I am clueless, I want to start with your hometown portal idea, we have maybe 2 local sites that kind of sort of have other businesses, but none of them are a true portal, like your idea. I know how to build webpages and I have about 4 or 5 neat webpage maker programs my problem is I do not know how to make it work at the portal site, and also I want to change the name of my portal or either get another one for the hometown idea. I am going to go and check it out again and try and get started, because I really want to do this. also one more question when we build a page for someone, should we get a free site or is their a way to build it at our portal??? If you understand what I mean, please help!!!!! ASAP Thank you, preciate it honest ;-)
As far as hosting pages, we are in the process of securing a suitable free homepage program now that we will offer to the hometown portals. Once this program is available, either a portal plus or pro will enable the portal partner to build and host individual pages. However, this solution is still not the optimum for building income based on webpage or web site construction and hosting. The optimum solution is to take a portal pro with 100 megs of space. 100 megs of space, and you controlling all the advertising, could hold a LOT of pages. At a fee of $39 per month per website and a cost of $49 for the entire portal pro, you can do the math as well as I can and see that the income potential is VERY good.
Now, couple this with a free homepage program for your hometown, (which generates traffic = page views), and the vanity e-mail which will be available within the next few days, and you have a way of generating traffic, supplying page views for advertisers and hosting websites for clients, and you have a web business that can change the life of you and your family for many, many years to come. You will become a respected member of your community and your circle of influence will be determined only by your own level of desire. Want to be mayor someday? A site like we're talking about could easily increase your chances of doing just that!
Now as far as getting started with the tech end. I run Searchking, I don't actually run a portal. I'm not the one to give you much help in regards to using the program. Use the forums!
There is not a single question that you could ask that someone will not be able to answer for you. The forums are invaluable. Not to mention the fact that the whole idea of the Searchking community is to help you so that you in turn can help the next person coming in behind you until we have an army of people who are intelligent, aggressive, well trained, honest and possess a genuine desire to see things change for the better for themselves, their community and for all mankind in general. I WANT you to be a part of that and will do everything in my power to help every step of the way. While you may be in business for yourself, you are not in business by yourself. You have the support and the best wishes of hundreds of people who all want to see you succeed.
Bob Massa Searchking, Inc.
And this is the reply that made my day!
Thank You so much!!!! I will start searching thru the help forums and yes hopefully find some answers there. I am so glad that you did not just blow me off, so many people on-line are claiming to want to help you but really only want money and then they can care less. So Thank you so much, I know it will be some work involved. I have already called a few businesses and offered to build webpages for them and some are afraid because they do not understand that they do not need to have a computer themselves. I really think that this will be a better approach, I plan to offer it from the standpoint of like a listing in the phonebook, because they understand that better, That it is just a way for people to be able to look them up locally, but this way they can be represented in many more ways. I am really excited now!!!! because the businesses that have webpages are just floating around and this way I can link them and also add all of the hundreds or probably thousands that do not. No I do not really want to run for Mayor but who knows :-) Thank You so much sending you a big virtual Hug!!! I will keep you posted on progress, or just let you know when I have my first customers!!! Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Last week we talked about making your hometown portal, (actually any portal for that matter), come to life using photos from a digital camera. This week I'd like to expand on that concept a little and try to alleviate some fears you may have about streaming video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video could be worth libraries!
First I'd like to open your mind to a few possibilities with a camcorder.
Interviews. Imagine wearing a tag on the front of your shirt or dress that says "WEB PRESS", while your partner holds a camera in their hands. Now imagine walking into the mayor's office and asking his opinion on some recent controversial issue. Chances are he's going to respond to you the same as he would any other press person. You get that on video and add it to your site and you've just added extreme value to your portal!
In some larger communities, it may not be so easy to gain access directly to the mayor. Go bursting into the mayor's office in San Francisco and you may find yourself quickly hand cuffed and thrown to the floor! However, in smaller communities something like this is not only likely to get results but can be very easy!
If you are in a large town, or even in a smaller town but run into resistance from the mayor, fear not, for the mayor can be got. Simply start at the top and work your way down. If you can't get the mayor, what about the sheriff? If you can't get the sheriff, what about the chief of police? What about the school superintendent? What about a local judge?
These people are politicians, they LIKE getting their face before the public. They like hearing themselves talk and I can promise you, you won't have to go down very far before one of these elected officials will very likely give you not only what you ask them for, but probably a whole lot more. My guess is it will be much harder getting them to shut up than it will be getting them to talk into the camera.
Once you get just a couple of people in local positions of elected power, the mayor isn't going to want to be left out. Another little trick is if the mayor doesn't want to talk to you, I bet his upcoming opponent most certainly will. Once this person starts shooting his mouth off, the mayor will have little or no choice to have his side of the story heard. This is actually a very good strategy. You may wish to interview the opponent first, and then simply tell the mayor, (with the camera running of course), that his opponent said this and how would he respond? Neat little trick huh? Now your site and ONLY your site is running a little "he said - she said" spot. Think that won't get the locals coming?
Some of your advertisers whose websites you should have built for them, would be more than happy to pay extra to have a streaming video of their store, their happy customers, their workers completing a job, etc. linked from their websites. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words. Well this is one of the things that you should be telling your client! After all why not enjoy a camcorder and let someone else pay the expense.
Events Bring Your Portal to Life
Car races, football games, a local convention, all these things in streaming video can pull traffic to your site. Anything that pulls traffic to your site offers you the opportunity to find paying sponsors for the page!
People like seeing themselves, their friends, their families on TV and this is kind of the same thing. If you tape a football game for example and some kid scores a touchdown, you think he's not going to call Grandma and tell her to go look at the video? If you tape a parade, you think people won't want to see their little girl twirling the baton?
Don't Be Scared Of Streaming Video
For almost 5 years now I have not understood how the whole real player thing worked. As a consequence, I've never taken advantage of streaming video and I'm afraid it's been at my own expense, for the simple fact that I didn't understand it and I was afraid. Well, partly due to my diligence in believing there was value in this medium and wanting to learn how to use it, and partly because I got lucky and found a guy who was willing to help me, Searchking will take care of any tech problems you may have with streaming video.
The basic problem with video on the net, is that you need to pay a fee to Real Player according to how many users you expect to have viewing the video at one time. Don't look to me for all your video question because I have a VERY limited understanding of the whole thing, but I do know that this fellow I mentioned has a 50,000 user license. That means that 50,000 people could be looking at the same video at the same time, or 50,000 people could be looking at 50,000 videos at the same time. Either way you look at it, that's a lot of people watching a lot of videos at the same time.
By making an arrangement with Dave Galyond, (the "guy" I keep referring to), we will edit and host up to a 30 minute video for about $25 a month with a one-time editing fee of $49. You can have a lot of stuff on a 30-minute video, but since there is a cost involved, choose your subject matter carefully. I recommend going out and securing a sponsor BEFORE doing any taping if your going to be doing things like parades and football games. The interviewing the mayor kind of stuff should be much cheaper and I think it would be great to be able to let the mayor really get rolling with his interview and then tell him, "I'm sorry that's all the time we have". Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't pay for it!
By the way, last week I had four e-mails asking me where to get a digital camera. I don't sell them, (I probably should be selling them now), I don't know any technical stats on them, I don't know who has the best deal on them and so on. If you want the privileges of getting back stage at concerts and getting in the back door of city council meetings, you'll have to take the responsibility of getting your own camera on your own. I should mention though that while a digital camera is best for photos on the net, any VHS camcorder will do just fine for video. Of course a digital would be better, but a VHS will do just fine.
WHAT SHOULD WE SAY ON THOSE FLYERS BOB?
Here is one more letter I got from one of our partners last week and I thought it to be an excellent question.
Bob, In your previous PPPs, you have described a process of 'not selling' websites and hosting, which I found very exciting. This involves printing up fliers about the hometown portal for public consumption.
My suggestion is to give us the wording for these fliers, or some tips to come up with the right wording ourselves - what to include, what not to include. No doubt your experience has given you an insight into the words that will encourage the man-or-woman-in-the-street, who doesn't really know what a portal is, to visit and use the information they find there.
You can guess that I'm at that point where I must get these fliers printed and handed out.
The thing to remember when deciding on your wording for your fliers, is to talk to your target and not to yourself. If you print 2,000 fliers telling the public about your portal, then it is not likely to get many people. Most people think a portal = Yahoo. Talk to them in terms they can quickly understand and see the value to them. If you put things like:
• RUNNING ON MUTIPLE T-3'S
• 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE WITH HTML
• FAST LOADING GRAPHICS
You are not going to be impressing anyone but yourself. Tell them things they can relate to easily without having to learn something new or having to work to understand. Getting them to understand is your job and not theirs. Above all else, tell them the VALUE to them.
• SAVE MONEY
• FAST AND EASY
• ITEMS FOR SALE CHEAP
Those kinds of things will get you much more response than all the info in the world about html and T-3's. Keep it simple and honest and remember, your goal is not to get them there once, your goal is to keep them coming there for a long time to come, so do not oversell. If it's not on your site, don't tell them it is.
There are as many features to sell as there are people running a portal, so I can't tell you what to say. I can only make a few suggestions to get the "concept" across, but the final decision has got to be yours.
If it were me running a hometown portal, I would focus on my forums and my classifieds and of course my advertisers. My flyer would read something like:
Your hometown doorway to the internet. See what the internet is doing to our own hometown. See your friends, family and local merchants online.
Get a FREE e-mail account just for stopping by.
Get FREE Internet coupons from the stores you shop at the most!
SELL your unwanted items in our INTERNET GARAGE SALE
SEE what your neighbors are saying about the things that affect YOU!
OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY - 7 DAYS A WEEK - 365 DAYS A YEAR
For info call 405-386-4806
Well that wraps up another week for the old PPP. I hope that someone out there has more sense than I do and is keeping these articles in some kind of archive. You can find all kinds of stuff on the web about software, about search engines, about computer programs, BUT, I don't know of anywhere you can find the kind of information we are discussing in the Portal Partner Press. There will come a time when the world is going to realize that we are way ahead of our time here. That we are blazing a trail that doesn't talk about technology per se, but how to use the technology to actually make a topic specific portal WORK. Where are the people going to go that come behind us to find the information that we have already discussed, learned to put to good use?
This Bob's for you!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========August 31, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
A Labor Day Gift from Bob
Finally, after almost two years and literally thousands of dollars I could ill afford, I am out of e-mail hell. We have recently bought and installed a mail program that I am very happy with. It works and we are getting support! The support is the biggie.
This is going to be permanent, or at least as permanent as the internet allows. It is simple to use and easy to set up. I was not concerned so much about having all the latest gizmos as I was about having a mail program that simply sent and received mail and was easy enough for all of our portal partners to be able to offer it to their visitors. This one does that. I truly apologize to all of you who have had to suffer through mail hell with me, but I believe we're finally rolling now and the problems are behind us.
Every portal partner needs to go sign up for their e-mail account as soon as possible. At least get the one account for your domain name at searchking.com. Just go to the main page at www.searchking.com and click the link that says "free e-mail". That will take you to a page where you can sign up. You can sign up for as many accounts as you want but you have to sign up for each name you want as a new account.
For those of you that haven't been with us from the beginning, let me tell you why this mail thing has been such a headache.
From the planning stages of the portal program we knew that e-mail, free web based e-mail to be specific, was one of the main components to any successful portal. I'm not talking about just Searchking offering free e-mail, I'm talking about my portal partners being able to offer their own free e-mail program. The hometown portals have always been one of the main focuses for Searchking and without giving the public the opportunity to sign up for their own e-mail account with email@example.com through the hometown portal and not through Searchking would limit the potential in traffic and advertising sales to our partners. We had to have e-mail to offer to our partners.
This meant that all of these services on the net that "pay" you 50% of the ads they sell would not work for us. It had to be a custom program that we could allow full use of the admin panel to our clients. Also, if the free service took half and the partner took half, there would be nothing there for Searchking. So, you can see how our own custom program was the only real answer all the way around. We are finally in business.
Ok, here's the deal. Every portal plus and every portal pro will be able to have free vanity web based e-mail that you can offer to your visitors. This is of extreme value to any portal. Let's say you have a portal plus devoted to scuba diving and the url is scuba.searchking.com. There will be some people who will WANT an e-mail address that identifies them as someone who is interested in scuba. Their e-mail address could be firstname.lastname@example.org. Studies show that the average internet user will check their e-mail three times a day. So, if you have a hundred users, that's 300 more uniques a day to your portal. Not only to your portal but the other pages as well. To check their mail they go to yourdomain.com, click on the check mail link and then a login page comes up. They sign in and come to their e-mail page. There are three page views right there so that gives you 900 page views a day. Now if they have 10 messages, each time they open the mail they're looking at one page!, then the mail comes up, there's another page, hit their back button, another page, open the next mail, another page and so on and so on. With each new page, advertising banners are rotated. This could add up to thousands of page views a day!
You're probably thinking, "Wow, what a nice guy Bob is". Well hold on to your horses 'cause we're talking about a considerable amount of money here.
E-mail costs money. The cost of the program is minor when you factor in all the space it takes, the server, the bandwidth and the maintenance. I'm not such a nice guy that I just throw that in. This stuff has to be paid for but the idea here is to set this up so that you can make money, I can make money and Searchking can make money. That's the only way it's going to work.
So here is the system:
Each portal plus can get their e-mail free, up to 100 users. Each portal pro can get up to 250 users. Of course when it's free, I get the ads. Searchking will require the header and a footer which will include the Searchking search box on the free accounts. This leaves a lot of space for portal partners to place their ads all over the pages. Where you place those ads is up to you as long as Searchking has the header and the footer. The idea here is to get you rolling and show you the value of the free e-mail. Some partners will never need more than their allotted free accounts and it wouldn't be fair to make them pay for something they don't need.
So what we do is offer upgrades. When you exceed the free accounts, (or any time you want more accounts or want to control all the ads), you can simply go to the upgrade page from your EZ Builder and you will be able to purchase a paid version which will allow you more users and complete control over the ads. Once you take any paid version of the email program, Searchking will not run any ads on your mail program. They will all be yours. Of course even with the paid version, we will still keep the search box for the simple reason that we will not allow our partners to promote any other search engines using this mail program. The bottom line is that either we generate income from ads or we generate income from monthly fees and then let the partner keep the ad revenue. All you have to do is decide which way makes you the most money.
We are just getting the free mail and the upgrade pages put together and they will be available within the next few days. Once it is up, simply sign up for the account you want and we will get it installed for you. Watch the forums and next weeks Portal Partner Press for more info and details.
A LABOR DAY GIFT FROM BOB
In America, we celebrate a holiday known as Labor Day. If all of our global partners don't have a holiday such as this one for Americans, I highly recommend you contact your government and encourage them to make one. It's one of my favorite holidays.
Anyway, as a personal gift to all of you in celebration of Labor Day, I will not make you read a long Portal Partner Press as usual. This one is going to be short and sweet so we can all get busy relaxing. I've been accused on more than one occasion of talking a lot and saying little. I realize I have a tendency to be long-winded when I write, especially when I get a little excited about something, (and I'm usually excited about SOMETHING), so for once --- I won't. I'm actually going to shut up, believe it or not!
Have a great week and all of our American partners, have a great holiday, drive safely and enjoy yourselves.
This Bob's for you!
Publisher -- Bob Massa