Business advice


Spreading the Word on the Net
June 19, 2007, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So you have a business that you want to advertise on the Net. You have heard various stories about spam police and you are sitting their wondering how to start; or maybe you should just give up the idea and stick with print ads.

It’s better to think about this project as using the Net as a great platform to market. There are spots where you can advertise for relatively low costs. But there are no guarantees that those who read Yahoo ads or ads running on opt-end newsletters are truly going to be your market niche. You can try a test run, of course, and see how it goes.

Yes, and for the record, the spam police still exist, but not as in great force as in years ago. Mostly, they come in the form of mailing list moderators and moderators for newsgroups. Newsgroups can be used if you are actually selling products. They don’t tend to go along with selling services. I once got a scathing email when I sold Avon for a short time. I had posted in one of the many *forsale groups; so go figure.

While, we are on that there are dozen of *forsale groups in the newsgroups. You just have to take the time to go through the list. (Go to google and read the info on ‘groups.’ This is the easiest way to get to newsgroups these days.) Before posting in these groups, look for rules that tell you that commercial goods are not allowed. This means that they only want items one would usually found, i.e., in a garage sale.

Join as many email lists (yahoo groups) that apply at all to the business that you are in. You are allowed to talk about deals; and if you are diligent with helpful posting, they will allow you to get away with such things as ‘brags.’ Brags are a way to announce to a group that you have landed a deal and talk a bit about the business you do. The subject line for all such mailings allow you to tell the audience that you are going to go ‘off topiic,’ (ot). This way they can chose to read or not to read. After putting ot in the subject line, you put ‘brag.’

Another way to get the word out is to create a great signature line. It will be at the bottom of all of your posts. It will include name, of course, your primary skill/business and then secondary skills. Also, don’t forget contact info: emails, fax, and primary phone number. Sig lines, actually are about the best way to blatantly advertise you and your business without being ‘blatant’ about it.

You have to remember that the Net was first created for the academicians and the politicians in the world. They resented it heavily when us ordinary folk came along and invaded their turf. They made up rules as they went along to slow us down. Let me, however, bring up what became known as spamming. (There were in those days services that existed for the sole purpose of gigantic mass mailings to hundreds of thousands of email addresses.) A group of immigration attorneys got together, wrote a pitch letter, and hired one of those services and sent out millions of copies. Before the story broke, those lawyers made millions and laughed all the way to the bank. The point is two-fold. Those guys made it harder for everyone coming after them. However, they proved with certainty that you can improve your business by using the Net as your medium.

I once got a great writing assignment because I read the sig line of a member of one of my dozen email lists. He was the travel editor for the San Francisco Examiner, a market I was trying to get into for a decade.

So, yes use the Net to expand your business, but do it with a caution.

Laura Bell

writer@well.com

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To Advertise/market or not?
June 3, 2007, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Business Advice

I can’t believe it when mulling it over, but I have run into small business owners who seem to be scared to advertise. This really doesn’t have anything to do with money.

The first time this happened was in the late 80s when I represented a marketing type guru who wanted to sell himself to the banking industry as the guy who would help them walk through the coming changes in the industry. I worked hard to get him a speaking engagement at the Town Hall Meeting in Los Angeles. This is a big thing. You get the speech broadcast on public radio and reprinted in their magazine.

I didn’t attend, but he told me later the hall was filled to capacity. They were interested enough to come and talk to him later. I asked him whether or not he passed out business cards. He thought it would have been inappropriate. A couple of head slaps for that one.

Just recently, I met a woman running one of those citizen journalism sites. The markets for this is a combination of writers who would like to see their work published and news fans who would be interested in underground reporting. I suggested she use the newsgroups, which hosts these niches, to get the word out. We wouldn’t be telling them about offers for sale or that there were any fees attached. She hesitated because she felt ‘it might backfire.’ Sorry to use a cliche, but ‘give me a break.’

I also met a very talented interior designer in 2001. I knew one of her friends, who confided that she had no work because she refused to market herself.

I guess I can add a new abomination for types who shouldn’t run their own business, those who are shy and afraid to market.

Next time, I will talk about how to advertise on Net.

Laura Bell

writer@well.com