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The Dilemma

A major strength of the Web is also a major weakness. Imagine living in a city where everyone owned not only a television set, but a television station as well. To make matters worse, most of the channels were nothing more than listings of what is playing at other stations. Of course to make matters more interesting- half of the stations went off the air a long time ago.

Marketing 101 and the Web

I ended up in systems quite by accident. My undergraduate and graduate studies were actually in Marketing. The Internet is very much an advertiser's nightmare.

When advertisers set out to promote a product, they will first identify who they want to sell their product to. In classifying or segmenting a market, the savvy ad-person might consider:

  • Demographic data such as race, age, or sex
  • Sociographic data like education level and income
  • Psychographic data like hobbies and interests
  • Geographic data such as a specific region or rural vs. urban

In the traditional media such as television, radio, and the printed page- it is not a difficult task to both target a group of people for a product, or to select the media most likely to reach them.

Unfortunately, things are not so easy with the Web. Why do I offer such words of encouragement?

  • There are no reliable measuring services. Television has the Nielsens, magazines and newspapers must provide audited circulation reports, and so on. An advertiser knows what the bang for the buck or impression cost is. The Web has no such mechanism. Besides, any good webmaster could cook the books beyond detection.
  • The Web audience is scattered all over the place! If I was selling widgets in Ohio, the odds are I would get almost as many hits from Scandinavia and Australia as I would from Cleveland. This obviously is nice from a gee, I'm world famous perspective, but I'm not selling more widgets because of it.
  • The Web audience is very skewed sociographically and demographically. It sounds very impressive when they say that 20 million Americans have access to the Internet. What about the 230 Million that do not? Imagine if you were selling a product targeting a group of people that do not own televisions, but yet you chose to invest in that medium- what would you call that decision?
  • Most of the sites on the Web lack content and simply are collections of bookmarks. It is difficult to name a good analogy in the traditional media.
  • The culture and underlying nature of the Web is very much anti-marketing. People expect stuff for nothing, but many people and companies wish to contribute something for others to enjoy.
  • Television and radio are for the most part, passive activities. You tune in and zone out. The net requires affirmative action on the part of the reader to follow what you want them to read.

  • So in a sense, we can say that the Web is more of a Public Relations device than a true marketing medium. It can be an enhancement to traditional advertising. Placing the good old http://yournamehere.com in the trailer of a TV commercial encourages people to visit the web site, not the web site soliciting business per se.

    What is my first step?

    Good question. The first thing you need to do is really sit down and review the following about your site:

  • What is my main purpose for having this site?
  • What do I offer that is different or better than what others are offering?
  • Did I stick to my original ideas and goals, or have I scattered myself?
  • Who would really be interested in viewing my site?

  • Once you have answered these questions, you have a good place to start in laying out your promotional strategy. Just keep one important thing in mind.

    Aggressive promotion will most likely result in hard feelings against your site. The general rule of the Web is to take a more passive approach. You know, build a better mousepad and the world will beat a route to your server...

    What about using a submission service?

    For this site, I decided to do my registrations manually. This allowed me to take a good look at each place I was considering listing BigNoseBird.Com. You may or may not have the time or energy to do this. If you are in a hurry do consider using such a service.

    There are a lot of businesses around that for a fee will get you listed on a various number of search engines and/or directories. As sort of a loss leader, a few offer a limited free placement to the most popular engines using a self-service set of forms.

    Some of the more popular ones are:

    Sidetrips Submission Service
    Net Creations Postmaster

    Where should I list my site first?

    It would be a good idea to first register your site with the major search engines. Before doing this, please read up on the use of META tags. This can help insure that your page is indexed and described properly. Here is a list of places to start with:

  • Yahoo! The big daddy of them all. Be certain to surf around a bit to figure out the best category to enter your site in. You can be in more than one category. They are usually pretty backlogged.
  • Altavista A very popular search engine. Once indexed, your page is available usually within 24 hours. This engine has a lot of dead links listed, but at least they are fast in indexing new sites.
  • Infoseek Another popular engine. Submissions can be made via e-mail or their WWW site depending on their system status. New additions are searchable instantly!
  • Webcrawler The AOL engine. Be certain to list yourself here. Be ready to wait a long time for your link to show up. Watch out for this one, it doesn't handle text inside of tables or META tags. Read their instructions!
  • Excite Another popular search engine that is pretty backlogged. See Webcrawler.
  • Lycos Another popular search engine that is pretty backlogged.

  • Get the idea? It is going to take a while for people to find your site if you use the free method of promotion. Several of the sites listed above will allow you the honor of being listed immediately for a fee. You can also buy advertising space on the engines themselves. Some are configured that if somebody does a search for Lawyers, your law firm banner can come up coincidently as the advertisement on the results page!


    What are META tags and why do I need them?

    The following is the top of my main page, index.asp. Notice that in the TITLE I have not given my site's name, but a brief description of the site.

    The first META is the description . Many engines will list this information (or at least part of) it under the title. Try and get peoples' attention with the first part of the tag.

    The second META is the keywords . Forget the hype. Do not pack in the same word over and over. Infoseek for example will cream you for using the same word more than seven times! No matter what you do, you are NOT going to end up at the top of the list. Just make sure you list the meaningful words and concepts in this section. Do not put in irrelevant words that will misleadingly draw people to your site, just to rack up your counter- you know the words...

    <HTML><HEAD> <TITLE> BigNoseBird.Com- The Strangest Name in Web Authoring Resources. HTML,CGI-BIN, and advice for the novice to intermediate web-master. Everything is free- including the advice! </TITLE> <META name="description" content="Tired of bouncing through endless links looking for freeware, shareware, and instruction on HTML and web design? BigNoseBird.Com exists to help the novice and intermediate web-master get the most from the Internet- and more importantly, help you to become a more meaningful contributor to this world wide community!"><META name="keywords" content="HTML cgi-bin CGI-BIN unix perl how to search web page shareware freeware graphics midi guestbook forms source source code help assistance beginner tutorial beginning novice help CGI SSI server side includes include instruction design vi virtual host lines icons gif jpg"></HEAD>

    You can even ask some spiders to come back at a certain interval. The major search engines show up automatically when they get around to it, but this may help other spiders along.

    <Meta Name="ROBOTS" Content="ALL">
    <Meta Name="revisit-after" Content="14 days">


    What else can I do?

    I am sure that in your surfing around, that you have seen sites that relate to what you are doing. They may have even helped to inspire you. Write to the webmaster and explain what you are doing and why. Tell the webmaster that you will be placing a link and would be honored by a reciprocal link. Do not flood the world with requests. Pick only sites that you admire and that would be a benefit to your audience.

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