OBS Discussion Forum

"Marketing Online" by Marcia Yudkin

Message on June 12, 1995

First, let me say that I've never seen a more clever way to write a book. Congratulations !

I felt compelled to write you because you assert that blatant advertising on the Internet is unwelcomed and ineffective. I couldn't disagree more ! In fact, if you're going to advertise on the net, the more blatant and plainly obvious, the better. In 1994, my company wrote an online Real Estate Multiple Listing Service - an interactive multimedia system, among the first of its kind. We posted blatant Ads on the net, so blatant in fact, that you knew before reading what you were getting into.

The subject line of the ad read: New Online Interactive Multimedia Real Estate Service (AD). So, you ask, what's the point, if the knowledge that it's an ad turns people away ? Simple: I want you to read the AD if you need the service. If you don't need the service, it doesn't matter that you skipped it. This ad was so effective that within 24 hours we increased our call volume as much again as the previous two months. And we did not receive even a single flame or complaint (yes, my personal email address was in the ad).

Here's a summary of the points I think deserve to be made:
What We Did Right: - Respected other's time: told them it was an AD so they could skip it if they wanted to. - Placed the Ad EVERYWHERE we thought it was relevant. - Tryed dilligently NOT to put the Ad in places where is was irrelevant. - Stated only the facts in the ad: - it's Multimedia System - Lots of properties listed - Online Pictures of the homes, inside and out - Ultrafast Download of pictures due to proprietary image compression software, - FREE Client end of our proprietary software (call in for disk, or download it) - Contacts and phone numbers. - Didn't over editorialize or exaggerate. - Kept in mind the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple, silly) - Repost only once in every three to four weeks, to match the server message spooling rate. Things we DIDN'T DO: - Spamming, blind crossposting, or excessively repetitive postings - exaggerate or make wild claims.
The lesson we learned is that being straightforward, honest, and to the point was effective, and perhaps most of all, respecting the reader was our best move. People want to use the Internet as a resource, not as a place to be someone's target. I hear this all the time from educators who want the connectivity and resource of Internet access in their grade, middle, and high schools, but have grave concerns over students getting the wrong exposure (particularly, I've heard voiced the concern that some educators are concerned that students may become the target of ruthless marketers, getting into trouble by making excessive purchases, etc.) This concern is not unfounded, though, because this kind of abuse (call it prank if you want) happens even without connectivity. With access, it gets easier, and is not as difficult to do anonymously. One thing to keep in mind is the difference between advertising and promotion. Advertising permits you to say exactly what you want to, although the cost is often high. Promotion, on the other hand, involves spreading the knowledge of your product in a less blatant, more informative way. Schmoozing is only one form of promotion.

Today, my company offers free presentations to organizations that want to learn about the Internet. We simply give away a one hour presentation. For Free. Of course, I do stock up on business cards prior to the talk, and I make sure I have a supply of our brochures with me, for those who ask for them. Usually, it's like an avalanche.

Sometimes as many as fifteen people come by with questions before anyone asks for a business card or brochure. Then when the crowd sees them, my supply goes in about two minutes I get mobbed. It's both promotion - letting them know what I have, without directly selling - and showing a respect for people by not pushing my materials on them. People, whether in person, or on-line, respect and appreciate that. And appreciation often results in sales.

In general, I'd say that an ounce of promotion is worth a pound of advertising, and a good marketer should go after every promotion opportunity available. Although, advertising has its place too. The public needs to know how to find your service or product when they need it. Advertising is the only way to be in front of people when you need to be there.

Promotion is the activity that builds familliarity, market presence, and reminds the people to go look for that ad when the need arises. They go together.

Hope that helps :)

Have a great day !

Best Regards,
Doug Gould, Marketing Vice President
Pro Search Online, Inc.
1920 E. Highway 54, Suite 730
Durham, NC 27713
(919) 405-2480 voice
(919) 405-2446 fax
(919) 405-3809 The Pro Search Online System.