OBS Discussion Forum

"Marketing Online" by Marcia Yudkin

Message on April 11, 1996

Here is a new approach I've tested and verified after completing Marketing Online.

The Internet has a distinctive format for information files that you can use to your advantage. If you can package an authoritative set of questions and answers about your area of expertise using this format, a lot of potentially lucrative free online (and offline) publicity could come your way.

Step one in utilizing this opportunity is familiarizing yourself with the format and spirit of FAQs. On the World Wide Web, you can find an alphabetical archive of FAQs at http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq. You can also read FAQs that are posted regularly to the newsgroup news.answers. Some of these are actual compilations of frequently asked questions from a particular Internet newsgroup, but others are not. While you are browsing the collection, check to see if anyone has yet covered the subject you're considering.

Step two is to collect, write and organize a set of questions and answers. Use the "schmoozing" techniques described elsewhere in Marketing Online to work in very subtle references to your company and your expertise. Format your collection of questions and answers in the conventional FAQ format and give it an informative title.

Step three is to post your "draft" FAQ wherever appropriate, in relevant Internet newsgroups and on the online services. At this stage, I set mine up on mailbots at fl@yudkin.com and prinfo@yudkin.com and invited people to check them out and give me feedback. Not one of the dozens of people who offered suggestions, comments and compliments in the first few weeks of this process objected to the promotional material I tacked on at the end. Rather, two people offered to post the FAQs at no cost to me at their Web sites, and another person volunteered to automate one's regular posting to a certain newsgroup for me. Allow several months for this stage to allow valid criticisms to surface.

Step four is to issue a press release to relevant print media about the FAQ. I also said I would send a printout of the FAQ file by mail for free to anyone who sent me a self-addressed stamped envelope with 78 cents postage. I'm beginning now to see the fruits of print publicity in several magazines for writers and office workers.

Step five is to retrieve the guidelines for the FAQ about FAQs from http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq and to submit your FAQ officially so that it can be posted regularly to the newsgroup news.answers and included in the official FAQ archive.

And then, congratulations! You will then have become an official net.personality!

Remember, to look at samples FAQs that I created, send any E-mail message to fl@yudkin.com (The Freelance Writing FAQ) or to prinfo@yudkin.com (the Small Business Publicity FAQ).

-- Marcia Yudkin