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How to reach millions without SPAM?

By Theovon in Internet
Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 12:17:43 AM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

Everyone's being overloaded these days with SPAM. We hate it. Some people's inboxes get more SPAM than legitimate email. It's terrible! But how else can you reach millions of people quickly?

Let's say, hypothetically, that I've just started a new internet-based business. Being a capitalist, I want to make money, and in order to do that, I need to attract lots of customers.

Well, I can't afford prime-time TV ads. I don't have the money for a full-page ad in the Washington Post. Actually, I need something cheap... I've got it! I can send SPAM to 100 million people and buy pop ads...

Want a minute! NO! Those things are EVIL!

Personally, not only do I think those things are irritating and offensive, I think they're sometimes downright unethical. But what alternatives do we have? If I were to rely on word-of-mouth, I could spend years waiting for word to get around, and by that point, I'd have gone out of business. Getting listed on Yahoo! wouldn't help much either. In fact, as I understand it, buying text and banner ads on websites is largely ineffective because people have long since learned to not notice them; that's why pop-up ads were invented.

There has got to be a way to reach people without offending them and costing them money. How would you do it?

NOTE: Some of you may suggest simply not going into business. But that would be rather anti-capitalist, wouldn't it?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


How do you advertize your internet business?
o I send SPAM. 3%
o I buy pop-up ads. 0%
o I buy banner ads. 6%
o I sneak mention of it into usenet posts and website discussion boards. 8%
o I get no customers and quickly go out of business. 8%
o I don't advertize. People come to me magically. 25%
o I give everything away for free out ot charity. 13%
o I don't even bother to do business. 34%

Votes: 125
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Yahoo
o Also by Theovon

Display: Sort:
How to reach millions without SPAM? | 102 comments (90 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Change your business model (3.80 / 5) (#1)
by dirvish on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:01:20 PM EST

Internet advertising has proven to be mostly ineffective. Internet businesses are going to have to change their business model. We are going to continue to get so deluged with spam and pop-ups that these campaigns will start to back fire.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Change it to what? (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by Armaphine on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:28:24 PM EST

businesses are going to have to change their business model.
For as many times as I've seen that said, I've never seen anyone actually suggest a business model to change to.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Magazines (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by wiredog on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:06:37 PM EST

are going from advertising to subscription. Byte is the latest to do that. Kuro5hin is going to the PBS model.

More Math! Less Pr0n! K5 For K5ers!

[ Parent ]
yeah (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by dirvish on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 02:31:42 PM EST

True dat! I wish I had a solution.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
word of mouth. (none / 0) (#37)
by joshsisk on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:50:05 PM EST

That is, and always will be, the best way to attract customers. There is nothing better than  someone's friend recommending your business.

That is, assuming you offer a decent service...
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Porn (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:54:40 PM EST

Porn. Always porn. Every business model eventually becomes porn.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Consumer Report-like mediums (none / 0) (#48)
by Adam Theo on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:41:17 PM EST

I've been thinking that a Consumer Report-like website would be a great way to help replace SPAM and annoying advertising for good products & services.

Of course, this would involve alot of work. It would have to be completely neutral, have revenue based on user subscriptions or something similar(not sponsorships or advertising on its pages, too risky for such a trusted site), and be very open in its decision-making processes. Perhaps it could be made easier by being completely peer-run like K5 here.

Rusty, any ideas on this for the CMF?

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]

How about non-intrusive ads? (4.12 / 8) (#3)
by kphrak on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:07:00 PM EST

The two things you mentioned are evil because of their "in-your-face"-style form of intrusion; interrupting your activities to bombard you with something you usually don't want. In addition, the use of them is like seeing an ad "As Seen on TV"; the thing being sold is suspected to be worthless.

Off the cuff, I would recommend that you buy a K5 ad, or a Google ad. They get plenty of exposure, are non-intrusive, and are accepted by the online community.

Describe yourself in your sig!
American computer programmer, living in Portland, OR.

blimps (4.46 / 13) (#4)
by NKcell on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:14:30 PM EST

big huge freakin blimps.

There are no problems that can't be solved with a liberal application of blimps.

The last line... (3.28 / 7) (#10)
by Meatbomb on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:06:09 PM EST

...has real sig potential. It would even look great silk-screened onto a t-shirt...


Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]
How about (4.00 / 4) (#20)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:57:39 PM EST

skies over-crowded with blimps? Blimps as far as the eye can see, stretching from horizon to horizon, so that the only light comes from their neon signs...

[ Parent ]
Alas... (3.66 / 6) (#23)
by CanSpice on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 02:24:39 PM EST

We can only dream...

[ Parent ]
Easy.... (3.00 / 3) (#5)
by biggs on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:15:35 PM EST

Just do whatever Dean Kamen did with IT... what the hell exactly did he do to deserve all that free advertising anyway???

"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
Other than being a very sucessful genius? (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by wiredog on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:08:42 PM EST

Not much. Just invented medical devices that have saved the lives of tens of thousands of people. That's all.

More Math! Less Pr0n! K5 For K5ers!

[ Parent ]
oops.. (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by biggs on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:17:36 PM EST

didn't mean to imply he didn't deserve free advertising.. I'm just thinking more from a process perspective... So let me rephrase... What process did he go through to obtain free advertising... and for the human transporter specificly. Is it simply because the invention was truly news-worthy? I just don't know...

"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
[ Parent ]
His name (none / 0) (#47)
by Adam Theo on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:35:49 PM EST

The process he used to get such free advertising is quite simply his name. He grew a reputation of inventing useful, practical devices, and people recognize this. So as long as he keeps up the good work, he can expect people to listen intently.

To the author: if you want free media attention, I'd suggest getting some well-known and respected backers to your product(s). There's alot more to it than that, of course, but that's the general idea.

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]

whatever..... (4.28 / 7) (#6)
by thekubrix on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:27:59 PM EST

happened to word of mouth? why must business (small or large) insist that I'm going to use their product/service because of some AD? Unless I'm forced to use it (ie internet/tv) because of lack of options, then I'm far more likely to do my homework and find which one has the best reviews and better service/quality........maybe if companies shifted their efforts in marketing and concentrate wholly on quality, they wouldn't need such intense marketing. Case in point, a young Dell.....they started out with very weak marketing and you hardly saw them in stores, but they sold me immediatly by providing me with a high quality product, and then I told my friends, fuck compaq/hp/ibm/etc buy a Dell! So yes, this does work..........

Word of mouth (4.00 / 3) (#9)
by infraoctarine on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:52:58 PM EST

Sure, that's what all companies should hope for, since it's basically the only sure way to get attention without annoying anybody. But how do you get started? It's hard to get any reviews unless you're at least semi-known. Someone has to start spreading the word in the first place. Just building great product is usually not enough.

Besides, it wouldn't work for all products. For example, I got a spam about a penis enlargement method today. Even if the product is superb, no word of mouth would happen, because few people would admit to using it. How do they find their market?

[ Parent ]

getting started with word of mouth (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by Adam Theo on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:47:02 PM EST

I've found the best way to get started with word of mouth is to be a recognizable personal figure in communities related to your product/service. Just frequent those communities, be polite and helpful, and politely plug your product at every opportunity  :-)

However, as was said above, word of mouth takes a long time to grow. Time which a start-up may not have. And doing it the way I suggest above is effort-consuming, too. It may not be practical for many start-ups, depending on their situation   :-(

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]

Advertising does work (3.83 / 6) (#8)
by SaintPort on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:49:26 PM EST

It finances most of the TV we watch.  On the internet it is tricky to advertise without annoying.  This is mostly due to the immaturity of the media and market.

In TV (done right), the broadcasts we watch are made to fit in slots between commercials.  Commercials are carefully made to be entertaining.

Internet advertising at its worst takes over control of the computer... pop-ups, pop-behinds, flash ads that are superimposed over content...

So to ethically advertise I suggest (in order of cost)...

Create a buzz... if you really have a good product, tell people, send press releases.

Crafting site pages for user interface AND search engine inclusion.

Banner exchanges.

Paid text ads.

Paid banner ads.

Paid placement in search engines.

But please don't pay for an ad that will take control over my net experience.  And please don't send me email if I have not joined your list.  But I have no problem with you buying an ad on a mailing list I do subscribe to.

The real secret, find a way to advertise to me that also gives me value or entertains me.  That's meme done right!

Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

Banner Ads Work Too (5.00 / 2) (#77)
by Rich0 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:25:06 PM EST

I pet-peeve of mine is all the folks who go around saying that banner ads don't work.  The usual basis for such statements is the fact that few people click on them.

Do superbowl ads work?  Last time I checked they have a 0% clickthrough rate - since you can't click on them.  They obviously do work, otherwise companies wouldn't spend so much on them.

Banner ads have the useful feature of being able to connect viewers to your site.  However, just because viewers don't click on them doesn't mean that they haven't seen the ad.

Does anybody know what an X10 camera is?  How many of you have actually clicked on an ad?  The ad did its job then - if you did have some reason to buy a really small camera, you'd probably at least consider an X10.  Well, maybe not since their ads are so annoying, but if they just stuck to normal banner ads, they probably would have influenced your buying decisions.

Advertising in and of itself isn't a bad thing.  I don't mind seeing ads in general - how else would I know about the next-great-thing?  However, ads which get in your way are a great annoyance.  Think of a subway ad - it doesn't get in your way at all - it is just on a wall which would otherwise just have peeling paint.

[ Parent ]

Not a mystery (3.00 / 7) (#14)
by gauntlet on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:20:34 PM EST

If you're wondering how to do it cheap, fast, effective, and legal, you're going to have to pick 3, and legal counts as two.

  1. Provide a useful service or product.
  2. Advertise it ethically.
  3. Reap the rewards.

Into Canadian Politics?

point 2... (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by tmenezes on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:28:51 PM EST

...is the question. Points 1 and 3 are pretty obvious, no?

[ Parent ]
Heh. (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by gauntlet on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 05:41:11 PM EST

Ironically, no.

Point 1 tends to be forgotten by the same people that tend to use spam for advertising.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Yeah, that's true [nt] (none / 0) (#68)
by tmenezes on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:07:40 AM EST

[ Parent ]
the entire point.... (none / 0) (#51)
by Adam Theo on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:51:02 PM EST

If I'm not mistaken, I do believe "advertising it ethically" is the entire point of the author's question. Not trying to inflame, but do you have any solid suggestions on how to advertise ethically? Asking because you might have intended to include that in your comment, but forgot?

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]

Gosh, let's see... (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by gauntlet on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:37:07 AM EST

Newspapers, television, radio, billboards, bus decals, mass mailouts, print media inserts, magazines, posters, urinal signs, banner ads, product placements....

That's all I can think of right now, but I'm tired. I find it hard to believe that the average person has never heard of any of them.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Have been asking myself exactly this qustion... (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by tmenezes on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:26:27 PM EST

In my free time I'm working on a web-based service. I believe it to be quite innovative, taking care of something for businesses in an automated much simpler way.

I believe in the intrinsic value of my service but I don't have the money to advertise it big time. The service is aimed at businesses in my country only (Portugal) and not for computer geeks so a k5 text ad would be useless.

What can I do?

bids. (none / 0) (#38)
by joshsisk on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:53:47 PM EST

If it's a business service, go out and give bids. Get interviews with business and tell them about your service. Maybe even offer it free for the first 3 months or so, so they can see how useful it is (or isn't).
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Put a link in your sig (4.66 / 3) (#43)
by dirvish on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 05:50:29 PM EST

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
How do you send spam, anyway? (1.00 / 9) (#18)
by dipierro on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:45:42 PM EST

All the talk of the rich spammers on that other site makes me want to get into the spamming business... But ISPs don't allow spammers on their networks, do they? And what am I going to spamvertise? What companies allow you to spam their products and will still pay you? Anyone know how I can get into the spam business?

How to start. (1.00 / 3) (#30)
by rosario001 on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 03:27:09 PM EST

Send spam advertising your services as a spammer.

[ Parent ]
Wall Street Journal readers get it (5.00 / 19) (#19)
by bobpence on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 01:46:43 PM EST

There is a letter to the editor in today's WSJ in which the writer takes to task a spammer who the paper covered a few days ago. The example cited in the original article had 500,000 copies of an email generating 65 responses and $40 in revenue.

Journal reader and Brown University Associate Professor of Economics points out that the economic cost of almost 500,000 unwanted emails sent to people who on average make about $14 per hour (U.S. mean wage, obviously people with email at work may average more than the general workforce). At 2 seconds average per recipient, nearly $4000 is lost to the economy.

Spam is not an effective means of advertising! Buy an ad on K5. Buy an ad in your local paper or local cable channel. Advertising on CNN or MTV or FX in a geographically limited area is extremely cheap. Figure out what publications your target market reads and advertise there.

I used a microcontroller called the BASIC Stamp in a project. On the Yahoo BASICStamp discussion list, some of those who most frequently answer questions also sell add-on products. They answer questions honestly, often citing their own useful pages. Of course once you find help on their website, you are likely to snoop around and find the products they sell, and you have good will toward the seller because they gave you free information on the list and at their website. If your problem sounds like their add-on might be the ideal fix, they will suggest it, usually after citing a cheaper solution in case the problem isn't as big as it sounds. They are thus well-regarded, whereas people who just stop by the list and leave an ad are not; we call them spammers.

The biggest investment you will make in your business is time. Please don't steal other people's time with an ineffective marketing tool that takes more out of society than you put in. Adam Smith's classic example, a pin factory, takes raw materials and labor and produces output that exceeds the cost of the input, as any effective capital enterprise should. Spammers waste other people's resources and produce extraordinarily little even for themselves.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

well-regarded, self-interest help (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Adam Theo on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 08:01:41 PM EST

Yes, I agree completely. The tactic taken by those add-on producers for the BASIC Stamp in the above comment is probably the best way (from a pure quality standpoint) to advertise. Reputation is extremely important and rewarding. I just posted a comment in an earlier thread about this.

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]

Weird Reasoning (none / 0) (#81)
by brunes69 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:55:16 PM EST

Journal reader and Brown University Associate Professor of Economics points out that the economic cost of almost 500,000 unwanted emails sent to people who on average make about $14 per hour (U.S. mean wage, obviously people with email at work may average more than the general workforce). At 2 seconds average per recipient, nearly $4000 is lost to the economy.

While I agree spam is very very bad, this reasoning is really really retarded. I could use the same reasoning to say that anything at all is bad for the economy. (It takes 1 second to open a drawer in a desk, therefore $2000 is lost to the US economy!!!!)

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]
Exactly, almost (4.66 / 3) (#82)
by bobpence on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:17:33 PM EST

I suspect that you do not routinely, 30 or 40 times per day, open drawers for no reason. But somewhere in your office are file cabinets, and they are carefully labeled to accurately indicate their contents. If someone purposefully mislabeled those drawers, you would think they were wasting your time. If someone left drawers open and in your way, such that you have to close them to get to the drawers that have what you want, again it would be a waste of your time.

In the analogy, obvious spam emails are like drawers left open in your way, and not-so-obvious spams are like drawers mislabeled to make it seem they have what you want inside. Worst of all, the prevalence of spam means that you doubt the validity of some legitimate email -- the file you want is in a drawer that is correctly labeled, but you think the label is a hoax and don't open the drawer.

If your drawers are correctly labeled, and people close them when they are done, then when you open the drawer you are doing something useful, much like reading legitimate emails. It takes time, but there is payback.

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Productivity gain. (none / 0) (#97)
by vectro on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 02:36:57 AM EST

There is no productivity gained by deleting spam. But using drawers to organize one's office, as opposed to just throwing everything on the floor, saves substantially more time than that used to open and close the drawers. Hence the purchase of desks improves productivity; that's why corporations buy them for their employees.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
And moreover... (none / 0) (#96)
by Gromit on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:21:55 AM EST

...at the end of the day, wouldn't you rather be those people (BASIC Stamp, Massimo as described in another post) than a spammer?

Risking the wrath of the masses, I think banner ads are just fine. I frequently visit sites which are useful to me, where people have spent their valuable time making information I need accessible and interesting, or providing entertainment. If they can provide that without ads (independent wealth, or the whole site is really a subtle ad for their own product or services), fine, but many of them are supported by advertisements. I "pay" for the information or entertainment I receive by allowing my bandwidth to be used for the purposes of sending me relatively unobtrusive advertisements. None of them has worked so far, but I'm open to the idea that someday I'll happen to notice a banner ad for something I was thinking of buying which will make that particular vendor known to me and end up (after research) giving that vendor a sale. No worries.

What is not acceptable is to hijack my bandwidth, time, or energy with spam, pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. In the case of spam, you don't have my permission (never, I don't opt-in, ever) to take up my bandwidth (downloading) and time (deleting). In the case of pop-ups, although the principle is the same as banner ads, they're too obtrusive. They're also self-defeating: I don't go back to sites with pop-ups, and I'll never buy anything from a pop-up ad. In fact, if I'm aware of a company using pop-up ads (or spam) to market their products, I am automatically predisposed to buy from their competition, even at a higher price.

Frankly, I'm amazed it's taken so long for legislation to ban spam. I don't recall it taking that long for fax messages, and it's the same principle.

"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
But I don't want them to reach me (4.42 / 7) (#22)
by HidingMyName on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 02:21:26 PM EST

I don't want to have advertizers control what I experience. Sorry but I've got things like a family and a life, why would I want to help them reach me via spam or any other medium. If they want my business, advertise on line with a web site. I'll scan for them that way. Put your number in the phone book. Don't just reach out to me, it interferes with my life and I don't like it. When I need something I will reach out to the vendor/advertiser . So my advice is to be accessible, put your name into directories (telephone, yahoo, etc) and have a web page crawled by google.

The same way as ever. (5.00 / 9) (#26)
by Sairon on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 02:41:49 PM EST

Do your research, find the target market. Then advertise in a manner consistent with their ideals and beliefs in places they are liking to find them. Advertising does work. It sounds like advertising on the internet and word of mouth, your two derided options, might be the best. I say this because we can already assume your target market is on the internet. Unless you have true, relevant data, it is impossible to say if text ads are or are not effective for your business.

That said, having a requirement to reach millions quickly seems to tell me that you are really ready to open for business. A good business plan has time to wait for word of mouth and localized marketing to meet with success. The very best way to advertise is to focus vast amounts of effort on your product and relationships with your customers. Happy customers do tell friends. They especially tell friends when they feel that they have a great product for a fantastic price. Being treated as a unique individual that the seller has a true to desire to service also helps. Here is a case study for you that happened to me recently:

A gentleman I know was shopping for leather items in Firenze (Florence) Italy. For those of you who have not had this distinct experience, there are three or four long stretch of road absolutely filled with supplies of all sorts of leather products. There are street vendors with semi-permanent stands, storefronts behind them, smaller cardboard stands (likely illegal), and storefronts with warehouses in the alleys behind it all.

So the story continues that he happened into one shop, where the shop owner spent alot of time explaining the different types of leather, buttons, designs, and other factors that affect the 'quality' of a product. Our hero used this information to choose the product he wanted, at the higher end of his price range. The shop owner then, for whatever reason, decided to give him a small discount. This worked to his advantage in the long run.

The hero, in this case, had several friends who he brought to Firenze with him. They skipped directly passed the street vendors to Massimo's shop. Over the course of two hours, Massimo (the shop owner, in case you didn't catch that) bought everyone a cappochinno, talked about affairs in the greater Veneto region, displayed the qualities of his wares, and was generally a pleasant guy. Five men walked out of his shop with items totalling well over $1500. Word of mouth, excellent customer service, and quality products made Massimo's evening a success.


It takes work (4.75 / 4) (#28)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 03:04:48 PM EST

There is no easy and cheap way to get your message to millions of people. Why would there be? It doesn't benefit anyone but you, so nobody else is going to go out of their way to give you a cheap medium for advertising. Nobody is just entitled to perform mass-marketing. There's no God-given right to 'get the message out' about your business. It will take hard work and as you said, money.

Here's a slightly offtopic hint about businesses. Ideas are worthless - products are what sell. Even a great idea will make you zero money if it's not implemented. And frankly I think products market themselves. A lot of the failed dot coms did the opposite, getting massive VC, turning around and marketing ridiculous ideas with no product in sight.

It's not anti-capitalist to suggest that someone shouldn't go into business. Certainly you shouldn't be prevented from going into business by artificial means - but if you can't figure out how to effectively run and market your business, the free market will not help you.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

Re: Ideas are worthless... (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by belldandi on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:47:29 PM EST

If ideas were worthless, there would be no need for Patents, Trade Secrets, or Intellectual Property Laws. Yes, in a lot of cases, it helps to have a working implementation, but not having a (working) implementation does not preclude an entity from making money.

I agree with the sentiment that there is no easy or cheap way to (successfully) advertise to millions of people; unless of course you are Bill Clinton entering into the cigar importing scene.

And in the same regard, if advertising by word of mouth or other slow means would spell disaster, how in the word do so many small businesses make it through, year after year. For example - my father's construction business. For over 20 years he has been self-employed with no physical office, no commercial advertising and he has managed to do relatively well. If word of mouth doesn't work, he would have been out of business 19 years and 6 months ago.


Every time I hear an OO purist talk, I want to pick up my bat object, come to their house object, and start bashing their skull object. -- hardburn[ Parent ]
Ideas (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 06:27:49 PM EST

If ideas were worthless, there would be no need for Patents, Trade Secrets, or Intellectual Property Laws

You're right: Ideas are worthless and there is no need for patents or trade secrets, at least if we're talking about software and business processes. IP laws have nothing to do with this because they protect a product, not an idea.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Patents (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by John Miles on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 05:00:53 PM EST

In the US, patents were never supposed to be awarded to ideas, only to specific, working products. They weren't intended to allow individual inventors to wall off entire areas of scientific and technological development, the way they do nowadays. If you disapprove of the current trend toward awarding patents on business methods and other vague abstractions that are more "idea" than "implementation", it's worth letting your elected representatives know your feelings on the subject.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
If this be anti-capitalism, make the most of it. (4.53 / 15) (#29)
by IHCOYC on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 03:18:39 PM EST

I do not subscribe to the opinion that the things we do for money are somehow sealed off in an ethical dead zone. If this makes me "anti-capitalist" because I am unwilling to countenance them all, then I'm guilty.

Specifically, every form of what some call cold-calling is a violation of the Golden Rule, wrong under every circumstance. Islamic justice would be too good for the lot of them. Spamming, telemarketing, and ringing doorbells are each intrusions into others' lives. They erode the goodwill needed to get people to answer their phones, read their email, or talk to strangers. They are a sort of social piracy, dependent on the fact that people don't get burnt too often to refrain from accepting the messages, even if some are sales trash. If everybody practised these immoral techniques on everyone else, nothing at all would ever get done.

If you don't have a product or can't offer a price that people will already want without resorting to immoral techniques, then yes: you should not go into business. And nothing sold by cold-calling is worth its price, because if you buy it, part of the money goes towards the maintenance of the cold-call operation. Finally, to a lesser but certain degree, it is ethically wrong to buy anything from a cold-caller, because if nobody at all ever bought anything from a cold-caller, they would quit harassing you and your neighbours.

Choke the last Santa with the guts of the last reindeer!

Very Cool... (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by mberteig on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 06:27:16 PM EST

I found your comment extremely thought-provoking. I suggest that you do a little research and write it up into an article.

I've worked for volunteer organizations as a door-to-door guy. I've always had an odd feeling about it here in North America. But when I've done it abroad, there are places where it is perfectly socially acceptable.

But your take on it is actally pretty logical: such cold-call methods impose upon others. The only down-side to the argument is that we do the same thing constantly in many many other situations. For example, when you stand in a queue, you are imposing upon the time of all those behind you (the choice to be in the queue is similar to the choice to answer the door/telephone). Or when we ask a stranger for the time, or the bus schedule. Or when we introduce ourself to an attractive stranger. Or when we out-bid someone for a limited resource.

Our society functions to some degree on the implicit right to take a small amount of someone's time without obtaining permission before-hand. (Afterall, even the task of obtaining permission is an imposition.) Societally, implicit permission is assumed to be given because it is too expensive to maintain explicit permission for every little type of imposition. As technology changes, and as people's desires change, we will see the implicit permission being taken away and changed to explicitness in some areas, and explicitness being lost and changed to implicitness in other areas. This is efficient, but subject to abuse, like most societal system.

Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
this is a good thread (5.00 / 2) (#79)
by waxmop on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:09:50 PM EST

telemarketers are social pirates

this would be a great op-ed piece. individuals develop coping skills based on their environment. my parents, for example, never answer the phone without checking the caller id. in my case, after living in Washington, DC for a few years, i ignore everyone that tries to get my attention.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

I'm contemplating doing this. . . (none / 0) (#90)
by IHCOYC on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 03:28:49 PM EST

. . . I'm going to have to do some research on bogus salesmanship seminars and the "power of a Super-fantastic Attitude" malarkey that goes with, though.

Anybody know of some amusingly egregious titles I can look for? The Zig Ziglar seminars roll through here predictably once a year, so I figure there are some cheepies available in used bookstores.
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]

You need to take a class in basic business. (none / 0) (#32)
by Yekrats on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:16:44 PM EST

No! Really!

I just took an obligatory elective about the basics of Marketing. Boring as hell, but I learned a thing or two.

I think you could gain a lot by taking a few basic classes in business... probably a little more than "Ask Kuro5hin"!  

-- sws

What on earth.... (4.50 / 2) (#54)
by BobaFatt on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:56:27 PM EST

Is an 'obligatory elective'?
The Management apologise for any convenience caused.
[ Parent ]
"obligatory elective" = somewhat of a jo (none / 0) (#72)
by Yekrats on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 09:43:30 AM EST

It's a "selective" course, where we get to choose a class from about 4 equally boring options. :-)

[ Parent ]
Spam doesn't work (4.77 / 9) (#33)
by gbroiles on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:19:05 PM EST

First off, no, there doesn't have to be some magical way to communicate with millions of people for free. If that were the case, we'd all spend all of our time listening to sales pitches, not getting work done or having fun. I don't want to be "reached" very often - when advertising is difficult and expensive, advertisers have an incentive to avoid it, except when they can be confident that they're mostly reaching qualified prospects ( = people with a reasonable likelihood of buying), who are the people most likely to find the advertising relevant. Cheap, large-scale ads are the ones that lead to aggravation and wasted time, not carefully focused ones.

Also, you seem to imagine that purchases and transactions are mostly driven by immediate responses to advertising, which isn't realistic. It's an attractive idea to people thinking about selling things, because it suggests that it's easy to make infinite amounts of money by just tweaking some profit ratio and then turning on the customer faucet, but it's also oversimplified and distracting.

Individuals and organizations buy things and services all the time - but most of those purchases occur in the context of a larger, long-term relationship between sellers and buyers, and with respect to familiar, trusted things. Advertising can affect those perceptions and relationships - and it may affect people when they reach decision or change points, where they're forming new relationships or thinking about changing old ones. Impulse purchases like porn site memberships or candy bars may be susceptible to "buy now! buy now" ads (whatever media is used to deliver them); but that's not a very big part of the overall economy. A lot of economic activity takes place on the scale of one negotiation/transaction every 2 or 5 or 10 years, and advertising for those sorts of products or services is much more information or image-focused, and the primary drivers for the transaction are likely to be economic or relationship-based, not twinkly lights or a one-time 10% discount. It's misleading to look at existing big businesses like McDonald's or Walmart or whatever and reason "Well, they're big and successful, and they advertise, so if I want to be big and successful, I must advertise just like they do" - there are also lots of giant companies who advertise and die ugly deaths at the hands of their creditors in bankruptcy, and lots of small companies (or big, if you look at their balance sheets) who are wildly successfully without ever running an advertisement.

Instead of thinking about a false dilemma, where you're thinking about "advertise in an aggravating fashion v. go out of business", what if you think about "What businesses are available where I don't need to annoy people to survive?" Many pre-dot-com businesses depend on old-fashioned advertising methods like physical presence and convenience (e.g., the hot dog stand you see when you walk out of your building, or that you drive past on your way home), the phone book (which is what Yahoo is turning into), or word-of-mouth from satisfied customers. Many mature businesses also rely not on millions of single one-shot sales to impulsive customers but bigger-scale interactions, where both parties benefit from the transaction and want to see the relationship continue.

If you want to be a successful capitalist, don't focus on making money, focus on meeting people's needs in a way that creates some surplus for you. If all you're doing is skimming off value without creating and adding some yourself, you're a sitting duck for some other capitalist to undercut your prices or provide better value at the same price. Long-term, there's no significant difference between doing what's good for others and what's good for you.

Odd ads (none / 0) (#52)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:55:15 PM EST

A lot of economic activity takes place on the scale of one negotiation/transaction every 2 or 5 or 10 years, and advertising for those sorts of products or services is much more information or image-focused, and the primary drivers for the transaction are likely to be economic or relationship-based, not twinkly lights or a one-time 10% discount.
I absolutely agree with you, which is why I find it fascinating when I come across ads for really big ticket items, like diesel locomotives and jet fighters. I would think that once you get to the million-dollars-a-unit level, everybody knows everybody in the industry and it comes down to value and individual negotiation, and yet, if you look around, you can find glossy ads with glossy models and everything.

[ Parent ]
Much of that advertising (none / 0) (#78)
by eyeflare on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:53:06 PM EST

say for Lear jets is to reinforce the customers who have already bought the item that they made an excellent choice. Say you buy a new car; you're likely to experience some post-purchase dissonance (you're not sure whether it was such a great choice) but get great follow-up from the place you bought it and some letters/mags from the manufacturer. Most likely you'll now feel better about it since the seller/s didn't just leave you to hang.

The same applies to Lear jets, except the follow-up will be visiting techs, dinners, and other attention. Same idea though.

Go: www.eyeflare.com
[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0) (#83)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:37:18 PM EST

the ones that always break me up are in places like Jane's, where you can find ads for things like air-to-air missiles. I would just figure people who buy things like that get lots of real hand-holding and follow-up and look for psychological reinforcement from places like CNN, where they can see the stuff in action, rather than from a glossy ad.

Maybe the ads are just for people to cut out and hang on the wall or something.

[ Parent ]

That's a good observation. (none / 0) (#88)
by eyeflare on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 07:39:17 AM EST

And quite funny in a dark and malevolent way.

Go: www.eyeflare.com
[ Parent ]
Some thoughts... (4.75 / 4) (#34)
by KittyFishnets on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:34:38 PM EST

There have been several posts regarding the power of word of mouth advertising. They're all absolutely correct; nothing beats people talking. Its getting people talking that's the challenge. Sure, if your product is going to revolutionize the industry it shouldn't be too difficult. But what if you're just an also-ran? Yet another web hosting company, viagra salesman, porn site, travel agent, etc. These things have all been done, time and time again. The reason they're popular is that they can all make money, even in a flooded market. (The aim of most businessmen is independence, not wealth.) So you can offer quicker service or a slightly lower price. You might build some repeat customers that way. But getting people excited enough to rely solely on word of mouth? Not likely.

I used to work at a very successful Internet marketing company. Contrary to popular opinion, Internet marketing is VERY effective when handled intelligently. Banner ads work quite well, always have. That's why you still see them everywhere. Pop-ups and flash are even more effective. The crown jewel is email. It performs like you wouldn't believe.

Not all mailings are spam. Our mailing lists were all double opt-in. You'd be amazed how many people actually willingly subscribe their email addresses to get information on credit cards, books, erection pills, printer supplies... all the usual suspects! You can use email with a clear conscience. You just need to be picky about who does your marketing.

(We did get complaints. People forgetting they opted in or letting other family members use their email account was the most common. We had a high opt-out rate, but the list was still growing when I left the company.)


Indeed. (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by lonesmurf on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:00:24 AM EST

I work as a designer in a company who produces online casinos. We do the whole package: creation, hosting and marketing. The thing which most surprised (and dissappointed) me when I started here was that they make a lot of those ugly banner ads which have fake windows components in them. I asked why it is, as only an idiot would click on them. I got the obvious answer that we do them because people click them. Let me reiterate: they are there because they work.

Recently, we have begun phasing them out because they aren't working as well as some of the other designs with a clear button to click on. This leads me to believe that it is all about psychology. People need something to click on and even a moment's worth of confusion might be a deterrant. Hence the use of windows components. They are obvious and familiar to the user. The user knows what to click on and so does so.

Even if they are ugly as all hell. :)

Please, I know a lot people hate online advertising in all forms, but don't just mod me down because of it. Vent by responding.


I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#76)
by Hizonner on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:16:46 PM EST

Not to say you're necessarily one of them, but there are an awful lot of people out there who are lying about how their lists are built, and an awful lot more people who aren't going out of their way to check those lies.

I constantly get spam that claims I've "opted in". Much of that spam comes to special-purpose addresses that have never been entered into a Web form and have never sent a message of their own. The only thing that could have put those addresses on a list is Web crawling, or, in a couple of cases, whois harvesting.

There's no question of double-opt-in, single-opt-in, or even "forgot to uncheck the spam me box". There's no question of any family members opting in, either.

I constantly get spam from the same sources offering to sell me these "opt-in" and "double-opt-in" lists.

From where I sit, it sounds like you were probably buying lists from outright liars, and then wilfully kidding yourself about people opting in, while dismissing evidence to the contrary with "they forgot".

You wanna prove me wrong by describing how your lists were built and verified, and how you personally had knowledge that the verification procedures were being followed?

[ Parent ]

Calm down (none / 0) (#89)
by KittyFishnets on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 12:22:22 PM EST

My post wasn't really about the technical means of building a list or the legal definition of opt-in as enforced by the US government. My mention of these things was only to point out that there are reputable Internet marketers. Yes, they're outnumbered 5-to-1 by criminals and con artists. And yes, even amongst the legitimate marketers there are many out to make a fast buck. I'm not denying that. My only advocation is that if you do your homework and check around you can find someone compliant with the law.

Please pardon me for not answering your questions. I found your post unecessarily hostile and rude. I feel no obligation to answer questions from a comment that demands I prove you wrong or opens with the oh-so-generous allowance that I may not necessarily be one of those liars. Some of the points you raise are quite interesting and I would love to answer them, but your post was so close-minded that I can not believe you genuinely wish to learn more on this topic.


[ Parent ]

Slashdot, et al. (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by gnovos on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 04:55:25 PM EST

Specialty sites with large followings is teh key.  If you have some spiffy new tech product get it posted on /. and you have an instant following of 250,000 people, all potential customers who are willing to pay real money.  If it's really snazzy you will find one legit article on slashdot will sell more products than a hundred million random spam emails.  If your product is something else, look for similar sites around the web that have an audience.  The key is to talk to the people who give a damn about your stuff and who actually want to buy it.  As long as you have aREAL product, not just shoving your lawn clippings into a pill and calling it a penis enlarger, you will find your audience very receptive.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
What the !!!-#_0_! (none / 0) (#57)
by dvchaos on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 08:12:16 PM EST

You telling me people that read slashdot actually have money ? Isn't that a myth ?

[ Parent ]
They might have money, but a lot of them are... (none / 0) (#62)
by jdrake on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:34:16 AM EST

linux lovers. OOPS! GNU/Linux lovers. (RMS obligatory - flame not, joke is). Most people who use Linux I do not believe are willing to pay money for software. I would never market shareware for Linux. I would question sanity of anyone who tried. That said, I also wouldn't market software for Windows (at least first run). Windows might be 95% but also has a market filled with products that are both defective or just plain don't work. There are a few good products however. What platforms are left... MacOS X! (couldn't you tell from the sig?)
- If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around, is there any sound?
- If the universe is created, and nobody is around, is there any bang?

[ Parent ]
Your reply (none / 0) (#91)
by nevertheless on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 04:54:27 PM EST

What platforms are left
The web! ColdFusion. PHP. Perl. Plug-ins. Flash. JSP. ASP. &c &c

This whole "being at work" thing just isn't doing it for me. -- Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
wrong fourm bucko (2.50 / 4) (#46)
by minus273 on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:24:43 PM EST

"Being a capitalist, I want to make money"

This is a Commie red forum. you imperialist pig borgious will die..

but seriously, people on K5 dont take kindly to people who want to make a profit.  You have just opened yourself up to a flamewar. Tin hat time!

yeah and (none / 0) (#56)
by dvchaos on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 08:10:06 PM EST

so will you after you've run out of money and starve to death.

[ Parent ]
You seem a bit anti-anti-capitalist... (2.33 / 3) (#49)
by klykken on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 07:45:34 PM EST

Have you looked into some of their opinions on neoliberalism?

great comments, too bad about the story (4.50 / 4) (#58)
by s alpha on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 08:12:22 PM EST

a legit question, though discussed plenty already, and missing an original twist. some particularly well thought out comments though, which i’d hate to see go to waste, being a better story than the story. i voted FP. is that wrong?

would it not be great to see much more in the way of “food for thought” stories that solicit answers from users, leveraging the huge pool of ideas here, and much less “Op-Ed” detritus and unsolicited nitpicking?

Get an actual marketing budget (4.25 / 4) (#61)
by izogi on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 11:39:58 PM EST

If it's such a great product, stand behind it and actually take a financial risk. Get some investors, take out a bank loan or a mortgage. Just get some money to actually fund a proper marketing budget.

Even the rich spammers who've recently been publicised usually aren't actually making money from selling the products. They're making the money from selling the spamming service to naive vendors who think that spamming is a cheap way to get exposure.

So stand back and think about what you'd do after the spamming fails, because it will. Assuming you're not out of business and are able to try a different strategy, get money and pay for it. If it's a good idea and you can convince other capitalists of that, they'll give you a marketing budget in exchange for a certain return to them at the end of it. You're all capitalists, after all.

- izogi

Sponsored Links (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by KWillets on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:34:20 AM EST

There's an entire industry devoted to selling keywords or placements in various categories used by search engines.  In some ways this system functions like the Yellow Pages, where listings are organized into categories and policed by the publisher to weed out the bait-and-switch types.  More money gets more exposure in the form of more keywords, more clickthrough monitoring, and so on.

Overture (formerly GoTo) and Looksmart (formerly a web directory) are two "online marketing companies" that tap this market.  They charge through the nose, but they get a lot of pageviews through big-name search engines that distribute the links in return for a share of their revenue.  

In some ways these are like the banner ads of old, but they do try to narrow their focus more than previously, using search terms, etc. to target precisely to the subject area the user is interested in.  

The net effect is like a highly targeted text ad, appearing next to genuine search results (and, at least the FTC thinks, clearly labelled as such).

I used to work at one of these shops, and I must say they've probably swung too far towards the commercial end.  The hidden hand is still content, giving the user something worth looking at next to the ads.

Receive, not send. (4.66 / 9) (#65)
by mdevney on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:26:19 AM EST

Advertisers appear to work on the assumption that everyone would buy their product, if people only knew that the product existed.

This assumption is wrong.

I don't want to know about your product.  Actually, chances are I already know about it and don't want it.  Any further advertising you do and I see will only piss me off and make me less likely to buy your product.  This is advertising sin number one: Assuming I care.

See, here's how it works.  I have what I need.  I've been alive for over 20 years, and acquired most/all of the things I need to function in my daily life.  Now, if I decide I want to buy something, then my first stop is google, to research it.  I did this just a couple weeks ago when I bought a digital camera.  Learned about what megapixels mean, and power requirements, and what kind of media they used.  And once I was sure I knew what everything meant, I asked some friends for recommendations or experiences with various brands and products.  What I found is that pretty much everyone agreed on what were good cameras and what was bad.  This is a key point here, don't miss it: The good products sold themselves with NO ADVERTISING WHATSOEVER.  Just the stats on the web page and word of mouth.  The final step was to check prices.

Let's talk about price for a moment.  Checking prices was the final step, true, but once I hit that step I already know what I can afford.  So you can waste all the time you want trying to sell me a high-end digital camera, and make me drool and lust, but hey man, I've only got $400 to spend on a digital camera.  Many web sites, I've noticed, want to sell you the camera first, then spring the price on you right at the door.  This is advertising sin number 2: Wasting my time.  Put the price right up front; no matter how good the product is, if it costs $600 it's out of my range and any time I spent considering it is wasted.  

So, first research, then friends, then price.  Simple, right?

Now, the advertiser's view of the world seems to run something like this: I'm sitting alone at home, bored, when I see the TV spot, or get the spam, and I think, "Wow man, I need a digital camera!"  Then I immediately run out and buy the one I want.  Surprise kiddies, it doesn't work that way.

Let's review.  First, don't call me, I'll call you.  If I didn't call you first, I'm not interested in your product, so any money or time you spend advertising to me is wasted.  Second, let me know what you've got.  Good products sell themselves without advertising; bad products with big advertising budgets may sell, but not to me, and I doubt you'll end up with happy customers.  And third, forget the bullshit your college marketing professor fed you about the price being the least important factor.  For most transactions, price is the defining factor.

How did you know that "digital cameras" (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by squigly on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:58:39 AM EST

You must have seen a digital camera before deciding you wanted one.  Or did you want one before they existed, and decided to look for one every couple of years?

[ Parent ]
Hyperlinks (none / 0) (#71)
by Rande on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 07:52:37 AM EST

This little invention can make it very easy to find things that you might be interested in.
I found K5 from /. by following one.
In essence it's just like word of mouth, but better. And if it sends me to goatse.cx, then I don't listen to that person again.
Unlike popups, which seem to be like the ex who follows you around all the time no matter how many times you say that you aren't interested.

[ Parent ]
Yes, but someone had to be told in the first place (none / 0) (#74)
by squigly on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:56:26 AM EST

And why shouldn't the manufacturer tell the first person, or several people?  Some of them may be interested, and tell others.  

Someone has to be told that the object they want in the first place exists.  Is advertising that does this as obtrusive as advertising that tries to make you want something?

[ Parent ]

YES THIS IS SO TRUE (none / 0) (#85)
by auraslip on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 02:45:21 AM EST

for you, and certainly me.
but you forget there IS a reason light night t.v. shows, and spam actually exist. THEY WORK.
You make the mistake of assuming not everyone is affected by commercials. Why do you think nike is popular? Why do you think car companys can sell so many shitty cards?
it's all about the cool

[ Parent ]
Conceptual mistake (4.92 / 13) (#70)
by F a l c o n on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:20:11 AM EST

Your mistake is at the assumption, and because of that everything else is wrong.

See, you assume that you have some kind of right to reach millions of people. Newflash: You don't. Update: Society as a whole has an interest in stopping you, because if everyone does it, the signal-to-noise ratio would drop to almost zero.

Just because you'd like to do something doesn't mean you should. It's like nuking the US into oblivion - sounds like a good idea, but thinking about it twice reveals it really isn't.

Back in Beta (too many new features added): BattleMaster

No problem (5.00 / 3) (#73)
by Theovon on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:53:06 AM EST

Regardless of the inherent assumptions of my question, yours is the sort of answer I'm looking for. As in: "You're thinking about this all wrong, and here's how you should be thinking to solve your more general problem." I dig that sort of thing.

[ Parent ]
Post useful & interesting content on your webs (4.92 / 13) (#75)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:48:03 PM EST

Various pages on my website appear highly ranked at google for a number of search terms that are pertinent to the business I'm in.

For example, a Google search for software consultant turns up my resume in the first page of search results. (YMMV - it doesn't happen for everyone I ask to do the search.)

I checked quite a few keywords the other day and I come up on the first page for about a dozen of the keywords I tried.

That's pretty valuable to me - especially considering that a search for software consultant turns up a total of 1,890,000 search matches.

How did I do it?

It's no secret. I've been sharing my methods with everyone for years.

I just post stuff on my website that people want to read. Some of it's related to my business. Some of it's not, some of it in fact is very personal and controversial. Here's some of it:

There's more.

Some of my pages are very popular, and keep people coming back. Almost everyone looking for a programming job in Santa Cruz knows about my list of employers - and I get grateful email from employers who hired a new employee after my page referred them. One guy sent me a hundred dollar gift certificate to India Joze after he found a good programing job through my page.

There's no fee to anyone to use my employment page. Not for any of my pages.

Don't just post stuff that's going to shill your product, that's not the kind of thing that keeps people coming back. The programming tips page is directly related to my business, and I think is what's going to most impress a potential client, but I think what is most valuable is that I am very honest and personal in what I post. Sometimes I'm pretty blunt. Read The Valley is a Harsh Mistress.

There's more you have to do.

When you get a new piece of content up, post links to it around the net. Don't just post your homepage, announce the one item and give a link directly to its page.

Post new stuff regularly. Whenever I post a new programming tip, and announce it, traffic to my site doubles for a month, and when it tapers off, it levels off to a level that is a little higher than it was before.

Finally, come right out and ask your readers for links. That has two benefits. The obvious one is that more people will just stumble across your site. The other, less obvious but more powerful, is that the search engines will figure you've got interesting stuff on your site and rank you higher. That's ultimately how I got ranked so highly. Provide reciprocal links to those who are kind enough to link you. I have two reciprocal links pages, here and here.

Don't bother posting links on free-for-all sites. The search engines know those aren't real people interested in your site.

There are many sites that will give you a nice link for the asking. For example, code4u gives me a couple of nice links. I only wish I had more time to find other sites like this.

Don't bother with the search engine submission services. Instead, use my painless page that links directly to the submission pages of a bunch of search engines. (yes, I know it needs updating. It would be helpful if you sent me the URLs of any search engines that aren't listed there - crawford@goingware.com

The search engines know to ignore submissions generated by submission bots, and you'll get spammed mercilessly after you give your email address to one (I know, I used iNeedHits once, and know I get torrents of spam sent to the unique email address that I gave to ineedhits.com and no one else).

Yes, it's work, and it takes time to develop business from doing this, but I think it's ultimately the best strategy. It doesn't cost anything. The only cost to me is that it takes a lot of time to write my articles, especially the more detailed ones like Pointers, References and Values, and that's time I can't spend working billable hours for my clients. So I don't get to write as much as I would like.

You may ask why I share these astounding trade secrets. After all, if other consultants posted interesting content on their sites, I may not get ranked so highly. Well, for one thing, I think I can stay in front by posting more stuff. And mainly, I think if everyone promoted their business this way, the internet would be a much better place for everyone.

I think it's sad that most people spend all their time an MSN, Yahoo and CNN. It would be much better if the web were more like it was in the early days before search engines and big commercial sites, when people found each other just by following links around.

Now for my last unsolved question: who is Boris Bord and how did he get ranked ahead of me? You have to scroll the window to see my resume, but his site is ranked #2 in the software consultant search.

Thank you for your attention.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

I added the above to my Programming Tips Page ;-&g (none / 0) (#94)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 01:55:34 AM EST

Although I said much of this in Market Yourself - Tips for Software Consultants I thought I expressed my methods a lot better in the parent comment. It also has some up-to-date information. So I made it into a new entry in GoingWare's Bag of Programming Tricks:

Thank you for your attention.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Radio (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by djwavelength on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:16:56 PM EST

Radio advertising isn't as costly as a lot of people think, and you could maybe do some sort of promotional tie in on a college or talk station to sell your product.

Hire a barker (none / 0) (#84)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 01:17:05 AM EST

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
thank you (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by auraslip on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 02:55:49 AM EST

Finally! A SELFISH moral reason<meaning caring about self, not kids in sweat shop> to explain why I don't buy things that only sell because of advertising. (think nike)
Before it was always like "No, I don't care what type of car(or any other heavily marketed object), people who quest over objects that have no inherant good are only trying to fill a gap in their lives. And I'm getting an inferior product at a larger price. So really your just stupid"
Which is usally comes insulting.
now I can just say, "because it's bad for the economy", and not seem like some god damn hippie vegitarian tree-huggin fag.
Becuase that would be bad. Really.

what to do? - some tips (4.00 / 2) (#87)
by anotherda5id on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:40:41 AM EST

of course you realize that you are looking for the holy grail of advertising - lots of attention for little money. quite frankly, that holy grail doesn't exist.nevertheless, there are some things you can do (some have been posted here before, but i will just repeat them in order to get a collection):

- improve search engine rankings. (mainly google) it is free, and it really helps boost your visits. there are numerous pages about how to boost your pagerank in google. it is possible, and not that hard.

- get linked. as often as possible. no matter where. this will not only increase your google rank, but also more people will find you through different sources.

- google ads work fine for some people. you might consider that.

- get in the press. this might be hard, but being mentioned in a newspaper or a magazine is very effective. if your offer is compelling and there is value for other people, editors are eager to get it in print.

- do lots of little stuff. put links and little adverts on your fax cover sheet, etc.

- talk to a lot of people about your offer. if it is interesting enough, those people will talk to others about it.

- stay focussed. in the beginning, try to get into one target market for your product. in this target market, word of mouth effects are much more likely achieved.

- offer great service. (should actually be number one point)

Pardon me but... (none / 0) (#92)
by karjala on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 08:25:01 PM EST

> Personally, not only do I think those things are irritating and
> offensive, I think they're sometimes downright unethical

If something is irritating and offensive, doesn't that make it automatically unethical?

Pardon me but... (none / 0) (#93)
by I Robot on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 10:53:59 PM EST

If something is irritating and offensive, doesn't that make it automatically unethical?

No. If that were true then all of the posts here would be unethical because they all manage to offend someone.

[ Parent ]

Internet Knowledge (none / 0) (#98)
by Microdoc on Thu Jan 02, 2003 at 07:59:16 PM EST

It would seem that people want an instant fix. I am just learning now that there is no such thing as a quick fix to get to a million people.

Over time, you can get to a million people by consistently working at getting known on the internet, getting good ratings in Google and so on.

I do not think there is such as thing as all of a sudden having the right to get to a million people simply by spamming them.

There's a simple answer (none / 0) (#99)
by chopsandmash on Thu Jan 23, 2003 at 10:24:08 PM EST

Tired of being asked if you want a bigger penis? (regardless of whether the answer is yes) Simply use and account on one of the free mail providers as a Spam address and never tell anyone, except people you trust your real address, I have done this for years and have never received any Spam at all to my personal address. I work in advertising, not new media, but paper and ink, and I can't imagine any company getting much response from mass mailed spam, I can only imagine there is a middle man getting very rich somewhere, but the bubble will burst. Which leads to the question, what comes in it's place? This is my first post, so if it is rubbish, feel free to tell me.

Not that simple :-( (none / 0) (#101)
by mutex on Wed Mar 05, 2003 at 08:06:16 AM EST

A special spam address is not usefull in all cases:

Subscribing i.e. to a Web-Forum or a News-Letter, you have to give away an address you are reachable at. If thoses services then give away this valid address it quickly spreads through the spammers databases. One false step and you have to change your address.

Now, let's say you are a webmaster managing hundreds of Pages: You would never use your webmaster@... address but the account is spammed daily with lot of trash - because a webmaster@...-mailto-link can be found on every of your pages. Those damn harvester-scripts seeme to take everything that looks like an email-address: And so the webmaster@...-account is spammed to uselessness.

In relation to the topic: There can't be a cheap and usable system for every little buissness to reach everybody. Because there are millions of those little buissnesses, everybody would get millions of advertisments ... that's absurd - as spam is!

[ Parent ]

ask #80 to do it for you (none / 0) (#100)
by Spewey on Tue Jan 28, 2003 at 01:32:57 PM EST

I can't help but mention one of the most famous instances of reaching millions of people quickly and for free. Nine years ago, this guy wore this thing on his face because he liked it. The value of the advertising was estimated at $25 million. He's still doing it. Is the ad value infinite in this case?

Don't know any celebrities who like your product? Be your own TV pop-up ad. Chase live TV cameras yourself like this guy or these amateur political activists. I don't know if I consider this offensive or unethical, but I know it did work to some extent.

Legitimate advertising (none / 0) (#102)
by catbot on Tue Jun 10, 2003 at 08:50:59 PM EST

You have to spend money to make money.

How to reach millions without SPAM? | 102 comments (90 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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