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disasterous calamity


March 1, 2001: Our seat-of-the-pants marketing and business plan
Getting word of mouth attention is something like getting a loan. If you don't need it, offers come pouring in, but when you really do, it's as tough as nails.

So far, we haven't been trying too hard, and it shows: we've had news outlets humming around, got a site of the week mention on yahoo, and have turned up in everything from portuguese, korean and dutch web sites to the iranian times.

My marketing friends, who work so hard to get their companies mentioned anywhere, all think it's ridiculous, and they're right. So is the deluge of credit card offers I regularly get. But just as sure as I'd get rejected if I tried to get a real loan, I'm afraid that trying very hard to develop a real business plan and a serious marketing effort will result in a disastrous calamity.

That being decided, it only makes sense to wing everything with no clear plan at all. This strategy well fits my chaotic personal life plan and general modus operandi. Whew, what a load off!

Most of the stuff I do with the site is a learning experience. Yesterday, I put up banners advertising myself on my own site. To make it more interesting, I wrote jingle banners following the idea of burma-shave, a once famous but now dead brand that's owned a little known off brand razor outfit.

When I was a young kid, I remember reading a large book of burma-shave jingles the company had cranked out through fifties. Just after the war, the company put up small road signs that caught people's attention and sold thousands of dollars of shaving cream. What's notable about burma-shave was that people actually liked their advertising.

I've been torn about putting up advertising on the site. Mostly because internet advertising is still based on click through numbers, and to get people to click on their banners, advertisers do inane things like the infuriating hit-the-monkey banner and other flashy, annoying and stupid ideas. And now things are getting worse: poorly conceived interstitial advertising is supposed to be more like television, where when you request a page, you have to view an advert first. Or javascript popup ads, my personal unfavorite. I refuse to link to sites that splash up popup ads when you go to their page. Take that!

What's sorely lacking in internet advertising is any sort of appeal. Television advertising, especially the high stakes super bowl ads, are often more entertaining than most television content. I think there's somewhat of a conspiracy to hide good advertising because it will expose the current drivel and make marketers' jobs much more challenging.

No one makes any noise about the advertising industry's clio awards, which are certainly more entertaining than any other award show I've seen. When I was in high school, I envisioned an all-commercial, all-the-time cable channel. That turned out to be the internet, but I was hoping to see good ads, not just lots of them. At least we can browse at adcritic.

We've been approached by a couple of advertising companies that want to banner our site and share our ad revenue. While that's mighty charitable of them, I checked out other sites they do and wasn't impressed with the kind of ads they run. So for now, I'm keeping things advert-free, except for the burma-shave trials I did just for fun, which are supposed to introduce people to the rapidly improving shop we built and encourage people to do other smart things, in the spirit of burma-shave's own signs, some of which are now in the smithsonian.

I've also signed up a long list of affiliates you can buy from, who will then give us a kickback. Buying from our shop affiliates supports our efforts, so thanks for checking them out. I am pretty choosy about who we put on our site, so if you have any problems with our affiliates, let me know and I'll rough them up. Or, more likely, just pinch them off.

In general, the affiliates are good places to buy from that I've tried before, or that I regularly use to skirt california's sales tax. If you're feeling generous, you can also forward our site to your friends using mailbits. And if you're downright ready to throw cash as us like some sort of elderly, kool-aid swilling, televangelist pep squad: adopt-a-player.

More information about marketing, growth and a 1950's shaving cream:

buy me buy me buy me buy me buy me buy ime buy me buy me buy me

rules for revolutionaries
selling the dream
gates: how microsoft's mogul reinvented an industry
the millionaire next door
eboys: the inside account of venture capitalists at work
growing a business
focus: the future of your company depends on it
the verse by the side of the road
burma-shave: the rhymes, the signs, the times
2001 the treasure island experiment. All rights reserved.