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Flame-free Online Marketing




             "Flame-Free Online Marketing!"

How To Place Your Ads And Publicity-Generating File
Postings On Usenet Newsgroups Without Getting Flamed!

Copyright 1995 by Jonathan Mizel, All Rights Reserved
Publisher, The Online Marketing Letter

Dear Friend,

If you have been online for any length of time, you know that
the Internet's Usenet Newsgroups can be a very profitable and
responsive place to post.  They are demographically targeted,
easy to access, and are read by millions of people daily.

Unfortunately, as effective as Usenet postings are, they can
also be quite perilous.  If you mis-post, or if you over-post,
or even if you format your placement incorrectly, you are in
danger of getting flamed (openly criticized) by other Usenet
members.

If your violation is deemed serious, you can be reprimanded
(even disconnected) by your online service provider.
This article will tell you some of the ways I have effectively
posted on Usenet for the past two years with nary a problem.

1) Just the FAQs

One of the most important things to do before you begin any
online posting is to read the "frequently asked questions" (or
FAQ) of the group you want to post in.  The FAQ is regularly
posted in most newsgroups, and it details the specific posting
rules and guidelines.

Don't assume that a specific activity is acceptable until you
check.  For example, the FAQ for 'alt.business' (a general
business group) is different from the FAQ for 'biz.marketplace'
(an ad-only group).

A general FAQ for all newsgroups is available from:
'news.announce.newusers'  Read this first to acquaint yourself
with the structure and overall philosophy of Usenet.  This area
is not only updated regularly, it's also chock full of specific
information about the changes taking place online.

You can also find specific answers to commonly asked questions
in: 'news.newusers.questions'

2) Lurk Before You Leap

Even after you have read the FAQ, I suggest you also "lurk" for
a week or two so as to experience the flavor of the group.
Lurking is when you spend time in a newsgroup without actually
participating.  This is an excellent idea, especially if you
are new to an area or are unsure of the specific posting
protocols.

You'll find out not just what others are posting, but you'll be
able to see what types of responses people are generating by the
online commentary that so often follows.  You will also find that
certain people, the regulars of the group so to speak, are quite
active online.  Especially when it comes to expressing their
opinions or responding to open questions directed at the group
as a whole.  Read and learn.

3) Keep posts relevant

If there is one activity that will get you into hot water
quicker than anything else, it's posting an irrelevant or mis-
directed message to people who have no interest in what you are
talking about.

For example, if you are selling a video tape on how to improve
your golf game, you wouldn't be out of line to post information
about it in groups relating to golf.  You can also post
information about it in groups that have general merchandise
for sale, or sports groups that allow advertising.

Under no circumstances should you post your ad in tennis or
swimming discussion groups (as they are not within the subject
category).  The worse thing you can do is post the ad in groups
that are completely unrelated, like groups on politics,
gardening, or classic cars (for example).

4) Use your "sig."-nificant other to promote your business

Outside of directly advertising, the second most effective way
to get your message out is to include a "Sig. File" (also known
as a signature).  This is a three to six line 'mini-advertisement'
at the end of your posting that advertises your products and/or
services.

In addition to being non-intrusive, the Sig. File is probably
the most accepted form of online advertising and was the way
commercial activity was initially introduced to Usenet.
Regardless of where and when you post, you may feel free to
include your Sig. File.  Many mail-managers and newsreaders
even have the ability to automatically add the sig. at the end
of postings (and even your e-mail).

A typical Sig. File might read something like this . . .

********************************************
*  The Computer Shoppe~Best prices on used *
*       PCs and Macs  -- Nationwide        *
*     Michael Faustina, Sales Manager      *
*   Send e-mail to: catalog@cshoppe.com    *
*         Telephone - 510-465-9899         *
********************************************

or

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+ Be a better golfer in no time flat.   +
+ Order the new video, "Golf Like A God"+
+ for only $29.95 by calling 1-800-GOD- +
+ GOLF.  47 minutes long and 100%       +
+ guaranteed for one full year!         +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My Sig. File  directs people to my automatic mail-responder
(as well as my Web Page), which is a direct-advertisement for
whatever lead product I'm currently promoting.  It reads
something like this . . .

*********************************************
=========>>> For the latest information about
online marketing and electronic selling, please
send any e-mail message to: info@cyberwave.com.
You will receive a reply within 30 seconds via
auto-response e-mail.  Or visit:
http://www.cyberwave.com/home
*********************************************

Though it's generally considered poor form, you might even
consider responding to someone else's posting with a short
answer to their question, or even a re-statement of their
position, just to get your Sig. File (read: advertisement)
posted in the group. Certainly don't do it often.

5) Take on a different personality

A dirty little trick, and one that I reveal in my manual, is to
take on different personalities by using a friend's or relative's
Internet account to surreptitiously post tacit endorsement-type
messages.

Let's use the golf video as an example.  Say you want to post
your ad in a *discussion-only* group about how to be a better
golfer.  You can't post your ad (remember, the group is for
discussion), and the posts with your Sig. File are only mildly
effective.  Here's what you do . . .

a) Post number one (posted to the whole group) would read:

From: bobbien@aol.com
To: rec.sports.golf

Hey, does anyone know about this new golf video?  I read
something about it in the group a few weeks ago but can't find
anything now.  Help me please.  I've got a tournament coming
up soon and I'm desperate!  I think it's called "God's Golf
Companion" or something like that.

Bobbie

b) Post number two (posted to the whole group) would read . . .

From: donking@einet.net
To: rec.sports.golf

Bobbie,

I think that video you are looking for is titled "Golf Like A
God."  I read an article about it in a golf magazine a few
month's ago, but can't find it now.  I'd like a copy too if you
(or anyone) can get me info.  Apparently, there's a new
technique outlined that has to do with 'power-putting' that
sounds interesting.  Readers, can you help?  Please . . . . .?

Don

c) And of course, post number three (again, posted to the
whole group) says something like . . .

From: golfboy@hooked.com
To: rec.sports.golf

The Video, "Golf like a God," is excellent!  I got my copy last
week and have watched it four times so far. I got my copy from
Golf Pro Video at 1-800-GOLF-GOD. The price was about thirty bucks.
It may also be available through Blockbuster.

Jim (golfboy) Stevens

Do you think that'll generate interest in your product?  Let me
tell you, it definitely will!  (But don't get caught!)

6) Format properly

To format a Usenet post properly, you should use one of the
following two techniques.

>> Use a "hard return" after 50 - 55 characters.  That's because
all newsreaders are different with respect to the size of their
allowable line space.  Unlike a straight text document (like this),
or even an e-mail posting, there isn't any consistency with
regard to people's newsreaders.  They're all different!  Either
keep your lines short or . . .

>> Allow your lines to 'wrap.'  But instead of wrapping them in a
word processor (like Word Perfect), cut and paste them into your
newsreader and use the wrapping feature of your Internet
software.  That way, it doesn't matter how small the viewer's
screen is.  The text will appear consistent and in alignment.

A few other things to remember are:

** Use short sentences and short paragraphs.  These keep the
reader focused to prevent their mind from wandering.

** Keep your posts to the point.  If you are selling something
directly from the post, I never go over 5k in size.  I usually
try to keep the post under 1k and use a "two-step" sales process
whereby they request more information to be sent by e-mail.

7) Spam and Eggs

Spamming, or massive posting to unrelated newsgroups, is the
biggest no-no online.  Of course, it's tempting to post
everywhere, but I assure you, it's not effective.  In my own
business, I have identified about 18 newsgroups that are OK for
me to post in (and I do so regularly).

But if I post to even one unrelated group, I get accused of
spamming.  So I don't, period.  I do experiment, however, and
when I cross the line, I'm usually notified by one or more of
Usenet's more adamant activists.

One interesting place to check out is the Internet Black-List.

       http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~cbrown/BL/#list

(Lucky for me I've never made it.)

8) Post Often, But Not Too Often

How often can you post?  Well, you could potentially post every
day in some groups, but I don't recommend it.  I post every
other day (direct advertising) in very active groups like:
alt.business.  I post once every two weeks in groups that don't
have a lot of activity.

My rule of thumb goes like this:

I post whenever two weeks or 150 new posts (by others) have gone
by.  You may have a different tolerance than I, but I assure you,
you probably shouldn't post more than that.

9) Dealing With Flames

Don't ever respond to a flame, especially with another flame.
Your response could end up getting posted to the whole group or
forwarded to your service provider (a bad thing), making you
look dumb.  Another thing.  Don't apologize to the whole group
either.  It looks stupid and if you are truly sorry, just don't
post to their group again (leave them alone and they'll forget
about you soon enough.

10) Four more tips to remember:

1) Don't post from AOL.  They have a nasty habit of canceling
your account for almost no reason at all and that's not worth it.

2) Don't ever post a chain letter or obviously phony MLM
anywhere.  Not only are they potentially illegal, they don't
work and they make you look dumb.

3) Become a real participant in a few groups.  You will
experience a true sense of being and can pick up quite a few
pointers from the "old-pros."

                   *****Conclusion*****

Usenet is a virtual goldmine of hot prospects and potential
business partners.  Used effectively, it can reap rich rewards
for the direct-response advertiser or business looking to pick
up new clients and make new contacts.  Used incorrectly, it can
become a thorn in your side that will haunt you for years to
come.

Tread lightly, especially when beginning your journey.

Respectfully submitted,

Jonathan Mizel
Publisher, The Online Marketing Letter
President, CyberWave Media

Copyright 1995 by Jonathan Mizel, The Online Marketing Letter,
and CyberWave Media.

This report was excerpted from Jonathan Mizel's manual, Online
Marketing Firepower.  For information on how to receive your own
copy, please send e-mail to: info@cyberwave.com

Web Page:  http://www.cyberwave.com/home

Or call or write.

Jonathan Mizel
CyberWave Media and Advertising
564 Mission Street, Suite 638
San Francisco, CA  94105

Telephone/Fax: 415-337-7405
Voicemail: 415-677-7909

Catalog: catalog@cyberwave.com


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