Transcript of Frankel's Free Clinic January 17, 2000

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:00 AM): Aloha-oy, you mainlanders and other-worldly types!

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:00 AM): Hi all - just grabbed some tea.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:01 AM): You're very welcome, Robert! I'm glad it was helpful :)

Terri( (1/17/100 9:01 AM): Greetings, Rob!

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:01 AM): Actually it's been quite tropical right here in Iowa lately!

Kevin (1/17/100 9:01 AM): Entered the room. (1/17/100 9:01 AM): G'Morning Rob

Sarah (1/17/100 9:01 AM): Entered the room.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:02 AM): I'm still here, waiting with baited breath

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:02 AM): I'm going to fix the year 100 in a week or two....I promise.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:02 AM): Welcome back, Sarah! Andy, does that mean you can see the ground through the snow? *grin*

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:03 AM): Greetings all. I see you were all quite busy last week, good going. Who's up first today?

Teri McCready , and (1/17/100 9:03 AM): Entered the room. (1/17/100 9:03 AM): Rob, do you consider linking as part of a branding exercise that, we as marketers, should consider?

ClaytonT( (1/17/100 9:03 AM): Entered the room.

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:03 AM): HA! I wish we had some snow... not a flake around here (except for the obvious exceptions!)

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:04 AM): Robert, some people are surprised to find that I discourage linking off your site. You work so hard to get people there, it seems foolish to give them an easy way out.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:04 AM): So I never use links. That having been said, there are other ways that you can brand with strategic allies, but most of the time, the ways people do it actually serves to undermine their own brand. (1/17/100 9:04 AM): What about linking my site to others? It seems to be a way to get better search engine rankings.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:05 AM): Forget that theory -- I'm not linked to ANYONE and I get up there all the time.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:05 AM): Rob, Wanda Loskot has drilled that into us in her new Internet Boot Camp teleclass - but what do you think about having an inside page for associate links - using text links and recommending them?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:06 AM): Text links are great, but what does she mean by associate links?

Terri( (1/17/100 9:07 AM): say I was recommending Robert - and had an inside page of recommended links.. not affiliate programs! (1/17/100 9:07 AM): How do you get the high rankings, Rob?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:07 AM): No offense to Robert, but why would you do that? Unless it is an affiliate program, what's the gain for you? Robert doesn't even know you recommended him, so what good has it done for you?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:08 AM): I would much rather have the person e-mail me directly and at least make contact . That's how you build relationships

Terri( (1/17/100 9:08 AM): If it is a value to my visitors - of course I would e-mail Robert (using you as a hypothetical, Robert)

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:08 AM): You gotta know when to automate and when to keep it human

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:09 AM): And NEVER give them an easy escape from your site. (1/17/100 9:09 AM): Rob, when is it time to automate and when do you keep it human?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:09 AM): Terri, providing a value to your visitors is what your site does, but remember, too, that your site is there to attract business, not give away the store.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:10 AM): Oh I know that now Rob! Just to be sure you know Wanda says the same as you.. NEVER give easy off your site <G>

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:10 AM): I automate stuff that has absolutely no value or is a complete waste of time. If anything has a real chance of producing business, I make sure to keep it human.

Teri McCready , and (1/17/100 9:11 AM): Bill's here, too, if anyone has any VC questions. (1/17/100 9:11 AM): Rob, but you don't believe that having links gives you higher rankings?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:11 AM): For example, I send an autoresponse to everyone who applies for our Strange Intern Program, because it's designed to screen out the lazy folks from the self starters.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:12 AM): Robert, links may give you higher rankings in some parts, but where it does, I'm not sure it does that much good for you. I always say that I'd rather have low volume and high quality than the other way around.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:12 AM): Bill, are we funded yet?

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:13 AM): Here's an interesting branding issue. I'm working with a company who wants to sell autographed sports stuff online. We are starting by hiring Kurt Warner for a private signing session after the Super Bowl.

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:13 AM): My questions is, how can I get around the credibility problems that are rampant in the autograph market (i.e. counterfeit autographs, etc.)

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:14 AM): Andy, you doing this online or off?

Kieran (1/17/100 9:15 AM): Entered the room.

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:15 AM): Online

Kieran (1/17/100 9:15 AM): Morning

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:15 AM): Andy, where is he signing them?

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:16 AM): I'll be going to him in St. Louis

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:16 AM): How important is funding? We are modestly profitable but have ideas on building site, developing more content on daily basis, etc. - but would lose profitability in exchange for labor. Thoughts?

Teri McCready , and (1/17/100 9:16 AM): Working on it.

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:16 AM): sorry - didn't mean to interrupt

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:16 AM): sorry - didn't mean to interrupt

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:17 AM): I would seriously consider setting up a web cam and making a live event out of it. Then convert that to a streaming video, or for those who can't view that, a short animated GIF of the actual event.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:17 AM): Actually show the guy sitting down and scribbling.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:17 AM): Then have it available for later viewing.

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:18 AM): We can definitely do that. In addition, we talked about hiring auditors and a numbering system. There is a lot of skepticism in that business right now, but there's also a lot of opportunity.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:18 AM): Make sure that when you film him, you or your client are in the same frame as him so that they can see it's really you and him.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:18 AM): And maybe have a statement from him that he signed X number of items for you and have that notarized, Andy

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:18 AM): Hey, you might as well make an event out of it and use the pre-publicity... (1/17/100 9:18 AM): Maybe you can use an opt-in list and let your target market know when it's going to happen so they can watch with an online order form.

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:19 AM): What about the company itself. We'll need to establish ourselves as reputable. Can you think of anything up front to help move in that direction?

Andy TeBockhorst (1/17/100 9:19 AM): We already have a huge opt-in list, and we'll definitely work it!

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:19 AM): I think this would be a heck of a start. See what grows from there....

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:19 AM): Mickie, funding is really important if you ever want to grow. Too many start-ups feel they can bootstrap -- which you can to a point.

Teri McCready , and (1/17/100 9:20 AM): Funding is important, however, not giving away the store and not building up a high burn rate in our opinion is more important. concentrate on traffic building, site recognition and uniqueness that can be marketed for bigger dollars later.

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:21 AM): Would a partnership be more advisable if it complemented your site. We've been talking to a calendar site.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:21 AM): The problem with bootstrapping is that you tend to do what you can afford instead of what's good for the business. You don't want costs to interfere with good business strategy (1/17/100 9:21 AM): Have you got a couple million to spend? Advertise during the super bowl (if St. Louis is in). It worked for Victoria's Secret.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:21 AM): Hi, I'm from England. I Product Manage a successful digital map product and new developments mean that the structure and feel of the data will change dramatically over the few years. Suggestion is that we kill off the existing brand which is really quite successful in terms of awareness and perceived values. Should you ever kill off a successful brand to start from scratch?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:21 AM): YIKES! ALERT! Be very careful with partnerships. The most important document in a partnership is the Dissolution Agreement. leave yourself a way out BEFORE you start.

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:22 AM): Ha. No, advertising budget is like 2K a month.

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:22 AM): Yes, I will do my homework before considering a partnership route.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:22 AM): Whoa, people, slow down. Sarah, welcome! No, you don't have to kill of an existing brand. In fact, you can leverage it into your new brand if you do it right.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:23 AM): I have bridged old brands to new. Sometimes, the old brand is so damaged that you would rather abandon ship; but most times, it pays to transition smoothly, if you've have any success at all. each is an individual case.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:24 AM): Our intention is to keep the existing product alive to accommodate market stragglers.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:25 AM): Mickie, keep the partnership very loose. They almost NVER work, unless you have the rare combination of like-minds. Above all, don't expect anyone to move in any direction other than their own self-interest. It's one thing to pledge to a partner, it's

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:25 AM): Well, Sarah, that depends on the product and where the company is with it. Just keeping it out there for stragglers is likely WAY undervaluing its power. How old is the brand?

Mickie( (1/17/100 9:26 AM): Thanks Rob. Perhaps a dreaded business plan is in my future. (1/17/100 9:26 AM): Have you got a couple million to spend? Advertise during the super bowl (if St. Louis is in). It worked for Victoria's Secret.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:26 AM): it's another to get them to execute it the same way.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:26 AM): Say 7 years - it is a unique digital map of Great Britain down to detail showing individual houses and roads (1/17/100 9:27 AM): Don't how that got there

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:27 AM): Actually, Robert, it worked for Victoria's Secret's awareness....but I'm not sure what else it did for them, except to make millions of 12 year old boys happy.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:27 AM): Sarah, what's your user base?

Sarah (1/17/100 9:28 AM): Utilities, Local and Central Government, transport, architects, estate agents and many more

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:29 AM): How many are currently enrolled/using the site?

Sarah (1/17/100 9:30 AM): We have around 2000 customers generating £38m per year

Relaena (1/17/100 9:31 AM): gotta run to a meeting... thanks for the informative chat!

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:31 AM): YOWEE! Sarah, you'd be nuts to abandon a brand like that..why are you even thinking of creating a new one?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:33 AM): Sounds to me like you may not be not supporting the brand enough.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:33 AM): Because our Senior Sales people seem to think that we have virtually saturated our main markets and that new products with new names are an answer to further revenue generation. I personally agree with you but I have to put together a water tight case to keep the existing brand

Bob Adams ( (1/17/100 9:34 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:36 AM): Sarah, that's what happens when we let sales people drive the bus. New products are great but re-branding, in your case, sounds as if it will actually kill you, not help you. Sales guys need to sell something -- anything -- to keep getting paid.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:36 AM): The problem is they don't care WAHT they sell, and end up selling the company down the river.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:37 AM): Branding guys work from the top down, overseeing both marketing and sales. I often get hired on as a Strategic Planner for just these reasons. I hammer out the plan, marketing sets it up and sales delivers.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:38 AM): But without that brand strategy, everyone runs around like the proverbial headless chicken.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:38 AM): In their defence as we're in the public sector they are salaried the same as the rest of us, so they perhaps have a bit more credence than most

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:38 AM): In your case, the sales guys are going to flush a seven year legacy down the loo (is that how you say it there)?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:39 AM): Nah, public sector or not, you're going to have to fight to gain user base all over again. You should be strengthening your brand, not dumping it.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:40 AM): If you've been in business for seven years, you're doing something right. Now you've just got to do it better and deliver more.

Sarah (1/17/100 9:40 AM): OK, so how do we keep it fresh, the product changes are quite dramatic

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:40 AM): Why not just change the product and keep the brand?

Sarah (1/17/100 9:40 AM): We've actually been in operation for 200 years beat that!

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:41 AM): My guess is that your outfit hasn't properly nurtured its user base ("branded community") with new additions and upgrades.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:41 AM): Boy, you were early on the web....

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:41 AM): Kevin, you still here?

Sarah (1/17/100 9:42 AM): Yes, early for you but were eight hours ahead - looked keen though!

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:43 AM): No, I meant the 200 years....

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:44 AM): Anyone else? Anyone out there lurking and just itching to jump in? Anyone want to see my tan lines?

Sarah (1/17/100 9:44 AM): Thank you very much for the reassurance, I will pursue the life of my brand with vigour (1/17/100 9:44 AM): Rob, if your finished. How do you find the national advertisers for a web site?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:45 AM): Robert, interesting you should ask. Most of the time, the answer is NOT with their ad agencies. I would try going direct to their online entities and then showing them your ROI.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:47 AM): Remember that most of these guys still are searching for ways to justify their online investment.

Brian ( (1/17/100 9:47 AM): Entered the room.

Bob Adams ( (1/17/100 9:47 AM): Robert, where are the paid ad spots on your site--I didn't see any home page options

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:47 AM): So any solution you can offer that's verifiable is going to be welcomed, provided you can show it to them in dollars and cents. (1/17/100 9:47 AM): I don't have a ROI to show them yet. How could I interest them. I have a very targeted market. Would that help?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:48 AM): Not really, Robert, because you're back in the basket of those who only sell potential. These guys have been burned like crazy, and all the old stories are getting stale, like banners and so forth.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:49 AM): As I wrote in my columns two years ago, the banner is quickly falling out of favor due to its ineffectiveness. (1/17/100 9:49 AM): I understand. It is possible to get "billboard" rates (impressions)?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:50 AM): Now, if you can provide a scenario in which your target market can be shown to be responsive, that might move them. I do that with FrankelBiz a lot.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:50 AM): I also have a new company I'm launching, in which I can show our user base -- in a test scenario -- burned up a guy's server with their responses. That works, believe me.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:50 AM): (TEN MINUTE WARNING) (1/17/100 9:51 AM): To answer your earlier question. My paid spots will be in the zip code pages of my web site.

Robert, you should populate your site with ads-even affiliates to show advertisers the potential (1/17/100 9:51 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:51 AM): Above all, try to make heroes out of the guys to whom you're selling. Remember that they have to take your stuff to someone else to approve. Make their job easy. (1/17/100 9:51 AM): How have you set up your test scenario? (1/17/100 9:51 AM): good point

Bob Adams ( (1/17/100 9:52 AM): Entered the room. (1/17/100 9:52 AM): I do have a few affiliate sites set up on a few of the pages.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:53 AM): Again, relationships. I asked a FrankelBee and my client if they'd agree to a joint promotion, where the FrankelBee would make bucks for everyone we sent his way. Everyone made out great (and the server was fine). (1/17/100 9:54 AM): Could you go into a little more detail about your joint promotion?

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:55 AM): Um, without getting to confidential, let's just say that the application was designed to drive traffic to the guy's site. I didn't charge anyone anything, just wanted to test the strategy.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:56 AM): I suppose what you can do is offer them a free trial. That's essentially what I did. Just to prove to them on their terms that you have what they need.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:58 AM): The point is this: give them no reason to reject you. not cost, or anything.

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:58 AM): (TWO MINUTES) (1/17/100 9:58 AM): I understand.

Terri( (1/17/100 9:59 AM): I know from helping a friend get advertisers, they want to see solid numbers on how many unique visitors your site has before they even consider spending advertising money with you :)

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 9:59 AM): Wow, what a power-packed session! okay everyone, got a big day ahead...feel free to hang out here if you like. Otherwise I'll see you online! (1/17/100 9:59 AM): Have you done anything with Newspapers?

Terri( (1/17/100 10:00 AM): This has been a GREAT chat today, Rob! Lots of subjects covered. See you all next week!

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 10:00 AM): Lots. check out (1/17/100 10:00 AM): thanks Terri

RobFrankel ( (1/17/100 10:00 AM): Bye everyone!

Terri( (1/17/100 10:01 AM): I'm glad to help, Robert! Bye everyone!

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