Transcript of Frankel's Free Clinic February 25, 2002

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:00 AM): Holy cow, just made it....

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:00 AM): So I should not bet on being able to using you then you mean?

Jonathan Cohen (jacohen@damnfinewriting.com) (2/25/2002 9:01 AM): Jan - I will email you after the clinic...

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:01 AM): You've got one online business directory for the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada represented here. Hopefully not more :)

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:01 AM): Hope everyone is doing well today....anyone want to jump in first?

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:02 AM): Ok, thanks...

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:02 AM): Entered the room.

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:02 AM): Good Morning, I'm late as usual

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:02 AM): grins @ Mark -- website development here. Located in Fla, but I work internationally.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:03 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:03 AM): Mikee, are you new here?

Del (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): Entered the room.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): mikee: do you have pricing available anywhere?

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): Website development http://www.katsueydesignworks.com

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): Grinning back @ Cynthia - I have a company that does that too - the business guide is a new venture for me

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): very cool :)

Del (2/25/2002 9:04 AM): Hey Rob. How is one of your past clients doing? Latinogear?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:05 AM): Wow, Del, what brings that up? Interesting you should ask....they've had a lot of trouble getting out of the gate.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:06 AM): If I can ask the first question...Many thousands of online directories have failed. I'm trying to create one that doesn't. http://www.businessniagara.ca is GOING to be (it isn't yet) a comprehensive directory of all businesses in the Niagara Region of Ontario. In this field littered with the corpses of failed dot-coms, any suggestions on how I can brand the site convincingly to make people take a new site seriously?

Del (2/25/2002 9:07 AM): Rob. Actually was just thinking about how long I've been visiting the chat. :-) The one thing you keep "relatively" quiet about is your successes with working with other companies, especially smaller firms.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:07 AM): Mark, that's a great question. I'm finding that simply bringing a new brand into the marketplace for the same old purpose just isn't cutting it.

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:08 AM): Mark, I have several dedicated portals. I think they are the way of the future, rather than the be-everything-to everyone search engines

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:08 AM): The thing that strikes me, Rob, is that the same old purpose has never been done well, at least not around here. I'm trying to do it right, in the face of somewhat limited competition.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:08 AM): Del, that's because the smaller firms are what you see (due to the FrankelBiz environment). I don't talk about bigger names except as anonymous case studies, because I usually have NDA's.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Frederick, I too believe in the portal theory and think that I'm onto a good one here. It's just that so many have failed because they weren't financially viable.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Mark, how do you plan making money doing it I wonder?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Mark, I think you have to begin with two notions: first, there's a reason why all these portals fail. Second, there's a PERCEPTION that all portals are the same.

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Entered the room.

Del (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Rob: Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that you work with smaller clientele...those that *really* need your services. I'm just of the opinion that it would be nice to hear more about your successes with non-Rob companies. ;-)

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:09 AM): Entered the room.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:10 AM): Case in point - shopniagara.com - the old site - spent over $100K advertising around here. It drove a lot of traffic to the site, but the site sucked. It wasn't user friendly, the search function didn't work and after a while, people got fed up. No amount of money could save the site.

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:10 AM): Hi ... first time here ...

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:10 AM): Mark: so what makes "your portal" financially viable? (if I may pry?)

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Mark, I have several dedicated portals. I think they are the way of the future, rather than the be-everything-to everyone search engines. People try things. Some work, some don't

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Jan - the comprehensive database is a "holy grail" type notion for me. However, basic listings of just a name address and phone number will be all people will get. However, for an enhanced listing, available for a ridiculously low price, will hopefully pay for the rest of it.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Also, Del, smaller firms are very difficult to deal with, mainly due to the owners' extensive involvement. For what it's worth, I offer big name clients references and case studies. It's crucial to establishing my credibility when approaching major accounts and i-legions prospects.

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Oh Boy Double repeaters again!

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Jim, you're next....

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:11 AM): Incidentally, just to clarify, shopniagara.com wasn't my site. : )

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:12 AM): I'm just lurking for now ... until I get a better idea of what it's all about.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:12 AM): Mark, if you're familiar with it, this is why I'm building out i-legions.com. The same old "branding" crap that everyone else spews just doesn't cut it. This is a brand-driven revenue-generating program, so it takes on a new glow.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:13 AM): We plan to provide much more business information on the site than anyone else does. Our local newspaper (the "Sub-Standard") is hideous when it comes to business news. I'm hoping business people will post their press releases etc. on our site, thus helping to provide some of the content we'

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:13 AM): The problem is that you need traffic to be worth anything to anyone and that you listings to get traffic....

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:13 AM): Rob, what can Mark do to brand himself in the face of such sameness?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:14 AM): Every client I have ever had begins with a central notion of how they're going to improve on the state of the art. And focus is good. But simply providing the same solution in a different bag won't do it. Your brand has to show them that there's something new and meaningful -- that solves their problems.

Del (2/25/2002 9:14 AM): Mark: I think the biggest fight you have is one of perception. Why would a visitor choose to go to businessniagra.ca versus a yahoo.com-type search engine?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:14 AM): Oops - continuing here - the content we'll need to make the site useful. I've also solicited many local business owners to provide me with articles relevant to business people that we can use as a resource.

Tamra (tamra@hcstudios.com) (2/25/2002 9:14 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:14 AM): So the question becomes, what are their problems and how are you solving them better than the rest?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:15 AM): Del - Yahoo will never, ever, EVER have the number of Niagara businesses that we have. In fact, I think we already have more than they do in our database. Comprehensiveness is the goal. Yahoo doesn't want to be that way.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:15 AM): Remember, too, that localized portals are probably being measured against AOL Digital City programs and better-moneyed operations.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): Hi Mark. Just an idea. Out2.com seems like what you are talking about. You might want to see how they have done some things. Check out my articles while you're there. Blatant plug. Is that allowed, Rob?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): Hmm. Interesting Rob. I look at the site as meeting a need that others have identified. Many companies around here would like to see a comprehensive business database online. The yellow pages etc. don't provide such.

Del (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): Rob. And most portal sites like AOL, Netscape, MSN and others are actually ad aggregators taking affiliate revenue from their links.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): Here, in my view, is what's going to happen with local portals -- IF they ever make it:

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): Plus, when people are coming to a new area, they may not even know what to search for but enjoy a regional directory like LeavenworthDirectory or Nigarabusinesses to learn a bit more about the region

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:16 AM): What would be the point of collecting all local businesses in one site? Don't you have yellow pages? :)

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:17 AM): Mark, do you have a discussion forum? Rob, wouldn't a discussion forum build a branded community? And if so, why don't you have one?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:17 AM): Rob, Niagara Canada probably will NEVER get any interest by AOL Digital city because only Niagara Falls is "profitable". However, the rest of the region has a very diverse business climate that most other people outside the region (and those in the press around here) completely ignore.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:17 AM): There's no way that local portals will ever get the attention of the national media, because they only serve a local audience. UNLESS there's something about the portal that's newsworthy.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:18 AM): one thing I'd like to address (although a bit OT) is that as a designer, for the longest time I had no problems getting clients globally. Site unseen. I'm starting to realize that these days, the local market would probably do better for me, but I have no idea how to approach it.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:18 AM): Jan - thanks for that point. However, there are many businesses that aren't listed in the Yellow pages. Many home based businesses (mine included) aren't in it. You also need to advertise in up to four yellow pages publications to cover the whole region.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:18 AM): Frederick, NOW you know why I'm building i-legions. This is exactly what we do. But it DOESN'T include a portal.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:19 AM): Getting back to my point, the day that ONE local portal makes a difference is the day that ALL local portals will become news.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:19 AM): I don't mind not getting the attention of the national media with the site. There's enough interest locally and within a 300 mile radius of Niagara to generate activity on the site. I just need to convince people that it's worth a visit.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:19 AM): Yes, but if I needed something locally I would never even think of looking it up on the internet. I would use my knowledge of local shops or ask around or look in the phone book...

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:19 AM): I don't think "local" people use "local" portals, most of the time they use the yellow pages, TV, or just plain old word of mouth. This is all strictly my opinion and I have no basis of fact only than observation but the people I see using portals are people that don't live there and are coming to visit.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:20 AM): Cynthia - that's one reason I'm doing this as well. I'd like to be known as "the company that did what the yellow pages, local governments and regional governments failed to do even though they had the resources to do it"

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:20 AM): good point Mark

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:20 AM): Mark, you should be looking for local partners then. Developing ancillary value-added programs that motivate people to try the site and evangelize it to others. that's how it works.

Jonathan Cohen (jacohen@damnfinewriting.com) (2/25/2002 9:20 AM): Mark - one of the big perceptions about local portals is that they're not comprehensive, and not kept up-to-date...that's been my experience with local Vancouver community sites. Have you considered focusing on a segment of businesses, such as wineries - since Niagara is known as a wine region?

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:20 AM): Leavenworth County KS has a high turn over population due to a military fort, I see good traffic visiting LeavenworthDirectory (even though there are some others not as well done) just learning what businesses are in the county.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): Jan - you're right to a point. Most people I talk to know full well that the Yellow Pages only provides limited information. Of course, businesses aren't open 24/7 and that's where buying an enhanced listing on businessniagara.ca is a good deal.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): right now I'm trying to get inspired to redo my site. It's a good layout now, but between it and the content, it just doesn't *pop*

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): My 2 cents ... for what it's worth. -- Instead of a "local" portal dedicated to a "geographic" area; why not a "local" portal by business niche ... industry, trade, or profession?

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): You would have to make a truly virtual community I think. A place to meet and barter and so on. A local FrankelBiz maybe?! :) That may be better done offline though depending on your infrastructure...

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): good point Rob

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): Mark, have you thought about highlighting local residents? Like we have a colorful mayor. If I knew you were keeping tabs on him with a little humor added, I'd cue you up weekly.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:21 AM): Jonathan - great point! Actually, businessniagara.ca is part of a larger network we've built known as The Niagara Guide Network. One of the sites is www.niagarawineryguide.com, which focuses on that exact niche.

Del (2/25/2002 9:22 AM): Mark: We *know* you're sold on your site. Explain how a business owner would be convinced to part with some advertising money. How would you be promoting offline to your local area?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:22 AM): Mark, you bring up an interesting point: I would think that a local directory -- being local -- would have as its goal a clickthrough, but not purchase. I would think it would be an actual phone call or visit.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:22 AM): Jan @ TYB.com - GREAT IDEA! I like it.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): Me too. You want his name? :)

Jonathan Cohen (jacohen@damnfinewriting.com) (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): Mark - Jan brings up another good point - the cost of 'customer' acquisition is high...customer retention is key - how will you bring people back to the site?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): Jim - we've done that for the restaurant, bar etc. industry here - focused on tourism. I'd like to make this broader than that.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): A local portal in our area is http://aa.mlive.com, it is run by the newspaper and ties in classifieds, news, forums, local movie listings, etc. It has "sticky-ness" since it does more than provide business listings. It is also branded as "Michigan Live" and each area has their own portal. All of these are tied to the newspapers which are the information houses of a community.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): Entered the room.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:23 AM): Jonathan - hopefully through the content provided on the site through news and resource articles. I'm also looking to tie in classifieds etc. over time.

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:24 AM): Jonathon, I believe a discussion forum will bring people back

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:24 AM): Maybe your expectations are a wrong fit for the media. Ever think about that?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:24 AM): Not that the medium is wrong, but perhaps the expectations need to be re-addressed.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:24 AM): Rob - good point. I'd hope that the clicks to an enhanced listing would result in a visit or call or e-mail. If the site doesn't generate business for its advertisers, then what's the point?

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:25 AM): Maybe you should ask around what people want? That should be possible since it's local :) They may bring onto something you have not even imaged...

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:25 AM): Rob, expectations?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:25 AM): Perhaps a chat on Niagara business once a week would be a good idea? Interesting. Ever tried that Rob? : )

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:25 AM): Mark, I think this is where local portal fall down a lot. In most cases, we're talking about hooking up with vendors that are jus across town. I suspect there's another agenda there....

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:25 AM): Cynthia, I think your site is good other than the flashing banner at the top. First impression is one of those free sites.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:26 AM): that banner is one of my own :) it doesn't go to another site. I was *trying* to promote a special that way. Guess it didn't work :)

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:26 AM): Jan - thanks for the suggestion. I've asked a number of business people what they would like to see in a site like businessniagara.ca. They've mostly said it's a good start, although the classifieds, job postings etc. were something that were mentioned as well.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:27 AM): Rob - another agenda? I don't follow.

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:27 AM): I understand Cynthia, just stating the first impression before really reading it.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:27 AM): Mark -- maybe spotlight a local business or two each month, week, whatever as well

Del (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): Mark: Local job postings are a great idea, however, make sure to have an editor to remove all the crappy "work at home stuff envelope" posts.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): katsuey -- what screen res are you at, btw?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): Cynthia - good point. We've tried to do that with our Featured Business on the site. Always one of our advertisers.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): Did you mention they would be paying for it? Also you should ask broad questions about local issues etc. to map the problems you may turn out to be able to solve. Maybe you end up exposing all the frauds, enable online ticket payments or something else...

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): 1024, PC, WinXP, cable

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:28 AM): Del - right said!

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:29 AM): that's what I thought. in 800 x 600, your template display slideshow overlaps the text.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:29 AM): Mark, THE MAIN REASON I've devoted so many years to brand strategy is to confirm my strategies and tactics vis-a-vis branding. As you've heard a lot, it's about relationships. Take a look at what's happening in real time here. Relationships are building via the Rob Frankel brand. I think that's exactly what every web-based operation needs to do. Unfortunately, most can't -- or fortunately, if they become my clients!

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:29 AM): Hey, designers, take this to a design chat, eh? <G>

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:29 AM): but the layout of the site is nice. I like the functionality

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:30 AM): sorry Rob -- got sidetracked :)

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:30 AM): Mark, your stated goal is to get listings, but in my book, it's to link people together via your brand as a conduit. That works.

Del (2/25/2002 9:30 AM): Citysearch prints restaurant reviews, upcoming event calendars (fairs, tradeshows, local b2b events, etc) as well as allowing site visitors to post reviews (at least for bars/night clubs).

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:30 AM): Rob, I like THAT!

KatsueyDesignWorks (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): Cynthia, I've looked at it at 800 and need to change the size of the graphic to make this change. I'm thinking it through because it doesn't stop people from seeing what I need them to see.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): You can sell them listings to make money, but the relationships are what they're really buying. They just don't know it.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): So Rob, I'm reading that the best thing I can do is to provide content on the site and other useful features that will help form a community and create relationships.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): katsuey, let's lose the design stuff for now. We're on a really nice topic here.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): Mark, there are many stay-at-home young mothers who would like to learn something. The net is a place where they can. If you offered something, especially if it was interactive, you might draw friends, who have friends, who etc.

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:31 AM): Gotcha

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:32 AM): Rob, if we succeed in building relationships for people through our brand, how can we get them to realise that's what happened?

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:32 AM): Yes, but with a clear idea about what will make you money. Otherwise you end up as all the others before you...

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:32 AM): Mark, content is an easy way out. So is technology. People try to buy their way out of this problem and then wonder why nobody shows up for the party.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:32 AM): One of the other things we're looking at is a weekly e-mail mailing (opt-in) to keep folks up to date on what's happening with Niagara businesses, as well as promote specials for our advertisers. Any thoughts on this as a relationship-building tool?

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:32 AM): Mark, I forgot to mention that I meant courses, even if it's a course on how to use the internet, do Feng Shui, teach children something, etc.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:33 AM): Rob - if content is an easy way out, is it effective or are you implying that it's an easy-out that doesn't produce the desired effect (i.e. a relationship or at least significant interest)?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:33 AM): Fred, it doesn't take long -- if you manage the brand properly. For example, I'm sure most of you know that many people introduce themselves to you as "a FrankelBee". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they never would have met were it not for the FrankelBiz (Rob Frankel) brand.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:34 AM): Jan @ TYB.com - interesting idea. Again, I would rely on local businesses for that. I have a feeling it's a ways off at this time.

Del (2/25/2002 9:34 AM): Yeah. The power of business isn't business...It's people. :-)

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:35 AM): This is what I mean when I say that branding must turn your users into evangelists. I hear a LOT of thank you's from people whose notes say, "If it hadn't been for your list, Rob, I never would have done this deal...." So I know they get it.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:35 AM): What you should focus on is bringing people together. That is the one thing all the specialists cannot do ;)

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:36 AM): Content can be effective, jus as technology can be effective. But for example, wit i-legions, both account for only about 20% of our solutions.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:36 AM): Actually, Mark, many of those courses are free on the net. People would probably tailor make some for you, just for the advertising.

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:36 AM): So let's see if I understand this - I've been concentrating on getting people to my portal (so has Mark, obviously) - What we need to do is get people to interact with each other through our sites? Yes?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:36 AM): So Rob, going back to an earlier point - is content and useful features enough to create evangelists out of my users? The other 80% that I see in your last point is escaping me - although I suspect it's the relationships that we all hope to create.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:37 AM): Jan @ TYB.com - thanks - I hadn't really looked for any.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:37 AM): Interaction though the brand is the key...

Del (2/25/2002 9:37 AM): Mark: I do believe some of the strength of businessniagra.ca would have to be supported with localized print advertising...To get the name out to businesses AND the public.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:38 AM): Del - good point. We plan to launch a print, radio, phone, fax, e-mail and trade show campaign in mid-march.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:39 AM): No Mark, I don't believe content is enough. Everyone does content. You'd just be another brick in the wall

Del (2/25/2002 9:39 AM): Here in the US, most states, counties and cities have their own Chamber websites. Are you planning on contacting similar sites in your area?

Jonathan Cohen (jacohen@damnfinewriting.com) (2/25/2002 9:39 AM): Mark - I'm still trying to figure out what will make your site a must-visit (and repeat visit) destination, given the existence of Yellow Pages for a quick lookup....there's got to be a value-added there that's so great that the users will become evangelists (not sure - customer reviews?)

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:39 AM): BTW, does anyone have any other issues? I don't want to leave you out! Jump in if you do!

Del (2/25/2002 9:39 AM): ewww. Fax is bad. I can tolerate sales calls, but fax blasts piss me off to no end.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:40 AM): Del - we just sent the managers of all the Chambers an information package which also offers them financial incentives. I pay my sales people on commission, so see no reason why a Chamber couldn't make money promoting enhanced listings to its members.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:41 AM): Jonathan - the value add is that the Yellow Pages a) isn't comprehensive b) doesn't provide any meaningful information on a company

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:41 AM): Yellow pages don't also offer a direct link to their web page...

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:41 AM): Del - the fax campaign is actually to an opt-in fax list (if you can believe that one) that has been running for the past 5 years through a friend's company. We'd be a tagline on the fax, not the main sponsor.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:42 AM): Sure scored a brownie point with me, Jodie : ) Too true.

Del (2/25/2002 9:42 AM): The store owner can counter with "but I *know* people look at yellow page ads. What I don't know is how many people will use their computer to look at my store info."

Jonathan Cohen (jacohen@damnfinewriting.com) (2/25/2002 9:42 AM): Mark - then you're faced with a chicken-and-egg...can you get enough people to sign up for extended listings to make it worthwhile? Otherwise, users will only see primarily basic listings...

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:43 AM): ;-)

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:43 AM): I need help in how to pick a merchant account! :) I am looking at PayPal, but I would like an option where people do not have to sign up with others to pay me. It would need to be an all in one solution where those who pay input the data including the amount and then pay online....

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:43 AM): pay pal isn't a merchant account

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:43 AM): i.e. looking at site instead of Yellow pages... offer web-only specials?

Cynthia@wkdesign.com (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): you might want to look at propay.com -- the user doesn't have to sign up in order to send money

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): Jonathan - we've been online since Feb. 1. We've had around 20 sales in that time for enhanced listings. It's going to take time...but I'm hoping the addition of articles and other resources this week will offset some of the concern about not seeing "enough" enhanced listings.

Del (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): Check out http://ecommerce.internet.com/ and do a search. They ran an article last month on the topic.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): Hi Jan. I just love Clickbank. The only thing I'm not happy about there is that they don't say which co. paid commission. Otherwise, it's great.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): re: merchant account: I will be using BeanStreams.com soon for Score

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): Jan, I use authroize.net via Cardservice International. Any reason why you don't want to go that route?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:44 AM): Jodie - I've asked my advertisers for that type of stuff. It's still hard for them to wrap their brains around the concept in some cases...

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:45 AM): Clickbank is very expensive though, no?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:45 AM): mark, you can't expect them to answer those questions. you have to lead, they'll follow. You have to do the thinking for them

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:45 AM): Jan - I use InternetSecure and one of my clients uses iBill. No problems with either so far.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:45 AM): I cannot find anything that tells me what your provider charge. I did look at that first :)

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:46 AM): $49 to initiate. X amount per sale. I can't remember the amount. But the ease I like. I had used iBill.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:46 AM): Mark - lots of education to your consumers, then. Really 'bites' (or bytes... *groan*) when people/businesses are not as tech savvy as you, doesn't it?

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:46 AM): Jan: what do you use to balance your books?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): Rob - interesting point. I don't always have a direct relationship with each advertiser. The sales rep who got them on board usually has the face to face, although since they're relatively few in number, I'm probably going to have an open house or some gathering for them in the next quarter to have that connection.

Michael Kimsal (michael@tapinternet.com) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): Entered the room.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): What do you mean Keith?

Del (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): I both love and hate Amex transactions. Good for larger orders, bad since Amex takes a 3.5% chunk on each transaction. The bastards. ;-)

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): Jodie - it's always been the way. Ah well, it's getting better.

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): Over the past 30 years, my 2 most profitable operations were "clubs" ... producing over $60 million in revenue. -- If you make your local portal a "club" -- ?Niagara Boosters Club? -- you could get the merchants to sign-up their customers as members. Then

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:47 AM): Rob ,what does your solution cost?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:48 AM): Mark, now you know why brand strategy is SO important: it determines the marching orders that you give the sales force.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:48 AM): Rob, can I be a censor? (Preen) I wield a large hammer, comes in handy for my practice. <juuuuuust kidding>

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): Cardservice: $58/month for the software (paydown) and a $10 monthly gateway fee. + average 2.5% credit card fee on each transaction.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): Censor for what, JanTYB?

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): Jan: I ask because some packages like QuickBooks allow you to charge credit cards right from your program without the need to do real-time transactions. It depends on your volume of course as well as a few other things.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): Jim - the one concern several advertisers has raised is that of exclusivity. They think they should be the only car dealer on the site. If there were others advertising, they may be much less inclined to have their customers be exposed to their competition. Interesting thought though - I'll have to ponder more.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): For 'early adopters' it's always a frustration - what about offering a coupon service? Their 'own' page for $50 or something that has a coupon, 'professionally designed' i.e. from a template that you can quickly put up and their own customers can print it off from their computers and bring it in for 'valuable *local* savings'

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:49 AM): I essentially agree with you, Jim.

Del (2/25/2002 9:50 AM): Rob: You're not paying the standard per transaction charge in addition to the 2.5%?

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:50 AM): Um. You know. Like the swear words. <just kidding>

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:50 AM): mark, that "exclusivity" crap evaporates the minute you can tell them you'll put them in front of 10,000 pre-screened and qualified car buyers.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:50 AM): Jodie - not everyone can use coupons for local savings. How can an insurance company offer a coupon? Wait - let me think about that...

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:50 AM): And that is through the authorize site? I will look more at that. Lack of information is a turn off though...

Michael Kimsal (michael@tapinternet.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): wow Keith - that sounds interesting - how much does it cost?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): No, Del. that's all I pay.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): Jan, Cardservice International is who you buy it through, Authorize.net are the back end processors.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): Ah, Keith, no I cannot use the software... I need something running all the time online...

J.F. (Jim) Straw (jfstraw@businesslyceum.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): Actually, I got my original "club" idea from my paper & ink newsletter subscribers. They kept telling me they were "members" of "WorldWide Business Exchange," instead of subscribers.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): Jan: I have a client who simply purchased a secure certificate and has people pay online using the certificate. They then go collect the orders and import them into QuickBooks and then run the transactions through QuickBooks. Yeah it isn't the most "elegant" solution but it keeps their books balanced and they like it.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:51 AM): (TEN MINUTE WARNING)

Del (2/25/2002 9:52 AM): I think I'm paying .10 per transaction + 2.5% and a $15/month gateway fee. (My "software" lease was paid off 1st year).

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:52 AM): Rob - that's what I usually tell them. Besides, the idea of the site is to be comprehensive and actually useful. It's not intended to be a showcase for one company. The Yellow Pages isn't exclusive and I don't see why businessniagara.ca should be either.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:52 AM): RE: insurance company - dunno - offer a free goody basket for coming in and showing the net coupon? Have them approach their own 'alliances' to co-offer something, doubling visibility for their 'friends' too?

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:53 AM): Jan: have you contacted your current bank to see if they offer any services or who they recommend or who they work with? This is the first step I recommend to clients since everything ties back in at the bank anyway.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:53 AM): Del, that's a good rate. I totally prefer credit cards because you get the money in 24 hours or less. I've had two chargebacks, and both were legit (duplicate orders).

Michael Kimsal (michael@tapinternet.com) (2/25/2002 9:53 AM): Jan - are you sure you do? Even some of our larger clients simply collect payment info and process offline later.

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:53 AM): Jodie - I'm thinking along those lines. Thanks for reinforcing the thought.

Jodie@ScoreBrowniePoints.com (2/25/2002 9:54 AM): No problem - my pleasure ;-)

Del (2/25/2002 9:54 AM): Rob: I like it because I do manual transactions (especially for my postcard orders which aren't billed until client gives approval).

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:54 AM): Well, I need a solution that can handle a lot of smaller payment and a few big ones. This is for two different sites...

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:54 AM): Del, we often have to take special orders (from bookstores) manually, too. But it's still done in real time on the Authorize.net site

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:54 AM): I am looking at my bank as well, but they appear awful expensive to me...

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:55 AM): Jan: unless you are activating a service at the point of sale on the web site you normally don't have to process the transactions online at that moment as Michael pointed out...

Del (2/25/2002 9:55 AM): Jan: authorize.net enables you to do manually-entered transactions or using one of over 300 shopping cart systems, to automatically process a credit card.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:55 AM): Jan, I find that writing a script to the Authorize server works great. This is how I do the Frankelinks and FrankelTips stuff.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:56 AM): everything is automated and notified by e-mail for every transaction, complete with all the data I need.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:56 AM): I think Rob uses their system, no?

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:56 AM): Thanks to all of you for your feedback and for making a first-timer feel welcome. I'll be thinking about all that's been said/typed here and will hopefully be able to incorporate many of the ideas into the site. Relationship building=Brand building, right?

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:56 AM): No prob, Mark. Glad to have helped out.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:57 AM): Jan: also does your web site have accounting software built into it to track payments, send invoices, alerts, etc.? All I am saying is it might be better to let accounting packages be accounting packages and web sites be web sites.

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:57 AM): mark, go to Rob's site later - there'll be a transcript of this session. Very useful.

Jan@TameYourBrain.com (2/25/2002 9:57 AM): Right, Mark. Good luck!

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:57 AM): BTW, if any of you need this stuff done, I don't mind plugging Keith and Michael at http://www.tapinternet.com

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): Frederick - ever since I knew about it, I've read it every week. Exceptionally helpful stuff.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): I call them first with all this kind of stuff.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): No, it is just getting off the ground. I am basically looking to offer people alternative ways of paying.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): Spread the word mark! <G>

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): TWO MINUTES

Michael Kimsal (michael@tapinternet.com) (2/25/2002 9:58 AM): thanx Roberto

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 9:59 AM): Jan, FWIW, ifulfill.com offers a piggyback credit card service -- and charges clients 7% per transaction to people who have no merchant account. Pricey.

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 9:59 AM): Thanks Rob!

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 9:59 AM): So I need a script in addition to the account? I hate complications... :/

Frederick (the1960area.com) (2/25/2002 9:59 AM): Really useful session for me, today, Rob - Thanks

Mark Kawabe (info@businessniagara.ca) (2/25/2002 10:00 AM): Hey Rob, you never know. You might have a legion of Niagarans (is that what we call ourselves? Ugh!) showing up at future chats.

RobFrankel (rob@RobFrankel.com) (2/25/2002 10:00 AM): No problemo....okay, it's off to fight the war we go! Thanks to all you of you! I'll see you online!

Del (2/25/2002 10:00 AM): Jan: authorize.net tells you what you need to do as do whatever shopping cart you plan on using (providing it's made for use with authorize.net)

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 10:01 AM): Jan: if you want real time transactions yes

Fran (2/25/2002 10:01 AM): Entered the room.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 10:01 AM): Right, I better re-read everything :) Thanks everyone!

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 10:02 AM): Jan: our shopping cart system with LogiCreate can work with just about any processor out there and is very flexible, I don't know if you need it but I thought I would at least mention it

Del (2/25/2002 10:02 AM): Keith: can't connect to your domain.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 10:02 AM): I think I will choose the account first and then see where it leads me...

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 10:03 AM): No problem and good luck in your search, Lunch anyone?

Del (2/25/2002 10:03 AM): cya all.

Jan Hviid Hemmingsen (admin@eState8.com) (2/25/2002 10:03 AM): Dinner :) It is past 7pm here...

Keith (http://www.logicreate.com) (2/25/2002 10:04 AM): Del: it pulled right up for me

Fran (2/25/2002 10:05 AM): hello all ... thanks Rob for this great forum...first time here.

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