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Joe Vitale
Need help marketing your Web site on or offline? Ask Joe, author of Cyberwriting: How to Promote Your Produce or Service Online (without being flamed!), for help.
 Cyber Writing

 EP Internet Marketing Q&As

Q.We are interested in starting a small grocery shopping/delivery service
in our area (Columbia, SC). I have called a few marketing firms to find out how much a telephone survey (to find out if enough interest is there) would be, and costs range much more than I imagined -- $5,000 to $10,000! The same people tell me it would be about the same cost to develop an Internet survey.
I was wondering if it is possible to create a web site on my own, with a one page questionnaire, and see how many 'hits' I receive? Do you think this makes sense?
Thank you for your advice!
A. Hi Mark. There are two things to consider here:
1. An Internet survey is a brilliant idea. Just put up a page with the questions, give people a reason to answer them, and let the automation do the rest. Your survey will be quick, easy, painless, and virtually free.
2. Surveys rarely give you the truth of a situation. People will usually say one thing on a survey, but do another in real life. In other words, if you ask someone if they will shop at a new store, they may say yes just to appear open-minded or to please you. But open the new store and ask them to go there, and now you're asking them to make a decision with their hard-earned money. That's a VERY different matter!
Bottomline: I say if you see a need, fill it -- regardless of what any survey says. But if you need reassurance that you are on the right track, an Internet survey is a cost-effective way to give you some peace of mind before you jump into anything. As usual, trust your gut and think positive.
Hope this helps,

Q.Currently I am working in the beauty industry at the wholesale distributor level, coaching and consulting salon owners and salon professionals. I want to do this on the net from home too but am unclear what to do first. There is an industry website that is interested in my providing some content for them. My idea is to provide downloadable information as well as online info in the form of advice. The books that I have looked at are so confusing to me that I just don't do anything. I know the service would sell if I could figure out how to get started; what to do first. HELP!

Cynthia Walker
A. Make a website for yourself. Make yourself the "Salon Expert." Offer free information at your website about what you do, answer questions from salon owners, etc. Let the website establish your credibility and bring you business. As for how to put up the website, I suggest you either hire (or barter with) a Net pro, or use an online service that gives you a website with a monthly low fee. There's bound to be a computer magazine in your area listing local geeks. If not, go online and search for them! Let the Net teach you how to use the Net.
Q. Dear Joe:

I have reserved a domain with the same name as my company with Network Solutions. I received a DotCom BizCard (which I am currently using -- at no extra cost. I can activate dot com forwarding instead of using the BizCard. I have been working on a free site at and am thinking of activating the forwarding feature once I get some content up at Angelfire. The content I'm working on now is my company's contact information, description of the services I offer, and excerpts from my upcoming World Economic Outlook newsletter (I'm thinking of highlighting a different world region or "global hot spot" on the site each week) and an article on corruption in the global economy.

At some point I will have reports and a newsletter that clients/customers could order, pay for and download from my site, but is there any reason that I shouldn't forward people to a free site in the meantime?

Anne Ramstetter Wenzel
Menlo Park, CA

A. People are more likely to go to your site if you offer free information. You can sell information there, too, now or later, but to GET people there, you better dangle a few carrots. Since the Net is still used for information gathering, and most netties still expect things for free, you're wise to offer free information as your carrots and filter in some for-pay offerings.

Think of your website as a special interest magazine containing lots of free articles, but along with the articles are some ads for things readers can buy.


 Q. I would like to start my own home based business. The business consists of giving free in-home estimates on home improvement projects (window replacement, doors, roofing, siding, etc.). The idea is to have at least 3 remodelers/contractors each give the customer an estimate; there'd be no charges to the customer, just a fee which has to be paid to me by the contractor that is awarded the job.

I have been in the Home Improvement business for 9 years as a Marketing Director, and I am pretty darn tired of babysitting a telemarketing room. I know that I can use the yellow pages, local papers, coupons, etc. to generate leads fo the company that I work for, but this is about me being able to use the Web to start my own lead generating business, and being able to work from home dispatching qualified leads to qualified Home Improvement Contractors within the State of Maryland.
How do I go about finding customers that need my services on the Web, and how do I get started on a Web page(s) to advertise my services?
A. One thing you can do is get your prospects to come to you, by using publicity as your fishing net. Let me explain:
A year or so ago I wrote a news release that helped make Jeff DeLong --- barely 28 years old --- get wealthy. The headline read:

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (or anyone else);
Unusual cards don't greet, say Hit The Streets

Paul Krupin of the news bureau sent it out by fax and email. As a result, Jeff did twenty radio interviews the day his release hit. The Associated Press picked up the story at least twice and spread the word to the media nationally. The number of times the story was reprinted is impossible to tally. But as a direct result, Jeff's website sales at blasted to $20,000 a week. (A week!)

What made his news release so successful?

1. There was news here.
I didn't have to dig too hard to see that Jeff's greeting cards were newsworthy in and of themselves. (You send his c-ya cards out when you *end* relationships.) Too many people send out news releases without any news. They are thinly disguised ads. Editors hate ads. They want NEWS.

2. We tied it to current news.
Valentine's Day was right around the corner. While Jeff didn't want to tie his release to that event, I knew that doing so would cause the media to grab his release. It helped make his news relevant. Whenever you can tie your product or service to existing news, you up the odds in being used by the media.

3. We distributed the release to select media.
Paul Krupin hand picked a list of media contacts. What you send out has to match the interests of those receiving it. Don't send artillery news to an anti-gun newspaper.

You can get publicity for virtually any product or service. The media is desperate for news. Provide it and they'll advertise your business. But how do you find the right news angle?
I describe three ways for getting publicity in my new audiotape program for Nightingale-Conant, called "The Power of Outrageous Marketing." (To order it, call 1-800-525-9000 or visit In short, they are: (1) Have news, (2) invent news, or (3) tie your business to current news.

Jeff's release was an example of one and three. (His cards were news, and we tied it to Valentine's Day, which was current news.)
Here's an example of number two: Inventing news.
When Barry Michaels in Australia hired me to write a release for his clothing store at, I had to hunt to find the news angle. I talked to him and learned that because he was getting bogus orders online, he started calling virtually everyone who contacted him. This turned out to be a breakthrough. Customers were in awe that a retailer in Australia would call them. Not only did Barry stop the bogus orders, but he increased his sales with this extra personal service. So I wrote a news release with this headline:

Retailer Finds Way to Turn Bogus Orders Into Profit;
Australia teaches the globe how to make money online

As a result, the Investors Business Daily called him. Since that is a national publication, Barry's news release is turning into *thousands* of dollars in free publicity. Very nice.
Finally, let me tell you what I did a few weeks ago. In mid-June I bought a mermaid. Yes, a mermaid. P.T. Barnum had one and I figured it would be cool if I did, too. It turned out to be a disappointment and I felt like an idiot for getting it. But then I saw a publicity opportunity. So I wrote a news release (using method number two) that began with this headline:

Barnum Expert Suckered Into Buying "Real" Mermaid; Discovers curiosity as powerful marketing tool

The response stunned me. The editor of the Amercian Legal Association bulletin asked if could run the story. Radio hosts wanted to interview me. Will it ever end? Ah, I love this! The point is, news angles are everywhere. Start to think like a reporter, get creative, and plug your business within your story. It's the key secret to driving prospects to your web site today --- with or without a mermaid.
"I am indebted to the press of the United States for almost every dollar which I possess..." -- P.T. Barnum, 1891

PS - Here's how to reach Paul Krupin and his news bureaus: email to:
[email protected] Call toll-free: 1-800-457-8746 The New Publicity Forum Internet to Media Fax Service Direct Contact News Wire

Q. Joe,

I'm real skeptical of this "Ask Joe" thing. I hope you deliver. I have a great proven marketing process on video that shows companies how to increase their business by 50% without increasing their spending. I guarantee it will do what I say or I'll refund their money. I've got 4 pages of testimonials about this proven process -- about 60 so far.

Any suggestions for an ad headline or tag line?


 A. Beetle,

Your video sounds terrific. I mean it. I read your question three times and thought, "Beetle should run his *question* as a headline!" But since that might be too long, here are some quick ideas:
  • "How to Increase Your Business by 50%--Guaranteed!"
  • "How to Spend No More Money Yet Double Your Business -- Guaranteed!"
  • "I Guarantee to Double Your Business -- or You Pay Nothing!"
  • "At last! New Method Can Easily Double Your Business -- Guaranteed!"
Those are off the top of my head. Another idea is to take any one of your testimonials and run IT as your headline. Testimonals can be powerful, and anything in quotation marks tends to get noticed very quickly. A testimonial-headline might do the trick for you.
And here's yet another tip or two for you: Go read anything by John Caples. He wrote classic books on how to write advertising, including "How to Make Your Advertising Make Money," which might stimulate your thinking. And read my own book, "The AMA Complete Guide to Small Business Advertising," which contains a chapter on 30 ways to write headlines. Finally, pick up a copy of "Reader's Digest" magazine and scan their article titles. They know how to write headlines and you might get inspired by reading a few of theirs.
Your video sounds fascinating -- fascinating enough for me to say if you send me a copy, I'll review it and maybe plug it for you. Send a copy to Joe Vitale, 303 Mill Stream Ct, Houston TX 77060.
Hope that helps. I'm on my way to Australia now. Visit my web site at for more useful information.
All the best,

Q. Dear EP,

I'm having our first child in November, and the family business I've been employed at part-time may not be around next year. I'm considering doing something "small" like offering typing/proofreading/editing services for students high school, college, etc.). I don't have a degree in English Communications (it's in Management-Marketing), but I have been writing my entire life, and I have published six commentaries in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Editing is something that has always come easily to me, and I already own quite a few books on editing, style, grammar, and the Compact OED.
I don't know how to figure out the logistics of this idea. It just occurred to me this morning, and it seemed to make sense. Is this something you can give advice on?
Some questions are:
-- What/How to charge?
-- How to define proofreading/editing guidelines (i.e., only typewritten pages, only complete papers, will type handwritten pages into neat ms?)
-- How to manage workload or look for work?
-- Computer versus typewriter?
-- Quoting, estimating lead time, defining boundaries (i.e., I need more than two hours' notice)?
My questions aren't limited to these, but these few come to mind immediately. Any ideas? Links? Resources?
Thank you,
A.Dear Kim,
Your questions are excellent. I suggest you network with some already working editors. Here are two ways to do just that:
1. Visit WritersNet online at It's an information source for writers, editors, and agents. You're sure to get some answers there.
2. Go to and do a search for e-mail discussion lists for editors. There are more than 90,051 lists out there, so there is bound to be at least one for editors. Just use "editors" as your keyword when you go searching. This could become a goldmine of answers for you. (And if you join the lists for writers, you might even drum up some business for yourself from authors who need editing!)
Finally, I urge you to think of how you will be unique. In other words, there are many editors/typists in the world. How are you different?
One thought that came to my mind is instead of saying you don't want any last minute jobs, you might use a headline on an ad that actually says something like, "I can type your manuscript in two hours!" (Now if two hours is not reasonable, then use what is. But you get the point.) You could also copy off the pizza people and say, "I can type your manuscript in one day -- or it's free." If you don't mind a shameless plug, there is a lot of information at my web site, at, that should help you along these marketing lines.
Go for it!
Q. Dear Sir/Madam,

First of all, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Steve Christian, I live in Indonesia and own a small business specializing in Typing and Database Inputting Service.

Currently, I'd like to open an Internet site to market my service to the Internet community, especially the U.S. Internet community. Our typing and data inputting services are offered at a very low rate per hour because of inexpensive labor in Indonesia. We usually charge under $7 an hour.

I think I need professional help to set up the site and some advice before starting this business online. I don't understand how to start this kind of thing and I don't even know anything about doing business in the US.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank You.

Best Regards,
Steve Christian
A. Dear Steve,
I see that you have two key issues here:
1. How to set up a web site.
There are countless books on the subject, and many web sites giving information on the subject. But you might be better off speaking with someone who already has a site up and running. The man who developed my site at is Daniel Kehoe. He's at [email protected]. Whenever you go to any site, look at the bottom of the first page and you should see the name of the web site developer. Email that person and you'll get some answers right away.
2. How to get business to your site.
This is the current "64,000 question" of the online world. I wouldn't worry about focusing on getting American customers so much as getting customers period. After all, the net is a global community. You'll get business from every country you can think of -- if you heavily promote your site. I suggest that once your site is up, you start looking for the people who will need your services. Authors are one group. Editors may be another. Publishers may be a third. Students might be yet another. Go to and do a search for the groups these people subscribe to; then promote yourself in legitmate ways on these groups.
There aren't any snappy answers to your questions, so I hope my answers can at least get you off and running. You might also go to and do a search for books to help you create an international Internet business.
All the best,
Q. Hi there -- got a question for "Mr Fire." I currently own a web site online with my husband -- a comic book web site -- and so far we're not getting a whole lot of traffic. I'd really like to promote my online business better.
What's the best way of going about it? Would love any suggestions -- thanks!
A. I did a search at and found 8 email discussion groups for comic books and 5 usenet groups for comic book chatter. The first thing you want to do is participate in those groups; get yourself known to the people who would most be interested in your goodies. I also suggest you list something for sale at the big auction site,, to get your web site out there.
Don't overlook advertising your site off-line as well as on-line. I have some articles that may be of interest to you at my web site at And you might want to pick up one of my earlier books, Cyberwriting: How to Promote Your Produce or Service Online (without being flamed!).
Hope all this helps.


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