- 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
- A. Hi Mark. There are two things to consider
- 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
- 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!
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
- 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 -- www.econosystems.com)
at no extra cost. I can activate dot com forwarding instead of
using the BizCard. I have been working on a free site at Angelfire.com
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?
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
- 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
- A year or so
ago I wrote a news release that helped make Jeff DeLong --- barely
28 years old --- get wealthy. The headline read:
to Leave Your Lover (or anyone else);
Unusual cards don't greet, say Hit The Streets
- Paul Krupin
of the http://www.imediafax.com 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 http://www.c-ya.com 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 http://www.nightingale.com.) In short, they are:
(1) Have news, (2) invent news, or (3) tie your business to current
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 http://www.bootsonline.com.au, 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
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:
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
- http://www.publicityforum.com The New Publicity Forum
to Media Fax Service
http://dcnewswire.com/ Direct Contact News
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.
for an ad headline or tag line?
- 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:
to Increase Your Business by 50%--Guaranteed!"
to Spend No More Money Yet Double Your Business -- Guaranteed!"
- "I Guarantee
to Double Your Business -- or You Pay Nothing!"
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
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 http://www.mrfire.com 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
-- 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 http://www.writers.net. It's an information
source for writers, editors, and agents. You're sure to get some
- 2. Go to http://www.liszt.com 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 http://www.mrfire.com, 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.
- 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 http://www.mrfire.com 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 http://www.liszt.com 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 http://www.amazon.com 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 http://www.liszt.com 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, http://www.ebay.com, to get your web site
- 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 http://www.mrfire.com. And you might want
to pick up one of my earlier books, Cyberwriting:
How to Promote Your Produce or Service Online (without being
- Hope all this