Making Use of Newsgroups

Newsgroups where people post and reply to messages about particular topics are one of the hidden treasures of the Internet. You can exploit them in two ways: by having your own to support your product (dealt with in Chapter 17 on support) and by posting messages about your product in relevant public groups. Be circumspect about this though.

♦ Select newsgroups relevant to your product.

♦ Ignore newsgroups for competitive products. It is unprofessional to advertise in someone else's group.

♦ Gauge the etiquette of each group. If they appear receptive, put a tentative oar in the water. If borderline, e-mail one of the brighter contributors and ask his or her opinion. If it seems acceptable, post a short statement explaining your product, bullet point the benefits, and supply a Web address where they can get further information, if relevant. Try to restrict this to 10 lines or 100 words.

♦ Replying to messages in a newsgroup and subtly saying how your product solves the problem that a user has posed is acceptable. Replies, however, carry more weight when they come from disinterested third parties who have no connection with the developers.

♦ If appropriate, you can send a follow up e-mail to any member of the newsgroup personally who appears to have a requirement for the product you are offering. Try starting with something along the lines of, "I saw the message you posted last night. I had the same problem so many months ago and decided to do something about it . . . "

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