Some final suggestions

1. Before you build your web page, write an 'on-line marketing plan.' You may already have a business plan, but you'll need a new one for the web. It's a different world with different rules and unique challenges. You'll stand a much better chance of succeeding if you plan thoroughly before you put a single byte of information on-line.

2. Look for on-line alliances. One of the best ways to spread awareness about your site is to form alliances with other website owners. Get them to plug your page on their page - and include a link - in exchange for doing the same for them. Also, ask customers to place an ad for your site on their web pages. Offer them a commission on each sale that comes to you via their personal site. This is called Associate Marketing. Amazon.com is already doing this, as are many others. If you can get a couple of hundred - or a couple of thousand - people out there to help promote your site, you potentially gain all their traffic added to your own.

3. Don't forget about newsgroups and forums. Just name a subject matter, and you can bet there's a discussion group out there sharing information about it in a newsgroup, or list forum. Joining such groups can help you find new customers, and you can also post your own messages which, if you craft them carefully, can bring new traffic to your site. Be very careful! Blatant advertising in a newsgroup or list is one of the most serious breeches of Netiquette! References to your website must be extremely subtle, in context with the flow of the conversation, and must definitely not be viewed as advertising. If they are, you'll get kicked off the site, and you'll get a backlash of bad chatter about your site.

4. But newsgroups and forums are just too rich a market to ignore. Better still, they are tightly defined markets. An on-line forum for classic car enthusiasts is a guaranteed source of people interested in buying automobile related products. Match up what you sell with an online discussion group, and you have identified a potential gold mind of customers.

5. One more thing about this: try 'lurking.' Lurking is simply logging on to an on-line forum and reading all the postings. You'll learn a tremendous amount about what your market is thinking and talking about. You may also find many e-mail addresses of potential customers. You can contact them with a personal e-mail, which starts off as a discussion, and which can lead slowly and subtlety to a plug for your business.

6. Don't forget to advertise and promote your site off-line.

In this chapter, I have only touched on the enormous potential and challenges of Internet marketing. I urge you to dig in deeper and learn more. I am certain no one can afford to ignore the exciting power and opportunities provided by the World Wide Web, even if it only means adding support to your current bricks-and-mortar operation. Indeed, the web-based business model may be destined to be the dominant one in the near future. It's not there yet, and we need to take a serious lesson from the early dot.com disasters. But with this painful but valuable lesson behind us, we are poised to make the Brave New World of web-based marketing all it promises to be. Those who take the lead and do the best are going to get incredibly rich - no doubt about it!

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