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Another Month Wasted 7 August 2000 Edition
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Well here we are, now into the second week of August and our transition to a knowledge-based economy is no closer.

Sure, the government has tidied up some decidedly rough edges on the proposed new Employment Relations Bill -- but it's hard to give them credit for simply making a big mistake into a slightly smaller one.

While the current administration may be crowing over the low unemployment figures, they're carefully ignoring the fact that the number of people in full-time employment has also dropped -- perhaps a symptom of all those skilled workers who are fleeing for greener pastures?

That's all I have to say on the subject -- until next month -- when I suspect that nothing will have changed except that we'll be even further from becoming a prosperous nation powered by 21st century industries.

Marketing Your Website
Today -- the last few tips on how to drive traffic to your website.

Usenet. If you've never heard of it then it's probably best described as a kind of public bulletin board system where people can post messages that are able to be read by anyone else with a similar interest.

Usenet contains literally tens of thousands of special interest groups called newsgroups. These frequently have names such as nz.politics or rec.models.rc.helicopter which make it fairly easy to see what kind of discussion they will contain.

While no where near as popular as the world-wide web, usenet can still provide you with valuable access to a new audience of (if you choose your groups wisely) a highly targeted nature.

But first -- a word of warning: Do not post blatant advertising to newsgroups!.

Doing so will get your arse kicked all the way into the middle of next week -- and may even result in the loss of your Internet access account. Commercial postings to most newsgroups are frowned on in very much the same way as bulk email spam.

However, all is not lost. If you have the time, you can participate in some of the discussions going on in a relevant group -- perhaps offering the benefit of your own experience or knowledge in a positive manner. This participation can be leveraged to your commercial advantage by including a brief promotion in your signature (a few lines automatically appended to the end of each message you post).

Once again, there are some rules to observe. Your signature should never be more than four lines in length and you must not use HTML or one of microsoft's daft business-card attachments in your message.

Believe me, usenet can be extremely effective at reaching what tends to be a very active and verbal part of the Internet community at little or no cost.

And, if you don't have the time or skills to do this yourself, why not rent someone else's signature? Find someone who is already active in the newsgroups where you'd like to create some awareness and offer them some money or other value in return for them including the URL of your website in their signature. Of course you should make sure that they're sensible and intelligent rather than stupid and arrogant -- since their behaviour and attitudes will reflect directly on your site.

Remembering that most usenet messages are automatically distributed all around the world and, in the case of the more popular groups, may be read by hundreds of thousands of Net users, paying someone a fist-full of pocket change to add a single line to their signature might be very cheap advertising.

And finally -- don't forget your business card and letterhead. Although most people have wised-up to the fact that they need to include their email address and the URL of their website on all their printed material, I still see too many companies who are either working from stationary that was printed decades ago or who have forgotten all about it.

The End... Or Is It
Well that's it, those are all the tips I'm prepared to give away for free -- but I'm the first to admit that neither I, nor anyone else has all the answers to effective marketing on the Internet.

The Net, the technology on which it's based and the people who use it are all changing at a break-neck pace -- and that means that marketing strategies must also continue to adapt to harness the full potential of this exciting medium.

If you have an interesting online marketing story -- either success or failure, please contact me and let me know.

NZ's Public e-Companies
I'm planning to do a bit of a round-up of the investment opportunities available to NZers in the form of local publicly listed e-companies -- their performance to date and prospects for the future.

Are NZ's e-Companies a sensible place to invest your money? Do they really have a clue? Is their management e-savvy? Would your money be better placed in a US-based blue-chip?

I can state here and now that I own no shares in any of the publicly listed companies involved so it won't be a pump'n dump article ;-)

If anyone has anything they'd like considered for this article then please let me know.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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