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Rattling The Cages Of The Local Internet Industry Since 1995

 
Disclaimer:
From time to time people forget that this column is nothing more or less than the opinion of the writer. While I do my best to base this column on actual people and events -- I can't guarantee that any or all you read here is true. If I've written about you or your company and you feel aggrieved then I suggest you simply drop me a Right Of Reply and I'll see to it that your comments or criticisms are given equal billing.

For The Week Ending August 5 1999

Another Internet Marketing Expert?
There's nothing to stop anyone from hanging up their shingle as an "Internet Marketing Expert" these days -- and many do.

While some of those who make such a bold claim are able to back up their words with proof, others tend to be more than a little short on evidence to back up their bragging.

What astounds me most about so many of the "experts" that appear out of the woodwork is their somewhat unusual past -- often bearing no relationship at all to the field of Internet marketing, let alone any other kind of marketing.

We all know about the (now) infamous Danny De Hek who first came to prominence in this column but there are plenty of challengers to his "Internet Marketing Expert" crown -- and this week I found the newest contender.

Let me start by saying that some of what this guy says is true -- albeit pretty much just commonsense. Some of his other claims however must be open to question.

First let me direct you to the web site of Mike Masters, "Internet Marketing Specialist."

Or perhaps that should be -- the web site of Mike Masters, "Master Hypnotist."

Or maybe it should be -- the web site of Mike Masters, AKA "Cookie The Clown."

And maybe, just maybe... could Mike Masters be the stage name of one Shayne Thompson whose IHUG homepage looks strangely familiar and whose phone number is the same as that given for Cookie the clown.

Okay... so that was a lot of fun... but what about Mike's claims as to his marketing expertise?

Well he says he can guarantee to "show you how to achieve a TOP 10 ranking" in popular search engines. This claim is boldly topped off with "I GUARANTEE IT" in warm welcoming "blood red" size 7 font. I wonder what happens if he gets 20 people all in the same line of business attending the one seminar? I guess half will get a refund.

Like all "Internet Expurts", Mike promises to show you how to "Create and design an effective website." He proudly boasts that his own site has taken just six hours to design. Sorry Mike -- it shows!

Okay, as I pointed out at the start of this piece, much of what Mike says is commonsense. Get yourself listed in the top 10 on AltaVista or Infoseek and you will see much more traffic, that can't be denied. But what about this claim:

  • The average web site gets 100 visitors per year
    Does it? I didn't know that. Less than one visitor every three days? Where did this information come from?
And what about this.... Mike offers to do a web page or website evaluation for $275. I certainly hope that for this price he checks that all the links work. Some how I doubt it though. Why? Just try clicking on the "Seminar Schedule" link on that page. Yes, even the experts make mistakes.

But wait... there's more! You can get lots of "free stuff" from Mike's site. Yes, he'll send you "free" reports on how to start and run a home-based Internet business. Mike admits he didn't write these -- hmmm.. where have I heard about a business/scam that operates by selling "free" reports on how to run your own home-based Internet business before? Probably just a coincidence. I wonder why Mike can't just make those reports available for download rather than using a "mailto:" tag, forcing you to hand over your email address.

Of course, if you're interested in seeing what Mike Masters really looks like, and you've got time to download over half a megabyte of black and white image then you can click on the link he's thoughtfully provided on this page. Someone ought to tell Mr Masters that if he'd saved that picture as a JPEG, he'd have reduced the size by 480Kbytes!

DDH was an interior decorator who became a clown, Mike Masters is a clown who has taken up teaching people all about Internet marketing -- with the odd bit of hypnotism thrown in for good measure. So Mike Masters isn't another DDH -- but then again, he's expecting people to pay almost $300 to be told how to get their sites into the top 10. I've had plenty of spam in my email box that offers to do the same for just $39.95.

Ya makes ya choices and ya pays ya money I guess.


100% Pure NZ
The Pure NZ site has me scratching my head.

It's the long-awaited web site that is part of the Tourism Board's attempt to promote NZ into the global tourism market for the new millennium.

I'll start with the good things..

Technically I can't fault this site. It's concise, it uses Flash in a sensible manner that doesn't impede a user's access to the "meat" and doesn't make it hard for non-Flash-equipped users. It's very easy to navigate, it doesn't fall into the trap of using huge bandwidth-sapping graphics and it organises information sensibly.

In short, as a tourism portal it's pretty damned good -- I really can't complain at all.

However (you knew no Aardvark review was complete without that eh?)... the site leaves me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. It's more like a text-book than an adventure story. There's plenty of steak but no sizzle.

This is not really as much of a criticism as it might sound -- I'm the first to admit that treading the fine line between function and excessive baggage is very, very difficult. Had they decided to up the visual impact on this site then I might have found myself complaining that it was too slow or too "fluffy."

Still, I can't help feeling that it must be possible to make the site more exciting and compelling than is currently the case.

I find it surprising that for a campaign that is so strong on establishing the new and distinctive "100% Pure" branding, they didn't build a web site that was equally distinctive. Quite frankly the squarish banner/left-hand menu format and colour scheme they've used is similar to about five million other web sites. Whereas you can easily recognise sites such as Wired.com, CNET, ZDNet and AltaVista from a considerable distance by virtue of their distinctive layout and colour schemes -- this site blends into the forest of other web sites far too easily.

Still, it's good to see that they're using some of the ideas floated earlier this year when the local Net industry was mooting the idea of cooperatively creating such a site. The forums are also a good idea -- although I hope they have a moderator. Perhaps "Richie" with the xtra.co.nz email address is the moderator -- he seems to have responded to everyone who has posted anything to those forums.

The bottom line? -- A well implemented, if somewhat characterless site that meets all the technical requirements that could be required of it. All it needs is a bit of sizzle to rate a higher score but still gets a very commendable seven out of ten Aardvarks.


Right Of Reply
One Right Of Reply this week, Patrick O'Brien's comments in response to this column.

 

 

Worth A Look?
  1. PureNZ.com
    This is going to be the first thing the rest of the world sees when they hit the Web so get familiar with it.

  2. Local Ireland
    It doesn't hurt to take a look at what our Knowledge-based Economy competition is up to either.

  I Can't Believe It's True
The way your web site looks can say a lot about the way you approach your business and first impressions count for a lot.

Sometimes you have to wonder why people bother wasting their money -- unless their goal is to put people off.

Guess who got new crayons for Christmas

And such a compelling hard-sell from the Advertising dept too.

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