Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 13:35:52 -0500
Subject: Hotline Newsletter #21
Hotline Newsletter #21 - June 30, 1996
Hotline Online Newsletter Copyright 1996 Cy Stapleton. If material
is reproduced in its entirety, no prior consent is required.
Subject: The Internet
DATE: : June 30, 1996
I would first like to make a disclaimer. I may take a look at this
newsletter six months or a year down the road and say, I can't
believe I said that. However, after spending a great deal of time
on the Internet the past year, these are my observations.
I am not an expert on the Internet, though I have spent a good bit
of time on it. These are the observations of a novice who knows
just enough to be dangerous.
Martin Turnbull of PrintUSA recently noted that the Internet is
growing at about 2,500,000 new accounts per month and it has been
forecasted that by the year 2000 some 200,000,000 will be using
the Internet. Martin also noted that there are some 10,000,000 pages
now stored on the Internet and that database is growing at the rate
of 300,000 per day.
Martin's article, How important is the Internet in real life?
available from his web site, http://www.printusa.com/articles, is
several months old and those figures may have changed significantly.
I would like to take a few minutes to give you my thoughts on the
There is absolutely no question in my mind but what the Internet is a
wonderful tool. I also feel there is a great deal of hype that probably
cannot be justified.
I receive regular inquiries from promoters of web sites wanting me to
align myself with them. They use as examples such things as You will
receive thousands of hits daily on your site, and This is without
question the easiest way to make the largest number of sales, etc.,
I seriously question those facts. With that in mind, I personally
have limited my pages to Martin's PrintUSA and Dr. Terry Montgomery's
PrinterNet. While many of my articles appear on other sites like the
NAQP Publications area on AOL, it is very time consuming to maintain
a web page and it is also time consuming to work with managers of
your web page. You simply don't have the time to work with dozens of
different site managers. I have been negligent in updating mine
because of the time constraint. That was my reason for selecting
these two groups to work with. They are dedicated to my industry,
they are on the leading edge of two different approaches, and they
are easy to work with.
Martin's approach is World Wide Web specific and Terry's is that of
a huge BBS that is linked to the Internet - all data being maintained
in-house. I don't fully understand all of the technical aspects, but
both work well.
When you hear about the thousands of daily hits on a web site you
must keep in mind that there are a handful of major players who
receive large numbers of daily hits. However, the vast majority of
the sites receive relatively few hits. A hit is not someone who
stops and goes through your page and reads what you have to say but
rather someone who found a keyword that hits their hot button and
they click on your site. Once they hit your site they may stay and
look around or may instantly go back to check their next search hit.
I recently ran across a really nice web site that had a little block
at the bottom of the first screen noting that since October 1965 I
was the 113th caller. I immediately exited that site and then
accessed it again. The block showed that I was the 114th caller -
far from thousands of hits each day. Another thing to consider.
When you log onto a site and see that you are the 10,728th caller,
keep in mind that while that number is incremented by one with each
hit, the web page manager could have padded that number by entering
any starting number. His first caller could have been displayed as
If you are going to have a web page there are a couple of things to
keep in mind. First and most important, how fast does your page come
up? You can have a prize-winning and beautifully designed page that
is full of graphics that may take 10 minutes to generate on the
callers screen. You can bank on the fact that unless your keyword
indicates that your site has something the caller absolutely must
have, he will immediately exit and try the next page. When I search
the WWW I am looking for information - not beautiful graphics. The
best pages I run across are primarily text based with icons you can
click on if you want to see a particular graphic. These come up very
Secondly, you must be listed with ALL of the various search engines
and you must put a great deal of thought into the limited number of
keywords you are allowed. You will have to allow up to several months
before those search engines approve and enter you in their database.
That brings us to how I feel your company can benefit from the
If a caller can't find you, he will never see that page you spent so
much time and/or money working on. I feel that the Internet offers
some wonderful opportunities to printers. But, I need to qualify that
You are going to have to promote your web site. With the millions of
pages already on the WWW and more coming on line daily, it will be
very difficult to find you. As an example, if you search for
Printers you will find thousands of them.
I feel that where you will benefit is make every one of your customers
aware of your URL or address. It, along with your e- mail address,
should be printed on everything that leaves your shop - business cards,
invoices, letterheads, advertising pieces, etc. If you do this, you
can have a silent salesperson working for you 24-hours a day.
Keep graphics on the page itself to a minimum so it comes up fast.
Have something really interesting that you change regularly - either
weekly or monthly - on the order of a brief newsletter. Have some
humor or trivia, mention specials, promote or give a pat-on-the-back
to your customers, etc. Give them a reason to bookmark you and make
regular return visits.
Don't expect to substantially increase your sales via the Internet by
just sitting back and waiting for something to happen. The probability
of that happening is not great. You are going to have to promote your
site just like you promote your business in other ways.
Get your customers started to send you files via Internet. Terry
Montgomery at PrinterNet has mastered this. You can have customers
either upload or download files.
Link your website with other similar but non-competing sites. That way
you have a way of easily increasing your number of hits. As an example,
many of the items I offer for sale are of medieval and renaissance
festival interest. I am happy to link my page with others who have the
same interest - as an example an English page that specializes in brass
rubbings from the Stratford-on- Avon area. Also be sure to have a link
to your e-mail address.
List your web site with all of the search engines. You will find the
information on how to do that hidden somewhere behind one of the icons
on that particular search engine's page. Reciprocate by having a link
to those search engines which you are listed with.
Set up an Infoserver where callers can automatically receive documents
via e-mail. To see how this works, try e-mailing my Infoserver at
email@example.com. In the Subject or Topic area of your e-mail
type INDEX. Infoserver ignores anything that is in the message area.
Send the e-mail and shortly you will receive an e-mail message that has
an index of the documents you can retrieve. To order a document, simply
put that document's keyword in the Subject or Topic area of your e-mail
software and send the message. Shortly that document will be e-mailed
to you automatically.
You can also have an automatic fax-back if you have documents with
graphics that you want your customers to receive.
There are many more possibilities for you to explore, but keep in mind
that this is only one other available tool for you to use in the
promotion of your business. It isn't the pot of gold at the end of the
In closing, there are a couple of very important things to consider
when setting up your web page. Most important you need a plan. A web
page is not a billboard. It must have a purpose. What do you want to do
with it? I screwed up pretty bad with my first page. I thought I knew
what I wanted but when I saw it it was nothing like what I really wanted.
I went back to square one and did some re-working and now it's exactly
what I want - today. Its purpose is to inform and to sell and it's
beginning to work.
I would appreciate any input from readers as to your experience.
Til next time, God bless you and yours...
For additional information that is more technically valuable than what
I am capable of providing, I can highly recommend either Martin at
PrintUSA or Terry at PrinterNet. They are both very knowledgeable,
know our industry, and you can depend upon them for straight answers.
Not unlike myself, both feel that the only dumb question is the
question you don't ask.
The URL for PrintUSA is http:\\www.printusa.com
The URL for PrinterNet is http:\\printer-net.com
Return to Crouser index at PrintUSA
Wednesday, July 03, 1996 4:06:04