Bookreview of "Poor Richards Internet Marketing Promotions" (How to promote yourself, your business, your ideas online) written by Peter Kent and Tara Calishain published by Top Floor Publishing ISBN 0-9661032-7-0.
Peter Kent sub-subtitled his newest book together with Tara Calsihain "Geek-free commonsense advice on getting the word out in cyberspace", which fits the content of the book very well.
The authors have gained a reputation from their prior books. Peter is responsible for "Complete Idiot's Guide to the Internet", "Poor Richard's Web Site" and 35 other books about computers and business, while Tara has written the "Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research".
The writing style of the book is profound, easy to read, and still manages to keep your attention all the way through. It is separated into 5 parts with 19 chapters. Within those chapters you learn everything you need to know about website promotion and marketing, with many things explained step-by-step from the authors' own experiences.
It is written for the novice as well the advanced. There are some valuable topics covered with ideas and tips that have been new to me, which might be new to you as well.
Chapter one focuses on general aspects and explanations of how to set goals in marketing and use that knowledge later in your promotion effort. In the next chapter, general terms are explained and the authors take a look at useful software that is available and where you can get it. To face the problem that the links might get old and outdated, there will be a page soon at the book's web site that keeps all of the actual links. In the third chapter, there is an optional section on web basics.
An intensive checklist of what to look for when searching out a potential webhost is included. Ten pages of information about shopping carts and what is important with them round this chapter out. The first part of the book ends with a description of resources about finding your targets, using search engines in a professional way, and promotion resources for all type of media.
Now after covering all the important things first that one has to know when one is on the web, we head to the more practical part, the registration process. All the important parts are covered, what to avoid when building your site, what is useful, information about meta tags, etc.
Something I really missed from this wealth of information was a mention of the robots.txt.
However, links to find more information about robots in general and the usage of the robots.txt file is listed. And although not every search engine is covered (there are now too many), the best of them are included with everything you need to know on how to get your site listed effectively.
If you have done serious search engine promotion before, you will already be regulary visiting those sites, as well as ones mentioned on evolt.org's mailing list. You learn when you should submit by hand, buy a service, or use software, and the pros and cons of each method.
In chapter seven the authors talk about getting certified or assurances as well as awards and alliances. Descriptions of labels, ratings, and awards lists are well laid out. Chapter 8 is called "Other places to register your site".
The book teaches you about promoting in newsgroups and mailing lists, including the basics of how to create a (good) signature, finding the right forums to post to, and assistance for how to write a message without spreading spam. For newcomers, how to behave on discussion lists is included. Do you know how to write an effective ad without spamming? The authors tell you the tricks about it. Furthermore, how to use grass roots and guerilla marketing methods and what they mean is explained.
Peter and Tara show the secrets of making newsletters and discussion groups for free, with all the practical tips and advice one can ask for (layout, content, distribution, software, resources, pay services and reviews). Also included are resources to publicize your newsletter, how to find interested readers, how to moderate, and finally what you have to keep in mind in terms of copyright and selling advertising.
Chapter 12, "Advertising Your Site," has a very interesting opener. It makes clear from the beginning, that what most people commonly think of web advertising (sure way of driving traffic..) is not true. This is a very honest start to get readers to understand how things are. However, the authors give us hope again, "..advertising can work, if you do not pay too much attention to people pushing banner ads."
After the basics "what is a cpm," banner swaps and where to find them, we learn how much to pay for banner ads and if they are worth it. A good explanation of how to place your ad, click-throughs, and e-mail advertising finish this chapter.
The next chapter, "Affiliate programs!," is very interesting, because Peter, one of the authors, wrote another book about CDnow, and how they reached where they are today. "But many site owners are happy to put up an affiliate link to a site selling a product they like, even if they only get enough to buy a beer or two each month." So do affiliate programs work? Basically yes, it depends on what site you are on. Would it not be much more interesting to offer your own affiliate program than just to participate in one? (Do not worry, if you really just want to be part of an affiliate system, there are enough ways listed where you can do it and what to look for.)
The first good tip is to make sure that the shopping-cart system you use has its own affiliate part. Otherwise the programs might not work properly or are hard to get fixed.
Some other ideas: - Be active and encouraging - give away specials - let your affiliates also use their accounts to buy from you - submit your affiliates' sites to search engines - additional services - regular email contact.
From CDnow's own experience: Did you know they gave away a Van Halen drumhead to the affiliate who sold the most of a new album? The winner (naturally, a Van Halen fan site) sold $10.000 worth of the albums!
After the next chapter, tracking results and responding, we have reached part four of the book, e-mail PR. Another chapter for newcomers follows, e-mail basics (explanations of cc, bc).
An important thing about PR is to reach journalists. The authors tell us about the task of finding editors, contacting them and staying in touch with them. But how do you do that? The book explains how to do it yourself the right way or how to find a service that will contact journalists for you, depending on how much time and money you have for business. Resources to build your own contact list, if you prefer the first option, are included. I tested them, and I found only one that was really outdated, the other resources are fine. What is a press release? How do I write one? 16 pages of good advice will give you the answers.
Now in part 5, "Outside the Internet," this well written book comes to an end. After all your efforts to get your word out online, did you ever think of real-world promotions? The initial thought might be you need big bucks to do this successfully but the authors show you how to avoid that. In a previous life, Peter sold books door to door, so he knows what to look for when selling. The last chapter of this book, "Not all the rules have changed," sums up essential things to know when you want to sell. Peter's prior experiences cover this well. You are left with clear expectations, a very good thing in my opinion.
Too many books these days try to sell by promising the reader and buyer the world just to get bought, and if you are later disappointed, no one cares.
This book leaves you with a good feeling about what could work and what not and why. I would recommend it to everyone starting in the web business right away. If you know all your technical books and look for an easy to read book about promotion and Internet marketing, this one could get you started. I can also imagine this book for someone with a sales background and hardly any web experience as a very good way to learn how to apply what he knows on the Internet.
For $29.95 it is worth every cent, and is also very useful as a quick reference just in case. For more information about it, the authors, promo chapters and ordering, visit Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions.