Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Vinyl Project Update

I've been reporting on my daily blow-by-blow progress with "The Vinyl Project" over at e_Marketing. But I just want to quickly summarize a couple of things I've noticed about the exercise of posting articles.

First, it is surprising how little consistency there is from one article site to another with respect to "formatting".

Some will take html, others just want unformatted text, and some will take a mixture of text and html and then make relatively unpredictable translations. What this does is drive everything towards the lowest common denominator -- namely, text only. I have a feeling this is because of the fixation with text only "ezines" and the alleged role of these article databases in providing content for them. I will comment on the "ezine" phenomenon in a future post. For now just let me say that an article database intended to be read makes more sense to me than one that pretends to provide ezine authors with content. As you will see when I get around to writing about them, most ezines (not all!) are nothing more than sales letters. Their authors don't include real "content", nor do they want any, except to support their own sales efforts. So why would they go to an article database to pick up content?

The best examples I can think of, off the top, of article sites meant to be read, are my own sites, Click-Partners.com, Traffic-Advisor.com, and Trade Show Tips. Other interesting examples, perhaps more pertinent because they have such tremendous potential, are blogs. Now here we have "content"! Meant to be read? I'm not sure.

Anyway, back to "The Vinyl Project".... The lack of formatting consistency from site to site has meant I have had to create at least three different versions of each article: an html version, a text version, and a summary version (for at least one site that takes only an article "description" rather than the article itself.)

That's OK. It's worth it. Until further notice I still believe what I am starting to call "Article Saturation" is the best, cheapest, and fastest way to get your name, product, and (especially) links out there live and active on the web.

Getting Your Act Together

Another thing I've noticed is that creating articles in "saturation mode" -- that is, lots of them all at once -- really makes you get your promotional act together. It really forces you to figure out your products, and have decent web pages that describe them. Why? Because you can't really create links pointing to your product web pages if those web pages either don't exist, are poorly written or only partially finished.

Try it. Try writing four or five articles about different features of your primary product. And try embedding a number of links in your articles so they point back to your most important product web pages. I think you will quickly see what I mean.

Campaigns are Where It's At

One final point. I think I have said somewhere that the primary purpose of article writing and distribution is promotional. Yes, I know, these articles contain valuable information, but they are "targeted" in a way that, say, Alice in Wonderland is not. They have specific promotional objectives: to get your name out there, to identify your product, to get visitors to your website, to get links pointing to your sites and influence Google, and so on.

Therefore it stands to reason that the same tried and true formulas that apply to advertising also apply to articles. Saturation, Reach and Frequency. Distribute as many articles as you can, in as many places as you can, as often as you can.

In other words, if you think you are going to do any real damage by publishing just ONE article, there's probably no point. You need MANY articles, preferably bunched together — campaign-style — focusing on a specific product for a specific time period.

That's the theory anyway. Once I finish with my two week Banner and Trade Show Display "blitz", I should slip into "maintenance mode" — a new article every month or so. Which will give me the opportunity to do a "blitz" for some other product — for example, Linknet.

But that is next month's project.

-- Rick


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