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Thursday, May 01, 2008

The audacious entry

An argument can be made when you enter a new space/market, you can benefit by taking risks and stretching things. Take the arrival of J. Sullivan of Bankable Solutions on the forum for example.

He posted some observations, initially with a link back to his site, until he had his wrists slapped gently. after all sells advertising -- and it isn't really interested in having non-contractor businesses freeloading on the forum threads. Members of the forum are also protective of their space; they seek to help each other out but are not really interested in reading other people's self promotional stuff.

Over some months, I've learned to respect the rules of the game at and other Internet forums. They can be powerful places for marketing, but you need to respect the culture there -- and listen to the mood. Occasionally I've posted backlinks from the forum to my blog, when I believed the posting would be exceptionally interesting and relevant to forum readers. But I've proceeded cautiously, almost always asking the forum administrator to review and approve the posting before publishing it there. (It helps, of course, that without request, I also link back to the forum from this blog -- and I can track anywhere between one and three visits there from here each day.)

So why, then, do I find J. Sullivan's arrival on the scene so interesting. He wasted no time -- setting himself out as an expert -- and letting everyone know who he is with some useful tips, down-to-earth language, and enough information that some people there are already talking to him about using his marketing services. He risked things a bit, stretching to the edge the acceptable marketing boundaries, but forum participants accepted he had something useful to offer and 'voted him in'. He gained mo e marketing traction there in a few days than you might with weeks of conventional advertising, and with the leverage of multiple (qualified) readers that transcends word-of-mouth.

Internet forums should not be underrated as a marketing environment -- the communities can be passionate about their subject, receptive to new ideas, and often have the money to purchase what you have to sell. But if you want to sell stuff by participating on the forums, read the rules carefully, watch the guidelines, and then, if you are ready -- and have something useful to contribute -- don't be afraid to join the fray (and, I would argue, without fearing stretching the forum's Terms of Service and advertising/marketing guidelines). J. Sullivan's blog, by the way, is (I won't permalink it because it focuses on general marketing rather than construction-specific issues.)

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