Like a Giant Oak Tree!
September 20, 1999
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A Short Weekly Tip-Sheet for Small Business Web Masters
September 20, 1999 Issue #11
Mike Valentine, Editor,


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The Web is like a Giant Oak Tree!

by Mike Banks Valentine

I recently moved from the heart of the city to several acres in
the country. My greatest pleasures here are two massive Valley
Oaks that tower above me at the edges of my property. I love to
imagine what these trees have seen in their nearly three hundred
years anchored firmly to their spots. I measured the trunks at
the base of both trees and found one was twenty-two feet around
and the other has a thirty foot circumference!

Hang in there while I tell a story of Oaks and change on the web.
During a housewarming party we had shortly after moving here, my
brother-in-law photographed his wife beside the larger of the
oaks. Nearly all of our guests commented on the trees as they
arrived for the barbecue we had planned. They are truly magnifi-
cent specimens.

One morning recently my wife and I were awakened abruptly with
a huge POP! CRACK! WHOOSH! and finally BOOM! I leapt out of bed
and ran to the window to see a huge dust cloud swirling outside
the house! My wife was shaking and from behind me she quavered,
"Michael! What is it?" As the dust cleared I slowly made out a
huge tree branch on the ground, the leaves still rustling from
the twenty foot drop. It had fallen off of the giant oak tree!

What has this to do with small business internet and the web?
Well, believe it or not, it got me thinking about my web site,
I found out that losing branches is normal for this type of
oak tree. Each fall, the same thing happens. The similarity of
a business on the web makes a good metaphor. Changes in web
technology will inevitably come and disrupt our normal routine
online. Where we have grown used to one way of doing business,
it could change dramatically overnight. BOOM! A time honored
method of marketing falls to the ground!

I have found that portions of the content on my web site are
becoming dated and in some cases, completely inaccurate. Some
of the sites I have linked to and relied on for content have
evolved into something else or fallen down themselves. Dynamic
content replaces static pages. New, more valuable services
grow and replace the old, just as is the case on these huge
oak trees. Banner ads become less effective, e-mail marketing
grows and adds a new, vital branch to a massive tree.

Some will mourn the loss of the old branch, try to graft it
back to the tree, curse the damage it did to the flower garden
below and wail at the cost of cleaning it up. (The estimate
from the tree surgeon is $700 for trimming and clean-up!)
Others will take it as routine for the life of the tree, then
rejoice in the free firewood and look forward to re-doing the
flower bed with new varieties in the spring.

Go in search of new, more valuable and dynamic content for your
site. It can age very quickly as change outpaces tradition on
the web. My current site is less than a year old and in need of
it's second makeover! Most major sites are reworked routinely
as a way to stay healthy and keep growing as advances in tech-
nology bring new possibilities. HTML mail, streaming video,
shockwave enhanced sites, DSL and the approach of broadband web
connections will inevitably bring change to your web site.

CRACK! Call the web developer. POP! Research new resources.
WHOOSH! Sign up for more classes BOOM! Go clean up the mess!


Email Organization

by Joe Brennan

How many times do you send out the same type of email message?
Do you have a standard signature file or files that you use? How
many times do you find yourself answering the same question. How
many times are you typing out the same advertisements?

If you are offering a product or service, or several, you probably
have a standard message you send to someone who inquires. If you do
not, then you should. Maybe you have several variations and maybe
you type up a new one every time you get an inquiry. Some messages
may be short explanations referring someone to your website, others
may be full explanations with ordering instructions. Organize them!


The first thing you need to do is track how many different responses
you make. Try to put them in categories, those that are about the
same product, situation or question.

When I started actively marketing by email, I created a specific
directory on my computer's hard drive called "A-replies" where I
file all my individual templates of messages. Why didn't I just call
it "replies"? I wanted it up near the top of my directories so I
could get to it quicker, without having to scroll all the way down
to the "r's". I create a template for any message I send out on a
repetitive basis. If there are five variations, I save five. Just
name them distinctively so you know what they are.

Let's say you have many of the same or similar questions to a
particular product. You can type out the answer to this common
question in your word processor or your email program. Once you
have completed this letter (the answer or sales letter) Save it as
a text file on your hard drive.

The next time someone asks you that question or one close to it you
can now reply very quickly.


To do this all that needs to be done is to open your word processor
or email program (the one used to create this answer letter.) Copy
and paste the stock response into your e-mail and send the reply.


When you identify those that you use over and over again, save each
as a separate name in you "A-replies" folder. Again, you can save
these in files in your email program or in your word processor. If
you send out three variations of the same answer then save all three.
Why keep re-doing it. That wastes a lot of time. You can save the
same variation as 1 - 2 and 3.

The first time I make up a marketing message or an answer to a
question and realize that I will be using it over and over, I save
it in my "A-replies" file. When I have to use it in an email, I just
open the file, copy it and paste it into the email message. Quick
and efficient!

Think about how many categories you can do this for. Another example
may be create pre-written ads and keep them in a folder called"A-ads".
Many places on the web have different ad formats. Three line ads,
500 character max, 50 word ads, 20 words or less and others. Why try
to modify your ad each time the situation arrives? each time you need
a new format type it in your word processor first. save it as the "50
word ad" or whatever it really is. Then when you need it again it is
right there for easy copying and pasting.

Article by Joe Brennan -- IC Publishing
Interweb Classifieds
(Joe Brennan owns various on-line businesses and has
over 4 years of successful experience. Feel free to
copy this article and forward in it's entirety (including
this disclaimer) to people you feel can use it.



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Copyright 1999 Mike Valentine

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