Steak or Sizzle Sales or Teaching?
April 2, 2001

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Reaching Great Minds Online
April 2, 2001 Issue #83
Mike Valentine, Editor,

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Steak or Sizzle?
by Mike Banks Valentine

Three years ago I was struck with the sudden inspiration to offer a
free small business ecommerce tutorial and reserved my second great
domain name, WebSite101 was born from a desire to help educate
the small business ecommerce entrepreneur on how to establish an
effective web presence. I had studied the process myself for months.
I'd purchased multiple courses written by the well known web gurus
of the day and studied them tirelessly. I took courses at my local
community college, I took courses online for free, I took paid online
courses and then I wrote pages and pages of web copy and posted all
of my newfound knowledge online for the good of the Little Guy.

Well now what? I had to get the word out about my wonderful new
course and began to study search engine positioning. With a nearly
maniacal fervor, I learned about metatags and keyword density and
how to submit to the search engines and directories. Purchasing more
courses and learning from experts and more gurus and making my own
mistakes as I progressed along the path to web Nirvana.

I called a professional copywriter friend and asked her for her opinion
on the finished site. She kindly read it through and met me for lunch
the following day with one question. "Why are you giving that great
information away? You ought to charge for it!"

OK she doesn't get the web. Everything is free online. But she kept
repeating the question, "Why don't you charge for it?" I explained
patiently that it was all about traffic and once I gained enough of
that, I'd be able to charge for advertising! She shook her head as she
left the restaurant on the way to her next appointment. She charges
for her writing and sells her knowledge for a living.

My next lesson learned was online press releases and I came across
the opportunity to distribute my own PR to small business publishers
and news sites. It worked wonderfully and I suddenly found myself
with a blurb in the December, 1999 Entrepreneur Magazine and an
article in Oracle Magazine! They liked it! They really LIKED it!

I went back to polishing and improving the site, launching a news-
letter in March of 1999 called the WebSite101 Reading List. It had
become common knowledge that in order to create visitor loyalty,
WebSite101 must gain that magic "Top of Mind Awareness" I had
learned about while studying under Dr. Michel Fortin, "The Success
Doctor." He was charging for the information I was giving away.

Well, he could do that, but I was going to give it away for the good
of the small business world. Then I saw an infomercial offering a
course on how to get your small business online and selling it for
"$100 plus monthly hosting fees for your own online business!"

I considered buying their course and mastering this thing once and
for all. But then I listened to what was being offered and realized
that I already knew what they were going to teach me. HMMMMM.

The following week I bought a new ebook and quickly devoured it
thinking I'd discover the "Real Secret" and then I noticed that I
already knew what was in that ebook and wondered why I had paid
for it. There must be something more, so I kept seeking the answer
to share with the world. It was then that I learned about sales copy
and selling the sizzle, not the steak. It was after I saw the same
sales copy on multiple web sites selling more internet secrets
that I came to a startling realization.

I was a teacher, not a salesman. The same information in different
hands became either Steak or Sizzle. I had known that simple fact
when I decided to teach at a local community college rather than
creating infomercials to SELL the SIZZLE. Now my path became
clear. Education was where my skills were best used and not Sales.

What this all boils down to is that WebSite101 was about teaching
and not about selling. Yes we will now begin to charge for the infor-
mation that was once free. But it will take (the original) form of a
college course and not an infomercial. WebSite101 is happy to announce
our formal introduction of a paid course offered through an accredited
online distance education portal.

Our current 2200 members will be grandfathered in and allowed
access to the WebSite101 campus and given a thank-you gift of
our new ebook, made up of collected articles from the WebSite101
Reading List. New members will pay tuition and buy the ebook.

Stay tuned for further updates and your free ebook download URL.
WebSite101 has graduated to an accredited intstitution of higher
learning and would like to thank the nearly 750,000 students who
have passed through our classroom in the last three years.

WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet
Subscribe address
articles available:


Protect Yourself from Being Called a Spammer
by Glen Palo 2001

The purpose of this article is to help website owners, writers,
internet marketers to protect themselves from being accused of

Anyone that has a website, webpage or electronic newsletter and
communicates using email, publishes articles or promotes their
URL can be accused of being a spammer.

First, knowledge is the first step to prevention. Unfortunately,
to date there is no official or agreed upon definition of what
constitutes spam.

The internet today is the result of the collaborative efforts of
the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IETF is a large open
international community of network designers, operators, vendors,
and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet
architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. These are
the guys that write the guidelines (RFC) and standards to which
everyone adheres to make the internet function. They wrote the
Netiquette Guidelines (RFC1855). For more info, visit

The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE)
according to their website ( was created by
netizens to advocate for a legislative solution to the problem of
UCE (a/k/a "spam"). Unfortunately, they do not specifically
define spam other than provide a list of characteristics of email
sent by unreputable marketers promoting pyramid schemes, chain
letters, etc.

From my research, I have concluded that spam has been defined as
junk email, unsolicited bulk email (UBE), unsolicited commercial
email (UCE), unrequested email and more.

Here is a quick check list of things that would possibly be
considered spam:

=>Sending advertisements, solicitations, or any type of mailing
that was not requested (even if only sent to a single person)

=>Posting advertisements for your web site in news groups,
bulletin boards, or any other public medium where such posts are
not appropriate

=>Having other people do either of the above.

Most Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies are
anti-spam. They have to be because of the severe consequences
of being labeled tolerant of spam, and, particularly being listed
on the Realtime Blackhole List maintained by Mail Abuse
Prevention System LLC (MAPS).

According to the MAPS website at, they
are a not-for-profit California organization whose mission is
to defend the Internet's e-mail system from abuse by spammers.
Their principal means of accomplishing this mission is by
educating and encouraging ISP's to enforce strong terms and
conditions prohibiting their customers from engaging in abusive
e-mail practices.

ISPs that share MAPS concerns about the harm caused by spam often
request access to MAPS' databases so that they can decide whether
to block email which originates from the listed sites.

Consequently, ISPs have to fear being listed by MAPS if they are
not aggressive in combating spam. As a result, many ISPs will
shoot first and ask questions later when one of their clients
is accused of spamming.

How do you protect yourself from spam complaints?

First and foremost find an ISP or hosting company that takes a
proactive approach to spam complaints. Review their Acceptable
Use Policy (AUP) or Terms of Service (TOS). If the AUP or TOS
does not state how or what their process is for handling spam
complaints, ASK! Also ask them about their attitude regarding
SpamCop. It appears that SpamCop is becoming the defacto spam
clearing house.

When an ISP or hosting company receives a spam complaint, their
policy should be to diligently, and swiftly investigate the
reported incident. They should make every attempt to determine
the actual origin of an email, as well as the intention before
making a determination. Their policy should be to issue a
warning first.

If you have an opt-in, opt-out mailing list, it should not be a
problem. Even then the possibility does exist for someone to
"forget" that they opted in. Using a double opt-in method list
is ideal for maintaining opt-in lists. The request to be added
to a list is submitted and then the submitter has the requirement
to confirm the request prior to actually being placed on the
mailing list.

People writing articles for publication in electronic newsletters
should be particularly careful in selecting their ISPs and hosting
companies. The possibility exists that an article could be
published in a newsletter that someone claims to be spam.

In short, there isn't a set, specific method of determining how
someone will react to a mailing, however using common sense, and
reading as much as possible about the pitfalls of spam, should
steer readers clear of any major problems.

Some links readers may find helpful:

Glen Palo has published the Achieve USA Home Business Journal since
1998. For a subscription, please visit
For more information on protecting yourself from spam complaints
send an email to



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Copyright 2000 Mike Valentine

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  June 10, 2001