Steak or Sizzle, Sales or Teaching?

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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
Ezine emphasizing small business online
e-tutorial online at:
By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web!

Take A Look At Our Press Release Announcing our new Partnership with

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July 29, 2001