Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Stuff that doesn't work.

When I'm not buys writing articles about marketing and advertising on the internet -- I do have a day job, you know -- I spend my time helping clients with their marketing and advertising, on the internet and just about every place else. So a large part of my time is spent answering client questions as to what works and what doesn't work on the internet. After some time, I collected a few that I thought might interest you.

1. WIDE SCREENS ARE FOR MOVIES. Many businesses make their first mistakes at the very start of a website project, by hiring designers instead of marketing people. The problem with designers is that most of them work with 20 inch monitor screens, which means they have absolutely no problem viewing a 1,028 pixel wide home page in millions of colors. For the record, the zillions of people on the internet are using screens that can barely hold an image measuring 640 pixels across, and most of them can read only 256 colors. So forget the wide-screen thing. Limit your designer to a working space of no more than 600 -- that's right, you've got to allow about 40 pixels for browser junk -- pixels across. It'll save your viewers tons of scrolling, clicking and screen refreshing time.

2. BLINKING IS ANNOYING. Okay, so you finally learned a few cute HTML tricks, among which are little style tags that make your copy blink. If you look up "annoying' in the dictionary, you're likely to find it there. Contrary to popular notions that blinking copy attracts viewer attention, the truth is that blinking copy actually distracts viewers from the real purpose of the page. One more reason to trash your blinking tags is that it has a nasty habit of taking extra characters out of the line-up: often, the few letters following a blink tag disappear entirely.

3. UNCORK THOSE PLUG INS. Hey, you ever been down THIS road before? You log on to a really cool web site that purports to have really neat stuff. "Click Here!" it tells you, noting that you're just one touch away from the greatest thing since Cindy Crawford's workout video. You click the mouse and -- a notice pops up telling you where to go to find the plug in you're going to need to view the greatest thing since Cindy Crawford's workout video. Right. I'm going to log off the site, download the plug-in, re-boot the browser, log back on to the site after installing the plug? Man, who has time for that? Better I should click over to your competition who won't waste my time. The point here is that until various plug-ins are common-place among the vast majority of users, I don't go near them and neither should you. Sure, there are some great gimmick technologies out there, but it doesn't mean you need to use them. Especially if they're costing you business.

4. BAN THOSE BANNERS. There I said it. I know, this is going to get me in trouble with almost everyone I know, but let me just explain before you whack out your hate mail. Banners are fine for the folks who are equipped to handle them properly. But those people are few and far between for a couple of reasons. First, for banner ads to work, you've got to draw mega-volumes of viewers. If you don't draw them, whose going to pay for a banner on you site? Second, to really manage your banner program well, you've got to rotate and target them all over your ever changing content. If that's not your thing, the most you'll ever make off of banner revenue will just cover your next tab at Starbuck's. If you're serious about generating revenue, the time has come for you to get serious about developing a specialty niche and concentrating on sponsors for those niches. Get someone to plunk down bucks on a site where they have an interest of a viewer and the credibility of a long term partner. Again, just because ad banner technology is available doesn't mean it's right for you.

5. ENOUGH WITH THE STREAMING COPY. I don't know about you, but I view lots of weird pages that download in the freakiest ways. Most of the time I have to watch the document load and wait until I see a message that says, "Document Done" before I know the document has actually finished loading. So the LAST thing I want is an annoying little line of moving type that pitches me information that's already up there on the home page: "For a great pencil eraser, call Erasers-R-Us at 1-800-000-0000! Ask about our Ink Eraser 2 for 1 special!" Terrific. Exactly how much closer to the sale will a message like that move me, when it really only serves to piss me off? nine times out of ten, if I guess when the page has finished loading, I'm wrong and I have to re-load the page...while grumbling.

So why do I write about the stuff that doesn't work? Well, the way I figure it, there are thousands of public relations people smiling and dialing their way around the media, trying to convince everyone that their technologies and media are the Next Big Thing. But the fact is that very few of these NBT's ever work right out of the gate -- or even way on down the road. So it's left to guys like me to tell you what's out there and why you shouldn't buy into it. At least not yet.

After all , you're trying to build your business, not theirs. Before you access any new technology or strategy. make sure it's something that's in your interest -- not just in fashion.

Rob Frankel

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