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View Full Version : August 2003: Funding an Online Presence



Rob
08-20-03, 01:29 PM
<h3 align="center">Funding an Online Presence</h3><img src="/images/columns/wheelspin/wheel_rob.gif" width="175" height="85" border="1" alt="wheelspin column" align="left" /><font size="+3"><b>I</b></font> know it's been quite a while since I have written an editorial, but with everything that I've had going on this year, my time has been pretty limited. I'm hoping to change that and get back into writing a monthly editorial column again.

While cruising through other automotive related forum web sites, I've been intrigued on how the site owners handle company advertising on their site and forum participation from companies that do and don't advertise on their web sites.

Based upon my observations, it seems like there are two distinct camps that have evolved:<ol type="1">
<li><b>"Care-Free":</b> This type of group runs a free-for-all type of community where anyone and everyone can advertise their wares and services.</li>

<li><b>"Protective":</b> This group tends to abide by strict rules where "supporting vendors" who pay to advertise on the site and in the forums are protected by the owners of the site by preventing non-paying companies from advertising their business to the forum members.</li>
</ol>Both groups tend to be pretty vocal in their beliefs.

The "Care-Free" group believes that everything on the web should be free to anyone and everyone while the "Protective" group tends to want to protect those who help support their web site.

In some forums, both groups end up clashing, members leave, and the "Protective" site is given a "snobbish attitude" from the members who jumped ship.

While both groups have both valid and invalid points, I have found that the "Care-Free" group is a bit disillusioned in their thinking.

<b>Nothing is for free and you get what you pay for. </b>

This is one of the largest misunderstandings I have seen on the web.

The web is not free. Someone - everyone pays for it. Someone has to pay for the servers, the routers, and overall hardware. Someone has to pay for the software to run it all. In some cases, those expenses, can be quite high.

If the owner of the site is providing key data/information and a venue for people to partcipate in, why would you expect the site owner to do it all for free?

When you want to open up an office for your business, or start a coffee shop, do you buy/lease the property, or do you go to the property owner and expect them to give you something for nothing. Chances are, if you do, you'll be laughed right out the door. The same goes for web sites and electronic data which is basically nothing more than intellectual property.

Depending on the nature of the site, if data is provided, or software is used to run a particular part of that site, someone has to pay for that software and someone has to pay for the time it took to input and organize that data.

It all basically boils down to "time" and in the business world we live in, "time is money."

I've also seen some people make the remark of: "it doesn't cost much to run a web site." That leads me to ask, how much research did you really do before making that statement?

It doesn't take much research to realize that depending on where you host, what type of servers you use, bandwidth consumption, etc., you can spend anywhere from $5.00 per month to $500.00 per month.

If you run a popular web site that is getting over 5,000,000 unique visitors per month and your site is lightning quick powered by solid database and hardware architecture, the site owner is going to pay for it BIG TIME.

So always remember that while anyone can start a web site on a shoestring budget, "you get what you pay for".

<b>"He said, she said, they can't do that."</b>

While the vendors that do pay to support a site, have every right to voice their opinions when an unsuspecting vendor joins the forums and starts to advertise without paying for support, as a site owner, where do you draw the line and establish guidelines that everyone can agree to?

The problem then boils down to members helping members. If Member A tells Member B about a great deal that a non-supporting vendor is carrying, should the supporting vendor, a direct competitor to the non-supporting vendor, cry fowl and complain?

Personally, I don't think so.

In my opinion, that is what competition is all about and it gets to the root of our country and what it stands for.

Lets look at an example:

If Vendor A (non-supporting) offers a product or service cheaper than Vendor B (supporting), which vendor would you buy that product from? Chances are, you're going to go to Vendor A because being the frugal person that you are, you want to save as much money as possible.

If Vendor B has a hard time accepting that, then it would seem logical that Vendor B needs to rethink their business strategy in terms of connecting with their customer and making the sale.

In summary, the web is nothing short of amazing. It has literally revolutionized how we think, how we work and how we interact with one another. While the web is somewhat invisible to most of us, always remember someone is paying for what you are seeing on your computer screen.

Unless the site owner is a multi-millionaire, with extremely deep pockets, the site owner needs to do all he or she can do to protect the best interests of the companies that have given that web site a chance by paying to advertise and help support the online presence of that web site.

Comments? Post them here. :)

RedRagTop
08-20-03, 02:42 PM
It wouldn't bother me to contribute in some financial way, perhaps with the condition that contributers are recognized in some particular way under their avatar or something. I will buy a polo shirt for sure. Remember when you posted that April fool's joke about shutting down due to the financial burden of operating the site? You got a lot of offers before people clued in to the joke. Nice "fishing" expedition and it worked!
Expanded merchandise (coffee mugs, mouse pads, bumper stickers etc. would help but would require investment of capital) may bring in extra coin.
I'll send in a few bucks to help offset costs, that's only fair. I make too much damn money anyways...:beer

Rob
08-20-03, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by RJSROCKET
It wouldn't bother me to contribute in some financial way, perhaps with the condition that contributers are recognized in some particular way under their avatar or something. I will buy a polo shirt for sure. Remember when you posted that April fool's joke about shutting down due to the financial burden of operating the site? You got a lot of offers before people clued in to the joke. Nice "fishing" expedition and it worked!
Expanded merchandise (coffee mugs, mouse pads, bumper stickers etc. would help but would require investment of capital) may bring in extra coin.
I'll send in a few bucks to help offset costs, that's only fair. I make too much damn money anyways...:beer Thanks, but really, that's not necessary. If you want to support us, feel free to purchase something out of the ProShop or visit the web site of one of the companies that pays to advertise here. :)

As for donating to help support, and recognition being given under your avatar, that option will be available with the next generation of forum software that we'll be installing here. I kind of have mixed feelings about implementing such a system here. It's definitely food for thought in the future though.

By the way, that is an awesome picture of your Vette in your signature!

Patrick
08-20-03, 02:50 PM
Rob,
First of all, thank you for giving these wheelspin editorials a better location right at the top of the forum page. I enjoyed reading them, but where they were previously was a bit buried.

Regarding your Vendor A/Vendor B analogy, I agree with you. Vendor B may be paying to advertise on a site, but that doesn't change the fact that he's in a competitive business. If he wants market share, merely advertising isn't going to guarentee that, nor should it. It comes down to the value a customer receives for the product or service that customer is buying. If they place a higher value on Vendor A's product or service (which includes not just purchase price, but service after the sale, attention to details, etc.), Vendor B needs to get in there and compete more directly with Vendor A, not complain that he's losing customers.

Regarding the Care-free vs. Protective community debate, I guess I don't necessarily have a preference. From my perspective, the thing that bothers me are sites that allow pop-up ads, and I don't know if care-free communities are better at stopping that than protective communities. Not being someone who runs my own website/community, I guess because I don't see the cost to operate side of the equation, I'm blind to the difference.

-Patrick

RedRagTop
08-20-03, 02:57 PM
[i]

By the way, that is an awesome picture of your Vette in your signature! [/B]


Thanks. Can you believe I got it for about $6000.00 US plus an older ski-doo trade?

Rob
08-20-03, 09:50 PM
Originally posted by CORed91
Rob,
First of all, thank you for giving these wheelspin editorials a better location right at the top of the forum page. I enjoyed reading them, but where they were previously was a bit buried.

Regarding your Vendor A/Vendor B analogy, I agree with you. Vendor B may be paying to advertise on a site, but that doesn't change the fact that he's in a competitive business. If he wants market share, merely advertising isn't going to guarentee that, nor should it. It comes down to the value a customer receives for the product or service that customer is buying. If they place a higher value on Vendor A's product or service (which includes not just purchase price, but service after the sale, attention to details, etc.), Vendor B needs to get in there and compete more directly with Vendor A, not complain that he's losing customers.

Regarding the Care-free vs. Protective community debate, I guess I don't necessarily have a preference. From my perspective, the thing that bothers me are sites that allow pop-up ads, and I don't know if care-free communities are better at stopping that than protective communities. Not being someone who runs my own website/community, I guess because I don't see the cost to operate side of the equation, I'm blind to the difference.

-Patrick

Thanks Patrick. I did have them buried for a while but wanted to resurrect them.

In the case of pop-up ads, depending on the hosting provider and the hosting plan you go with, pop-up ads can be avoided. With companies that offer free web sites, usually comes pop up ads and you can't avoid them. The majority of the times, the owner of the site has makes the choice to either run pop ups or not.

Because of the "in your face" aggressiveness of pop-ups, they do tend to have a high click through ratio which is what companies are trying to cash in on.

Personally, I find them totally annoying which is why, you'll never see them on this site.

Tom Bryant
08-22-03, 01:18 PM
Great editorial Rob. Definately food for thought. I also like that you are leading the way in bringing back the monthly editorial/columns and putting them where they are easy to find. Like you I just haven't had the time to write anything lately. My engine project is stagnent and I really need to get back on track.


Tom

reubenmc
08-22-03, 01:31 PM
Rob, Thanks for the no pop up ads. Those things tend to make me real mad.:mad

warren s
08-22-03, 01:52 PM
Rob -

Another issue with the "vendor pay sites" is, if you had a problem with a vendor that supports the site, your posts stating a negative review about said vendor seem to disapear.

Negative reports may save a fellow member the hardship you went through just as positive reports will help all.

Rob
08-22-03, 06:50 PM
Originally posted by warren s
Rob -

Another issue with the "vendor pay sites" is, if you had a problem with a vendor that supports the site, your posts stating a negative review about said vendor seem to disapear.

Negative reports may save a fellow member the hardship you went through just as positive reports will help all.

Well, I have never deleted or edited posts here that have gone against any company that's advertised here. I can't really recall any come to think of it with the exception of MidAmerica.

Last year, one of our members had a problem with MidAmerica and posted it here. It got the attention of MidAmerica. They contacted the member, apologized for the miscommunication, not only promptly corrected the problem, but compensated him for his bad experience. (Kudos to MidAmerica for this!)

I see no reason to ever prevent members from speaking negatively about a paying vendor if they have had a bad experience. In my opinion, if you run a professional company, and you have an unhappy customer, you will want to do everything you can to insure that that customer is happy provided that that customer has legitimate concerns (and they are not just trying to slam the vendor unfairly).

I've rambled on a bit here, but hopefully, I've clarified my position on this issue. If not, please let me know. :)

BLACK MOON
10-27-03, 07:44 PM
I'b be happy to pay some dues. Just let me know.

modman
10-27-03, 08:09 PM
Dues are not a bad thing. They are a way to legitimize the voices of those that care about the forum. Trial periods are good too. It is "authorized" time to learn and know the services being provided.

billagroom
10-27-03, 10:47 PM
Originally posted by Rob
Lets look at an example:

If Vendor A (non-supporting) offers a product or service cheaper than Vendor B (supporting), which vendor would you buy that product from? Chances are, you're going to go to Vendor A because being the frugal person that you are, you want to save as much money as possible.

If Vendor B has a hard time accepting that, then it would seem logical that Vendor B needs to rethink their business strategy in terms of connecting with their customer and making the sale.


Vendor A is saving the cost of advertising on the site therefore being able to reduce his price. The supporting vendor should have some protection or what will stop them from becuming non-supporting vendors to reduce their advertising costs and reduce their prices. I believe vendors that are smart enough to be supporters of our great and powerfull site should be Rewarded by having our Members support them. Ya gotta buy it any way so buy it and support our vendors (WEB-SITE). With the numbers of Vette owners and parts buyers here believe me we do have POWER. Tell Vendor A to pay or go a way!!!

I think I'll click on them all right now!!!
Billagroom

corvettecrazy
12-02-03, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by modman
Dues are not a bad thing. They are a way to legitimize the voices of those that care about the forum. Trial periods are good too. It is "authorized" time to learn and know the services being provided.

the are some problems with dues and trial periods.

For example, I personally wouldn't have stayed on this forum if I had to pay tight away to use it. Mainly because I am sure I could get about the same answers from other sources for free. Now that I have been here for a while I could see myself paying to post/have access to this site. I seem to have become attached, and without atleast 1 visit to CAC a day I seem to be left out.

From that point of view a trial period would have proved useless because by the time the trial period was up I dont think my attachment to CAC was as strong, so I would have just left. Also, what would keep someone from asking their few questions during the trial period and then when it expired, making a new user name and asking any new questions they needed answered.


BTW: Rob, it was a very good read!

WhalePirot
02-03-04, 10:36 PM
What is and how does one become a 'Supporting member'?

Thanks for the read and your efforts on our behalf.

Eric
02-03-04, 10:43 PM
What is and how does one become a 'Supporting member'?
Thanks for the read and your efforts on our behalf.
Mike,

Here's a link with info and instructions (http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43610) on how to become a Supporting Member and what it's all about.

Eric Whitaker
CAC Community Administrator