Guest Speaker: John Audette, President of MMG,
President and Founder of AudetteMedia

Interviewer: Diane Watlov-Collins, President, MARKETINGWEB.COM
Date: February 17, 1999

Welcome to the MARKETINGWEB.COM Forum! The purpose of this Forum is to provide online discussion concerning the methods of Internet marketing.

** Marketingweb enters.

Marketingweb: Our topic for February 17, 1999 is "Developing A Successful E-mail Discussion List."

Marketingweb: Our guest this evening is John Audette, President of MMG and President and Founder of AudetteMedia.

Marketingweb: AudetteMedia is the largest publisher of email discussion lists in the world.

Marketingweb: Examples of AudetteMedia lists include the popular I-Sales list which John moderates.

Marketingweb: This discussion list has over 13,000 subscribers in more than 65 countries and focuses on online sales issues.

Marketingweb: John has agreed to share with us tonight some of his expertise in developing successful email discussion lists.

** JAudette enters.

Marketingweb: Welcome, John!

Marketingweb: Did you have any trouble getting in?

JAudette: Nope -- very smooth

Marketingweb: Good!

Marketingweb: Ready to start?

JAudette: All set

Marketingweb: As you know, our Community is composed of small - medium size businesses interested in developing or redeveloping their Internet presence.

Marketingweb: Most are fairly new to online sales. I would like to ask some basic questions about email discussion lists first, if I may?

JAudette: Sure, fire away.

Marketingweb: What is the difference between a newsgroup and an email discussion list?

JAudette: Newsgroups are most often (but not always) unmoderated. Which makes for a very low signal to noise ratio. An e-mail discussion list, especially those published in digest format, are most often moderated, which improves the signal to noise ratio greatly.

Marketingweb: What do you mean...signal to noise?

JAudette: Meaningful content as opposed to blather or someone simply trying to sell you something.

Marketingweb: Yes. Unmoderated newsgroups seem to have a great deal of this.

JAudette: We have found that they are so full of junk that from a business perspective it's usually a waste of time to go there.

Marketingweb: I agree. Is there any real benefit anymore to posting to unmoderated announcement groups?

JAudette: None that I know of.

Marketingweb: Our experience as well.

Marketingweb: Why should a company consider developing an email discussion list?

JAudette: Yoda says "Give, then take", and an e-mail discussion list is a great way to do that.

Marketingweb: How do you "give"?

JAudette: We facilitate meaningful discussion related to Internet marketing -- and subscriptions are free.

Marketingweb: So list members derive real value in information they wish to obtain and get it for free.

JAudette: Yes, and in the process I-Sales has enabled us to build a significant community that matches our target market -- and to position ourselves at the center of that community.

Marketingweb: Interesting...but how does a company "take"?

JAudette: Many of the new business inquiries come into the company, Multimedia Marketing Group -- http://www.mmgco.com -- as as a result of I-Sales. It has built MMG's credibility and visibility and it has helped us grow from $1M in revenues last year to over $10M in revenues this year.

Marketingweb: A very nice reward!

JAudette: Indeed. We call it doing well by doing good.

Marketingweb: I like that!

JAudette: Kind of idealistic, but I'm a child of the 60's.

Marketingweb: So, the list is a source of sales.

JAudette: Absolutely. It enables us to build credibility -- after all I'm there every day. After a while people get a sense of who you are and what you stand for.

Marketingweb: It has the ability to generate further interest and demonstrates your capabilities.

JAudette: Yes. And one other thing.... The subscribers contribute the majority of content and somehow it conveys wisdom on the moderator.

Marketingweb: You are very humble.

Marketingweb: It takes a great deal to put together and moderate lists such as yours.

JAudette: Yes. You shouldn't attempt it unless it is first and foremost a labor of love.

JAudette: It takes more than one person to form a community.

Marketingweb: What are the mechanics involved in setting up a list?

JAudette: There are a few to contend with. I handled I-Sales manually with Eudora Light until it reached 6,000 subscribers.

JAudette: I belong in Eudora's Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame -- the light version was free.

Marketingweb: That is a good way to test the waters. We are doing the same thing with Marketingweb Connection...but with a different program.

JAudette: Then I ported over to list management software from Revnet -- http://www.revnet.com -- which we still use today at 13,000 subscribers.

Marketingweb: How would you choose a moderator?

JAudette: I'd find someone who was: knowledgeable, passionate, persistent -- and who could create an environment within which people could feel safe.

** Guest441 enters.

Marketingweb: As you said, it must be a labor of love!

JAudette: Yes, a daily publication is relentless. We're on issue #801 over the past 4 years.

Marketingweb: A lot of work! How do you streamline?

JAudette: Using GroupMaster from Revnet helps. But the main thing is that I learned to speed read in college (the best course I ever took -- and I didn't even receive credit!)

Marketingweb: A necessary talent!

Marketingweb: How important is a List FAQ?

JAudette: Very. As with so many things it's important to lay out the rules of the road -- and to set expectations.

JAudette: People are often disappointed when their post does not appear in the Digest, for example.

Marketingweb: How do you handle that?

JAudette: I summarize most of the FAQ in the subscription information that I send to all new subscribers.

Marketingweb:Good idea. What about angry posts...some people have email rage!

JAudette: <delete>

Marketingweb: So the anger must stop at the moderator!

JAudette: Yes. The moderator also serves as a kind of shield from a lot of different kinds of crap.

JAudette: As it says on our local police cars, 'Serve & Protect."

Marketingweb: Do you ever send posts directly on to particular subscribers?

JAudette: Do you mean off-list discussion?

Marketingweb: Yes.

JAudette: No. They can communicate among themselves of course.

Marketingweb:I think that is the best policy.

JAudette: A little enclave of civility in a turbulent world.

Marketingweb: What should list software be able to do for you?

JAudette: Manage subs, un-subs primarily. Distribute Digests, of course. Track statistics, such as new subs and un-subs.

Marketingweb:How about archives? Are they important?

JAudette: They are *very* important. We do maintain archives at I-Sales, but not in a very sophisticated way. It's a treasure trove of information and we need to give folks a better way to mine it.

Marketingweb: I think it gives prospective subscribers a good look at what to expect as well.

JAudette: And it's a good place to refer them when they post basic questions that have been previously discussed on the list.

Marketingweb: Very good point.

Marketingweb: What other important information should you include on the supporting web site?

JAudette:Well, you want to entice folks to subscribe, so a little sales stuff, such as accolades, etc.

Marketingweb: testimonials?

JAudette: Yep

Marketingweb: How about the FAQ? Just as another source...

JAudette: Yes.

Marketingweb: Your site has an excellent design for supporting the discussion lists.

Marketingweb: The sign up, archives, front fact sheet, etc. work very well!

JAudette: Thank you -- it's all home made. I cobbled together all of our sites using Notepad.

Marketingweb: Notepad!

JAudette: Reverse snobbery

Marketingweb: Excellent!

Marketingweb: What has been the most beneficial aspect of list development for you, personally?

JAudette: Personally it has been the opportunity to help a large number of Internet business folk to move their online businesses along.

Marketingweb: I can relate to that way of thinking.

Marketingweb: It is rewarding to help.

JAudette: And businesswise, it has been one of the major factors in the building of MMG.

JAudette: You CAN have it all.

JAudette: But you need to work your butt off.

Marketingweb: Yes, we're at 12 -17 hour days here!

JAudette:Is that all? ;-)

Marketingweb: Did I say 7 days a week? :)

JAudette: Well, we are in the middle of the greatest opportunity ordinary folk have ever experienced in recorded history. Kind of motivated

Marketingweb: Oh, yeah!

Marketingweb: There are some great new ideas out there for lists.

JAudette: A friend of mine, Geoffrey Kleinman, just caught a great wave. He started a mailing list on the topic of DVD's called DVDTalk.com. This is obviously a broad area, and there are countless narrower niches out there that are still available. Just remember to bring passion and knowledge to the endeavor.

Marketingweb: Is that a trait of success...to truly love what you do?

JAudette: It sure helps. How else can you summon up the energy, the will, the determination to get things done? I don't think greed alone can do it.

Marketingweb: Yes. But some sure do try!

JAudette: Money is a desirable by-product of other dimensions of success -- but I'm getting a bit philosophical.

Marketingweb: That's fine. I believe that if you love what you do and have the attitude of an honest days work for an honest days wage ...the rest (money, success, etc.) follows.

Marketingweb: John, you have given us some wonderful information. Thank you!

JAudette: My pleasure. See you on the 'Net!

Marketingweb: Do you have any closing comments for our Community?

JAudette: It is REALLY early. At this moment about 2% of the potential Internet audience is online. The same percentage of installed phones at the start of the last century. Go get 'em!

Marketingweb: Let the races begin!

JAudette: Good night, Diane.

Marketingweb: Thank you again, John. It has been a pleasure having you with us tonight.

**JAudette exits.

Marketingweb: John Audette, President of MMG and President and Founder of AudetteMedia.
Web Site, http://www.mmgco.com
E-mail, ja@mmgco.com
Phone: 541.617.5300

Marketingweb: Good night to all!

**Marketingweb exits.




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