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Old September 25, 2000, 01:08 PM
Steve MacLellan
 
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Default Re: Why do we have so many of the same

> I am sure for most of you who moderate your
> own discussion forums, this is a labour of
> love. But can you tell me why some of us are
> so bent on creating our own forums, rather
> than trying to merge efforts?

I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but I can share with you my thoughts on this matter.

When I want something (and I don't know what it is) I will go to a flea market. There I can interact with numerous vendors, and purchase products that appeal to me. 5 years ago my wife and I were looking for a vacuum cleaner. One of the vendors at the flea market said to me, "Look, OK! These might not be suitable for you, but we have some at our shop, one in particular I know you will like. Here's my card. Drop by later."

And we did.

OK, so we didn't like the cleaner he recommended at his shop either, but we did buy a second hand fridge to put in our basement from his store.

I advocate the use of the web as a communications tool. Based on my experience, sales are made by developing relationships and communicating with prospects. My forum is a place where you can "wander in off the street" to see if I have anything that might be of interest to you. If someone wished to learn more about what I offer, and how I interact with others, they are not likely to track down all the postings I made to various boards. My own forum allows people to do this.

>What is the
> big appeal about creating one's own forum.
> In an age when mergers and acquisitions
> among big business and dotcoms is so
> prevalent, do the same rules not apply here
> as well. I know it's nice to have a place
> where 'you' can be in charge. So is this
> mainly an ego thing?

Not at all. It has less to do with ego and more to do with sales.

Can someone who is an
> expert on a subject not gain the same
> respect and 'fame' by posting to another's
> forum?

Sure... like a flea market.

Personally, I'd rather contribute to
> a few good forums rather than trying to
> create my own. Time is such a precious
> commodity, why would we not piggyback off
> the efforts of those who are already
> established?

Forums can also be used to answer frequently asked questions about your business. They can also be used as a customer service tool. As well, you can use it as a tool to create credibility for yourself and your products. Much of the information you may post to your own forum, may not be suitable somewhere else. For example, on my board I posted this a couple of days ago:

My cable service provides my Internet connection. SHAW Wave is undergoing some re-structuring has they joint-venture with Excite to deliver new services. This means some brief interruptions as they make structural changes within the system. The last couple of days have seen some interruption in my email. For those of you that sent me anything, you may have to resend it. I have not received any email for today yet. Nor can I send mail.

You can see, by a couple of replies, people were wondering why I wasn't responding to their email. Your own forum is also your own communications tool.

Now I know there can often be
> political and/or business reasons for
> wanting to create our own forum. But, is the
> tremendous work involved in such a project,
> really worth the effort and time.

My bottom line says, "YES!"

> Personally, I'd rather shop at one or two
> stores than spend my time hopping around 5
> stores to try and find the one or two items
> I might be looking for. So, if I'm way off
> base on this "I need to create a
> forum" issue, please enlighten me.
> Best regards.
> Elizabeth

One other issue I typically bring up about having your own forum is that it shows you are actively tending your online shop. Three years ago when my daughter was only one year old, we wanted to buy a special walker for her that was not offered in Canada. We found four places on the Internet that were selling them. None of them had forums. None of them responded to our emails. Is your website abandoned? Is there anyone there doing business and taking orders? Is this material fresh and current?

Having your own forum not only provides you a place to answer questions, but having one, answers a lot of questions as well.

Best Regards, Steve MacLellan




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