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Why do we have so many of the same
Hi, I've seen Gordon's and Dien's posts at various other discussion boards, but never really paid much attention to what was going on here at sowpub.
However, at a personal recommendation of a couple net friends this week, I decided to visit and spent a few hours yesterday browsing through many of the posts.
This is a really nice place to visit. My first impression was "it's like those hiking/camping trips I used to do years ago in Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario, Canada. My long weekends were so peaceful, happy and relaxing, I didn't want to return to the big city and my 9-5 job. I always remember that sadness as we approached the city and read the signs telling me how many kms to Toronto. There were even a few times when the sadness was so overwhelming that I had to make a conscious effort to snap out of it real quick as I knew once the tears started coming, it would be difficult to control the flow. Always nice to have dark sunglasses and a hat, so noone could see my teary eyes.
I feel visiting sowpub is that nice escape we all need in our busy lives. People appear to be very sincere and honest, discussion is pleasant and very enlightening, some topics are way over my head, far too heavy for me to fully understand, but mind expanding and challenging. And noone seems to get put down for their different ideas or concepts.
The board also appears to be a very active one. A lot of regulars posting, which gives one a sense of belonging and continuity, which for many of us is important.
So, I had a thought today, which I'm sure is so logical, yet I can't understand why many of us continue to reinvent the wheel. I saw someone's posting on another board. The person has already set up an ezine and was seeking advice about mailing lists, or something along those lines. Her question was not of any interest to me. I did visit her site and had the pleasure of reading her ezine, which was very informative and obviously she had put a lot of effort into the content. She mentioned that she would be working on a discussion forum in the near future. And I thought to myself, "No, please, not another one. Why not contribute or join forces with someone of like minds and consolidate your efforts!"
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? 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? Can someone who is an expert on a subject not gain the same respect and 'fame' by posting to another's forum? 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? 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Re: Why do we have so many of the same
Hello Steve, in my forum hopping, I have seen several of your posts, always giving 100%+ effort to help the person solve a problem. I know you answered a question for me recently on Ricky's forum and I see you've put a lot of thought and effort into this response as well.
However, I still maintain, strictly from a CUSTOMER point of view, it makes a lot of sense to create a one-stop shop, where I don't have to spend hours trying to find what I want. All the experts in their various fields of expertise, would be far more effective in delivering a better product to the customer.
And as a matter of fact, I had no idea that this is a project that Gordon is working on. I was referred to this forum as a place where there is a lot of positive energy and nice people to hang out with.
I feel Gordon's concept, if executed properly, will provide the customer with more choices under one umbrella. This one-stop concept works for many large corporations in order to deliver better service to the customer. It takes all the confusion away from the customer. He/she does not have to bookmark several sites to keep current on what's happening.
Just think of all those millions of new internet users coming on board every week. How can YOU, as an expert in your field, along with the others, make it easier for these users to find you? Unless you've got a nice budget for marketing, it isn't easy promoting a forum or web site.
A case in point. The only reason I've been able to spend most of my waking hours on the net is a) because I now connect via cable, which means I'm always online, and b) because of my unlimited access, I am now able to do more research. It's through my research that I've been able to make these observations re the one-stop concept.
I'll tell you another reason why I think it's a good concept. I have friends in the Pacific rim countries and in the Caribbean. We in Canada and the US have it real good. A friend of mine from China is now visiting Trinidad. He has to pay TT$23/hr to get his mail at an internet cafe down there. I don't know what he pays in China. So, I've volunteered to help him with his research while he's down there, becauase there is no way he'd be able to afford to do anything other than receive his email. The rest of the world is not as wired as we are, and connection rates for those outside North America is still at a premium. A one stop approach would make a lot of sense for someone to quickly find information or be pointed in the right direction.
I haven't really had a chance to look at Gordon's new site as yet, so I'm only guessing that the concept he has in mind is similar to what I'm talking about.
I don't think one needs to be concerned with losing one's identify in this one-stop concept, especially if you've already established a following. If you continue doing what you're doing, I think you stand to gain far more with the group effort vs. going it alone. You're bound to gain more exposure from others in the group.
A good example would be someone visiting Jane Smith's forum on Motivation. But someone in the forum asks a question about some kind of PC technology that Jane is not familiar with. The natural choice would be for Jane to refer her customer to Steve, who is the expert in this area, or whatever the case may be.
Steve, I know there will always be those who prefer the boutique or specialty store approach. You're talking to yours truly who spends several hours shopping on the weekends. And I don't mean shopping at the malls. I mean, the produce store, the fish store, the butchers, the grocery for the staples, the bakery, the health food store. Exhausting for me, but I'm a fussy eater and my husband isn't. But thank God we're not representative of the average household. So, while I like the shop hopping because I care about what I eat, it really bothers me that all my favourite shops could not be under one big roof. I could save a lot on gas, frustration, and time.
Re: Why do we have so many of the same
> However, I still maintain, strictly from a
> CUSTOMER point of view, it makes a lot of
> sense to create a one-stop shop, where I
> don't have to spend hours trying to find
> what I want. All the experts in their
> various fields of expertise, would be far
> more effective in delivering a better
> product to the customer.
> it really bothers me that
> all my favourite shops could not be under
> one big roof. I could save a lot on gas,
> frustration, and time.
Interesting idea. However,
YOUR one-stop-shop would be different to another person's one-stop-shop. And it would be different again to Your one-stop-shop two or three years from now.
As Your interests change your one-stop-shop would also need to change.
Think of the Younger woman... lingerie, hair salon, tanning salon, latest in clothes trends, coffee shops, etc. Be nice in a one-stop-shop, right?
Now think of her 30 years from now. No more lingerie store. Hair salon doing the same style all the time so don't need to go to those new fandangled ones. Coffee? Too busy with other things. Maybe now plays golf or lawn bowls regularly.
Same person who needs a totally different one-stop-shop.
So one forum "owner" could have another "expert" answer questions. And we could all go to just one forum.
But dang if that forum wouldn't become a mish-mash if this and that and nothing in particular and end up perishing.
You might like Dobermans, cooking Italian, cross-stitch, line-dancing and screenwriting. A single forum with all of those things may be fine for you. BUT, most other people couldn't care less about those things. Oh sure they may like one or two, but not all of them.
As more and more questions gets asked about things they have no interest in they would cease to participate and leave and the forum would die.
Even big department stores have their goods sectioned off to make it easier to find.
A single site with multiple forums would be similar. However, seeing as everything online is only a click ot two away, whether it's on the same site or not, it takes just as much effort to visit different forums on the same site as it does to visit different forums on the one site.
By not having one-stop-shops and by having "targetted" forums instead, I know I can get the answers to the questions I want without bothering anyone. And I also know I am not bothered by too many posts which don't interest me.
There's a forum which gets around three hundred messages a day! And it's niche.
Add that forum to a few other high-volume forums and You'd have to wade through a few thousands messages a day to see if there was anything for you.
Just give me the info. I want without having to sift through loads of stuff I'm not interested in.
One-stop-shops can't do that.
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