AOL Needs Your Marketing Assistance...for Free
by Guest Blogger, Lena West
SIDEBAR: Normally, I write about seemingly much more substantial strategic technology angles but this epidemic is maddening...and heck...it's tech related so, why not?
What would you do if you received an email or a phone call from a decision-maker at AOL with a request to help them market their business everytime you marketed your own - for free? The email would hit the virtual round file or you'd request a round of whatever drink they had during lunch, yes?
But, this is EXACTLY what business owners do when they put AOL/Hotmail/Gmail/MSN/Optonline email addresses on their business cards.
You've seen them - WhateverCompany @ Hotmail.com. As if adding the company name in the email address is going to make the use of a free email account on their business cards appear more professional? Nope, it just makes them look like even bigger idiots.
Just recently, I spoke at a women's networking orgranization to promote our latest program, The Technology Diet, and received business cards littered with free email addresses. Did I mention this organization is focused on business networking???
I even saw a local business' customized service van with an Optonline email address plastered across the side. Heck, I've seen a WEB SITE with a freebie email address on the Contact Us page! Why? Why? WHY? NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!
If you think AOL/Yahoo/MSN or any of these other companies need your help in advertsing their companies, I have a bridge I want to sell you.
Why won't these businesses take advantage of the time, space, attention and exposure to build their own brands???
It costs $9 a year to register a branded domain name. An additional $10 per year will get you one email account without having to set-up a hosting account - most domain registrations come with this service for free. (Read: NEWSFLASH! You don't even NEED a web site to have a branded domain name!) If this is outside your capability level, hire a virtual assistant for $50 to do it for you! (I DON'T recommend AssistU, by the way - but that's a post for another time....)
If your complaint is that the freebie email address is the address where everyone knows how to reach you, then set up the domain email and have your email forwarded! C'mon...join us in 2006!
So, when asked why, in this day and age of technical ease, people don't choose to promote their own brands in place of some freebie email account that screams "I'm too cheap to invest $20 in my business and my business may be a fly-by-night prop job"? My response is simple:
BECAUSE THEY'RE CHEAP AND LAZY
Don't believe me? Even Seth Godin says it...(skip to paragraph 3)
P.S. If you plan to write me because you have a freebie email address on your business card or web site and you're offended by my post, I invite you to use that time and energy to correct your half-baked marketing situation.