"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 June 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.




They ride into town, pitch a

tent, and fill it up with

hard-luck country folk at two

dollars a head. They sell 'em

big words and the promise of a

better place. And then, after a

night of miracles and a whole

lot of hallelujahs, they pack up

the crutches and slip out of

town at dawn, leaving someone's

daughter pregnant and everyone

else swindled.


They are the evangelists. And

they'll be coming to your

newsgroup soon.



Usenet is a marketer's open

prairie of niche communities,

bursting with potential targets.

But if you were Netscape, how

would you reach them? Jim Clark

isn't flogging pyramid schemes,

thigh cream, or green cards, and

he's sharp enough to know that

all caps and exclamation marks

won't wash in the comp.www



[Netscape Jobs]

What he needs is someone

"monitoring important Usenet

groups and representing

Netscape's point of view in

important discussions or issues

within these forums." He needs a

friendly voice to correct

misinformation and foster a

product-based community. He

needs a shill.


Old media would call these people

publicists, but way new

relationship marketing calls for

a gracious ambassador sensitive

to Usenet politics, with "a

solid technical understanding of

Netscape products and leading

Internet technologies" and "an

undergraduate degree in CS or



[The Solution]

What they're really shopping for

is cred. It's how you sell

yourself as the next Usenet

evangelist for Netscape, or

HotWired, or Pathfinder, or

Chrysler. Cred is elusive, and

indefinable except by example,

like art or pornography. Cred

offers perfect synergy for a

positive brand association,

because cred spells trust, and

trust builds relationships (all

together now) one customer at a

time. For the would-be

evangelist, the game works like

this: convince a client of the

trust value of your personal

brand. A good agent helps here.

Stress your integrity, insight,

experience, and talent in the

target market - all of these

things help put the "ad" back

into "value-add." In the real

world, it's called "celebrity




But whoops, there are no

celebrities on Usenet, just

pinheads. Here, cred-for-rent

does not generate positive

synergy. Rather, it creates a

kind of negative feedback loop

in the collective Usenet

cerebellum. It doesn't take a

jaded gen-xer with a full rack

of ironic distancing tools to

trip the alarms - way new spam

has all the subtlety of a fart

in an elevator.



On Usenet, your opinions are

worthless when they aren't yours -

even more so when you ride

your wagon into a foreign

newsgroup and try to pass off

your "tip from a friend" as more

than a rewritten press release

with the inevitable URL. Way new

spam is still lunch meat. Even

if you actually believe your

hype, the natives will sniff the

money trail that starts at your

.sig file and reach for the



Try this experiment: post an

earnest "first-person" take on

your client's shreddin' surf

site in the most appropriate

place you can think of. We're

guessing those wacky surfers

won't ride your wave.


[Internet Marketing Group]

When it comes right down to it,

your first-person credibility is

about as valuable as that of the

average infomercial pitchman

("that URL again..."). So how do

you keep your client convinced

of your value? You can build a

professional Web page, start

your own newsgroup, write the

charter, post the FAQ, and see

what happens. But that's a

little like building a tree fort

for your lemonade stand. You

could start consulting on

Internet marketing. No wait,

don't do that, you'll embarrass




Chances are, your clients have

been paying close attention,

wringing their hands,

administering damage control,

and watching Redmond. Microsoft

may have just discovered the

Internet, but it didn't take

them long to set up 184 official

Microsoft newsgroups and stock

them with MS techies waiting to

delurk and help you install your

operating system. No miracles

guaranteed, but at least you

know who you're dealing with.

Things are mighty lonely over in

alt.flame.ms-windows, so

something must be working.


Whatever you do, don't get your

friends together to drum up your

own fanclub, say, alt.fan.suck.

That will never work. You just

can't manufacture a cult hangout

and expect cool people to show



That sort of thing just has to

happen on its own.

courtesy of James URL Jones