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    20 Replies Latest reply on Dec 23, 2008 11:11 PM by g_graphics

    So what am I doing wrong??

    CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
      Ok I know we are all small busines owners and we often encounter the same problems. This is evident in the same old answers that you find when you search around on the small business blogs, FAQ, sba etc. They mostly say the same ole thing. But here is one problem that I am having and perhaps some of you other creative business owners out there can help me.

      My Problem:
      I am, like everyone, having problems with marketing. Gaining attention online is next to impossible on the cheap. I think people are so overwhelmed by the "Hey take a look at this its the Next Big Thing" approach that it makes it extremely difficult for anyone to get any attention. New business owners are typically strapped for cash and because of this they must resort to cheap ways of advertising their product or service. Since this is common everyone who has a new business is doing the same ole marketing approach and everyone is getting sick of hearing it. No matter how good what you have to offer is, its really hard to get anyone to listen to it or check out. So whats a new guy to do?

      What I do:
      I run an online entertainment and events guide called Its a resource for musicians and artists. It serves as a place for people who are hosting events to promote them for free by posting flyers. In turn people who are looking for something to do, on a sat night, can browse the flyers and see whats happening in ther own neighborhood. Its also completely free and simple. So there is really no reason for anyone not to use it. Yet the problem still remains. Its extremely difficult to get any trust in the online world. People have been taken advantage of soo much that everyone blocks out and "New Thing". Getting traffic to the site is close to impossible and as we all know in the internet business traffic = advertising = money.

      What I have tried:
      Craigslist - Blogs - Writing articles - Registering on Search engines - Searchengine Optimization Tips - Myspace. Im so desperate that I am willing to sell vacant ad space on my site for almost anything people have offered. Ive ever tried giving it away and since everyone is on gimik guard no one wanted to take advantage of it.

      What Id like:
      You honest opinion. Some tips on what you think I should do. Maybe some creative marketing ideas. Other business who might be interested in stupid cheap advertising. Please keep in mind that right now I am running this thing mostly myself and dont have the resources (time, money) to add features or pay for signifcant advertising. So please, if your suggestion is to a.) take out an ad on a Radio Station or b.) you should try adding (complicated additional feature) that I cant do it. There are tons of things I have lined up for the site. But without any revenue then I cant implement them, sort of a catch 22 on my
      I feel that I have a really great product that almost anyone can benefit from, but its just hard to get anyone to pay attention.
        • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
          AyalSoft Newbie
          The asnwer is very simple. You have to define the main components of your target product. Once you do, create a small RFP for vendors and identify 3-5 for each of your components. Submit the RFP. In a mean while develope the marketing plan and Go/NoGo criteria. Once done, review RFPs and select the Vendors to help you. I strongly sugest that you consider taking a loan from the Bank to get some seed funding. Angel investors at this time will not be that easy on something that has not yet materialized, and even if you find them they will have to see the valuation done and that is not chip either. So based on the specific timeline get the required funding and do not try to get everything for free with that you will get the quality and success. Good Luck.

          As a company we consult to small businesses like yours, but we only spend first 15 minutes for free and the rest is T&M. PLease feel free to call me at 732-276-2448 or look over the site at

          I beleive that what you need is a portal and a respective partners to work with, however the portal technology comes in either open source or off-the-shelf,but the implementation will normally start from 7-10k by any respectful vendor with some reasonable support capabilities.

          Best Regards,

          Jacob Vishnevsky
          • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            If I'm remembering correctly, you asked something similar about four months ago and received several suggestions. I'm wondering how many of those suggestions you've implemented, because the site looks exactly the same to me now as it did back then . . . no content (which is a problem, because no one will visit the site if there's no content there -- and if no one is visiting the site, there's no reason for anyone to post information).


            In other words, it doesn't look like a "marketing" problem from my perspective. A store could market like crazy, but if there's nothing on the shelves that customers want (or nothing on the shelves at all), it won't matter. In my view, you need content first that will attact repeat visitors and build some baseline traffic. Then you can market effectively.

            Hope that helps.
              • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                AyalSoft Newbie

                I absolutley share your view, however, my main point was based on our experience in the small business market that most businesses fail due to lack of planning and/or ability to execute. Both require the right team and funding. As long as you are good on the credit side Banks normally will extend credits very willingly from our experience. Additionally RFPs will help to identify the right players to bring the trafic to the site. Just content and product(s) will not do it and we all know it
                • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                  CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                  Um yea i did post something similar a few months ago as im sure you took a look at all of my posts.

                  Here is the thing that I wish to communicate the most. What Im marketing is the site and NOT the AD space that I have for sale. Your advice is to focus on attracting more traffic and then worry about selling. I dont think that is rellay telling me anything because my question is How do I increase traffic. Its not the advertising im worried about. If I have plenty of traffic, you are correct, the ad's will come.

                  As I said, there are plenty to free marketing tips out there and Ive read them all and done most of them. The trouble is that everyone else is doing them too and most of them are unaffective. Perhaps Im asking the 5 million dollar question and if any of us knew the answer we wouldnt be inhere chatting but rather on a sandy beach sipping Pina Coladas.

                  As far as the content goes. The site is meant to be a user supported. This is a KEY ingredient to keeping it free for everyone. Plenty of companies pay people to search for and add and develope content for them, they are called news papers. But the intent of this site is NOT to do that and to let the users supply the content. I do however post events quite often but one person cannot fill all of the cities with useful content. Its just too much work.

                  Its quite similar to the framework of craigslist. What you are telling me is most likely the same thing everyone told Craig Newmark. "Dude nobody is going to go to your site, if there is nothing there"
                • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                  NoBullFunding Scout

                  How local is your service? Are you trying to post the goings-on in every major city in the US? Maybe you should focus on a single community at a time instead of spreading yourself too thin. You could go to every business owner looking to promote an event, and get their annual list of events. In exchange, those venues will allow you to place a sign or a flyer. That approach would require more legwork on your part, but hopefully it can help build the critical mass that you are looking for, and you won't have to spend a dime on advertising.
                    • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                      CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                      Your exactly right "Critical Mass" its the tipping point that I am in search of. What you suggest is also what I have been trying. Currently the site supports the top 20 major metropolitan areas in the US. I have made a few expection so to include the major cities in Texas where I am from. The site is based in Dallas Fort Worth area. This is also where most of our marketing efforts are being done and its by far where we are getting the most of our traffic.

                      So just go to every venue and tell them what you are doing so they can take advantage of it. It sounds easy but its not soo much. DFW is still a huge market and far too large to handle for one man. Trust me ive tried.

                      The site is growing, december is by far my busiest month. Im shooting for over 500 unique visitors and somewhere around 35K hits.

                      I guess what Im looking for is how to get around the "Next Big Scam" hurdle.

                      Ive tried posting ad on craigslist for small businesses. Saying that I will give them AD space for FREE. The thought being that I can increase links, thus increase search rankings, thus increasing organic traffic. However, not one single business responded to the ad. Who wouldnt want free advertising? People who dont trust the word "FREE" on the internet. Esp on sites like CL. Its this hurdle I want to overcome.

                      Your thoughts!?
                    • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                      TopSavingsNet Wayfarer
                      The site is beautiful, one major problem exists however. CatchACLue doesn't give a clue as to what a visitor may even be there for. You need to add content to your front page. You need to show musicians and club goers alike what they can benefit from the site. This is probably your most first and crucial step to take.

                      Market after.
                        • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                          CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                          Ok Im listening!

                          Your saying that I need more information on the front page as to what exactly the site does and is about.

                          What would you suggest?

                          I will say that the Tag Line - "A Place to help you find something to do!" was my attempt at doing what your talking about. But i can see how this might not be enough.

                          I also aim to keep the home page very simple and eye appealing. To me sites with masses of information on the homepage are cluttered and cumbersome. I designed the homepage with this in mind "How do I keep it simple and "fool proof" and yet still get the point across?" So easy a caveman can do it kinda thing lol

                          Im not rebutting your statement in fact I think its great and exactly the kind of thing im looking for. So tell me more of what you have in mind.
                            • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                              TopSavingsNet Wayfarer
                              Maybe the "Find Something to DO" in a different color ... maybe yellow? We will stop there though because I think if you could fit in some text with what is already there, something simple like "Clubs, Concerts, and Events" then you will have explained your site better. I would keep that text near the "Something to Do" though. If you did change the larger text to yellow or something, I would contrast it with white lettering for the additional information. You might want to mention the search is free if it is.

                              Now marketing. If your membership is free, or even if it isn't I would suggest working on a PR campaign through news releases. Is the site local only for certain areas? If so you can easily get interviews locally through your media.

                              Also for membership base, I would suggest at the bottom text links adding a link like " Promote your events here" link, so that you can better satisfy visitors with venues through having more events placed. I do not see you marketing as much in the page for club owners and such. it might help if that is part of your plan. Not sure if you are just using XML to gather already listed events or what.

                              Like I said, it's a clean design, but certainly you must find a way to show more of what you offer.
                                • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                  CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                                  Ok, let me see if I am understanding you correctly.

                                  Oh and please do some more surfing around the site. If you check out the Fort Worth and Dallas areas you will find many more events than other cities. This is simply because the majority of our marketing efforts are made in our home town and it has most our our visibility.

                                  Are yu recommending that we create a way to just post events or a way to post multiple events at once. The site is completely user supported. There is a large button on the home page that says "Post Your Own Events Here" this button take you to our post event page and allows you to add your events to the database. So we have this covered. If your talking about a way for large companies to post several events at once, that feature is in the works. Currently on the site I tell people that if they have multiple events they want to post they can fill out a predesigned spreadsheet and email it to me. I can then upload it to the DB. But in the future, this feature will be available straight from the members area. Its just a matter of getting the time and man power to do it. We are Sooo incredibly busy with this site we just dont have the resources and man power to add everything we like at this point. But its comming soon I promise!

                                  As for the site, indeed everything is completely FREE. I dont charge anyone for anything. Unless your a business and want to advertise among the events. Even in that case Im selling ad's for dirt cheap if anything. Our focus now is on attracting attention and gaining traffic, the money and advertising will come.

                                  With that said Id be glad to set your business up with some AD space if your interested, in return for the good advice that youve already given. Again I appreciate it.

                                    • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                      blogworthy Newbie
                                      Hi there. An interesting forum here. Just to add my two cents as a web and content designer. I agree that one of the big problems with is the current design and content and that makes promotion so difficult. In many ways, you have the germ of a good idea, but you are waiting for others to create the content. Aside from a search function, the site has nothing to grab the viewer. Also, it requires too much THINKING by any casual visitor. You have to pick a city, pick a date, then click on a series of bland buttons to narrow your choices (which, from my brief test, often seems to give you no info anyway... ) As you mention, it is somewhat of a chicken and egg situation... no content cause no visitors cause no content.

                                      My suggestion: To jump start your site you have to provide some edited content. You need, for instance, to include some suggested events on your front page, and/or the front page of every city you cover (and I agree with the comments suggesting you might be better off handling much few cities to start with... even Craigs List began with one city at a time vs. nationwide.) Above or underneath the search functions, graphically reproduce some flyers or images or somehow 'advertise' the top events of the week/month for each location so that a casual user can immediately see and sense what this site is about. THEN they can choose to search for more events by date, etc. This will also instantly show potential advertisers, event promoters what you offer. Such clients (content generators) would probably be much more willing to get involved if they immediately see their event or similar events potentially listed as a 'top ten' or 'featured' event. Otherwise, why bother dealing with you, why should they take up their time? Bottom line: I think you need to make your site more compelling to your users.

                                        • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                          CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                                          Duely noted. I can definetly see your point and that is something I will consider changing.

                                          In all honestly I am only taking on one city at a time. By this I mean that I only market in Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex (pretty much one city). Its however no sweat off my back to include other cities. To the programming framework it makes no difference if there is 1 city or 1000. We have limited our scope to only include in the list the top 20 major metropolitan areas. But outside of Texas I dont do much work. I figure if i get one city rolling then the others will eventualy take off on their own.

                                          I also, do add most of the content that is on the site. I have done tons of leg work trying to attract different venues. Right no several send me all of their upcoming events and I post them accordingly. Its just time consuming when your a one man band. My girlfriend does a lot of the content aspect and posting of events. While I try and keep visitors comming back.

                                          I think perhaps your right that ading some more info to the home page / city page such as featured events would be a nice addition. Just again it comes down to time and effort. Right now Im giving it all I have of both. My time and effort are free other peoples time and effort are not.

                                          With that in mind what do you think of a work reward situation. Take a look at this other thread i have going right now. I open to just about anything.
                                          Re: Dallas / Fort Worth business owners, I got an Idea!!
                                            • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                              blogworthy Newbie
                                              I think all your ideas and networking are valid... what you're doing seems like a good idea. And I certainly can relate to bootstrapping and trying to do it all with limited time and funds.

                                              My suggestion is stil to upgrade the up even a decent mock up of a front page with the month's top events (that way they will be valid for at least a little while to save you that much work right now.) I think that will maybe really pay off as far as demo-ing your idea and might make both your clients and your visitors instantly more satisfied. Because your current 'public face' just isn't attention-grabbing with only the search function (not to say it isn't very efficient and uncluttered, which ARE good things.) Also, since you are focusing on only Dallas Fort Worth why not make that a selling point and play it up... and maybe remove most if not all of the other cities? (You can always announce on the site that you have future plans for other cities, or that you welcome input from other cities.) Right now, instead of making you seem bigger and better, the massive amount of national dead links just make you seem flawed.

                                              Anyway, just my curious two cents from half a continent away. Good luck with it!

                                              btw, getting attention online is the billion dollar question. I can spend weeks making an animation only to see it vanish instantly and then some guy can film his cat running into a bag and get a million youtube hits! Go figure.
                                                • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                                  CoolHandMatt Wayfarer
                                                  I agree. I think your thoughts are right on the money.

                                                  "I think that will maybe really pay off as far as demo-ing your idea and might make both your clients and your visitors instantly more satisfied. Because your current 'public face' just isn't attention-grabbing with only the search function (not to say it isn't very efficient and uncluttered, which ARE good things.)"

                                                  Good point and defiently worth a try!


                                                  "Right now, instead of making you seem bigger and better, the massive amount of national dead links just make you seem flawed."

                                                  This above point Is dead on and something I hadn't considered until now. Im going to give these things a try.

                                                  Hey just want to say thanks for your input I definetly appreciate it and can see exactly what your talking about. If you dont mind do me a favor, bookmark the site and check back from time to time. Im going to work on implementing your ideas. Putting more relavant and attention grabbing info on the homepage and perhaps scaling the scope of the site back a bit by getting rid of some cities. This will also help to focus my marketing efforts. Give me a few months as myself and programmer are swamped with things to do as it stands now, then check back and let me know what you think.

                                                  If you like I also dont mind throwing some complimentary AD space your way. Just get me via email through the site.

                                                  Again I appreciate it

                                    • Re: So what am I doing wrong?? says...
                                      FullAccessExp Adventurer
                                      Hi There,

                                      I never like to come off too critical especially in a forum built for constructive criticism. However, I sugar-coat for my paying clients. With that said here it goes! I've gotten PLENTY of free online exposure for absolutely free. I know it's indeed possible. I would foremost suggest getting a catchier name on a .com instead of a .net. Keep in mind you should have at least 20+ sites all directed to your main site. Folks search differently.

                                      I've read the comments folks have given you and without a doubt they all offer great insight for FREE. Use some of the great suggestions you've already gotten.

                                      Full Access Experiential |
                                        • Re: So what am I doing wrong?? says...
                                          CoolHandMatt Wayfarer

                                          I'm not sure what you are commenting on? The site? My posts? What are you "being critical of" ?

                                          Now for your point "Get a catchier name on a .com" I'm assuming that you mean I need a better domain and should use a more popular top level domain than .net and go with .com instead. Well I couldn't disagree with you anymore. Its hard to get catchier than "Catch A Clue" its a popular euphemism and phrase used in culture today, it rhymes with our tag phrase, it also implies that you are gaining knowledge of your surroundings, Which is exactly the purpose of the website. Not to mention that not many other people have a similar name which makes SEO (search engine optimization) particularly easy. This is a really good domain name and many months of thought went into choosing it. How much you want to bet that you wont soon forget it!

                                          As for having a .com rather than a .net. This point has some merit because the .com gTLD has grown to become the most popular however it by no means has a large share of the internet. More and more people are choosing .net, .org, .info, .us because of the over crowding in the .com. It also makes no difference to the search engines which one you pick. They all use the meta data, hits and linking to determine your ranking on their particular engine. There is much room for improvement on my site for SEO but making it a "catchier .com" is not one of them.

                                          Your also implying that I create several sites that all link back to the same website. Creating so called mirror sites, is bad business. Its a popular tactic among the spam and junk sites on the internet. Its similar to saying that I should collect huge amounts of email addresses and send massive viral emails out to get everyone to see my website and use it. These are tactics that get you a reputation as a jerk on the internet. Branding is important and so is integrity. Spamming the internet whether sending emails or registering 5000 domains, shows a lack of integrity and lack of professionalism in your website. This is the kind of marketing that we at are 100% against! As part of the net neutrality position we support using the internet for information not spam. This is also why we don't ask for CC and/or personal information, we are 100% user supported and you will never I repeat NEVER be bombarded with advertisements when you visit

                                          I do not compromise the integrity of my site to drive misdirected traffic to my site. These are fundamentals of what good website marketing and building we use and adhere to at So thanks for the comment but I do not agree.
                                        • Re: So what am I doing wrong??
                                          Interesting problem and a lot of great posts; I agree with the suggestions of limiting the site to the DFW market. Conquer a market and go national with the funds and the success. I would also limit yourself even further and eliminate sports & outdoors and kids events. You might even skip community events (for now) and include community events under the remaining categories that they may apply to. The limitation will allow you to focus on adding content. If you can bump up the content then forget the word "free" and start selling ads. The sales pitch; armed with demographic information and a site with lots of content will net some advertisers. Its ok to price yourself aggressively but it should be in relation to the typical rates being charged by competitors. You need to know the market. So if you focus on potential paying clients that would like the demographics of people interested in say "night life" or the "arts" you will be making a lot of sense during your sales pitch. Best of luck, great idea.