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September 22, 1999
Yahoo! India portal may do online auction tooPriya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan
David Mickler, director, sales and marketing, Yahoo! Asia, told Rediff "Our strength has always been our search and directory services. We hope to capitalise on that. In addition to our other services the India portal will help readers search for Indian Web sites more effectively."
Mickler clarified that Indian Web sites would include sites whose servers are located in India and sites whose content has an India focus but whose servers are not hosted in this country.
"Our Indian portal will provide content like news from a variety of Indian and global content providers. We want to leverage our global advantage to deliver content to a local audience," Mickler said.
Yahoo! plans to offer other services like auctions and India specific information like content on cricket and quotes from the stock exchanges.
Mickler explained that content would be outsourced as Yahoo! does for its other portals. "I am here to look into the possibilities of porting content into our Web site. I have just started talking to people so I cannot give too many details," he said.
Mickler is also keen to start an auction service at the Indian portal.
He told Rediff that the content on the portal will not be localised. "Most of the Web users in the country speak and read English. I believe that this is not likely to change in the next couple of years," he said.
Mickler also delivered a presentation on extending business to the interactive media. Dressed in casuals Mickler stood out among the grey suits of the delegates. The session was scheduled to be addressed by Savio Chow, managing director, Yahoo! Asia.
"Savio had to drop out at the last minute and he called me up at the eleventh hour when I was on a vacation. That explains the casuals," grinned Mickler.
He said that the growth of the Internet has produced a shift in the way marketing is done. Mickler calls this new form of marketing "permission marketing".
Listing out the advantages of permission marketing as opposed to traditional forms of marketing Mickler said "Permission marketing is invited and its avoids the clutter that traditional forms of marketing overwhelm the consumer with."
To clarify the term for the audience Mickler elaborated, "Permission marketing is like dating. You select a desired prospect. Then provide the prospect with an incentive to volunteer for your service. Once that is done, you use the attention to educate about your product or service. Then offer additional incentive to gain further permission for updates. This example is kind of crude but it is a really good way to explain."
Mickler listed out the four principles that should be used for direct marketing over the Web.
1. Be clear.
Use seven words or less to explain your product to your customers. Remember users skim through their mails. So make it clear where you want the readers to click if they wish to know more about your product.
2. Be easy.
No technology is a good thing. Do not ask for more information than what you need. And what you need is only an email address and the permission to send further information on that address.
3. Make it selfish.
Tell the user upfront what is there in it for him. Present to him the benefits he gets out of the product and give him incentives to share personal information.
4. Test it.
Test multiple audiences and remember that the market is more right than you are.
Mickler's presentation was peppered with commercials and illustrations that had the audience in splits. His easy informal style also contributed to keeping the delegates hooked.
"I believe in what Brando said. Make them an offer they can't refuse. We have to do the same. Make customers an offer they can't refuse. And once they are hooked use the Web site to make a sale or get them deeper into your site or at least get their permission to follow up," he said.
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