My favorite part of the Web doesn't have much to do with all the exaltations that it's changing every social, economic and business variable here on our third rock from the sun. Rather, I see it as providing a new standard of literacy and helping to level the field for entrepreneurs. The Web has made it possible for just about anyone thinking about going into business to do due diligence. It's also provided a way for those business owners who can't afford to outsource their marketing and public relations efforts to learn about those disciplines and become marketers themselves.
But despite the Web's innumerable payoffs, it's still a bit like cable TV: Just because you have 4.3 trillion choices doesn't mean you'll find anything worthwhile. That's why I sorted through more than 100 sites to share my picks for the best Web resources for entrepreneurs looking to learn more about marketing, advertising and public relations. All the sites are free, although some do require a sign-in. So without further ado...
Best of the Best
1.MarketingProfs.com. Is it abnormal to feel love for a Web site? Well, if loving MarketingProfs.com is wrong, I don't wanna be right. The site, with articles from marketing professors and pros, is chock-full of useful marketing data, from how to determine the size of your market to how to make a Web site memorable. The site does require you to log in, but it's well worth it. The resources page is well-organized and helpful. Here in Maine, our slogan is "Maine-the way life should be." Well, MarketingProfs.com is the way a Web site should be-easy to navigate and brimming with valuable content.
2.Marketingsherpa.com. Having learned about sherpas as the legendary guides to mountain climbers in Into Thin Air, I was intrigued by a Web site that could guide entrepreneurs and save them from pitching themselves right off a marketing precipice. The site is clean and well-laid-out, and although there are some ads, none were screaming at me as I made my way around the site. I checked out "Marketing to small business" and was able to select from news, interviews, events, case studies, jobs and practical know-how.
3.Workinpr.com. I liked this site so much when I discovered it, I sent a love note e-mail. I was shocked when a representative actually called me to thank me for my note and to discuss the content on the site. I took the time to express my admiration because this site has a wealth of data for both the PR neophyte and pro. If you're new to PR, you'll find the articles on creating a press kit and putting together a media list helpful. If you know your way around a PR campaign already, you'll enjoy the articles on topics ranging from building a corporate reputation to developing a model to measure PR.
Worth a Look
Those three are my favorites. But if they aren't enough for you, here are some others worth your time.
At Lowe.org, you'll find a searchable library on such topics as leadership, strategy and customers. The site will often match you up with a book to buy, but many of the articles are free, like "How to measure customer satisfaction."
BizLand.com features many articles on marketing, including direct mail, marketing on a budget and promoting your site. Click on "marketing," then select "knowledge center."
WebSiteEstates.com is focused on building an online presence for your business. There are many useful articles, including "The only way to build a brand" and "Oops, my site sucks."
CCH Inc., makers of business software, has many articles geared toward beginners, taking you from "Do you have what it takes?" to "Choosing distribution methods."
ClickZ Today is a cornucopia of articles on every type of marketing tactic, with articles like "Ensure the success of your affiliate program" and "Media buying 101." There's so much depth here, you'll need to reserve some time to dig when you stop by this site.
Kimberly McCall is the president of McCallMedia & Marketing Inc., a marketing, public relations and business communications agency in Freeport, Maine. You may contact her at (207) 865-0055 or at www.marketingangel.com.