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YOU AND AMAZON.COM

Amazon.Com has blown it big time. Barns & Noble now has a
great chance to run them out of the game.

Amazon had books locked. Committing major bucks, they
successfully branded the name. Most who think of the Web and
books at the same time, now think of Amazon. It's difficult to
identify a Web based business as successful in branding as Amazon
has been.

Heck, at first I had trouble spelling the name. But I
learned. And I don't even have the site bookmarked. Entering
Amazon.Com into the browser works fine.

They Have Top-Of-Mind Awareness

I asked around among my friends. "Who do you think of on the
Web when you need a book?" All said, "Amazon." When I asked if
they knew that Amazon now sells other stuff, most asked, "What?"
Some asked the more important question, "Why?"

Apart from books, they now offer Electronics, Toys, DVDs,
Video, Music, Health & Beauty, Wireless Phones, Camera & Photo,
Computer & Video Games, Software, Kitchen, Tools & Hardware, Lawn
& Patio, Cars, Auctions, Gifts, and Outlets.

They have made the mistake of believing they could extend
their successful methods in selling books to selling most
everything. In doing so, they overlooked a couple of points.

Niche Marketing Is The Only Way To Go

How does Amazon's expertise with books assure me they are
also experts with hardware? Or cars? Actually it diminishes my
confidence in their overall business expertise. I now have
doubts they know what they are doing even with books.

Malls Don't Work On The Web

Shopping malls work great offline, particularly those under
one roof where visitors can wander in comfort without concern for
the weather. Once you've parked your car and gotten inside, it
is only a few steps to the shop next to the one you are in. And
not that far to a competitive shop at the other end of the mall.

Amazon has overlooked the fact that the Web is one grand
shopping mall. Creating a sub-mall on a single site won't work
because it brings no additional benefits not offered by the Web
itself. Given the URL, you can visit another shop in seconds.
And you don't have to drag your kids and purchases with you.

Are They Done For?

It isn't possible to be all things to all people. Amazon
can't make this happen however much they try. Even Sears &
Roebuck gave up on their awesome catalog business as an
increasingly urban population found shops relatively close by.

It is my understanding that in selling books, Amazon has
shown good profits, at least over the last couple of years. It's
these new sidelines that are killing them now. While it may take
new ownership to make it happen, they might make a comeback by
tossing all but books, and scrambling once more to the top of
this niche. Then again, it may already be too late. Barns &
Nobel has not been idle.

If Amazon Can't Make This Happen, Can You?

No way. If you have a site which lacks focus, begin cutting
stuff left and right. Amazon's only hope of survival is to drop
all products except books. While the content of your site may
not lead to such a clear cut conclusion, begin searching now for
deadwood, stuff of interest only to off-target visitors. Find
it, then cut it, for the benefit of the entire site.

What To Look For

Ah, hah. There's a piece of the stuff. That Amazon.Com
button. Unless you are determined to support a losing battle,
you are likely hoping to make bucks with this. How much did you
make off that button last month? Five bucks would be unusually
high. But regardless of income, trash that button and narrow
your site focus by at least this much.

A valid purpose to link to Amazon would be to make it easy
for your visitors to check out a book you are certain they would
love to know about. In making such a link, make it directly to
the book. I surely don't want anybody thinking even for an
instant that a buck in profit off a book means anything to me.

Over Crowded Sites Abound

You see lots of sites overstuffed with all sorts of things.
You can probably see in seconds several things that should go.
That banner exchange. That listing of affiliate programs. And
you can probably see a need for a clearer statement of what the
site is all about, right up top.

It's far more difficult to look at your own site with the
objectivity you have when looking at that of a stranger for we
tend to fall in love with our creations. And we become
accustomed to things we have seen often, even if we had
reservations when we put them up.

Get around this by asking others to take a hard look at your
site. Friends are hesitant to knock, but give it a try. Ask
each to find three things (three to keep it simple) that should
go, be improved or added. Further, as you surf, look for people
offering a free site evaluation. Take up every offer you can
find.

Be Tops In A Niche And Ignore All Else

It's impossible to be king of all hills. Amazon is learning
this. Hopefully you already see the futility of this approach,
that it is doomed to failure. If you have not yet realized this,
your site may need a serious overhaul. Whatever the case, see
how much deadwood you can cut from your site. A little bit of
pruning can bring about solid improvement.

About the Author

Bob McElwain
Want to build a winning site? Improve one you already
have? Fix one that's busted? Get ANSWERS. Subscribe
to "STAT News" now! mailto:join-stat@lists.dundee.net
Web marketing and consulting since 1993
Site:
Phone: 209-742-6349

Bob McElwain