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Six years ago,
Agora Publishing decided to test a theory - to see whether the same
methods used in running a successful publishing business offline could
be translated into running a profitable online business.

Did it work?

In fact, the results
were remarkable - so much so that savvy online businesspeople now refer
to this as the "Agora Model." Even so, the approach seems
to fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

"Build a website,"
they say, "and people will visit that website in droves and buy
your products."

But people don't
tend to do that. Just throwing up a website with details about your
products and copy taken from your corporate brochure does not appeal
to people's emotions.

Even if you have
top-10 search engine placements on all your keywords, a website will
bring in only a small fraction of sales compared to what you could be
realizing by using the Agora Model.

In the Agora Model,
the main idea - the new paradigm, dare I suggest - is that online marketing
works best when:

  • You have a person's
    permission to contact him.
  • You have already
    established a relationship with that person. He recognizes you and
    has a sense that he already knows you (to some extent).
  • You offer the
    person something of value beyond what it is that you would like him
    to buy from you.
  • When you do
    this, the person doesn't feel that you are trying to sell him something.
    People online like "being sold to" about as much as ...
    well, about as much as they like it offline. They don't!

Any direct-response
marketer knows that the most important thing in building their business
is to grow their "house file" - the list of people to whom
they are able to communicate.

In the Agora Model,
this translates into the "e-list" - a list of people (along
with their e-mail addresses) who have given you permission to communicate
with them online.

You can make a
lot of money in conventional direct response, but it can also cost you
a lot to build your mailing list and to print and mail letters to potential
customers. It seems logical, then, that you should want to build an
online e-list instead. After all, it's almost free to send e-mail -
and the technology you need to build and maintain your e-list costs
next to nothing.

But how do you
find these people, obtain their e-mail addresses, and gain their permission
to communicate with them online?

It's not by sending
out sp*m. This approach is unethical and illegal - and it doesn't even

So the team at
Agora decided to test whether offering free online newsletters ("e-letters")
- filled with interesting, inspiring, and useful content, ideas, and
information - would motivate people to sign up to continue to receive
them. The idea was that if people would do that, the three core tenets
of the proposed model would be fulfilled: (1) You would have their permission
to contact them. (2) You would have an established relationship with
them. (3) You would be giving them something of value beyond what you
would like them to buy from you.

People sign up
for these e-letters and tell their friends about them. Then those people
sign up and tell their friends. The marketers at Agora built their e-lists
with these names - and came up with creative ideas to help source new
e-mail addresses and marketing opportunities.

The Agora team
now has many successful online newsletters, all contributing to the
almost $100 million of online sales that the companies within the Agora
group enjoyed last year. (This year looks like it's going to be even

Most website designers
and Internet experts will tell you that almost every principle Agora
has followed in doing business online should not work.

But it does. The
Agora Model is known to be successful.

But can you learn
how to repeat that success?

Michael Masterson
says it takes about 1,000 hours of practice to become really competent
at just about any valuable skill (copywriting, marketing, martial arts,
playing a musical instrument, etc.). If you have expert guidance from
a masterful teacher, you may be able to cut that to as little as 500

And anyone who
has read of or who practices NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) knows
that copying (mirroring) an expert in any field with the help of a skilled
teacher will help you greatly accelerate your learning curve.

Watch an expert.
Copy what they do. And put in your time. That's what it takes to become
an expert in anything - including online marketing.

Start small - but
start now.

That's what I'm
going to help you do in future ETR messages. In upcoming weeks, you'll
learn how to put the proven Agora Model into action - and how to use
it to start, grow, or expand your own online business.

Author's Bio: 

(Ed. Note: David Cross is Senior Internet Consultant to Agora Publishing in Baltimore. He is responsible for brainstorming and testing new ideas and developing new Internet marketing campaigns. Prior to working with Agora, David was CEO of a European software-development and Web-hosting company. He has extensive direct-marketing and sales experience, including work as a guest presenter on QVC in the UK.

David will be hosting Agora Learning Institute's Internet Marketing Teleseminar on May 17th. He will show attendees how to build a million-dollar online business using Agora's $100 million Internet marketing techniques. Please click here for more details)