How the Web Changes
the Old Marketing Rules

By Mike Moran, OBM Press, 408 pp., $24.99

Reviewed by Richard Pachter

It's not just your imagination. Things really are moving faster. Where radio and television had been the prime accelerants during the last century, the Internet is indisputably the main catalyst for the rapid spread of ideas, memes, cultural tics - and commerce. It also opens up new opportunities worldwide, provided a company can break through the growing cacophony and establish its site as a prime destination for buyers seeking its product or service.

That great wise man and prophet Seth Godin advocated testing and retesting on the Web a long time ago, but I would like to boldly suggest that he was wrong. Well, not entirely incorrect, perhaps. Instead, the point of testing things might be to determine what works and what doesn't, and then presumably stick with the most effective ideas. Yet, considering how quickly things change, something that doesn't cut it or seems ineffective now may later become supersuccessful.

Author Mike Moran knows that, so he discusses the myriad ways that marketers can use the Web to connect with customers. But it is not just marketers who will benefit from his advice. In a sense, everyone is a marketer as the Web levels the playing field and democratizes the process; you could be a multimillionaire or a schlep who lived in his car, and no one would know the difference, judging solely from your Web presence. Moran cites numerous examples of relatively ordinary people who use the Web to find and interact with prospective customers.

He also discusses specific tactics and strategies, basically starting with a clean slate and minimal skill set. Unlike the dark ages (of a few years back), there are plenty of places providing free and unencumbered Web sites and templates that do not require more than the most rudimentary html skills to create a decent and even attractive Web presence. Moran also tackles blogging, podcasts, e-mail and other methods to engage customers.

He readily acknowledges that there is no one right way or combination of ways to use the Web for marketing, so if you "do it wrong quickly," you will also have the opportunity to get it right faster and more efficiently.

And not everyone has the time and energy to do it themselves, though Moran ably demonstrates that one can proceed alone or, budget permitting, engage the services of one or more professionals, though the emphasis throughout is on do-it-yourself methods.

I also liked how Moran, an engineer and former International Business Machines Corp. product manager, simplifies things to the point where the least Web-savvy among us can readily comprehend most of his ideas, though more experienced readers will not feel slighted or condescended to either. But this is not an advanced text, so if you are seeking insights into the intricacies of search engine optimization, I would suggest going elsewhere.

Nonetheless, for those looking for an entertaining and informative discussion of harnessing the power of the Net by making mistakes and rapidly learning from them, this is a superb place to start. This inspired and inspirational look at the internal and external forces at work in our world would also make a great gift, but be sure that you keep a copy for yourself, too.