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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
PowerBlog Review: ReachCustomersOnline.com

Editor's note: Welcome to the thirty-eighth in our regular weekly series of PowerBlog Reviews of business weblogs.

This week's PowerBlog Review is about the blog ReachCustomersOnline.com.

The title describes the site as "an online magazine that offers free how-to internet knowledge for budget-minded businesses and the designers, programmers, and others who support them."

The power behind the scenes at ReachCustomersOnline.com is Tim Slavin, who along with his wife is a business writer and owner of Red House Communications, LLC. Tim blogs from Wilton, Connecticut, USA.

Tim says he started the site to help business people figure out no-cost and
low-cost ways to integrate the internet into their businesses. He says:

"When I publish anything, I have in mind 4-5 people I know first hand who are bright accomplished business people and yet they find the internet too expensive, too complex, and too difficult a place to find information.

However, they understand the power, for example, of sending emails to their customers who walk into their stores, restaurants, and offices. They just don't know how to harness that power. And they do not want to be ripped off. They want to start with a Hyundai or KIA solution then graduate to a Honda and beyond if they can justify the cost based on positive impact on their business."
ReachCustomersOnline.com is an interesting example of a hybrid site. Partly it is a blog and partly it is an online magazine.

On the one hand there are some typical blog features: a home page with shorter blog posts, arranged in chronological order with the most recent posts appearing at the top of the page.

But you will also find considerably more content than fits into the narrow confines of a weblog format. As Tim points out about the hybrid format:
"Posting items on a blog is simply one more way to convey information. Besides a need for long form content like articles and reviews, my audience also needs quick digestible content that helps them find good tools, services, and best practices."
For instance, longer articles have their own section in the site.

And the articles are extraordinarily detailed how-to's about the Internet. They're also on subjects you aren't likely to find elsewhere. Topics include everything from how to code an HTML email newsletter, to web page layout 101.

ReachCustomersOnline.com also offers a free weekly newsletter, copies of which can be found online, too. The newsletter repurposes content from the blog posts. In other words, the newsletter is yet another format for conveying information.

As Tim points out, blogging tools today are free or almost free; easy to use; and powerful. They enable Tim to reach out to potential customers in many different countries. And, as Tim also points out, the site gives him a sense of community and useful purpose, along with a feeling of "happy chaos" that comes from interacting with his users.

I also want to point out one more feature of the site, and that is the awesome "Resources" section. This section of the site is actually a set of links and mini-reviews of products and services. But it contains resources that you probably haven't ever heard of. One thing I guarantee: once having found this resources section, you will be forever hooked.

Right now everything on the site is free -- Tim strongly believes that users should always have substantial free content. In the future, though, he would like to launch a paid newsletter service, to provide even more useful content to users.

The Power: The Power of ReachCustomersOnline.com is in the way it stretches the boundaries of the blog format. This is a site in which a blog, a newsletter, and a website all converge into one coordinated way of reaching people with information. The Power is also in the phenomenal niche topic articles and resources assembled on the site.
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