“When the man dances, certainly boys what else. The piper pays him.” So concludes the musical introduction to Prof. Harold Hill, “The Music Man” of the 1958 Meredith Wilson musical, a role made famous by the late great Robert Preston.
The Web has lots of Music Men. Steve Case is, of course, the best among them. Not only does he get stores to pay rent for places on America Online he gets rent out of his information providers.
Many Web sites have learned this lesson, using alliances to fill out their product lines. Infospace, which started as a directory service, has been doing this effectively for years and its main menu now links to such information providers as U.S. Search, Women.Com, and MSN. Xoom.Com, which started with free e-mail and home page services, has such alliances with NECX Direct, Amazon.Com, BuyDirect and, most recently, JobOptions, a job classified service. (They’re number nine on the most recent Hot100 list of the most popular sites, from Web21.com.)
My point is that any site can play this game. My own site recently made its archives searchable through Freefind. Their pitch was it would be easy for my Webmaster to implement. In most cases you can get these services through a simple exchange of traffic, but the more powerful (in terms of traffic) your partner is, the tougher their terms will become.
So negotiating deals that add services to sites has become one of the great games of today’s Net. Small sites can get free services, big sites demand payments, but at the end of the day we’re usually just talking about a tracked link. Certainly, you’ve gotten these kinds of offers, so let’s hear about your experiences with them. What were your horror stories, and your glory stories? Have you picked up any patterns you’d like to share with your fellow entrepreneurs?
Let’s share our knowledge and get better. What do you think? Let’s talk about it.