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Designing a Mequoda Internet Hub and Internet Marketing System

The Mequoda Internet Hub is the heart of a high-performance Internet Marketing System that is fueling extreme growth for the handful of savvy information marketers that have one. Here are some lessons learned from analyzing more than 20 existing Internet Hubs and then designing and building six Mequoda Internet Hubs for a variety of publishers.

Executive Summary

  • An Internet Hub is the key driver of a successful Internet Marketing System.
  • An Internet Hub can be used to drive advertising or information product sales.
  • Building a successful Internet Hub requires a paradigm shift in thinking for print publishers and authors away from a print-centric media strategy.

We’ve been guiding the design of what we now call Mequoda Internet Hubs since 1995. Our 17-person Mequoda Research Team began formally documenting their existence, operation and performance in early 2004. To date, we’ve found more than 20 and documented 11 Internet Hubs (and Networks) in case studies available in the Mequoda Daily.

Mequoda System™ Case Study Criteria
What tips us off to the existence of a Mequoda Internet Hub and Internet Marketing System is multiple year annual revenue growth of more than 10 percent—and more than 10 percent of total revenue being generated online. Each of the above organizations has maintained 30 percent plus annual growth for three to five years and most currently generate at least 20 percent of their total media revenue online. Many are much higher in both growth rate and percent of revenue generated online.

Agora, Inc. (The Daily Reckoning Network, plus four others), for example, has almost doubled revenue every year for six years and in 2005 will generate 52 percent ($110 million of $210 million) of total revenues online. Like many of the media organizations we’ve studied, most of Agora’s online revenue is generated by selling physical information products: print newsletters, books, courses and live events. Others, like Forbes and Ask the Builder generate the majority of their online revenue selling CPM and CPA online advertising that drives users to other Internet websites. The Mequoda Internet Hub is agnostic in regard to business model. It generates massive, loyal, targeted Internet traffic that can be directed to any of the six website archetypes identified by our research. It is a 24/7 nexus for up to 15 marketing sources that can convert an unknown surfer into a loyal user.

Why Are Hubs Hard to Find?
If Mequoda Internet Hubs are so important to the success of an Internet Marketing System, why are they so hard to find? Because they represent a major shift in thinking, a paradigm shift, for most information marketers—especially those like me who grew up in traditional print publishing. The Internet Hub becomes the Super Brand at the center of a media network that will, based on reach and frequency, surpass the print brand from which it may have been born. Hence, many successful Mequoda Internet Hubs we’ve documented, like The Motley Fool, were born as online brands and then extended their brand to print products after building the brand online.

A Mequoda Internet Hub and Internet Marketing System excels at four things:

  1. Attracting qualified prospects using free, valuable content.
  2. Converting unknown prospects into free newsletters subscribers.
  3. Leveraging free valuable content to build and maintain media brand trust.
  4. Directing qualified traffic to many Mequoda Network Satellites for monetization.

From Teaching to Designing
I spend most of my time doing primary research and teaching publishers about the Mequoda System, Mequoda Internet Hubs and Internet Marketing Systems. In early 2005, we formed the Mequoda Design Team to create and build Mequoda Internet Hubs and Internet Marketing Systems based on the findings of our research. Since its inception, the team has designed six Mequoda Internet Hubs and Internet Marketing Systems. Two of the six are now live: the Mequoda Daily and Mother Earth Living. The other four are due to launch in late 2005 and early 2006.

In large part, we formed the Mequoda Design Team because we thought the process could be done better for less. In 2004, I served as an advisor to three different publishers who were building Mequoda Internet Hubs based on our research. Two used outside design firms at a cost of $170,000 and $280,000 respectively, for development and testing of a clickable HTML prototype. The third organization used resources from their creative services group that were charged out at about $150,000.

Aimee Graeber, the partner who now leads the Mequoda Design Team, will complete our sixth Mequoda Internet Hub in about two weeks. Aimee is an expert in project management, information architecture, website usability, Internet marketing and system development. Her team includes four website designers, three usability experts and two top direct response copywriters. Most of the team members have worked together for about five years on and off and were part of Aimee’s 35-person system development team at Blue Dolphin Group, where Aimee and I first worked together.

Being an analyst at heart, I decided to benchmark the time and cost required to build a first rate Mequoda Internet Hub by averaging the six projects Aimee’s team has been responsible for in 2005. Here’s what I found:

Mequoda Internet Hub: Average System Design Time & Cost
Hours Cost
Project Management 90.4 $18,080
Website Design 80.4 $12,053
Usability Testing 50.2 $7,533
Total System Design Cost 221.0 $37,667

Note: Project Management includes client management, team management, information architecture, technical documentation and quality assurance testing.

The early projects took 12 to 14 weeks to complete. Aimee and her team can now design and test a new Mequoda Internet Hub in about seven to ten weeks, depending on the complexity.

For me, the guy who trains people to use a Mequoda Internet Hub and Internet Marketing System, the lower cost and time to deliver a Hub means more people can afford to have one, and the time from start to revenue generation is cut in half. Aimee’s goal is to design, test and deploy 24 Mequoda Internet Hubs in 2006. I just hope I can train people to use them as fast as Aimee and her team can make them.

All kidding aside, because Aimee’s team requires little input from me, I can spend more time doing what I love to do: basic research and training people to use Internet Hubs and Internet Marketing Systems to drive their organizations revenue and profit growth as fast as they can. It’s good to have focus.

Suggested Discussion Questions

  1. Do you generate more or less than 10 percent of your revenue online?
  2. Is your organization growing revenue faster than 10 percent per year?
  3. Is the Internet a major revenue driver for your organization?

Note: The details of the case have been modified to protect the identity of the publisher and program. If you’ve got a case study you’d like to share, send me an email. Your privacy is my top concern.

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