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The E-Space (Oiltrash.com article featured on Verticle Net's Oilandgasonline's website  
Date: November-14-2000

The E-Space

By Ryan Bernard
President, Wordmark Associates, Inc.

Reprinted with permission by www.oilandgasonline.com

Oiltrash.com: The petroleum industry portal for the guys in the trenches

It’s no secret that oil and gas sites for the suit-and-tie brigade are taking hold on the Web. But what about a site for the guys in the field, on the rigs, and in the trenches who are just getting online? Based in Denver, and launched last year, Oiltrash.com is that site.

Tab McGinley, Oiltrash’s founder and CEO, came up with the idea when a colleague proposed that they create a niche site in oil and gas. “At the time, most of the oil and gas sites were prospect-oriented,” says McGinley. “I’ve been running a small operations company for about four years. I thought going to the small service providers and focusing on them would be a good niche, and we’ve run from there.”

According to McGinley, the site attracts visitors with basic everyday information that’s useful to them, and not presented in an overwhelming, highly stylized Web setting. The inviting fonts and intuitive layout make it easy for old and new Web users alike to take advantage of what the site has to offer. “Our site is more about people than it is about technological advances,” he says. “Although we do promote people who are on the cutting edge of technology.”

McGinley says the “oil trash” designation is recognized throughout the industry, and as a Web address it’s easy to remember and easy to spell. “It’s a double-edged sword, in that a lot of people don’t want the association, but our aim is to get people to come look at the site and remember the name,” he says.

Oiltrash initially focused on posting equipment listings, but has since added inexpensive advertising for consultants. “We’re also starting to get involved with people traveling and out in the field,” says McGinley. “They can utilize the site’s resources when looking for places to stay, jobs, equipment, tools. We’re also strongly promoting the building of very affordable Web pages for individuals and small companies, and this is becoming a growing part of our business model.”

McGinley says industry feedback has helped him add new features to the site. “A lot of it comes from thousands of hours of talking to people,” he says. “We have three different sales people out in the field, and ideas filter through from there. We know we can’t do everything, so we try to keep our focus on our core audience.”

McGinley has added features to the site that appeal to both the occasional and the daily visitor, based on feedback and his background in the industry. “It’s based on my 20 years of experience and trying to figure out what people out there want,” he says. “We also utilize my contacts and landman and operations background.”

McGinley adds that the site has been a learn-as-you-go endeavor. “We got it going in ignorance – a new business with new technology,” he says. “It’s been a significant learning experience, and has taken much more time than we imagined.”

As for competition, McGinley knows the marketspace is filled with sites offering similar information, but serving his audience with niche-specific content and resources remains his first priority. “We always have concerns about competition,” he says. “There are new sites all the time – some are competitors and some are not.”

“We see what other sites are doing, but we try to stay focused on the people we talk to every day,” he says. “There’s no question that we look around, but we primarily try to maintain our focus and stick with our ideas … throwing something against the wall and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t.”

“We have a bunch of neat stuff, and in trying to maintain our focus, we find it’s important to keep things simple,” he says. “We keep gifs to a minimum so the site downloads quickly – people can go in and out quickly and go about their business. Everyone is so darn busy as it is.”

McGinley says the company is going through another round of funding to promote the site, and trade shows and word of mouth help publicize it as well. People at all levels are finding out about Oiltrash. “We got a three-page letter from a guy in prison down in Texas wanting a job,” says McGinley. “And that’s where our site is unique – we’re attracting folks who are just getting involved in computers.”

Many of his customers, McGinley says, have gotten a mobile phone and a fax machine only in the last year, and are just now getting PCs on their desks and Internet access. “We’re trying to make sure that people on a slow-running modem can get the information they need,” he says. “But we're also trying to hit every level of the market, and not just concentrate on the mom and pops.”

McGinley took Oiltrash online extremely quickly – it was only three weeks from idea to launch in October of 1999. “People have seen us grow over time, and experienced our growing pains,” he says. “We know what a small and close-knit business the oil and gas industry is, and we don’t want to make any gross mistakes. We keep going forward, and people are just very pleased with our final product.”


Author: Ryan Bernard,President, Wordmark Assoc.





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