If sheer enthusiasm can convince banks to pay for space on the Internet, then Ira H. Aurit is in good shape.
To produce and promote BankSite Online - a World Wide Web site providing consumers with information on bank services - Mr. Aurit has dug deep into his pockets, worked almost round-the-clock for seven months, and sent out an 11,000-piece mailing.
"Anything you want to know about bank loans and services is on our site," Mr. Aurit said. "This is a piece of magic here."
For consumers, there are quizzes to gauge qualifications for loans, and a state-by-state guide to banks that could issue them. There also is a page in the works that will list bank interest rates, and any bank in the country will be able to post its rates every day at no charge.
For banks that desire greater prominence, $75 a month will buy an advertising banner on BankSite Online, including a "hyperlink" for an immediate connection to that institution's Web site.
"Everything on our site is very highly interactive and motivational in nature," Mr. Aurit said.
"We're going to get consumers to keep coming back, to bookmark the site. And we only send them to banks. We don't have interesting links for consumers to go someplace else."
Mr. Aurit is president of Forms Group, a small outfit in Scottsdale, Ariz., that has spent 20 years supplying banks with a line of brochures called "Score Yourself." By answering a short list of personal questions, customers can size up what kind of mortgage, auto loan, or home equity line of credit they might qualify for.
Mr. Aurit has posted these products on his Web site, and found that the medium has expanded what he can offer.
"When you take the auto loan test and you get your points, it shows all the makes and models of all the vehicles in your price range," he said.
BankSite Online is up and running, but the 25 or so banks that have signed up to advertise won't be connected until the fall, when Mr. Aurit plans an advertising blitz to spread the word about his project.
Just this week he added a new feature: a template that will enable any bank to design its own 10-page Web site and post it through Mr. Aurit's server for $150 a month.
Bankers could "click on a layout, click on the background colors and patterns, key in their text, and have their pages automatically installed on the Internet," Mr. Aurit said. "They can come back every day, and with the click of a button, they can change the design of their site."
Cathryn Thaler, vice president of marketing at Shoreline Financial Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich., called Mr. Aurit's service "a neat way to get on (the Internet) in a hurry."
"As a $700 million bank, we really couldn't see putting the money into Web pages to make them as interactive as they really should be to draw interest," she said.
"When I found out we could hyperlink to Ira's site, which is totally interactive, and post our brochures on our own site, I was really excited."
Even some larger banks have responded enthusiastically. Laurie Turner, vice president and senior branch manager in consumer lending at $20 billion-asset Union Bank of California said she welcomes the opportunity to place an advertising banner offering a link to the bank's home page.
Mike Smith, vice president of advertising at United Carolina Bank in Whiteville, N.C., said the year Mr. Aurit's "loanability" brochures were introduced, the bank saw a 13% increase in applications. He is hoping BankSite will produce similar results.
"Ira's very energetic about it, and we're anxious to see how it works out," Mr. Smith said.