Approximately 27 million people worldwide have access to the
World Wide Web (WWW) and it is estimated that by the end of 1997
36 million will have Web access. No matter what your business
is, you can't ignore 27 million people. To be a part of that
community and show that you are interested in serving them, you
need to be on the WWW for them. You know your competitors will.
A lot of what passes for business is simply nothing
more than making connections with other people. Every
smart business person knows, it's not what you know,
it's who you know. Passing out your business card
is part of every good meeting and every business
person can tell more than one story how a chance
meeting turned into the big deal. Well, what if you
could pass out your business card to thousands, maybe
millions of potential clients and partners, saying
this is what I do and if you are ever in need of
my services, this is how you can reach me. You can,
24 hours a day, inexpensively and simply, on the
What is basic business information? Think of a Yellow
Pages ad. What are your hours? What do you do? How
can someone contact you? What methods of payment
do you take? Where are you located at? Now think
of a Yellow Pages ad where you have instant communication.
What is today's special? Today's interest rate? Next
week's parking lot sale information? If you could
keep your customer informed of every reason why they
should do business with you, don't you think you
could do more business? You can on the WWW.
Making business information available is one of the
most important ways to serve your customers. But
if you look at serving the customer, you'll find
even more ways to use WWW technology. How about making
forms available to pre-qualify for loans, or have
your staff do a search for that classic jazz record
your customer is looking for, without tying up your
staff on the phone to take down the information?
Allow your customer to punch in sizes and check it
against a database that tells him what color of jacket
is available in your store? All this can be done,simply,
quickly and inexpensively, on the WWW.
You won't get Newsweek magazine to write up your
local store opening, but you might get them to write
up your Web Page address if it is something new and
interesting. Even if Newsweek would write about your
local store opening, you wouldn't benefit from someone
in a distant city reading about it, unless of course,
they were coming to your town sometime soon. With
Web page information, anybody anywhere who can access
the Web and hears about you is a potential visitor
to your Web site and a potential customer for your
What if your materials
need to be released no earlier than midnight? The quarterly
earnings statement, the grand prize winner, the press kit
for the much anticipated film, the merger news? Well, you
sent out the materials to the press with "The-do-not-release-before-such-and-such-time" statement
and hope for the best. Now the information can be
made available at midnight or any time you specify,
with all related materials such as photographs, bios,
etc. released at exactly the same time. Imagine the
anticipation of "All materials will be made available
on our Web site at 12:01 AM". The scoop goes to
those that wait for the information to be posted,
not the one who releases your information early.
Many people think that this is the number 1 thing
to do with the World Wide Web, but we made it number
seven to make it clear that we think you should consider
selling things on the Internet and the World Wide
Web after you have done all the things above and
maybe even after doing quite a few more things from
this list. Why? Well, the answer is complex but the
best way to put it is, do you consider the telephone
the best place to sell things? Probably not. You
probably consider the telephone a tool that allows
you to communicate with your customer, which in turn
helps you sell things. Well, that's how we think
you should consider the WWW. The technology is different,
of course, but before people decide to become customers,
they want to know about you, what you do and what
you can do for them. Which you can do easily and
inexpensively on the WWW. When you are ready to sell,
make sure you have the best in current Web technology
without paying so much that you won't make a profit
until the next century. That's smart business.
What if your widget is great, but people would really
love it if they could see it in action? The album
is great but with no airplay, nobody knows that it
sounds great? A picture is worth a thousand words,
but you don't have the space for a thousand words?
The WWW allows you to add sound, pictures and short
movie files to your company's info if that will serve
your potential customers. No brochure will do that.
The demographic of the WWW user is probably the highest mass-market
demographic available. Usually college-educated or being college
educated, making a high salary or soon to make a high salary,
it's no wonder that Wired magazine, the magazine of choice
to the Internet community, has no problem getting Lexus and
other high-end marketer's advertising. Even with the addition
of the commercial on-line community, the demographic will remain
high for many years to come.
Whoever answers the phones in your organization can tell you,
their time is usually spent answering the same questions over
and over again. These are the questions customers and potential
customers want to know the answer to before they deal with
you. Post them on a WWW page and you will have removed another
barrier to doing business with you and free up some time for
that harried phone operator.
Your employees on the road may need up-to-the-minute information
that will help them make the sale or pull together the deal.
If you know what that information is, you can keep it posted
in complete privacy on the WWW. A quick local phone call can
keep your staff supplied with the most detailed information,
without long distance phone bills and tying up the staff at
the home office.
You may not be able to make sense of the mail, phone and regulation
systems in all your potential international markets, but with
a Web page, you can open up a dialogue with international markets
as easily as with the company across the street. As a matter-of-fact,
before you go onto the Web, you should decide how you want
to handle the international business that will come your way,
because your postings are certain to bring international opportunities
your way, whether it is part of your plan or not. Another added
benefit; if your company has offices overseas, they can access
the home offices information for the price of a local phone
call. Plus, you can find markets for your products that could
never reach you before at a reasonable cost.
If you've ever remembered too late or too early to call the
opposite coast, you know the hassle. We're not all on the same
schedule. Business is worldwide but your office hours aren't.
Trying to reach Asia or Europe is even more frustrating. But
Web pages serve the client, customer and partner 24 hours a
day, seven days a week. No overtime either. It can customize
information to match needs and collect important information
that will put you ahead of the competition, even before they
get into the office.
Sometimes, information changes before it gets off the press.
Now you have a pile of expensive, worthless paper. Electronic
publishing changes with your needs. No paper, no ink, no printer's
bill. You can even attach your web page to a database which
customizes the page's output to a database you can change as
many times in a day as you need. No printed piece can match
You pass out the brochure, the catalog, the booklet. But it
doesn't work. No sales, no calls, no leads. What went wrong?
Wrong color, wrong price, wrong market? Keep testing, the marketing
books say, and you'll eventually find out went wrong. That's
great for the big boys with deep pockets, but who is paying
the bills? You are and you don't have the time nor the money
to wait for the answer. With a Web page, you can ask for feedback
and get it instantaneously with no extra cost. An instant e-mail
response can be built into Web pages and can get the answer
while its fresh in your customers mind, without the cost and
lack of response of business reply mail.
Tied into the reason above, we all know the cost of rolling
out a new product. Advertising, advertising, advertising, PR
and advertising. Expensive, expensive, expensive. Once you
have been on the Web and know what to expect from those who
are seeing your page, they are the least expensive market for
you to reach. They will also let you know what they think of
your product faster, easier and much less expensively than
any other market you may reach. For the cost of a page or two
of Web programming, you can have a crystal ball into where
to position your product or service in the marketplace. Amazing.
Every kind of business
needs the exposure that the media can bring, as we touched
on in reason #5 "To Heighten Public Interest",
but what if your business is reaching the media, as a newswire,
a publicist or a public policy group. The media is the most
wired profession today, since their main product is information
and they can get it more quickly, cheaply and easily on-line.
On-line press kits are becoming more and more common, since
they work with the digital environment of more and more pressrooms.
Digital images can be put in place without the stripping
and shooting of the old pressrooms and digital text can be
edited and outputed on tight deadlines. All the these can
be made available on a Web page.
If your market is education, consider that most universities
already offer Internet access to their students and most K-12's
will be on the Internet within the next few years. Books, athletic
shoes, study courses, youth fashion and anything else that
would want to reach these overlapping markets needs to be on
the Web. Even with the coming of the commercial on-line services
and their somewhat older populations there will be nothing
but growth in the percentage of the under 25 market that will
Sell fish tanks, art reproductions, flying lessons? You may
think that the Internet is not a good place to be. Well, think
again. The Internet isn't just computer science students anymore.
With the 27 million and growing users of the WWW, even the
most narrowly defined interest group will be represented in
large numbers. Since the Web has several very good search programs,
your interest group will be able to find you, or your competitors.
We've talked about the power to serve the world with a Web
page. How about your neighborhood? If you are located in San
Francisco Bay Area, the Raleigh NC area, Boston or New York,
there is probably enough local customers with Web access to
make it worth your while to consider Web marketing. A local
Palo Alto, CA restaurant even takes lunch orders through the
Internet! But no matter where you are, if the big client has
Web access, you should be there too. You can make the Web a
cost-effective retail location no matter where your market