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Issue April 2003                               "Keeping Businesses Moving Towards Success"

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In today’s marketplace, marketing on the Internet is not really a choice anymore and has almost become a necessity.  Every business should consider a website. For the vast majority, a website can be a very effective sales strategy and marketing tool.

Whether or not you actually sell your product or service on the web, your site can be a starting point for prospects to go to for information about your company and it's product or service.  No company, either large or small, can afford to ignore the fact that online marketing is now a multi-billion-dollar business. Those businesses without an online presence are missing out on a huge opportunity of potential customers. Here are some statistics to make you aware of just how valuable the Internet can be:

    • Over 50 million Americans are currently online at work, according to a new report from eMarketer and The Wall Street Journal.  That reflects about 37% of all U.S. workers.
    • Online retail sales in the US surpassed 45 billion in 2002, reports the E-commerce Times.
    • A new study from the online research firm of Ipsos-Reid indicates that Internet users are going online more frequently.  The survey found that the US has the highest incidence of Internet usage with 72 percent of the population going online at least once within the previous month.

Some advantages of having a web site:

  • Low Cost - Utilizing the Internet for your business is very inexpensive. Unlimited connect accounts are generally available for less than $20/month and include Internet access and e-mail. You can start off with just using electronic mail (e-mail) as a way to communicate with existing customers and new ones.

  • Technology Is Available To Everyone  - In the past, small businesses lacked the resources available to its larger, corporate competitors.  In the present day and age, small businesses have just as much access to available technologies.  Small businesses can now use auto-responders for email, accept online payments and even deliver products over the Internet.

  • Professional Image - Your competition has a web site or they will soon and you don't want them to make a better first impression to a potential client.

  • Customer Contact Made Easy - The Internet makes it possible to capture visitor information. Keeping in touch (via email) helps to establish long-term relationships.  Promotions such as running contests, or product specials can be a good way to attract web traffic and sales to an business,

  • Customer Support - Provide personalized support for your customers with answers to common questions; assistance on specific products or services, provide a variety of ways in which you can be contacted. Do all this without answering a phone or hiring additional staff. and you can be open for business 24 hours a day.  When you have a website, potential customers can find out about your products and services any time that is convenient to them.

  • International Reach - The Internet is being used on a regular basis by millions worldwide with more "connecting" every day. Many of the new users come from countries around the world. They want to buy the "latest and greatest" products.  The information you provide on your website is instantly available to every one of these users.

  • Test New Ideas -  When you use the Internet, you can try new ideas usually for little invested on your part.   A questionnaire on a web site, or by email, can test very quickly and inexpensively to see whether a product gets a good response.  If it doesn't work, OK, you learned. Modify your idea or improve it. At the very least you've learned something. 

  • Update or change your products and services  - If you have produced catalogs or brochures, you know how difficult and expensive it is to change them. With an Internet site, changing anything from your phone number to a product price is a simple and inexpensive process.

  • Specials - Say you just received a new product and you want to advertise a "special." Reaching your customers via the phone, sending a letter, or FAX would be time-consuming and expensive. With the Internet you can send out an e-mail to 500 of your best customers with the click of your mouse. You can put a "SPECIAL" notice on your website advertising the new product.

"You have permission to reprint this article in your e-zine, at your website or in your newsletter.  The only requirement is including the following byline..."

*Article by Patricia Kopp.  Visit www.creativeBUSINESSworks.com for more original content on marketing tips, sales strategies and business success.
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