This is Part I of a two-part series that will continue in the July issue.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is connected to the Internet ... yet. But the Internet is growing. According to International Data Corp. (IDC), a market research firm in Framingham, Mass., there are 2,100 new Internet users every hour. That’s 35 new potential customers every minute.
The problem is that everyone thinks he has the killer site, and what is overlooked is that more than 80 million Internet users can visit an estimated 15 million websites. That number is growing with 10,000 new company websites being added every day—that’s 417 every hour, seven every minute.
Justifying a Home Page
With this growth, corporate managers can justify the cost of developing and maintaining a home page. They simply show senior management business to consumer (B2C) sales and sales projections. Estimates of $360 billion by 2004 make corporate managers wonder if brick and mortar will give way to click and order.
But B2C sales look like chump change when we see business to business (B2B) sales were $114 billion in 1998 and by 2004 it is estimated B2B will be six times larger than B2C or more than $17.3 trillion (Deloitte Consulting).
During a recent Internet conference, a webmaster commented on how difficult it had been for him to justify his firm’s Web presence because the company was really a supplier to suppliers in the semiconductor industry. The company needed to raise visibility with system design engineers but didn’t really sell to these engineers. He was there to find out how he could make his website more interesting and attractive so people would come to the site for information on the company, its products and services and the benefits to the design engineer as well as learning how to link his site to other locations.
He explained that the idea of putting customer service, customer support and technical documentation on its website had never been brought up. We at Marken Communications explained that by giving customers (and customers of customers) 24-hour access to this information, the company could probably reduce support calls as well as printing, postage and fax bills.
By putting customer-oriented technology, application and manufacturing process information on the site, he could even approach customers about linking his home page to theirs.
When the session presentation was completed, we provided the inquiring webmaster a CD copy of our presentation, which contained some of the pertinent information he would need in moving forward.
The next day, he said he was up until 3 a.m. preparing Web-centric recommendations and had e-mailed them to the firm’s offices in Germany, Phoenix and Singapore. He already had received two endorsements including from the president and vice president of engineering.
The website had gone from being a marketing tool to a strategic communications tool between customers, suppliers and the company. It was no longer something that more than 160 million people might visit. Instead, it was going to be a global focal point for 1,000 customer locations.
About the Author
G.A. "Andy" Marken is president of Marken Communications, Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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