Focus on Technology: Value-added service on the Net
One day last summer, a million Americans went to theaters to watch a movie. That same day, 300,000 went to ballparks to watch major league baseball. That evening, 11 million households tuned in to the highest-rated television program.
These three activities are supposedly Americans' most popular pastimes. Yet at least 20 million Americans logged onto their computers to cruise through cyberspace that same day.
The Internet is undeniably a phenomenon of interest and enthusiasm that becomes more popular every day. People and businesses are using the Internet to get information, sell products, offer services and expand their existing marketing strategies. In fact, the Internet is becoming an electronic market, a bustling carnival of attractions. If you were visiting it for the first time, you'd have a hard time deciding what to look at first. And if you are exhibiting here, you have a challenge to attract attention.
An excellent way to attract visitors to your Web site is by adding value to it. The principle is the same in cyberspace as it is in the physical marketplace along your supply chain. You must secure the loyalty of your suppliers and customers by giving them something more than a fair price. In the temporal world, this may be just-in-time delivery or greater efficiencies in the warehouse. Online, it can be services that will also become sources of revenue. Consider the following as potential moneymakers for your site:
- Ad revenue. If you have been on the Web lately you quite probably have noticed a growing number of banner ads on search tools and popular sites. Companies with attractive sites may have opportunities to attract ad dollars and offset some development costs. Think of your site as an infrastructure for the distribution of information. The greater the demand for the information, the more traffic the site will enjoy -- making it appealing to advertisers.
- Content management. Companies with proprietary information ought to consider selling it. Visitors to Web sites want intellectual property or content ranging from tips on how to market a product to advice on selecting mutual funds. Your business may find real opportunities selling your intellectual capital.
A well-marketed clearing-house service that manages the sale of information from a number of sources can increase revenues from the content and direct many more buyers to the content owner?s Web site. In addition to generating revenue, value-added services online can solidify the bond between you and your suppliers and customers.
- Public relations. The Internet permits you to communicate directly with customers, consultants or analysts. You can make your original press releases, speeches, notes or memos available on your Web site. You can even offer an audio clip if you like. In all of these ways, you are making direct contact with the people you want to reach.
- Focus groups. Companies introducing a new product or service often test the market before they make a final commitment. Why not use your Web site to get that feedback? Put information about an upcoming product on the site, then ask people to comment, recommend additional features or react to a proposed price. You can also use the Web to solicit participants in a test and follow that with an online conference and discussion about the product. This approach not only saves you from the fees of a market research firm; it puts you directly in touch with your customer.
- Help. On any given day one of your customers will have a question, a comment or a complaint. What would he like better: calling between 9 and 5 and getting voice mail or being put on hold, or being able to get the information he wants any time of the day, any day of the week?
It is the prospect of doing business with individuals and companies anywhere in the world that is fueling so much entrepreneurial interest in electronic business. No other communications medium enables so many buyers and sellers to transact business globally by means of local telephone numbers. Join them.