S P O N S O R S
Find out more
Hall Of Fame8 Corners of ECommerce
industry is on
the verge of
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
It's better to
All material on this
Click OK to receive our occasional Newsletter
If you have your own domain name, a site of more than (say) 20 pages, and have been on the Web for more than (say) a year, congratulations! You're a pioneer.
Estimates vary, but it seems fairly safe to assume that, worldwide, the Internet has between 30 and 40 million users. The number of domain names is around 1.25-1.5 million.
Minuscule in terms of a world population of about 6 billion.
The current model of doing business on the Web seems to be that of selling one's product or service to others, both on and off the Web, using our sites as showcases for what we sell.
If we restrict our customer base to those with Web access, we are reaching only a tiny proportion of our universe of customers.
As a pioneer, you may wish to consider an alternative business model.
That of forming strategic alliances or partnerships with other individuals and organizations at approximately the same level of "web sophistication" as you.
There is a sense in which one can see the Web as a pyramid. Those at the top have considerable web "savvy" and are relatively few in number. The bottom of the pyramid is constantly expanding as newcomers get on.
Think about the unique set of skills, knowledge and abilities you have. Now consider which areas of skill, knowledge and ability are complementary to your own.
For example, if you have training expertise, consider an area of knowledge you don't know about. Ally your training expertise to an intimate knowledge of (say) widgets. What you have is the potential to sell "Web Use for Widget Manufacturers" to unsophisticated widget dealers.
Not quite the cutthroat, competitive model we're used to.
But probably far more effective. And everyone's a winner... --John Blower
#1 The Web "levels the playing field" between small and large businesses.
Not so. Large businesses can bring more resources to bear in terms of design, maintenance, content, bandwidth and offline marketing and promotion.
This means that they will inevitably be able to build more traffic.
There's a sense in which they are therefore subscribing to a "broadcast" model of Web marketing (see below and in other articles).
In fact, there is room for a few, large players in this model - those that are able to generate millions of visits per week, and who rely on volume to shift their products or services.
However, the notion that the Web allows a small business to compete on those terms is simply not true.
#2 A Website is a "virtual storefront".
While it's true that a Website allows you to showcase your goods or services, to liken it to a storefront is a misleading analogy.
A successful store relies on constantly refreshed "content" (a window display) allied to a good location - one which is heavily trafficked by potential customers.
A website, on the other hand, is more like a telephone - it's communicative properties only come into play when the URL is entered into a user's browser, in much the same way that a telephone is a passive device until your number is dialed.
The notion of the heavily-trafficked neighborhood is given a lie by the relatively disappointing results experienced by online "malls".
This is because Web users are not casual shoppers. Web users are almost invariably seeking specific information. They will surf the Web, usually as a result of following links from a site they have entered to retrieve information on a specific topic.
There is absolutely no reason to assume that because a user enters a virtual "mall" that they will "drop in" to your storefront (which sells widgets) if they were looking for computer equipment.
#3 The Web is a low-cost medium.
An effective website is decidedly not low-cost! It consumes staff time in terms of design, architecture, provision of new content, maintenance and revision and responding to inquiries.
If you do not have the in-house ability to design and build your own site, you will need to buy-in site design and architecture. Both require unique combinations of skills and abilities - which are not cheap.
Figure that whatever you pay for design and architecture will be doubled for online site marketing and promotion, and doubled again in terms of annual maintenance, and you can see that setting up an effective website will probably cost you about the same as setting up a small branch office.
Which is what it is.
Remember - "cheap is dear".
#4 It's a numbers game.
Yes and no. For some players, yes. For the rest of us, no.
If you are a relatively small player, ask yourself whether it is better to sell to one organization something worth a million dollars or to a million at a net profit of $1 each.
[See our columns on "narrowcast" and "relationships".] --John Blower
Don't ever buy a Gateway2000 computer!
September 3-6 PlaceWare Auditorium is hosting "Webmaster Week," featuring four days of live online seminars dedicated to building traffic and promoting web sites. The highlight of the week will be an interactive presentation by Danny Sullivan, regarded as the leading expert on search engine optimization. (9/6/97, 1:00pm EDT)
Entitled "Promoting your Site on Search Engines," Sullivan's presentation will include key things that every webmaster should do to improve their ranking in search engines. It will be followed by a Q&A session on improving a site's ranking and how search engines work.
Other events at PlaceWare during the week will include:
Students of the Internet Models for Artistic Expression Course at Illinois State University have developed nine criteria for evaluating "aesthetically designed websites".
We're not certain about the last phrase, but they do seem to be good, commonsensical standards by which to judge the overall effectiveness of a site.
Here they are:
It may be a good idea to ask a friend or associate to evaluate your site in these terms. The results may surprise you... --John Blower
There's no doubt that a well-crafted press release to offline media is capable of generating traffic to your site.
And there's a plethora of advice on writing effective press releases available on the Web. The trouble is that most of the advice is provided by people who write press releases for a living. So how do we know how effective they are at their job?
It's probably more useful to find out from a journalist what it is that makes one press release get noticed over another.
Which is precisely what is available in The Care and Feeding of The Press - A guide for press relations staff (or those who play them on TV) by Esther Schindler.
It's predictably well-written, although it can seem a mite pompous at times.
But it certainly delivers the goods. --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941