One of the first things you want to find out is if there is a current employee with
enough knowledge and understanding of the internet to head up your web site development
and design team. The main requirement here is an ability to use the internet to retrieve
information. The internet is an information medium and a lot of information you'll need
can be found at the major search engines.
Choosing Web Site Development and Design Head
A small organization will have fewer resources at its disposal then a larger
organization so it will out source more work then its larger counterpart. The first step
that should be taken by both though is to ascertain where a web presence can deliver cost
savings to overhead and increase staff efficiency.
The person in charge, should, if they don't have a good knowledge of e-mail programs
start familiarizing themselves with them. Email actually holds the keys to open the door
of opportunity to reduce costs and distribute information. A good internal and external
email structure offers several opportunities to reduce costs and increase employee
It is very important to structure the system with several aliases to automate the
email system so it requires little administration. Two programs that offer the best
solutions are Eudora and Pegasus a freeware program that I personally use and recommend .
Two other features of a good system are the use and implementation of autoresponders,
ezines (newsletters) and listservs. These should be investigated in depth and used as much as possible to automate
your replies and manage your mailing lists.
Internet Integration Consultants (IIC)
Providing you have such a person on board you are ready to begin the evaluation of your
company. If you don't you are in need of an Internet Integration Consultant ( IIC ). What
the hell.......? An IIC is a person or company with a full understanding of marketing and
integrating the internet into your present company policy and procedure, infrastructure
This is the person you want to direct your plan if you are not doing it internally. Why
not a design firm or ISP? Simply these are organizations with, in most cases, a focus on
certain elements of the project but don't really have expertise in all of the elements
especially the integration of the net into your business. Your best bet is to have someone
with knowledge and understanding of corporate and business culture and expertise in
applying the benefits of the net to your business whether it be large or small.
Here is what a good IIC can deliver:
- Internet marketing expertise.
- Deliver a project on budget on time.
- Cut overhead and improve employee efficiency.
- Leverage your present infrastructure to cut expenses.
A true IIC can deliver these solutions in a cost effective manner because he is similar
to a building contractor. Using his knowledge and expertise he will deliver a presence
that meets your goals by ascertaining your needs and sub-contracting the work to competent
experts. This results in savings to you because you are actually giving the work to the
firm with the best bid for that aspect of the presence. This also ensures that each aspect
of the presence is being handled by experts in that field and not just the resident expert
of one company.
How do you find an IIC? Your best bet is to start with firms that SPECIALIZE in
Internet Marketing or Promotion to a lesser degree Design Houses and very seldom ISPs. You
will be able to tell if you have a true IIC by the way they handle your inquiry. If they
start selling you before totally understanding what your goals, present infrastructure,
resources, and the means in which you presently are using them, they are not an IIC.
Benefits Derived From Internet Integration
Selling their services before totally understanding your present resources, not just
what your goals are, is a sure sign. How can they integrate the net into your present
resources if they don't know your present situation? A true IIC will ask these questions
before even telling you about his service because he knows that all these factors will
determine what your needs are.
Whether you go with an IIC or choose a present staff member to head up your presence
team the next step is the same for all firms. You should look at your present resources
and leverage them using the net to :
- Increase sales and leads.
- Leverage your present resources using internet solutions.
- Increase staff efficiency using internet solutions.
- Improve customer support or service using internet solutions.
- Cut costs using internet solutions.
- Implement a strategy to educate and distribute product/service information via the net.
- Use the internet to develop new markets and products.
Increased sales is one of the common refrains I often hear as a reason for a net
presence. Sorry you missed the boat it left last week! At this time the net is nowhere
near being a true vehicle for direct sales. It is fine as a component of a marketing plan
but if this is your only reason for getting a presence, I'm sorry, but no way. You're
going to be very disappointed.
This isn't to say that internet commerce will never be viable only that at present a
select group of products are enjoying success. Most of the successful business models have
a few common denominators. The product is information ( books or manuals ), entertainment
that can be sampled easily off line ( music ) or computer or internet based. Even for
these products to be effective you either have to add value or be significantly lower
priced. An example of this is Amazon.com which generally discounts books 30-40%.
The common denominators are no touchy feely involved in the buying decision or the net
is the most cost effective means of delivery. You're probably wondering about computers. The
decision process for computers has more to do with information ( specs ) then touchy feely.
The online computer stores are also very competitive price wise. The big wild card here is
the perception of online commerce by John Q Public.
At some point the general public will be comfortable with ecommerce. Better security
and familiarity will change this but for now these feelings border on paranoia. One of the
benefits to getting in now is to begin to build your presence for that day. In the
meantime you can derive benefits now that will go directly to your bottom line if you
integrate the internet correctly.
Large gains can be made with good internet integration into your present
infrastructure and policy and procedure. Using internet solutions you can reduce printing,
postage, travel and phone costs. On top of these there are increased efficiency and
improved customer relations gains to be made. In your discussions with the heads of
departments or in smaller organizations the key personnel should be trying to figure out
the problems they are currently encountering and use internet solutions to solve these
Leveraging Your Resources
Leveraging your resources is a fancy way of saying getting more use from what you
already have. A good example of this would be improving your customer service and reducing
phone costs by adding your internet address and a few key and commonly
used email addresses to the recorded messages a customer hears
while waiting on hold for the customer service representative.
Customers with access to the net will go to the site rather then wait for the rep. You
have leveraged your phone recording resource, saved money on long distance charges,
improved your customer service and staff efficiency by automating that call freeing the
rep to go to the next caller and the customer to feel like they have
received prompt assistance .
Increase Staff Efficiency
There are a number of ways to increase staff efficiency using internet solutions. You
can see an example in this excerpt from our
sponsors Integration and Marketing Report. The degree to which you can increase
productivity is limited only by your imagination and ability to find the problems and
apply a net solution. Believe me, almost all problems and overhead expenses can be solved
or reduced using the proper net solution.
Improve Customer Service or Support
Supplying useful information on your site or publishing a newsletter are good examples
of product support. A customer service or feedback page on the site are ways of improving
customer service. Any feedback good or bad from a customer should be acted on immediately
either with a thank you or a message letting the customer know you have received the
feedback and the action you're taking.
A good integration program will aggressively pursue reductions in costs for the
delivery of information such as brochures and catalogs by implementing the internet. There
are a number of ways to do this and your IIC or a good ISP will be able to explain the
means to do this. The good news here is that there should be little
or no extra charges associated
with these solutions.
Providing Information About Product/Service
By providing information I don't mean descriptions of your product or service
specifically. Netizens will skip over this quickly realizing that your site isn't
providing true information but is another source to advertise your product. I recently was
surfing around looking for information on boats and came across a site that provided an
excellent example of this.
The site was for a company that sold boating products but what really caught my
attention was a streamed audio file that gave all the pertinent nautical
weather information for
the surrounding area. They couldn't actually sell this but local users would come to the
site for the weather report and while they were waiting for that they would see the
specials and products that were being offered there. Your goal should be to become the
definitive site or source for that information on the net. Taken to a
local level this can provide excellent returns.
Develop New Products and Markets
The best place to carry out these activities are through newsgroups where monitoring of
the group will provide information about customer perceptions of your product or needs not
being meant by existing products. The nature of newsgroups allows you to monitor groups of
people with specific interests or in marketing terms a niche market. Lurk for a while and
then post some information about your product and watch the response. A favorable response
will mean this is perhaps a market or demographic you should be developing products for or
a market you should be be including in your future strategy.
I am now going to pass on a couple of URLs for articles that will help you choose an
ISP and Design Firm if you are not using an IIC.
How To Pick Your Web Contractor This
article by Cross World.Com is an excellent article on picking a web contractor or
Marketing An article for customers to use for an RFP (Request For Proposal). This will
give a developer an idea of what you require and the budget you have.
To Top Web site Integration