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Internet Marketing

Web Site Design and Development

First off, before we go any further you should know this is the second article in a series. The first, Phase2: A Plan to Meet Your Goals is the follow-up to a worksheet on the Tutorials Site. The worksheet is structured so you can decide criteria for establishing goals that would make your presence a success. Phase2: A Plan to Meet Your Goals is an outline detailing the qualifications of a present employee or outside contractor to manage your web site development and design.

Internet Integration

The articles that follow are examples of ways to achieve these goals. Phase1: is a series of Content and Style tutorials demonstrating how to build functionality, navigation and useful content into a site. An overview of Phase1 is covered in the first Phase2 article as well.

If you haven't used the worksheet I strongly suggest you do so. If you have goals for success and design around those criteria how can your presence not be successful? Basing total success on internet sales is going to be a big let down. Why? If you have already read the first article you know. It's all explained there. Now that's out of the way shall we begin the business at hand?

Leveraging Infrastructure to Increase Employee Efficiency

Commerce on the internet is still in it's infancy. So, like a baby stumbling taking its first steps the internet has a ways to go before it is walking and finally running. Just like that infant falling, the net will someday run but when is the question and what do you do in the meantime?

Any good business man will tell you the fastest way to increased profits is reducing overhead and increasing employee efficiency. This was one of the reasons for the recession in the early part of the Nineties as businesses increased efficiency by automating and using computer and software solutions to cut expenses by increasing efficiency and productivity.

This had been slowly evolving and in the early Nineties Management at large companies started noticing all the redundancy and overlap of tasks. The result, large numbers of administrative employees being turfed with no chance of recall. Was it a coincidence that many of these companies started recording record profits shortly after?

One of the unusual things about these layoffs was that unlike the past, where it was the poor working stiffs on the line being laid off, it was the suits that were getting the pinkies. How does this have anything to do with the topic here? Good Question!

The internet has the same capabilities where providing information, customer service, inter company correspondence and marketing in a Global Economy are concerned. Properly implemented, the internet provides solution strategies that reduce your overhead expenses, increases employee efficiency and quality of customer service. Most of the time, at absolutely no cost other then slight changes to company policy and procedure. The trick? Simple, understanding how, when and where to implement the changes is the key.

A good integration and marketing strategy will leverage existing infrastructure resulting in increased employee efficiency. The best part, cost is pennies on the dollar and besides how do you put a value on improved customer service? Increased sales is the only way to do this and we all know a happy customer is more likely to purchase. Customers who spent ten minutes waiting on the phone chewing up long distance charges, are going to feel a little annoyed when the customer rep finally gets to them. With good reason I might add!

Update
It has been three years since this article was published. Productivity due to the internet and technology in general are driving the current growth of the worlds economies. Internet penetration is still relatively low compared to other  technologies like telephone, fax and other media. Leveraging current infrastructure as the transition to the "new economy" accelerates is necessary to compete in the current business environment. IMHO, productivity gains are and will be, for some time to come, a deciding factor in who are the long term survivors of the transition to the "new economy".

Integrating Present Infrastructure

Your present infrastructure is your telephone system, all advertising and printed materials, email (if you already have it but no web site), company policy and procedure and customer service. You're probably wondering why I have mentioned company policy and procedure in this list aren't you? Infrastructure is the tools or mediums you use to carry out business. Since, policy and procedure are the rules that govern the use of these tools it is of great importance. Not to mention the most cost effective method to reducing expenses.

Changes to Company Policy and Procedure

Moreso, then the actual tools themselves, when well thought out policy and procedures aren't in place the tools are used improperly or not to their fullest potential. IWB did a phone survey of companies and determined that this is where 90% of businesses are missing the boat with their presence. Poorly trained staff with no understanding or interest in the information they were providing.

Integrating the internet into the culture of any organization is tough because of preconceived ideas of what the net is about. To some it is nerds and computer geeks hanging out together plotting the takeover of the world. To others it is squinty eyed perverts doing whatever at the local porno site. To still others it is crooks stealing credit card numbers etc.

If you're reading this you are in the minority that realizes the net is quickly becoming as much a part of society and doing business as the phone is. All of the above are perpetuated by a media that sees the net as a threat and sensationalizes what are comparatively small groups. They say it's so, so it must be true. Phooey!

Yes, porn is possibly the biggest seller on the net but this is more a symptom of the current limitations to marketing then being a large group of users. These should be the first concerns you address in your Information Meeting. Why? These misconceptions will surface in their interaction with customers. Much like prejudice in a face to face meeting.

In the first article I suggest a meeting of department heads to ascertain problems and how the net may be used to alleviate or assist in solving problems. The next step is to allow the employees some input. Unbeknownst to you, your solutions may just shift the problem elsewhere. Nobody is better suited to alert you to potential problems then the people who are affected in their day to day duties.

IWB thought this out for a period of time and have come up with what we believe to be a good solution. A general information meeting on the companies time! Not on the employees time, but on your time. This will let the employees know that this is going to be an integral part of the corporate culture and should not be taken lightly. Of paramount importance is creating a feeling among the employees that you are encouraging feedback into the uses and functions of the site to increase their productivity. A good side affect of this should be a good knowledge of the site by your employees.

Why is the attitude of your staff towards your presence important? The most frequent response of employees to questions about a site or email address during our research was "not my department," or some variation on that theme. Is this any different then an inquiry for information about the company phone number, products, or address? A customer rep, receptionist or secretary that doesn't know your site inside out and is familiar with how to give the address properly is rendering your presence useless! Not to mention what some customers might think.

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