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Whats It Going to Take to Do Business on the Internet?

By Charles Broersma
Charles B. Broersma
Good question! Over the past couple of years we have seen the emergence and ultimate failure of hundreds of dot-com companies. These companies based their existence, and in many cases, their ridiculous over capitalization, on business plans that ultimately sold something to someone using the Internet as a primary medium. I am sure that millions of dollars were spent on research that justified the decisions of the investors to pour hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars into these companies and their business plans. Unfortunately, we know the rest of the story. Most of us are still licking our personal financial wounds as a result. But thats not what this article is about. It is the first in a series of articles about what its going to take to really do business on the Internet.

Many observations have been made in the recent past by experts, who I am sure are much smarter than I am, about the causes of the dot-com failures. One expert, the director of a major international corporations ?Center for E-Excellence, summed it up by saying that the pioneer ?e-tailers (e-retailers) didnt have enough of the ?merchant-mindset. In other words, they lost touch with their customers. I know. Its hard to believe, but true.

So, what lessons can we learn from this experience? First, the most important thing in business was, is, and always will be, the Customer! Second, the Internet hasnt gone anywhere and its still an amazing and ubiquitous communications medium, that when used properly, can generate phenomenal results. It is still growing outrageously. Whether you work for (or own) a company that provides products or services in an Applications to Business (A2B), Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C) market, the Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for you to market and sell your wares.

As with all good business, Internet marketing begins with a plan. The establishment of an effective e-Strategy is an important step towards success on the Internet. A recent survey showed that most organizations that are ?on-line dont have an e-Strategy. This is dangerous and harkens back to those ill-fated dot-coms. This has to be step number one. Ill take a flyer here and assume everyone agrees with me that the number one goal of any business is to sell as many products or services as possible, to customers who want to buy them. If you agree with this statement then you will also agree that the more effectively and efficiently you can identify potential customers, as Ive defined them, the better. Enter the e-Strategy.

There are several fundamental elements to an effective e-Strategy. First, you must have a good website. Well talk more about this later. Most business people that I speak with are of the opinion that their website is like a billboard on the cyber-highway. Unlike traditional billboards, having a website without promoting it effectively is like having a billboard on Route 79 somewhere outside of Podunk, Michigan. There is such a place. Ive been there. Not much traffic. This is a key metric in the success of your e-Strategy-- generating traffic to your website. That is, interested eyeballs that want to buy your products or services. The ultimate success metric of any e-Strategy is and always will be total sales.

So how do you generate this traffic? On-line, of course! The benefits of Internet marketing make traditional marketing seem passť. So heres what to do. Weve all heard of search engines. If you are not currently listed with the major search engines, you should be. You can do this by using their express listing services. This wont guarantee results, but its a start.

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Related Keywords:internet, e-business, business, marketing, sales

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