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Whats It Going to Take to do Business on The Internet? Part II

The Fundamentals Of An Effective Online Presence By Charles Broersma
In this article I discuss the fundamentals of an effective online presence. In the previous article in this series I discussed several of the elements, tactics really, that go into the development of an effective e-Strategy. These include, foremost, a ?good website, which is defined by its stickiness and ?quickiness; ezines, both your own company electronic newsletter and an advertising strategy that incorporates various targeted industry-specific ezines; and a search engine strategy for ?free and paid placement search engines. Several other tactical aspects that I have not yet mentioned, I will cover in future columns. All of these elements must be in harmony to ensure that your e-Strategy works. Striking a balance among the fundamental aspects of your e-Strategy is critical to your online success!

The effectiveness of any organizations online presence can, and ultimately will, be judged on the 4 (four) Cs, Content, Community, Communication and Commerce.

Content is the delivery on the implied promise that you make to an interested party who comes to your site, opts-in to your ezine or visits your e-pub (electronic publications). If the information that you are providing is not current, relevant, and significant, you arent likely to get very many return visits. In the previous article I emphasized the importance of a ?sticky website-- keeping people at your site long enough to take the next step in the selling process. Content is one of the keys to ensuring this ?stickiness. When choosing the type of information to communicate, it is important to strike a reasonable balance between your own company news and events as well as relevant industry related information. So many of the ezines and websites I have reviewed are nothing more than glorified sales literature. Doing business on the Internet requires tact and finesse.

Community is the Internets ?Golden Rule. If you are not immediately familiar with the Golden Rule, (and no, its not he who has all the gold makes all the rules) allow me to remind you: ?Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Actually, this goes way beyond a rule, and past a maxim. This is to the Net what physics is to life. A law. Bottom line, if you support your industry, your industry will support you!

If you can effectively communicate your support of the industry you serve to your potential customers, you will leave a lasting impression on several levels. First, you care about more than just your own company. Second, you have a broader knowledge that is related to your industry segment and not just your products and services (equals innovation potential). Third, you are interested in your customers ultimate success and not just your own. Zig Zigler put it best when he said, ?If you want success, go out and help as many people as you can to succeed!

Communication is the mechanical aspect of the 4 Cs. It is primarily concerned with identifying the appropriate mediums to effectively stay-in-touch with your constituents. As previously noted, you have several options to choose from when planning your e-Strategy.

In the Dirt world communication is a two-way street; its no different in the Cyber world. As a matter of fact, your ability to act on feedback that you receive from customers and prospects is significantly improved online. For example, I recently published an article in this e-Pub (www.corporatemedianews.com). I noticed a minor error after it was posted. I notified the editor via email and within 15 minutes the problem was corrected. Your ability to make changes, updates and respond to inquiries, on a real-time basis demonstrates your interest in accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness all of which are very important to your customers and prospects.

The final component Commerce is equal in importance to the other three. Beyond website traffic, actually transacting business as a result of your online efforts is the key success measurement of any effective e-Strategy. I am not speaking exclusively here about a shopping cart. A shopping cart is the online functionality which allows a customer to make an automated purchase, generally through the use of a credit card. Some businesses, entire industries in fact, do not lend themselves to this type of commerce. What I am referring to when I say e-Commerce is either transacting business online through whatever means is appropriate (credit card, check or purchase order) or (and this is significant) taking the next step in the sales process.

E-Commerce has been somewhat maligned in the recent past. Many companies have failed, (dotcoms) due in large part to a misinterpretation of this term. An appropriate application of e-Commerce to your business is dependant on where you are in the Value Chain. In other words, what business you are in, and the types of customers you serve will dictate how you actually transact business on the Internet. Striking an effective balance among the 4 Cs - Content, Community, Communication and Commerce will help to guarantee the success of your e-Strategy.

Charles B. Broersma is the CEO of CTHorizons, LLC (www.cthorizons.com), an Internet Marketing Firm, specializing in helping small to medium sized businesses take full advantage of the Internet. Charles can be reached directly at (585) 703-4342, or via email at charles@cthorizons.com.

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Related Keywords:content, commerce, community, communication, internet, web, marketing, sales


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