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Will A Web Site Bring Me Business?

Is the Internet right for my particular business?Just because there are millions and millions of people connected to the Internet, and you've started up a commercial web site business, doesn't mean you'll easily reach large numbers of these people as customers.  As with any brick-and-mortar business, opening up online doesn't mean that clients are automatically going to pound a path to your door in a major effort to buy your products or services.

If you're an owner or marketing manager, all you want to know is how can the internet fit into your marketing strategy.  At Benchmark Communications we don't believe the Internet works for every business.  Yes, we keep hearing about the future of technology, but the real question is what the Internet can do for your business today.  Many web designers are only interested in technology: they miss the point.  The market you had yesterday is the same market you have today: the Internet simply gives you a new way to reach your customers, and yes some new ones too!

There has to be valid reasoning for setting up web site.  If  you simply wish to publish existing brochures or catalogue or other print materials online, you're probably wasting your time and money.   As much as we'd enjoy having your business, if you're not prepared to offer quality products, world-class, unbiased information and superb customer service....do not set up a web site!

The web is not like print media.  People don't begin at page one and read the pages in sequence.  The web is a dynamic, interactive medium.  People go online to find out what you can do for them and how you will do it.  And, more often than not, they are at an advanced stage of the buying process when they start looking at web sites offering a particular product or service. Something as small as a background color or a flashing image a person doesn't like, can turn them off to your site forever.  And the quickest way to kiss potential clients off fast....is to build your site based on blatant selling!

The web is very much about information and customer service.  The quality of your information and service is what will make or break your reputation online.  For example:  If you run a travel company, the web affords you the opportunity to prove your honesty by giving useful advice or information about travel (everything from travel tips to information on destinations, etc).  Explain how to properly select a travel agent, talk about the importance of travel insurance, what to expect on a cruise, or explain their consumer rights.  Give them links to other travel information, the best seasons for discounts, what kind of service they can expect and so on.

You don't have to give away the store.    However, you do need to offer your expertise to the Internet community.  For example, there is no need to explain exactly how your agency does its reservations and what kind of reservations service it uses, however, if you write an article giving questions to ask a prospective travel agent, explain the difference between a quality travel company and one that is more fly-by-night.   If the agents at your travel agency were specially trained on Cruise Lines and cruising through CLIA courses and seminars, include a sentence about that in your site, but don't make it the subject.  Readers are smart enough to figure out that your company is the expert in this process. And if your customer service lives up to your ability to provide quality information, sales will follow.

Of course your site also should include information about your company: its history, services, policies, customer-focus and more.  Visitors who are interested will examine this kind of information carefully.  But if the site is just about your company, with no information to add value to the site for the customer, that person will be gone quicker that you can say web site.   What's more, it's unlikely he or she will ever come back.  If possible have an online contest or offer something for free!

So....  If you're going to give away all this information online, how are you going to make any money?   Several ways:   Request co-op advertising dollars from your major suppliers; ask your town's chamber of commerce, travel agents, non-competitive suppliers, etc., to take a banner ad on your site; charge other sites for links to your site; offer solid products and services at good value; advertise and promote your web site offline.  But you've got to give it some time.  Keep following these steps, consistently, over time, and eventually you'll get results.


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