Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What's your #1 reason?

Following is from an article my husband wrote for a local newspaper. I think it helpful to online business owners.

The following is a collection of key reasons, based on experience of other business owners, to getting a firm handle on the use of the internet for your business. You might find at least one in particular that bubbles to the surface as an opportunity missed up to this point for your business, and provide just the tool you need to open up a bottleneck currently holding you back from greater success.

Increase Reach – The entire world is your oyster. Not only is the communication network open to the ends of the earth, but today’s translation tables all but totally remove language as a barrier! Transportation companies such as FedX, DHL and others have created global footprints and the ability to ship your product to the far corners of the earth right from your doorstep.

Decrease Costs – Printing, postage, design/layout, time, and inventory are all key components of any print-based project. Cutting any one of these can save substantial sums of money, but with the exception of design/layout which we’ll call equal, the others can ALL be cut substantially using the power of the internet as a distribution channel for brochures, specifications sheets, manuals, procedures, you name it. This alone can save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for the typical small business.

Increase Speed – In addition to the time savings noted above, the internet can provide the nimbleness you need to respond quickly to changing conditions. New products or services can be explained, viewed and transactions can occur to include delivery in fraction of the time that the traditional development, production and marketing support package took to complete. Products can be introduced and decommissioned instantly as well as featured or put on sale. The cost of mistakes is greatly reduced as well.

Increase Automation – Although I have always remained suspicious of the claim that computers don’t make mistakes, it is tough to argue that automation as part of the sales and fulfillment process is rock-steady compared to the proliferation of human errors related to order entry and shipment. Add to this the ability to receive and process orders while you are sleeping, it’s an experience not to be missed! Labor, accuracy and convenience for your customer lead to increased profits.

Get more for less from your Marketing efforts – Track buyer behavior. See what they look at, in what order, for how long and the various patterns associated with their online experience that is nearly impossible to accomplish in a traditional brick and mortar environment. Money spent for marketing can have an enormous effect on your profitability but whether the effect is positive or negative depends on its effectiveness. Traditionally marketing has been more or less a black box into which you throw money, and then wait to see what comes out. The wait can sometimes take months or even years and it is difficult to understand what to change if the results are not as you expected. With today’s online marketing tools, you can measure marketing effectiveness instantly and, using real-time feedback, make adjustments on the fly. Forget to ask where a customer heard about you? The internet can track online behavior and report it for you in relevant terms that you can act on. Put your marketing money where it works most efficiently and reduce your overall costs proportionately.

The internet certainly doesn’t solve all our problems, provide world-peace, or even let us totally put our businesses on auto-pilot, but take it from those who know from experience, it can greatly enhance our success and ultimately our quality of life when used effectively according to our own specific needs. Now that is worth passing along.

John Geiger, owner of Webmasters ICE, has over five years experience helping small and medium-sized companies and organizations capitalize on the power of the internet through consulting, education, and supporting products and services. His focus and passion is the use of the internet in providing more effective overall marketing strategies and highly measurable levels of marketing success. http://www.webmastersice.com/

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