and Marketing on the Web
No matter what your business, you
must tell potential clients about your product or service and support
them after theyíve become your customers. An excellent and cost-effective
place to do this is over the Internet. You will have immediate and unconditional
access to millions of potential customers anywhere in the world. Any business
can use the Internet technology now for internal and external communication,
marketing, and as an information repository. The main Internet technologies
that will be of use to your business are electronic mail (email) and the
Internet technology will not replace
your existing communication, marketing, or information storage technologies;
it will supplement and enhance them. For example, you will not replace
your telephones or fax machines because youíve started using email; however,
you will enhance your internal and external communication capabilities.
The adoption of a Web site will provide you with an additional means for
marketing and supporting your products and services both within and outside
For additional information on Web
marketing, see Wilson
on the Web
Many companies are selling their products and services online; excellent
examples are chapters.indigo.ca
who sell books, music, videos, hardware, and software online and NetMechanic
who sell Web-based services. Some reasons why your products and services
may not sell online are:
- your potential customers are not
- there is a widespread concern
about the security of online transactions
- old ways of doing business are
difficult to change and new ones are slow to be adopted
- some products and services are
unsuitable for online distribution
- consumers are not comfortable
ordering unknown brands online from someone they donít know and havenít
dealt with before
So why bother about Getting on
the Web now? Why not wait a year or two? The advantages of improved
communications and marketing alone are sufficient to justify the fairly
minimal cost of getting your business online now. More importantly, you
will be Establishing a Presence on the Web
so that consumers will recognize you and will be more likely to order
from you in the future.
to Get on the Web
Starting any project
with a plan yields tangible benefits usually by ensuring that the project
delivers on time what you expect. Your plan doesnít need to be elaborate
but it should include answers to the following questions.
- How will you use Internet technology
within your business?
- Will you use Internet technology
inside your business to establish an Intranet? Will you be using Internet
technology only outside your business? Initially, Iíd suggest you use
the email and Web hosting services of a local Internet Services Provider
- How soon will you establish
an Internet presence?
- Iíd recommend that you plan to
establish a presence immediately! However, donít just run out today
and get just anyone to get you on the Web. Think about how you will
be using the Internet in the long term and ensure that your initial
Web presence fits in with your long-term plan for using the Internet.
- How is your industry using
- Are there any existing discussion
groups? Are there any success stories? Can you associate yourself with
other similar businesses? What are the trends within your industry?
Do you see needs within your industry that you can meet?
- What Internet expertise do
you have within your organization?
- Does anyone in your organization
experience? Is anyone interested in gaining HTML
training? Do you want Internet expertise within your organization? Have
you considered using an HTML editor? I recommend Dreamweaver,
Do you know of anyone with Internet experience? Do you have anyone with
information design experience? Can you justify hiring someone with Internet
experience? Would hiring a contract person meet your needs?
- What are your business objectives
for using the Internet?
- Could you reduce your support
costs? How many people contact you because of your Internet presence?
How many people can you contact using the Internet? How do you plan
to use the Internet over the next 12 months? What results do you expect
- What are the benefits of using
the Internet for your business?
- The benefits must be tangible,
specific, and measurable. Can they be quantified? Can you now do something
you couldnít do before? Can you save money, time, or other resources?
Can you improve on something that you are currently doing?
- Does your organization have
a vision statement?
- A vision statement succinctly
defines the philosophy of your organization which guides and directs
all organizational behaviours.
- Will you be selling products
- If you are, you will need to
accept credit card payments. I suggest that you have someone else
your credit card payments. I recommend you consider PayPal
- What Internet software do
you plan to use?
- Iíd recommend Netscape
Navigator which includes integrated Web browser, email, and news
reader programs. You should also consider Microsoft
Explorer. I also recommend MailWasher
to minimize the reception of unwanted emails.
hosting company should you use?
- Typically you will use your own
domain name, registered with InterNIC
or CIRA by a registrar
like domainsatcost.ca or mydomain.com,
and your Web site will be accessed through a hosting company server.
There are many hosting companies and selecting one that offers the
features you need and is reliable and cost-effective is not an easy
my experiences, see webhosts.
I recommend that you review my experiences, select a host that meets
your needs, and then monitor your selection using the free NetMechanic, InternetSeer,
Uptime monitoring service for a few days at different times
to verify the server performance of the selected host. On an ongoing
you should monitor that your web site is up-and-running; we recommend
you try the free Uptime
Uptime services first. You may also find the Ping
commands useful (but note that for security reasons some web hosts
block Ping and Tracert requests).
- What type of Internet connection
will you use?
- Will you use a 56 KB, ISDN,
or ADSL dial-up or
direct connections? Will you use modems or routers and which ones will
you use? Your choice of equipment will depend largely on your choice
of ISP; for the various types of connections, for one-stop shopping
Iíd recommend you consider 3Com/U.S.
Robotics products first.
- What computer will you use?
- You may have to upgrade your
existing equipment. Iíd recommend a computer with at least: 3 GHz
CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 256MB of VRAM, 200 GB hard drive, CD/DVD R/W player/burner,
17-inch color monitor, 56 KB modem, Ethernet card, and sound capability
or MacOS X
on a Pentium 4 or PowerPC computer.
- What colors
will you use?
- I recommend that you use a white
background, black text, and red, green
and blue for highlight colors. For more
guidelines, see Using Color
on the Web.
- Whatís your budget?
- Define your budget in terms of
money, people, and equipment. You will need time to develop and
your Internet strategy. Who will implement each phase? What will each
phase cost? How will each phase be funded? If you use an external
what time will you need each month and what will it cost? For a small
business, your initial budget should include $3500 for a new computer
system; $30 to register your own domain name through Domainsatcost.ca
$50/month for a local high-speed Internet connection; $10/month
Web hosting through ixwebhosting.com or hostexcellence.com;
$2000-$4000 to develop your initial Web presence pages.