How Can My Business Use The Internet?
Professor Ray's English Classes
Vila Velha Centro, ES, Brazil
Tels: (27) 3034 1650
Web Site: www.raymerry.com
Most people that want to do business on the Internet are not
sure where to start. Some will want to start taking orders
immediately. But before you attempt to start with order taking,
take a careful look at the big picture. Often -when you dig
deeper- you will find that you may want to actually begin with
marketing or service oriented activities on the Internet. For
example, you may wish to enhance the firm's image with an
attractive Home Page, list your organization's activities, or
learn how to automatically capture new business leads.
We suggest that you set your expectations by implementing
Internet installations over time. We also pass on important
guidelines for building Home Pages and provide you with ideas for
building traffic to your new Home Page.
There are 1001 ways to market on the Internet. You need to
begin by developing a strategy. This section lays out a sample
Internet installation that progressively adds features and
Your Internet service strategy must help set your expectations
correctly. The Internet is a blank canvas, and projects on the
Internet require the control and mastery of a trained computer
consultant. Good consultation leads to excellent results.
Successful Internet Consultants (IC's) spend time up-front
managing yours expectations. If you are serious about your
business don't attempt to save a few dollars by trying to do the
work without an IC. Even if you have staff which will do the work
you may want to hire an IC to initially consult with you about
the necessary skills your staff will need, the amount of time
necessary for training, installing, and running your site,
potential additional staffing needs, hiring tips, screening, and
other needs for the different aspects of proper Internet use. It
may take weeks of research, study, and additional software
expense and equipment and lots of frustration before you can do
simple tasks successfully that a consultant can do for you in
days or weeks. In addition you may have found that you invested
in equipment you don't need, or outmoded technologies, and that
to do what you want to do you must start all over! You can expect
that in a few years much of your business will be done over the
Internet. Well set up plans like customer service can greatly cut
telephone and labor costs and improve customer satisfaction. Many
businesses quickly increase their sales dramatically over the
Internet as well! A small investment now can lead to large
rewards. On the other hand a poorly planned or implemented
Internet Strategy can be a sink hole of money!
Your can gain real benefits from the Internet long before you
have fully integrated your accounting system with order taking
from the Internet. Start with Email, and then your Internet
marketing and progress to order taking. Most clients will need
the help of an IC to stage an implementation to spread the cost
over three months or more.
An installation that occurs over time will allow you to learn
Internet concepts and refine your strategy. You can learn about
the Internet, how your business can use the Internet, Consulting
needs, and software such as shopping carts and other accounting products
over time, and you can spread your investment in information
systems over time. This allows you to make the implementation of
the Internet installation more attractive and affordable.
Here is a sample sequence for a full Internet installation:
I Want Access to the Internet:
- Hire a Consultant.
- Get a list of things you think your business can do on
the internet, and the funds you have available, and have
it ready for the first meeting with your consultant.
- After planning session you will set up a plan with goals
and time frames, and start accordingly.
- These are some phases your consultant will likely take
Phase I: "I want access to EMAIL!"
Setting UP Email Accounts with a full function Email software
Email means electronic mail. It is a series of electronic
signals sent over the internet from your computer through some
intermediary computers until it ends up on their computer. If the
person or company you want to mail to has an Email account, and
you have their address, you can send correspondence to them over
the Internet instead of using the U.S. Mail or other surface
carrier. Since there is no postage fee, your company can save
postage and speed delivery by using Email inside the Company and
outside. Email can arrive in minutes, and it is very easy to
reply to someone using EMail since most Email software allows you
to respond to someone's letter automatically inserting their
return address and including their text in front or behind your
answer. Email requires a computer, Email software and an Email or
Internet Provider. It does not require sophisticated PC's on
every desk to work effectively.
You can send simple text messages that you enter on the computer
and you can attach computer documents, graphics, and even sound
files to your Email. This means you can include photos,
pricelists, or any other information that you can store on the
computer. The only trick is to make sure that you can get it on
the computer and the people on the other end have the necessary
software to decipher it when they receive it!
There are some free Email Accounts, but Email is included in many
systems which provide other Internet Services with monthly costs
of $9.95 to $24.95 per month. Setting up individual Email
Accounts and related sofware and training can cost as little as
$75. Setting up Company Wide Email can vary in cost from hundreds
of dollars to thousands or more depending on the number of users,
the type of existing internal computer network and software
Phase II: "I want access to the Internet Browsing on the
- Let the Consultant Train your staff on the basics of
"surfing" the World Wide Web.
- Let the Consultant show your staff some useful URLs, such
as Yahoo, Google, UPS, and Federal Express.
- To Make the Best of The Internet you should have high resolution color monitors and
fairly fast Computers and a high speed internet connection.
- Let the Consultant get you started in a list of
"Do's and Don'ts" for the Web.
You can expect to pay $200 or more depending on Training
and Staff Needs to get started.
Phase III: "I want my own Presence on the Internet
How Can My Business Use The Internet
- Let your consultant decide what type of web site is best for
your financial capabilities and business image.
- Work with your consultant to pick a name.
- Search for and reserve a suitable domain name for your business.
- Hire a Consultant for four or more billable hours towards
development of an Internet services strategy specific to
- Assign one of your employee's with at least part of their
time each day devoted to necessary internet jobs such as retrieving Email, or doing Web Marketing.
- Start a long range plan for training or staffing and
developing your site.
Phase IV: "I want my company to have visibility on the
- Determine look your Web Site will have and what functions
it will perform.
- Work with your consultant to inventory any company logos, photos or
other graphics (if you use those on the web make sure they are not
copyrighted), or discuss using digital photos, paying for a creative
artist to do a flash design or other options..
- If digital photos or art is not available discuss scanning appropriate
- Discuss the purpose of the site, determine the basic and most important
pages, and set up an appropriate organizational structure of the site,
with everything of course linked from the organization Home Page.
- Train someone at the client site to access or update any
necessary data on the web site.
- Make a commitment to spend time or money each month
maintaining web site.
- Consider adding an input or feedback form for prospects to communicate
easily without having to expose your email address to spammers.
Clients can invest $2,000 or more to get a good Home Page
You can invest as little as $500 to get started. There
are companies which offer to set up sites as inexpensively as
$99, but they are very simple sites like the personal home pages
described below. You may also need to pay monthly fees to keep
your home page current, since things change so rapidly on the
Types of Addresses on the WEB:
User Addresses User addresses are
addresses with your name following your provider's names like
http://www.provider.com/~company/myname These names may be very
long, are hard to write and remember, and are subject to change.
Domain Names are nearly any names
you want which no one already has. These are more expensive as
they must be registered every year and hosted. Registration
charges are $10-$35 per year, and about hosting domains runs from $10/month and
up depending on the amount of access, size, etc.
Types of Presence on the WEB:
Personal home pages: These are often single pages with
or without links to others, mainly a form of self-introduction
for making contacts regarding hobbies, business affiliations,
political activities, and other interests. They may include
e-mail addresses for further communications.
Educational sites: These sites provide access to
research materials, articles, and other data from universities,
think tanks, and/or libraries. They may include links to bulletin
boards, chat rooms, or other discussion forums.
Government sites: These sites may include full text of
legislation being considered, information on government
regulations, electronic access to individual government officials
including members of Congress, status or results of government
studies, and so on.
Business sites: These are usually multiple page sites
marketing products or services, possibly linked to related sites,
and include some way to respond to server such as an order form,
survey, and/or e-mail address. Another business model is the
"cyber mall," which represents a variety of businesses
from a single site with multiple links.
Online publications: These are electronic versions of
print publications such as magazines and newspapers. They can
also be unique electronic publications or compilations and
reviews of other media products.
Corporate sites: These are large, multiple-linked sites
with detailed product and service information, and the capability
to conduct transactions electronically. They may include
employment opportunities and R&D information. This
Internet-accessible information that these sites offer may be
part of a larger, protected intranet used for internal
Phase 5: "I want people who see my Home Page to contact
- Design and add Lead and Survey forms to your client's
Clients can expect to invest $1,000 or more to get e-mail,
Lead, and Survey forms functional.
Phase 6: "I want to capture my leads and surveys in a
- Tell your consultant or web master to set up database functionality of
- Train the client to use the results to market and monitor the site.
Clients can expect to invest upwards from $500 for database automation.
Phase 7: "I want to take orders on the Internet."
- Install Shopping Cart or other Internet Sales Systems.
Clients can expect to invest upwards of $1,000 for e-mail
post office operations and $3,000 to $8,000 or more for a
Multi-User accounting system. Where clients need real time accounting data
on the web, and large catalogues, etc. prices can be significantly more.
The Home Page is a company's "virtual storefront."
Therefore, in order to have a successful Home Page you must adopt
a retail mentality in how you present your company on the
Thinking like a retailer means that you always want to keep
your display window (the first page the prospect views on the
client's Home Page) interesting, inviting, unique, and ever
changing. People go window shopping to see what's new-the same
holds true for surfing the `Net. There are three basic concepts
to keep in mind:
A way to attract prospects to view a Home Page is by providing
non-linear paths (or HyperLinks) to other unique and interesting
Home Pages. For example, say you sell stereos. You can greatly
enhance attention to your Home Page by providing a HyperLink to
the latest records and videos from Sony at www.sony.com or
MCA/Universal at www.mca.com.
The Internet is the only marketing channel that allows you to
build traffic and increase visibility by linking your business to
big name companies. The more interesting and relevant the
HyperLinks that you create for your Home Page are , the greater
the number of prospects who will come back to it time and again.
How many sporting goods stores stay in business by displaying
hockey uniforms in July? How many car dealerships build foot
traffic by having the same car in the showroom window? If the
prospect surfing the `Net views a Home Page for the second time
and it has not changed, they will move on. And chances are slim
they will every return.
The Home Page is a virtual storefront where the display window
should change often and remain current. Unlike a brochure or ad,
the costs are strictly in the your modifications. Make your Home
Page like a newspaper and people go to it often to see what's
Here are ways of keeping a Home Page current:
- Think of the first page as the cover of a newspaper or
weekly magazine with a new date and feature every week
- Include calendars of dates and events important to that
- Change visuals often on the first page
- Design and store up 8-12 interchangeable first pages for
Unlike print or broadcast marketing, the virtual storefront on
the Internet is the only marketing channel that provides
instant two way communications. By providing Home Pages with
e-mail addresses and forms for ordering products or requesting
additional information, your client is empowering their prospect.
The two way communication draws the prospect into the decision
making process and provides your client with data or leads that
would normally be obtained by more expensive traditional means.
The interactive capabilities of the Internet acts as
"electronic flypaper" to attract prospects to your Home
Your Home Page will only work for you if people are able to
find it. Listing your Home Page in directories will help achieve
this goal. The most common directory is Yahoo. Yahoo allows Web
users to search the World Wide Web by subject. Yahoo's Web
address is http://www.yahoo.com.
(See Rays Hot links for more search engines. http://www.shadow.net/rmerry/hotlinks.html)
Some Web browsers have their own directories. Most directories
publish a "What's New" section. Typically, your Home
Page can be considered for a What's New mention by sending an
e-mail request to the appropriate individual.
Web malls are like shopping malls, with Home Pages replacing
stores. To gain attention, some Web sites will pay to have their
Home Page linked to a number of other Home Pages. The mall owner
will often provide other interesting information-pictures, news,
games-making the mall a popular place to visit for Web surfers. A
directory of the Home Pages in the mall is usually included.
Virtual Office Inc., for example, has a selection of multiple
malls through their "shop" directory. Home Pages from a
variety of companies are found in each mall. The Virtual Office
mall can be found at http://www.shop.com.
SBT has two new malls on SBT's WebStreet server:
- business1.com - Commercial organizations and
Chambers of Commerce
- sbt.com - SBT VARs, SBT VIPs, and Internet Service
Many of the established Web malls are difficult and expensive
to join. This may present an opportunity for SBT Resellers to set
up their own Web malls with their customers.
Offline and Online Adds
Like any business it takes advertising to attract customers.
You can advertise your Web Site any place you can advertise your
business, and everyplace you put an add for your business add
your web site and your email address. You can also find online
sites which attract lots of visitors you think would be prospects
and pay them to put an add linking to your site. Some newsgroups
also can be useful.
Unless you advertise your web site people will find you by going to search
engines. When people do a search they pick some words, such as
"Digital Camera". The search engine then returns to the user all
the web ages which have those words on some them. For popular items, such
as digital cameras, there may be millions. However the search engines rank
these results by what they think the importance of the page is. If your
page is not ranked in the top 10 or so no one will probably see it because
people usually only go to the top 2 or 3. For you to get money from
searches you must be ranked high. This is a special skill called search
engine ranking. You will have to pay a consultant for this service,
otherwise ask your consultant to find you places you can advertise. You
can for example pay search engines to list your web site when people type a
certain word. This can be expensive but it works fast. Ask your
consultant to find the best method for you.
An opportunity to generate traffic for your Home Pages lies
with creating Home Pages for local groups and associations or
putting their information on your page. CPA organizations,
manufacturing organizations, and other professional groups are
eager to make their information available on the Internet.
Putting their information on your page means when they tell
people where to get stuff they will go through your address,
increasing the chance they will stop there!