Growing Your Business and Going On-Line: Six Hard Lessons So Far - Part 2

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

It is now three years since the Internet has really been "in the face" of most business owners and leaders. And as the Internet moves past its commercial infancy and into business "toddler" status, what can it do to help grow our businesses now? Here are the second set of three lessons my clients and I have learned. (Access part one in last month’s article here)

Sell Your Differences Or Sell to Everyone

  • Provide information that makes your company invaluably unique. Take a look at www.gettyone.com. They provide an easy way to buy stock photos. How can you combine your company’s products, services and expertise to really stand out? If you succeed, then others cannot copy you. This is critical because on the Internet your competitors can and will copy your site overnight.
  • Run with the big dogs if you can. If your product is truly a commodity, and you have the lowest costs in the business, then exploit the Internet for all you can. Join every selling service, auction house and vertical market you can find. Sites like www.freemarkets.com can help you expand your customer base. These sites will let you push prices down to your marginal costs and gain market share. If you can, squeeze your competitor’s margins until they quit and you may laugh all the way to the bank.

Sell It Now or Fuggedaboutit!

  • Set six-month goals for your firm’s on-line sales and costs. Define how your site will help your company grow now today. Will it increase your sales, leads, fulfillment, or image? Assume you will re-do your site every six months. This will focus your organization to make your web site pay off as soon as possible.
  • There is no long-term payback, only more investment to keep up. A website is like a child. Bringing it into the world is only a fraction of what it will cost to raise it into maturity. Plan for recurring maintenance, complete overhauls and one big mistake along the way.

If You Can’t Sell, Serve

  • Provide value If it is clear you cannot profitably sell your product or service on-line, then don’t try. Instead, make your web site a must-visit site for your prospects and buyers. Provide value, knowledge, service and other expertise and experience that will help your market place to be successful
  • Link into a community If you cannot attract enough traffic to cost-justify your more than a small web presence, sell, trade or donate your company’s expertise to other Internet locations that can showcase your value. Register with all the communities and content providers you can. Write, chat, join and deliver all you can to as many people in your target market.

 

So Will The Internet Help My Business Grow?

For a traditional, non-dot com business, the answer is probably not much more in the short run. For most companies, the excitement of launching a web presence is being replaced with a new understanding. This is a realization that the Internet is good at leveraging a firm’s strengths and exposing its shortcomings. In fact, the Internet does this faster than any other marketing, sales or customer service effort.

So, addressing the core issues of how a company can grow is still critical. To review, a company must:

  • Realize its best and highest use.
  • Get more customers and prospects.
  • Deliver what it offers.
  • Profit and Grow

Where does your company stand? For many companies, the Internet has exposed the need and created a sense of urgency to focus on the core issues of growth. If you know how your company needs to grow you can exploit the Internet knowledge and capability will keep changing by the day. When you approach your challenge in this order, your will be more successful. Good luck.

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached a (412) 973-2080t, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.


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