What is this Internet thingy and how can I make money out of it?

Some years ago I attended a computer show.

In one of the meeting room, a free “web sales seminar” was being held.

Out of curiosity I went in and found a couple of lads talking about markets and strategy and trying to sell their web marketing service to a dozen or so “punters”.

Their sales pitch went on for about 15 minutes, and then they asked for questions. I asked if I could speak for a couple of minutes, and I stood up and said something like the following:

Like many managers of small and medium-sized businesses, you are probably asking the following question:

What is this Internet thingy and how can I make money out of it?

I respectfully suggest that you are asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is:

How can I use the Internet to improve the business that I already have?

As a heavy user of the Internet, I am amazed at how many companies turn away my business or drive me into the arms of the competition through poor or nonexistent communication.

  • Too many times I have e-mailed companies asking for information about their products and services… and never received a reply.
  • Too many times I have wandered around a “sales brochure” web site trying to find a way to get in touch with a real person, only to give up in disgust and take my business elsewhere.
  • Too many times I have e-mailed regarding a problem and received a boilerplate message from an alleged “customer service professional” whose skills did not apparently extend as far as actually reading and answering my question.

I suspect that much of this problem comes from a lack of focus on e-mail customer support. All too often this job is placed upon staff who are already overloaded, and as a result the job does not get done.

The answer is obvious – make e-mail support a priority with a dedicated budget and dedicated staff.

While the products and services that these gentlemen are selling may help you along the way, if you don’t focus on communication, I suggest that all of the “marketing” in the world won’t help and you may be wasting your time and money on the Web.

I believe the best advertising of all is word-of-mouth. I believe that the customers you already have are your best sales leads. The question is, do you?

Thank you for your time.

I wonder if any of them listened?

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