One of the major issues now facing "ALL" small businesses is the "cost
effective" integration of internet technology in their existing activities,
particularly from a marketing point of view.
As the publisher and editor of two small business magazines
(since 1991), I feel confident that we know what makes a small business 'tick'. I
also know that for any small business to make an investment in technology, they need
to know that they are going to get a return on that investment. This is just good
practical business sense. However, when I see the solutions/products some of the
internet "experts" are pitching at small businesses, I just shake my head.
It's obvious that many of these people have absolutely no idea about the specific
needs of small business. They seem to think that all small businesses have bulging
bank accounts and have no concerns about spending thousands of dollars (annually)
on a solution/product for which they expect no return on the investment. This just
isn't the case.
While this approach might work for large businesses where the shareholders foot the
bill, it is just not acceptable to a small business operator. I know, we are small
business operators ourselves and even we couldn't justify the investments some of
these companies are demanding to establish a basic web presence. However, that hasn't
stopped us from developing an extensive web site which actually complements our publishing
activities. Notice how I used the word complements. That's a key word you need to keep in mind
at all times. Many of our readers and advertisers find great value in accessing basic
information when they need it without us having to provide a 'live person' to deliver
the information. Things like deadlines, contents of past and present issues, contact
details of contributors, ordering of subscriptions, advertising bookings and so on.
These activities can be carried out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year
at the convenience of our customers.
We simply view our web presence as a way of providing information which can be updated
regularly for the benefit of our existing customers (readers/advertisers). Some of
the side benefits do include gaining additional readers from search engine listing
etc, but the primary purpose of our web presence at this point is to "complements"
our existing activities There certainly are still a number of areas which can be
developed with time, but for now our internet activities are 'cost effective'. In
fact, we'd be in big trouble if we took our web site down. The reality these days
is that our customers actually "expect" us to provide appropriate information
through our web site.
The same basic principles apply to all business, big or small. It's all about communicating
with existing and potential customers. The more information they have access to about
your products and or services, the more likely they will become and remain a long
term customer. Isn't that the ultimate goal of all businesses.
To ensure you gain the maximum benefits from this site, we have established a number
where you can ask questions and share your problems. I do actively encourage you
to use this facility.