For a period of about 3 1/2 years (from late '96 to mid 2000,) the first question I was asked following every public session I taught was “What about the internet?” My answer never changed: “The internet is a baby born premature. Although she will definitely grow up to become everything you've been promised, it can't possibly happen as quickly as they're saying.” When I followed that statement with my prediction that the price of internet-based stocks would soon be dropping like a rock, I received sneers and jeers from all those who considered me “a dinosaur stuck in the land of bricks and mortar.”
Remember those days?
A few months later, in January of 2001, reporter Rich Kyanka wrote,“If you've heard news regarding any online networks lately, their name was more than likely followed by details of massive layoffs, delayed payments, breaches of contract, or even their imminent demise… Why has internet advertising failed? … Despite all the intensely positive predictions and glorious outlooks to the future, something suddenly went wrong. Investors began demanding to know where all their money was going and when they'd get to see their cash return. Suddenly the business plan of having no business plan began to taste sour. Companies refused to sink further funding into an industry that was essentially founded on smoke and mirrors. The lure of having your name attached to a dot-com began to seem less and less appealing, and investors began to pull out at unbelievable speeds… Simply put, the current [internet] advertising model does not work. Readers know this, companies know this, and online advertisers definitely know this. Advertisers, whom the entire internet is funded by, need things that aren't currently being offered.”
Longtime readers of the Monday Morning Memo will remember that it was a year after high-tech's crash of the NASDAQ that I wrote to you saying, “Make no mistake. I still believe that the internet will ultimately deliver all that it promised, but not quite yet… I'll tell you when it's time to get in.”
Now is that time.
The buying public has finally figured out what the internet is currently best suited for – information gathering and features-based comparison-shopping. A recent report by Reuters News indicates that 79% of today's internet users expect businesses to have a website and for it “to give them information about products that they are considering buying.”
The internet is no longer a new and strange phenomenon. America has grown accustomed to it and we're turning to it for information with increasing regularity. According to Google.com, more than 55 billion searches were conducted on their search engine alone last year and nearly 80 million searches “of a commercial nature” are being conducted each day. This is a number equal to about one third of the total US population. And that's a DAILY number.
Your customers are among those conducting these “commercial searches.” Is your information there for them to find? Without question, 2003 is the year for business owners to get serious about their internet presence; but here are some important things that you should know:
1. Many website developers are still chasing the butterfly of “pretty.” Ignore that insect. “Informative” is the jumbo jet that will take you where you want to go.
2. Don't think of the web as an advertising vehicle. Think of it as an information delivery system.
3. Above all else, your website should be a confidence builder, a dynamic electronic presentation that anticipates and answers all your customer's questions, 24/7.
4. This doesn't take dazzling graphics; it takes insightful website architecture and exceptional writing. Do you have access to these?
5. Frustration is the enemy. When internet shoppers don't immediately find the answers they're looking for, they click to the next website. Game over.
How certain am I that the time to make your internet move is now? Certain enough that I recently acquired 10% of America's finest 'net consulting firm and am adding a full-time internet specialist to my own staff here in Austin to be available to clients of Roy H. Williams Marketing Inc. and clients of the branch offices of Wizard of Ads, Inc.
I never jump on bandwagons, but always wait for the armored car that hauls the money. The internet bandwagon crashed and burned in 2000. This is the year of the armored car.
Are you ready to ride?
Roy H. Williams
PS – The next session of Jeff and Bryan Eisenberg's amazing WIZARDS OF WEB curriculum at Wizard Academy is April 30-May 2. Are you registered yet? This is the 3-day class that will teach you how to achieve measurable business growth through the internet and the Wizard himself teaches the first half day. For more information call (800) 425-4769 or email Corrine@wizardacademy.org