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This is a good time
for business online

June 2002

disponibile anche in italiano

  Giancarlo Livraghi
For other comments on internet marketing
see the Netmarketing online newsletter




Of course there is no “absolutely” right or wrong time to do anything. That depends on the individual situation of a company or a market. But there are, at this time, particularly favorable circumstances. When many are confused, hesitant or disappointed (or still pushing in the wrong direction) there are greater opportunities for an effective and well-planned use of the internet.

The first move is to get rid of myths and misconceptions. A few years ago the risk was in the hype – the hasty race for quick-and-easy money. Now it’s the opposite. Too much crying about spilt milk, too many excuses for the failure of poorly conceived strategies. Of course there is no general weakening of the internet. The net continues to grow quite healthily (see the data section on this site.)

The time has come to forget the catchwords, the techno mystiques, the silly theories (as in the case of the “free or pay” nonsense.)  To look for clear, simple and practical solutions.

Online (as off) things work quite well when they are soundly planned and carefully developed. When they don’t work, that’s because they are poorly conceived. It’s useless to fix details, increase pressure or muddle with tactics. It’s much more effective (and less expensive) to go back to the drawing board and re-define strategies and objectives. With the added advantage that the internet is particularly suited for testing, experimenting, adjusting and improving along the way. The concept is simple. Practical development isn’t difficult – but it takes time, patience and care.

Of course specific solutions can’t be discussed in a short article. Even in a 300 page book I couldn’t do more than try to define the principles and the criteria. Each individual case needs to be planned and developed specifically. I don’t believe in oversimplified “how to” lists. But a few of the most relevant concepts can be summarized in ten points.

  1. Except for a few organizations, that operate only online, the net is not an “exclusive” or separate tool. It can be used in many different ways, that work better when they are in synergy with each other and with all of the company’s activities.

  2. Tactics, on their own, lead to nowhere. Online, as in any other endeavor, tactical boosters are effective when they are in line with sound and lasting strategies.

  3. There are no “good for all” solutions or standard prescriptions. Each specific case has its own identity and individual, distinctive nature. Only tailored plans are really effective.

  4. There is no hurry. (See Is hasty really fast?)  Online (even more so than in other situations) the winning solutions are based on “medium or long term” strategies and gradual development.

  5. Imitation is the fastest road to defeat. It’s useful to learn from the experience of others (especially from their mistakes) but the strongest asset is diversity. It’s important to concentrate on what is unique – what a company knows, and can do, better than any other. Difference is the strongest competitive tool.

  6. Effective solutions don’t start with only one sector (e.g. sales.)  When several different network resources, in different relationships, are used together the system is much more effective – and harder for competitors to imitate.

  7. It is not reasonable, or effective, to invest too much up front – or to spend money too soon on technologies. The choice of technical resources is a result, not a prerequisite, of strategies and practical experience.

  8. A website isn’t the starting point. It isn’t necessary in all cases. When it is, it’s much more effective if it comes after strategies, objectives and execution plans are clearly defined.

  9. I can’t think of a company that can’t use the net effectively – in one way or another. But it isn’t “compulsory.”  It’s much better to wait and think carefully than to go online “just to be there.”

  10. Above all... what’s needed is a strong dose of common sense, nurtured with patience and consistency. The net isn’t a separate world. What a company knows about itself and its environment – about strategy, organization, relationships, communication and service – is the basic ground from which healthy projects can be grown. Online or off.


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