Leveraging the Newest Internet Business Models

What are the latest trends in online business models, and how can your company use them? Come to the Internet Technology Summit 2010 in Orlando on June 22, 2010, to learn about social shopping, virtual goods, freemium, and APIs and see how other companies have successfully put them into practice. Register today at http://internetsummit.floridatechnologyjournal.com/attend/.

I’ve posted the presentation slides to SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/intermedia4web/leveraging-the-newest-internet-business-models-from-social-shopping-to-freemium

Webinar I Gave for Online Retailers

[Re-post from September 14, 2009]

Update: Here is the link to watch the archived webinar – http://www.practicalecommerce.com/webinars/6-Out-Of-The-Box-Sales-Tools-Social-Media-Subscriptions-Group-Selling


I’m presenting a webinar on Tuesday, September 15 at 3 pm EDT on “Out-Of-The-Box Sales Tools: Social Media, Subscriptions, Virtual Goods, and Group Selling” for online retailers. Register at http://su.pr/22Kxs1.

Here is the “official” description:

Out-Of-The-Box Sales Tools: Social Media, Subscriptions, Virtual Goods, Group Selling
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT
In this free webinar, you will learn what the newest Internet business models are and how your company can leverage them to increase sales, encourage repeat business and build brand loyalty.

You’ll discover how social networks and other community-based applications can help your business grow, as well as how a subscription model can build value and exclusivity for your products.

You’ll see how the “long tail” can capture untapped customer segments. Plus, you’ll learn about the booming market for virtual goods, which many online retailers now offer. You’ll learn about in-game advertising, where your products could appear on targeted video games.  And we’ll explain group selling concepts and other new channels.

The webinar is sponsored by Full Sail University.  Founded 30 years ago, Full Sail is one of premier media arts colleges in the world, with more than 30,000 graduates. Based in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail offers online master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees, including Internet marketing and web design and development.

The webinar is moderated by Practical eCommerce’s contributing editor, Armando Roggio, a seasoned technology journalist.

The presenter is Carol Cox, an instructor at Full Sail University and owner of InterMedia4Web, an Internet marketing and technology firm. She will:

– Discuss the nine primary Internet business models, some of which are little known;

– Explain the newest of the nine models and how your company can leverage them successfully;

– Discuss exciting new marketing channels for online retailers, with examples of merchants who are benefiting from them.

About the Presenter

Carol Cox is an instructor in Internet business and marketing at Full Sail University and owner of InterMedia4Web, an Internet marketing and technology firm. She has consulted for all sizes and types of businesses that are looking to capitalize on the efficiencies, scalability and dynamism of the Internet, from Fortune 500 companies to family-owned businesses.

How Your Company Can Use Twitter

[Re-post from July 28, 2009]

Yesterday, I read about a company called Thymer.com that has developed a web-based application for “project management and task planning for people who hate project management and task planning”.

I was eager to try it out, but it’s in closed beta, which means you can only sign up if you have an invitation code. I did a quick search online to see if I could find any, but came up empty. I then decided to post a tweet asking if anyone had an extra code:

CivicLink on Twitter

This morning, I received a reply tweet from the company itself, @stunf, with my own personal invitation code:

Tweet

Talk about customer service! The company most likely monitors any tweets that contain their company name or website so they can know what people are saying about their product and to respond to questions or requests such as mine.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, set up an account today at http://www.twitter.com.

I use an application called TweetDeck to view updates from the people I follow, send out tweets, and track mentions of our companies’ names and websites. You can also set up searches for key words or phrases (such as “accountant Orlando” or whatever your business industry is) and then respond to tweets from people who are looking for those products or services. This is a great opportunity to market yourself in a personal way – just be sure to be authentic and helpful. (Here’s a great article on Twitter etiquette.)

You can follow me on Twitter at @CivicLink.

Happy Tweeting!

Update on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:52PM by Registered CommenterCarol Cox

A colleague just passed along this article to me about one company’s success with Twitter – http://www.sugarrae.com/commercial-twitter-case-study-revisited/

Does your website have a purpose?

[Re-post from June 16, 2009]

Ten years ago, you were considered ahead of the curve if your company had a website. Even large businesses like Barnes & Noble and Wal-mart struggled early on to establish a web presence, paving the way for the success of Internet companies like Amazon.com and eBay.

Why buy?

Remember these?

Ten years ago, your website could consist of a home page, “about us” page, and contact page, with perhaps another page or two that described your products and services. Your site was merely an online brochure – like a Yellow Pages advertisement but with more words and color (and let’s not forget the annoying flashing graphics like the one on the left!).

Ten years ago, your small business could even get away with not having a website, particularly if you only served a local market.

Nowadays, none of the above holds true. Your company – whether you employ one person (yourself), 10 people, 100 people, 1,000 people, or 10,000 people – must have a website that provides visitors with useful information, compelling content and, above all, a reason to engage with you.

Your website must answer this question – Why should a prospect choose to do business with you and not your competitor? This is the singular purpose of your site.

Take a look at your current website (if you don’t have a website, realize that your competitors do!) and ask yourself:

  • What questions would a prospect have when they come to my site?
  • Does my site answer those questions clearly and quickly?
  • Who are my target customers? What are their demographics, buying habits, persona types, and needs? Does my site address each customer segment?
  • Do I provide a compelling reason for the prospect to choose my company over my competitor?
  • Does the prospect know what to do next? Do I want the prospect to call me, fill out a form, watch a demo, download a free trial or whitepaper, make a purchase, subscribe to my newsletter, etc.? Does my site guide them to take this step?

If your website is currently the equivalent of a billboard, newspaper ad, or Yellow Pages listing, you are losing money. Your website should, and can be, a highly effective means for generating leads and sales. Does yours?

How Netflix Killed Blockbuster

[Re-post from April 7, 2009]

As part of the classes I teach in Internet business at Full Sail University, I post up current news and topics every day and ask my students to comment on them, whether it’s Apple’s change to a tiered pricing model for iTunes or the community activism at Etsy.com.

Today I read an article on Fast Company about Blockbuster’s impending demise and it got me thinking. According to its most recent SEC filing, Blockbuster may not be able to get a loan it desperately needs: “In effect, the company is saying it’s within days or weeks of having to close up shop – postal, online and brick-and-mortar.”

Ten years ago, Blockbuster was flying high. It had over 7,000 stores across the country and the world and was growing rapidly. It had put the small, mom-and-pop video rental stores out of business (remember those?).

Blockbuster’s biggest competitor at the time was Hollywood Video, another chain of video rental stores. I distinctly remember in the late 1990s when Blockbuster and Hollywood Video first started stocking DVDs to rent in addition to VHS tapes. At first, the DVD section was very small (just a few rows on the wall). Then, over the next five years or so, DVDs came to dominate shelf space as more and more households purchased DVD players and more people wanted to rent DVDs.

However, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video completely missed the revolution that was happening online: people were signing up for a new service called Netflix that mailed them the movies they wanted. Plus, there were no due dates and no late fees! Blockbuster, and even Wal-mart, came out with their own rent-by-mail service and it appeared that Netflix could be in trouble. Many analysts started signing Netflix’s death sentence, saying that Netflix wouldn’t be able to compete against Blockbuster’s billions of dollars, high brand recognition, and thousands of physical stores.

However, what these analysts failed to appreciate was that Netflix had built a loyal following around a culture of trust and authenticity. Many consumers had been personally gouged by Blockbuster’s ridiculous (and oftentimes hidden) late fees and were reluctant to trust the company again. Even if Blockbuster charged less than Netflix, many people were willing to pay a dollar or two more per month to Netflix (as I was) and, even more important, became evangelists for Netflix.

If you do a search on Google, you will find numerous blogs and comments (here is just one example) about the difference between Netflix’s and Blockbuster’s commitment to customer service and transparency: Netflix has it, Blockbuster does not. This is why Netflix killed Blockbuster.

What do your customers think, and say, about your company? Do you have evangelists? If not, then take some time to consider and then implement ways you can improve your customer relationships so that your customers become evangelists for your products.

The Future of Conferences

[Re-post from April 1, 2009]

I attended an excellent conference today on digital marketing where I heard interesting speakers (including David Plouffe, who was Obama’s campaign manager), visited sponsors’ booths, and met new people in my field.

The best part was that I did this all right from my desk – no need to pay for a plane ticket and hotel room, take days off of work, and generally disrupt my schedule. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend that attendees, sponsors, and event organizers try themselves.

The conference was organized by MarketingProfs.com and was free to attend. There were thousands of people online from all over the world.

I definitely see this as the future of conferencing. Have you ever attended a virtual conference? If so, how do you think it compared to a physical-world conference?

Who needs deadlines?

[Re-post from March 13, 2009]

Your clients do. (And you probably do too, but that’s another blog post.)

I’m sure we’ve all had clients who procrastinate on providing necessary deliverables, making decisions, and paying their invoices. Oftentimes, we excuse their tardiness and think to ourselves, “Well, if the client doesn’t care that this gets done soon, then why should I bother them about it. They’ll do it when they’re ready.” There are several problems with this. First, it throws off your schedule with that client as well as with your other clients. Second, it causes your client to de-value the work you are doing for them. If you act like it’s no big deal, then they will look at your work for their company as “no big deal”. (Of course, there are exceptions to this. If the client has a genuine personal or business emergency, then by all means give them the time and space to resolve that. Just be sure to take that into account for your scheduling.)

What can you do to keep your clients on schedule? Here are a few tips:

  1. PlannerInclude a project schedule in the contract paperwork the client signs. The schedule should clearly indicate what deliverables are due when and by whom, as well as which other deliverables are dependent upon those.
  2. Review the project schedule at the kick-off meeting. Ask the client, “Is there anything that would prevent us from achieving these goals on these dates?” If any adjustments need to be made, then have the client sign off on them.
  3. Update the schedule every day or two (or at least once a week) and send the updates to the client. Clearly indicate which items are on track, which are in danger of being delayed, and which are off track. For the items that are in danger of being delayed, and they depend upon the client, find out right away what is causing the hold up and when the expected delivery is.

If you end up with a client who is continually late in providing deliverables and making decisions, you will have to decide if you want to continue to do work for that client once the current project is complete. Or, you could include consequences in the next contract for late deliverables, such as an additional charge.

Remember that the work you do for a client is extremely valuable and should be given appropriate appreciation and attention from the client. Having a clear and detailed project schedule is a great way to achieve this.

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