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Internet into Your
While listening to KCBS Newsradio in San Francisco the other day, I heard Martha Stewart talking about the wonders of green beans and how they can be used to help shade trees and plants in the garden. The one-minute report was full of great advice and information. Unfortunately, I was driving my car, so I couldn't take notes. Then she said a full transcript was available on her web site (www.marthastewart.com).
When the United State's leading evangelist of mass-market consumerismand in my opinion, the world's smartest marketertells a general consumer audience to go online and check out her web site, then I knew that the Internet had truly arrived. After spending the past 15 years conducting online marketing campaigns for IBM, Reader's Digest, and American Express and lecturing at the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University, I realized that the rest of the world was finally getting it! When I was on the publicity team that helped launch America Online (AOL) more than 15 years ago, I wondered if this day would ever happen. Companies, large and small, now know that the Internet is a powerful marketing force that can take their businesses to new heights.
The Internet does not exist in a vacuum. It should be integrated into your marketing program just as you would use public relations, advertising, direct mail, and outbound calls to make more sales. Enlightened companies are realizing that the Internet is but one more tool to use in your marketingprogram to build brand identity and sell more products and services. Here are several examples and case studies of how companies from all walks of life are using the Internet to build profits.
Southwest Airlines is known for its slogan "I Fly SWA." The company uses this theme in its advertisements as well as its toll-free number (1-800-I-FLY-SWA). When the airline went onto the Internet, it chose www.iflyswa.com as its universal resource locator (URL), or web address.
Roche Laboratories uses a print ad in USA Weekend magazine to create interest in acne treatments with a startling picture of a boy with a pockmarked face and then leads readers to find out more at its web site (www.facefacts.com) or to call its toll-free phone number.
Don Johnson promotes himself, the Nash Bridges TV show, and an online chat on America Online.
AFLAC Insurance designed its home page (www.aflac.com) to incorporate the images of boys and girls used in its TV ads so that viewers could readily see the connection between the two media.
Nike (www.nike.com) presented an integrated approach to combat claims that it exploited workers in Third World countries. The company issued a press release showing the results of a study conducted by Anthony Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; backed it up with full-page ads in major newspapers; and provided a web address with more detailed information.
Even cereal celebrity Tony the Tiger has a web site (www.tonythetiger.com)! The cereal boxes for Frosted Flakes list the web site address and tell kids about the great games and activities they will find there.
The Internet is becoming so pervasive that 14 percent of ads on television now display a web site address so that prospects can find more information online. As time goes on, this number will only grow.
Although these examples might give the impression that only big businesses can benefit from integrated marketing campaigns, that would be a misconception. Companies of all sizes are using the web as part of their marketing efforts. Let's look at several case studies.
Case Study: Sonoma Golf School
When I was learning to play golf, I picked up a newspaper for golfers. I looked in the back and saw little, three-line classified advertisements for golf schools in the area. There isn't a whole lot to be said in three lines, so they all just gave their name, phone number, and a brief line about their specialties. Only one had a web address. Being a web kind of guy, I checked out the web site for the Sonoma Golf School (www.sonomagolfschools .com) and learned that the instructor, Kris Moe, had been on the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) circuit and had beaten Nick Faldo in a tournament; that his rates were in line with what I could afford to pay; and that the chair of the Bank of America had written a testimonial for him. That all sounded pretty good to me, but I still needed to know what time the class met so I could see if I could commute from home instead of renting a hotel, which would have been too expensive for me. I sent Kris an e-mail, and he wrote back a few hours later. He erased my problem, but I was still hesitating because we were talking in December, which isn't exactly the best time of year to play golf in California. However, he didn't give up. He called me on the phone and left a message on my machine. Just by hearing his voice, I developed confidence in him and decided to take the class.
Let's review the integrated marketing techniques. I read classified ad in a free newspaper that was highly targeted. The inexpensive ad led me to the Internet to check out the web site, which contained far more information than could ever fit in a classified advertisement. I had a question, so I used e-mail to ask it, and he responded by e-mail as well. When I didn't buy, he picked up the phone and made a sales call. That clinched the deal.
Do you see how we used newspaper, the Internet, e-mail, and phone to perform all aspects of the salefrom creating interest to closing? If Kris had not followed through on any one part of that chain, he would have lost the sale. But because he used the Internet in an integrated manner, he was able to make money that weekend.
Case Study: EasiDemographics
One day, I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle about a company, Easy Analytic Software, Inc. (EASI), that offered a free demographic report on the Internet. That sounded like a good marketing idea to me, so I decided to check out its web site, The Right Site (www.easidemographics.com).
The site told EASI's story to build credibility for a product it sells, a CD-ROM with demographic material; basically, the front page did a sales job for the company and the product and made an offer to web buyers. I declined. The site also indicated that I could get a free demographic report online if I clicked a button, which I did. Instead of showing me a report, I saw a screen that contained an application form; if I filled out the form, then I would get the free report. That's common practice on the Internet, so I wasn't offended.
But the form was one of the best I had seen. You see, the more questions you ask, the greater chance you have of turning people off. Many sites ask the dumbest questions in the most irritating manner. The EasiDemographics site asked only six questions, and they were very smart ones. The folks at EASI wanted my name, street address, e-mail address, and phone number; now they can contact me. They wanted to know how I used demographic reports and how much money I spend a year on demographic reports; now they know how qualified I am. With just a few questions, they have everything they need to know to sell me! Notice that they didn't ask irrelevant questions like how many vacations I take or how many years of schooling I had completed. This should be a warning to you to check your forms for relevant information.
I clicked the SUBMIT button and got the report I wanted; now I could see how much money my neighbors made. The report was fine. The site made me another offer to buy the CD-ROM because I now knew that the product was legitimate. But I didn't bite. I left to surf the Net.
Now the fun begins.
A few hours later, I checked my e-mail and saw a message from the president of EASI. I opened the message and read a letter (Figure 1.1) that thanked me for visiting the site. The letter went on to tell me what a great and trustworthy company EASI was, how valuable its CD-ROM of demographics was, and how I could buy it for a special price because I had visited its web site. I declined the generous offer.
A few days later, the phone rang; it was a sales representative from EASI (in fact, it was EASI's sales director, Greg Gergen). He thanked me for visiting the site and reminded me about the company's background and the special offer on the CD-ROM. Because he was reading from my application form, he said, "I see that you spend ten thousand dollars a year buying demographic reports to help you determine where to build your shopping centers." I cut him off politely and told him I had lied. I really didn't buy demographic reports: I was a writer, consultant, and speaker and was using his site as background for my research.
Instead of being upset, he was delighted and began to tell me his life story. It turns out he had been with another company that sold demographic reports and had been making cold calls for his entire professional life. Then he joined this new company, which had integrated public relations and the Internet to find prospects.
"The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about us, and we got 60 leads in three days," said Gergen. "I don't do any cold calls anymore. Here we are, a new company, and we get thousands of leads from the Internet. I've been in sales most of my career, and I've never had it so easy."
Now he spends his life following up on qualified prospects who willingly gave information about themselves on the company web site!
The story gets even better when you appreciate all the steps involved. He lured me to the site by public relations, one of the least expensive marketing tools around. I read the information on the web site and could have bought the product there. If I had done so, the entire transaction would have taken place without human intervention, thus saving EASI a lot of money. Because I didn't buy online, my name fell into a bucket marked "send him an offer by e-mail." The offer took the form of a prewritten letter sent to hundreds of people, so there was no additional work beyond setup. If I had bought via e-mail, again there would have been no human intervention. But I didn't, so my name fell into another bucket that earmarked me for a phone call from the sales director. At that point, the cost of the sale began to increase, but only at that point. The company had presented me with three ways to buy automatically before an expensive human being entered the picture.
The point of this story is that you should consider how to revise your web site so that the Internet can cherry-pick the easy sales that are developed from prospects you attract from other marketing methods. Also, realize that in some cases you will need to follow up with calls from a real, live human being to complete the transaction.
Case Study: Best Software
Best Software, a publisher of accounting software, used a direct-mail campaign that urged recipients to go to the company's web site (www.bestsoftware .com), enter a code number printed on the offer form, and enter it online to get a special price. By using a code number, the company was able to track sales that started with the direct-mail piece. Sales from the web were 220 percent better than the control, and downloads were 50 percent better than the control.
Not only that, the direct-mail/Internet offer collapsed the time sequence. In normal direct-mail campaigns, the first orders come in eight weeks, but the online offers started flowing in just three weeks.
Although some direct-mail experts have said they didn't want to use the web in an integrated manner because they didn't want to place another barrier in the way of the prospect picking up the phone and ordering or simply filling out the order form, this study shows that direct mail and the Internet can work well together.
BUILDING AN INTEGRATED MARKETING PROGRAM WITH THE INTERNET
Online marketing should support the entire marketing program. To conduct a successful marketing campaign, online services should be thought of as another marketing and distribution channel that provides a service to prospects and customers. Your company's key marketing messages should be seen in its online advertising, publicity, and promotion. Companies must use a consistent message, typeface, logo, and other elements of a marketing campaign so that consumers find the same content regardless of the medium used, thus creating a solid, familiar feeling with customers.
Professional speaker Patricia Fripp (www.fripp.com) has done a masterful job of integrating the Internet into her successful marketing program. Her web site incorporates the look and feel of her marketing materials, as you can see in the Figures 1.2 and 1.3. She uses the same typeface, angle, and picture in all her presentations. If a meeting planner received her print materials in the mail and decided to read more about her services on the Internet, he would be greeted by a web site that looks like an extension of the papers he was holding in his hand. This integration creates a sense of continuity that leads to comfort in the minds of buyers. Following Fripp's example is a good idea for any consultant, doctor, or other service provider.
Larger companies with many different products, brands, or international divisions might wonder how to present a unified front to its many publics. Surprisingly, this is not hard to do. Just follow the examples of industry leaders such as 3M and Microsoft. Everyone knows 3M's famous logo: a 3M in red with a black background; the company has adopted this logo on its web site. The words "Innovation Network" appear in the web site's banner, but if you select one of its products or divisions, the 3M stays in the banner, while the division's or product's name appears next to it in its familiar fonts and colors. Keeping a consistent design might seem a problem at first, but you can see that it really isn't.
Although these examples show how easy it can be to standardize your message, look, and feel between different advertising formats and the Internet, perhaps you can really grasp this concept by looking at a web site that doesn't integrate its messages well.
One company that seems to totally disregard integrated marketing concepts is Ragu, the manufacturer of fine pasta sauces. They have created a charming site (www.ragu.com) that seems to say "We are everything Italian." You can learn to speak Italian; take a tour of Little Italy in New York; read about Italian art and architecture, and even banter with the company's online mascot, Mama, a white-haired, grandmotherly figure who adorns nearly every page on the sitein fact, the site is called "Mama's Cucina." This would be a great marketing tactic except for one thing: You can barely see the Ragu name or logo on the site! If you go deeper into the site and look at other pages, you might not even see the Ragu label at all, and if you do, then the Mama's Cucina logo is larger. You might wonder who owns the site.
However, the site does a wonderful job of creating brand identity. You can really get wrapped up in it. I was so taken with the site that one day when I was shopping, I got the urge to go Italian and buy Ragu sauce. So I went down the pasta aisle and grabbed the first jar that had a picture of my favorite white-haired sage. Unfortunately, when I looked at the label, I was staring at Paul Newmannot Mama! After looking around the shelves for a few moments, I found the Ragu sauce. The labels featured pictures of gondolas, mushrooms, and tomatoes, all of which says "Italian" but doesn't say "Mama" I wondered why Ragu had spent millions of dollars creating an online character that brought them incredible amounts of publicity and exposure but didn't use her picture in the real worldwhere it counts! After all, you can't buy sauce online, but you can buy it in the stores. This example illustrates how companies can run afoul of generally accepted principles of integrated marketing and the confusion that it can cause in the marketplace.
Consumers don't like to be confused. If they have the slightest hesitation about you, your brand, or your identity, they will pass you by. By integrating the web into your marketing program and using the same design, look, feel, and messages as found in your other promotional materials, you will reinforce your image and themes to your customers, who in turn will reward you with sales and loyalty.
The need to integrate online services into the marketing mix is important for companies that need to expand their sales bases by building brand identities and tapping into the online world. The online program must tie into the goals of the traditional marketing program, not go off on its own tangent. Building a brand identity is important for companies as they race to stake out claims in cyberspace because mass-market consumers going online will look for familiar names.