Archive for July, 2007

Friday, July 20th, 2007
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Small Business

June 20 2007
“A look at what is happening in the world of web sales.”
There are two significant anniversaries that are making their impact on the world of web sales. Although, independent services, both contribute to the emerging world of web commerce. One has history and is more generally recognizable; one is a lot younger.
The old timer is having a  40th anniversary.
The new comer is having 4th anniversary.
This special 40th anniverary is for the Toll Free number.
  Forty years ago AT&T issued its first 1-800 Toll Free number!
That set the stage for “talk to me freely”. The intent was for customers and prospective customers to talk to the company at the company’s expense. 1-800 meant the caller was not billed and the company called was billed. An invitation to engage, help, service and sell.
What a concept. Companies wanted to be contacted by customers and prospects. They even paid for the privilege. The 800 number was thought of as one of the best tools to increase sales and many companies moved in that direction. This had to have been a success for a series of reasons.
1/ The first year in use AT&T carried 7,000,000 toll free calls.
2/ Forty years later the concept is still in service
3/ Over the years some interesting statistics were provided on the use of this service, Like:
          Studies by Bellcore
                   Ads with 1-800 numbers got 6 times more response than those that did not
          Direct Order Stats
                   1-800 supported orders average 30-70% more revenue
                   1-800 supported order has a 95% higher chance of closing
                   1-800 supported products have 50% less returns
4/ After thirty years, we ran out of 1 800 and had to add 1 8888
          Then shortly there after, 1 877 and 1 866 were required
          Now it seems 1 855, 1 844, 1 833, 1 822 will be required
5/ Last year AT&T carried 30,000,000,000 toll free calls
Technology giveth and technology taketh away!
You probably have noticed lately there are answering systems that push the limits of human tolerance and the intent of  “talk to me freely” has been forgotten in the rush to restrict our invitation. It seems a lot of companies have added technology to get from:
the 1967 intent of    1 800 GET HELP
to an account’s version of  1 800 GET LOST
There are easy metrics to demonstrate the cost of a toll free call in both telephone and people expense, and since there is no easy path from this liability to the asset value of a customer base, then typically we just measure and work to lower the cost. If you can deflect a call it appears as though you have saved money. Therefore, a move to use technology to create a 1 800 GET LOST environment.
This will change.�
In the future , as callers – we will have our chance.
In the future as businesses – we must create those chances.
To compete, businesses will ultimately have to get more customer responsive. Monopolies excepted!
  Now going into an increasing demand as communications enables globalization, it is recognized that small and medium size companies have a greater role to play. These companies are faster to adapt to the wishes of their clients. It is becoming apparent in our knowledge-based economy that communications in required in both directions. A time to enable the 1 800 GET HELP model.
There is another wave on the horizon that will compliment the get responsive attitude of successful companies, that being the evolution of the company web site. We have had a web and web sites for a while. Now it is time to look at the evolution taking place. In fact the web is also celebrating an anniversary of the evolved capabilities and functionality.

This special 4th anniversary is for the new Web   Web 2.0
 This is not an anniversary of a specification change and release, but more the recognition of an evolutionary shift and response to user requirements. The web is adapting and responding to the user community. People are pushing and technology is responding. This will generate a more interactive and responsive web environment.
In Web 1.0, companies realized that the Internet was a new channel for distributing products. Most companies created a web presence and most conventional bricks and mortar business have an add on virtual asset that may or may not be recognized as a digital asset. In the brick and mortar world, the buildings were assets and the web was an added expense.
In Web 2.0 companies are realizing the web site may very well be their largest asset. In fact companies such as:
are emerging in Web 2.0 format and have little concern for the brick and mortar value of company.
The recent sale of YouTube for $1,600,000,000.00 had little to do with bricks or mortar.
So the web is a digital asset.
In 1998, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated their tiny company.
In 2007  Google   becomes global brand name recognition # 1 – a 9 years old company
                   valuation @ $66B
In 2006 Microsoft founded by Bill Gates was # 1 – a 25 year old company
                   valuation @ $55B
These digital giants are moving ahead of  Coke and Toyota
Toyota now beat GM, Ford, and Chrysler
The web with over a billion users is changing the speed and need of what people want to see and do. Valuations are now expanding to recognize the digital world. In fact may even be shifting:
From: Location, Location, Location.
To: Traffic, Traffic, Traffic.
As with Location value business of the past, Traffic value business of to-day still ultimately are valued as to what will it sell for.
Some recent sales: $ 475,000.00 $ 700,000.00 $ 837,000.00 $ 3,000,000.00
The new opportunity for sales growth and company valuation is in the virtual landscape of buyers. The audience is large and growing by the minute. To generate a customer base in this environment will most certainly lead to business wealth. However this New World is one of inter active buying and selling. Be prepared to offer what the market demands.
Over the past few years, many companies have migrated from a product-centric web site to a more customer-centric web site that invites and responds to visitors. Companies are reaching out to communicate more effectively and more often with their customers to successfully manage the customer relationship and attract new prospects.
An observation in my home city of Ottawa
If you take Moodie Drive north it is difficult not to be impressed by the stature of the Nortel campus.
If you take Riverside Drive it is obvious which building Cognos is in.
If you are on Richmond Road you would have to watch carefully for the Circumference sign.
This brick and motor status then is:  - Very Big – Big – Small
However for the last few years I have been telecommuting so these companies all look the same to me.
By that I mean, I see each on a 17” screen. The differential in these three is that Circumference is on my home page drop down list because I visit frequently, so visiting is just a click away. That is a great place for your company to be in relationship to your customers, just a click away.
For all other situations the visit is motivated by needs and wants, visibility, easy to find, brand recognition, reputation, responsiveness and helpfulness.
Yes, even your 1 800 GET HELP
  This century, although only 7 years old, will continue to shift to interactive environments and that include commerce.
In comparing the broadcast functionality and mentality of the last century with the evolving interactive functionality being unleashed this century.
from  books, papers, radio and TV    to    googling, IM and blogging  �
          2,000,000,000 people                   6,500,000,000 people
          communications delayed                communications real time
          2 week catalogue                         2 day on line
          Web 1.0                                     Web2.0…..
          1 800, 1 888                      1 877, 1 866, 1 855, 1 844, 1 833, 1 822……..
The shifting is accelerating and commerce needs to stay in step. The good news is for small business. The new tools of commerce are readily adaptable for our size businesses.



So successful businesses are responding to shifting demand.

The next generation web, web 2.0 will still be married to the 1 800.
In today’s world there’s a desire to always stay connected 24/7.
If you are a large company, you can use a toll free number to setup a call center for your customers.
So can small companies.
 Then to summate the advantage communications is providing small business when both barrels are loaded:
Web2.0 will enable interactive communications for all size companies
The 1 800 is still available for all size companies.
The benefits of online advertising, marketing and sales supported by responsive communications with these two world-class solutions to help small and medium businesses succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.
Lee Carey