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Focusing on future, Year 2000 site finds success now

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If you look at the cost of doing this advertising vs. the cost of doing print advertising, it's really inexpensive. Tenagra corp.'s Year 2000 Web site is blowing apart the adage that advertising on the Internet is a tough sell.

Built on a shoestring two years ago, the site, now has more than 132 advertisers offering solutions to the year 2000 problem -- how to get computer clocks to recognize that Jan. 1, 2000, is the year 2000 and not 1900 -- and projects as much as $900,000 in revenue this year.

It's also a case study in how a focused, business-driven idea can succeed on the Internet.

"We've been very successful at making the site the central resource within the industry," said Tenagra President-CEO Cliff Kurtzman. Tenagra manages the site, while partner Peter De Jager, a year 2000 expert who runs De Jager & Associates, provides content for the pages.

Tenagra chalks up the site's success to a few key factors:

  • It's simple to advertise on.

    Companies selling products related to fixing year 2000 problems pay between $1,800 and $3,600 a year to be listed in the vendor section.

    Users who click on company names are linked to a mini-page on the site or directly to the advertiser's Web site.

    Tenagra will create the mini-pages for a fee; 50% of the site's vendors use mini-pages, while the other half link directly to their own home page.

  • It's essential to the industry it covers.

    Although the year 2000 problem has been well documented by now, by launching the site in May 1995, Tenagra created a place that's become an essential marketing tool for players in the industry.

    "It's almost at the point where listing on the site by solution vendors is required to be considered a player within the year 2000 industry," Mr. Kurtzman said.

  • The ad strategy maximizes revenue return.

    Advertisers listed on the home page pay only a couple of tenths of a cent per page view. A traditional banner on other sites costs a minimum of 2 -- per page view.

    But because the site lists 132 advertisers via the vendor frame on the home page, it adds up to about 30 -- in revenue for Tenagra per home page view, which is at least 10 times what it would have drawn from banner ads, Mr. Kurtzman said.

  • It's a lot more than advertising and content.

    More than 1,600 subscribers pay $40 per year to participate in an e-mail discussion list. Vendors can pay $250 to post their press releases on the site for one month.

    Tenagra references the releases in a newsletter it e-mails free to more than 12,000 people who have requested it. It will also e-mail press releases to computer and business journalists for $50 per release.

  • Ambitions are kept in check.

    Mr. Kurtzman built most of the site himself for an estimated $10,000 worth of labor. Thirteen employees work with the site on a part-time basis -- nine at Tenagra and four at De Jager.

    Mr. Kurtzman said the site generated $300,000 in revenue last year and he's projecting two or three times that level this year.

  • Keep it focused.

    Joe Allegra, president-CEO of Princeton Softech and an advertiser on the site, said the site's narrow target makes it a good venue.

    "This is a site that's designed to attract the people that would buy our products," he said. "If you look at the cost of doing this advertising vs. the cost of doing print advertising, it's really inexpensive. It's hardly worth thinking about."

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