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Marketers overlooking the obvious

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With this interactive medium, advertisers can easily determine the individual purchase decision triggers. Since the dawn of man, salespeople have been striving for the ability to read consumers' minds. Now the Internet, used as a sales medium, lets you find out what prospects are really looking for -- the keys that drive the individual purchase decision.

With this interactive medium, advertisers can easily determine the individual purchase decision triggers. Are they motivated by:

  • Facts and figures -- technical specifications;
  • Features -- models, color, styles;
  • Expert opinions -- confidence;
  • Testimonials, etc. -- security;
  • Status, value for dollar, performance, discounts, premiums, etc.

    In a recent survey of users by Net-Smart, we found 81% are using the Internet almost as a do-it-yourself Consumer Reports. Your Web site can take one-to-one marketing to a new level, allowing prospects to sell themselves.

    Our survey also found the customer is willing to help you tailor your information to his individual interests. Over three-quarters are willing to register and complete short surveys in return for custom information.

    The big consumer benefit, as one reported, is that "You can ask stupid questions without feeling stupid!"

    Let's step back a moment and think about the benefits TV, magazines, newspapers and radio offer.

  • TV creates awareness and impressions. ("I've heard of that brand.")

  • Magazine print ads supply the details. ("I didn't know that.")

  • Newspapers and radio drive the traffic to local dealers. ("I think I'll stop in and look.")

    Now, what role does the Internet play? Where does it fit in the overall media plan? And, most importantly, where should the budget come from?

  • The Internet can generate pre-sold prospects. ("By the time I am ready to buy, I will know what I want.")

    The Internet, when used properly, can take leads and qualified prospecting to a new level. It can generate more than just traffic to local retailers. It can generate virtually pre-sold customers for a variety of products like cars, computers, cruises and financial services.

    It can provide leads and prospects who are predisposed to buy as a result of their interactive online relationship. The budgeting should not be a hit or miss situation. Internet budgets should be built in as a key element in the overall media planning strategy.

    Too many companies are focusing on CPMs to justify the cost of this new medium. Perhaps this is the result of non-technical upper management or young Web builders who are hipper-than-thou but lack marketing experience.

    To calculate the true ROI, advertisers must find a way to measure the impact of a Web site in generating pre-sold prospective customers.

    Also, they should not overlook the impact on customer loyalty and word-of-mouth. Here is the true value of the Internet.

    Our survey found that of the 81% who research high-ticket items online, 46% go on to purchase at retail.

    This is the real opportunity.

    What are the obvious and not-so obvious benefits of a Web site:

  • Direct online sales;

  • Revenues from selling links;

  • A cutting-edge image;

  • Lower communication and associated paperwork costs;

  • Easy way to entice fresh prospects into an e-mail relationship;

  • Generates pre-sold prospective customers by providing complete information about your product

    Tom Cunniff, president of New York's Cunniff Interactive Advertising, created what many consider to be an excellent brand site on the Web: Mama's Cucina for Ragu.

    According to Mr. Cunniff, "Most people build a Web site that looks like a Web site when what they need is a Web site that looks like their brand."

    Bernadette Tracy is the president of NetSmart, which specializes in syndicated motivational studies on Internet use. An executive summary of the new survey "What Makes People Click -- The New Online Consumers" can be obtained by contacting NetSmart at (212) 794-9695.

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