Web Site 'Don'ts'
by Robert McKim
5 Mistakes that could destroy your site—including scrimping on budget
ncreasingly consumers would rather sit at their computers searching for information than spend another hour sitting through another execrable sitcom or over-hyped sporting event. This trend should cause some waves of fear at companies like Gillette, Procter & Gamble and other mass marketers who still spend upwards of 80 percent of their communications budgets on TV.
The market for their products is splitting up into millions of individuals who do their own research and find what they want on the Internet. It is interesting to note that according to a recent Harris-Poll survey, Amazon.com ranks 35th among the most widely recognized brand names, especially considering they came into existence only four years ago.
Stressed-out, time-starved consumers demand good service. This is particularly true of baby boomers who have become jaded after decades of shopping and spending. Consumers are not satisfied with the current level of service they are receiving. And because the tight labor market has put the squeeze on customer service and fulfillment departments, it will become even harder for companies to meet consumers' high expectations by hiring the best representatives.
The 'Net is just not another medium. It is a profoundly different experience. The 'Net is about choice, freedom and control. It is a place to escape, temporarily, the incessant interruptions of marketers whose products are less distinguishable, except for the advertising that promises different lifestyles and never seems to pay off.
For online advertisers, the challenge is to educate, entertain and entice users into interacting with their ads. Online consumers need more than someone to entice them with toothy smiles and kissing-sweet breath, because they can't be trapped into paying attention.
"Solution selling" was devised by merchants who have discovered that the 'Net has a tendency to drive prices to zero unless they provide value concepts. There are also cost advantages in letting customers construct their own online solutions. Think about the economics of teaching thousands of Home Depot employees to give helpful advice to weekend do-it-yourselfers.