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A Simple Plan for Success on the Net.

Brandwidth -- Any executive at a consumer-oriented Internet company can probably guess the meaning. Plain and simple, "brandwidth" refers to online marketing reach and adds value to a product. Brandwidth is a concept that advertisers should keep in mind as they conjure up those snazzy, snappy slogans. And it's a term that every dotcom player better get to know. Brandwidth pertains not just to the type of selling that one admires for its creativity; but to the kind that persuades consumers to dig inside their wallets and seal the deal.

In Building Brandwidth: Closing the Sale Online (Harper-Business, pp. 239), Sergio Zyman and Scott Miller discuss marketing tactics that dotcom execs need to use in order to stay afloat in the "site-eat-site" world of cyberbusiness. Internet competition isn't just about who has the better graphics or the most traffic. It's about who makes money. That's the bottom line and that's what most online businesses haven't been doing. Past Internet companies, such as, built awareness without adding value. The authors emphasize, "Building brandwidth means a lot more than building awareness. It means building meaning and brand power in breadth, and depth, constantly adding value."

The authors outline the basic "dos" and don'ts of e-marketing, explore the mistakes of now-defunct e-businesses and detail some successful Internet strategies. Zyman, who also wrote "The End of Marketing As We Know It," explains that business on the Web is magnified because information can be accessed by competitors much more quickly than in the brick-and-mortar world. Likewise, improvements can be made faster than the dick of a mouse.

Zyman and Miller examine the three phases of e-marketing and target the present time as the most competitive period. The first phase of e-marketing passed by almost unnoticed. That's when the Internet was so new that an online company had few, if any rivals. The second phase (1996-1999) was disorganized. There was a torrent of Internet startups but "marketing" was a foreign concept to the dotcommers crowd. As the authors note, there were many Gen-Xers who entered the Internet business sphere with laidback attitudes and no regard for the dollar sign. "It's the Internet -- who cares about marketing?" the techies blatted. When these dotcommers, and particularly their financial backers, witnessed online sellers going belly up, they started to pay more attention to marketing.

That's when the third phase of e-marketing comes into play, and it's taking place just as you are reading this -- its now! The Internet needs a blueprint and this is the age of arriving "the firstest with the mostest." Get there first with the right information. This book helps businesses cement the relationship between the product and the consumer, which in turn creates brand loyalty and revenue.

However, on the Net, that's still not enough. Flexibility and watching the horizon are the keys to Web success. In poker terms, "[Online companies] will only survive if we 'see' [our competitors] and constantly 'raise' them." The authors cite as a prime example because its image has evolved throughout its Internet lifespan. Originally a book community, the startup now peddles music, health and beauty products, wireless phones and much more.

That's why this book is called "Building Brandwidth." All companies, especially those online, need a key marketing strategy as a foundation. Build on it, layer by layer, but stay focused on one idea. The authors write, "Recognize that everything markets, and everything markets more effectively when it's integrated or driven by one central strategy and objectives that are the same as the business objectives." The writers use a cooking analogy: Carefully follow the recipe (or sales strategy) and mix the ingredients -- communications, public relations, marketing and advertising -- to bake a delicious cake. Without a strategy or recipe, you might create a mess.

After reading the book, the reader is left pondering one basic concept. An e-tailer CEO should be able to answer the question, "What does this product do for the customer?" If it does something, consumers will come back for more, because a product's value is ultimately more important than its "brandwidth."

Gone are the days when business CEOs came to work with a latte in one hand, sporting Hawaiian-style shorts. Irreverent ads may stop a surfer from jumping to the next site, but they won't necessarily persuade them to click and buy. This book turns failures of the past into moneymakers.

Today the Internet is a juggernaut and competition is becoming crowded. Building value in a brand will no doubt breed success for a Net enterprise. The Internet will continue to evolve and so will marketing strategies. But one thing's for certain: In the dotcom cyberscape, "success" will always be equated with dollars and cents.
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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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