Navigating the inner workings of the World Wide Web can be daunting for business owners. But those new to the Net don't have to get tangled up in technicalities.
Business owners can apply the same "tried and true" marketing practices they've used for years to build a successful Web site, an Internet expert says.
Mike Blinder promises to explain the basics without the "geek speak."
"Just because people are technology-driven does not mean they understand marketing," said Blinder, an internationally-acclaimed media, sales and marketing guru who plans to address local business owners at a seminar this month. "If they forget the basics (of marketing), they can get caught up in the Internet ... and just because a site has flashes and bells, it's not going to move their product."
Blinder said the biggest obstacle business owners face is failing to properly promote their Web site.
He likens it to creating a colorful billboard and planting it in the basement.
During his seminars, he emphasizes working with local media by using banner advertising, video clips and links. He'll also discuss ways owners can use search engines to their advantage to make sure their sites show up on Google's first page of hits -- not the 15th. Research shows almost no one looks past the first page of search results when navigating the Internet, he said.
He'll cover the ins and outs of e-mail, online sales and advertising -- another significant hurdle for owners to navigate.
"The average person is influenced by 5,000 advertisements each day," Blinder said. "You need a credible offer -- no one believes half-off in a store anymore. What's it going to take to make a busy person shift their buying habits?"
Blinder says it's four factors -- reach, frequency, a good offer and immediacy.
With more than 20 years experience in radio and television management, Blinder helped launch the Interactive Media Division for Guy Gannett Communications' five newspaper and nine television properties. He later played a key role in the emerging e-commerce industry as a senior vice president at an international Internet application service company. Since branching out onto the World Wide Web in 1995, he's spoken to more than 25,000 business owners about how to effectively market and move their products on the Web.
Today he owns and manages The Blinder Group, a firm that helps media companies maximize revenue through multimedia sales.
Steve Tamburrino, vice president of R.S. and Osupplies.com, a local office supply and management company, said he's seen tremendous growth since developing an Internet-based branch.
The Web site allows clients to order office supplies and compare prices with other major suppliers.
Tamburrino said he believes building a great Web site requires a good deal of experimentation.
"It's just diving in and starting it," he said. "A Web site grows as you progress, and you learn more as you go, refine it where it's more appealing to the clients on the other end."
He said the office supplies site evolved from customer feedback and the employees' own preferences while searching the Web.
They knew they wanted to avoid clutter and make the site as user-friendly as possible. Using the customer base they built through their telemarketing division, they began directing more people to the site to do business.
"We're capturing clients we would have never been able to capture in our regular business," he said. "We now have 30 states we're shipping supplies to that we normally wouldn't have been able to provide the service for."
Erie County Chamber of Commerce executive director John Moldovan said a working knowledge of the Internet is essential for competing in today's market.
"It's the way a lot of businesses are done these days, and the better people are at it, the better their businesses are going to be," said Moldovan, who is promoting the event along with the Huron Chamber of Commerce. "(The seminar) is a nice, inexpensive way for people to get some decent information on what they should be doing on Internet marketing."
JUMP-START YOUR SITE
WHAT: "The ABC's of Interactive Marketing," a two-hour seminar featuring media expert Mike Blinder
WHEN: 8:30-10:30 a.m. Oct. 15
WHERE: Plum Brook Country Club, 3712 Galloway Road
COST: $30 per person; $15 for members of the Erie County and Huron Chamber of Commerce. Register by Wednesday at sanduskyregister.com or by calling 419-625-5500, ext. 278.