Telecoms, Consultant Coaches, Thanksgiving High-Tech Faith 11-97

What were you doing as the Thanksgiving holiday approached? What are the 5 reasons a web site fails? What are the 5 main things a well-marketed web site can do for you? How is web marketing different? What's going on with telecommunications and the WTO? What's the difference between a consultant, a coach, and management? What companies have the best and worst boards? Let's read on and find out if you guessed correctly this week.

Creating an Internet Website is relatively easy and relatively inexpensive. However, making a Website actually contribute to the profits of your company is far more challenging, involving technology skills and marketing experience. Let's look at a few reasons why Websites fail? 1) there is a lack of strategic planning involving corporate visionaries; 2) the Website is not valued as a strategic asset, the company assumes it will market itself; 3) the emphasis is on appearance over functionality with graphics too large for today's technology; 4) instead of rewriting the copy for the Internet, existing company literature is used; 5) there is a lack of accountability for maintaining and updating the Website.

What will a well-designed and marketed Website do for your company? 1) expand business growth, increase sales; 2) increase profitability while reducing advertising costs; 3) cut back on costs of telephone calls, mail & print needs; 4) reduce administrative and training costs; 5) increase customer service by enabling customers to easily access information 24 hours a day by e-mail or from Website itself.

A recent survey of business to business marketing professionals done by Cahners Publishing showed the following data: 85% find the Internet a useful marketing tool; 84% expect their use of Internet marketing to increase; 51% plan to increase their Internet marketing budget next year; 27% have a web site; and 73% advertise their products and services on the site.

Marketing is the basis of all business success. As this anonymous poem puts it: "He who has a thing to sell, And goes and wishes in a well, Will not as likely get the dollars, As he who climbs a tree and hollers." The Internet is well positioned to communicate directly with customers, and increase customer loyalty through faster, more direct service and instantaneous global delivery of customized information that contains not only data, but also images, graphics, video, and audio. Already a competitive differentiator, it will become even more so in the 21st century.

At Comdex, Bill Gates said, "If you don't have a Website yet, you're already behind." Instant data communication has been a long sought after goal. From pony express to postal delivery to private courier to overnight delivery to Fax machines, daily business communication has become both faster and easier. Now the Internet provides a reliable, inexpensive and fast delivery mechanism for information. Unlike television, radio, and print media, the Internet offers the capability to not only disseminate information quickly and easily, but do so in a format that includes two way dynamic communication and interaction.

Businesses constantly strive to communicate with customers by such means as sales, marketing, advertising, customer service, research, database marketing. The Internet simplifies these communications while providing a mechanism for direct feedback. The technology is there -- it's inexpensive and accessible to businesses of all sizes -- we must learn to use it and utilize it smartly. New competitive telecommunications services markets are emerging around the world. The regulatory environment is evolving rapidly worldwide.

In the U.S., telecommunications reform will drive effective domestic and international rates down by 25% or more from 1997 levels. On February 15, 1997, 69 governments (including the U.S.) of the more than 140-member World Trade Organization (WTO) approved an array of telecommunications agreements including allowing more domestic and international competition, Although the European Community has set January 1, 1998 as their deadline for full liberalization of telecommunications, enterprises in Europe are already involved. Over the next decade, Asia-Pacific nations will feel some of the greatest impact from the WTO agreement, as prices for international telecommunications services decline to just 30% to 50% of their current levels by the year 2002.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approached, in Carlisle, Iowa, the team had assembled in three locations. At 12:45, the three clusters of doctors and nurses fell largely silent; the only sounds were the crackle of the walkie-talkies and cellular phones that networked the whole team. The McCaughey birth is an astounding show of high-tech medicine and faith in action. The babies, born to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, made medical history as the first living septuplets, joining two-year old sister Mecahla. The couple's large extended family, their church, and the small town of Carlisle kept the secret for six months, then went into overdrive to implement the plans they had for helping raise the "miracle babies." They'll sure need all the help they can get, as they lovingly juggle the various roles they'll play.

Like so many of you, I work at juggling personal and professional responsibilities. This past weekend, as I enjoyed having some of my family home once again and talking to the others on the telephone, I'm reminded of a question I'm often asked. That question is which of the hats I wear -- business futurist speaker, sales & marketing consultant, writer & author -- do I prefer and why? The answer is quite simple for me -- I enjoy them all. In a "former life", I was a high school Senior English and Psychology teacher, a drama coach, an Adjunct Professor at two local colleges, and an instructor for the American Management Association. The transition to professional speaker, business consultant, and author/writer was not so dissimilar.

Let's look at the difference between the roles I play and the roles played by management. Managers earn their pay by virtue of their expertise in their field. Managers exercise a certain amount of raw power by virtue of the fact they can hire, set salaries, and fire. On the other hand, a speaker/consultant has to have sharp people skills to communicate effectively and persuade people to accept the changes necessary. They only have a relatively brief period of time to work their magic and produce results. Therefore, every engagement is the World Series.

This gives speakers and consultants a sharp edge, with each hour being lived vividly in what athletes call "the zone". As "outside experts" who are there to help the "inside experts" achieve their goals, speaker/consultants are not viewed as "in someone's pocket", but as someone who can see and impart the big picture. As a recent CNBC Business program said, "One right coach can make all the players better, and affect the whole organization."

Because of this, experts are often asked to serve on boards. Business Week just named the companies with the "best" and "worst" boards. Among the worst were: Disney, AT&T, H.J. Heinz, and Archer Daniels Midland. Among the best were: Campbell Soup, General Electric, Compaq Computer, IBM, and Microsoft. What constitutes a "good" board member? One who is an active participant -- not frequently absent from meetings -- and one who is involved in helping ensure the strategic plan stays on target. This also means these successful board members will be proactively independent -- not be mere rubber-stamping management loyalists -- and will embrace strategic risks and focus on spotting problems in advance in order to head of possible disasters.

Recent research found that -- instead of networking -- successful women relied on strategic alliances, those formed by working on tasks or serving on boards. These were professional relationships with people (allies) they had a shared experience with while working on a project. Successful women found alliancing more comfortable than the traditional networking approach of handing out business cards to everyone they connected with.

Well, guess what, folks? As I was trying to do some "net-alliancing" earlier today, I inadvertently sent the over 700 members of my E-Memo list an inoperable Santa! Sorry 'bout that! Just goes to proof that 'Digital Grammy' is fallible.

Copyright 1997 by Marlene B. Brown, Speaker/Consultant/Author/Writer Author of "TechnoTouch II: High Tech + High Touch = High Return©" Visit our web site at http://www.technotouch.com/

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