Do You Have an eBusiness Strategy?

eBusiness entails the strategic use of information and communication technology (including, but not limited to, the Internet) to interact with customers, prospects, and partners through multiple communication and distribution channels.

~Thomas Siebel, Siebel Systems

I received an email recently from a young lady that said, “Can you help me promote my website or recommend someone that can?” I called her up, asked her a couple of pre-qualifying questions and scheduled an appointment. I met with her in her office, tucked neatly in a brownstone against the Harlem, New York backdrop of 125th street just a few blocks away.

I began as I usually do by asking her to tell me about her business. Interestingly enough, she is in the business of adult toys—very tasteful I might add. She told me that she started out with a full-time day job and booked parties on the weekends where she and her partner would sell their wares. She’s regularly booked six months in advance and made so much money over the last year that she decided to quit her day job to devote her time fully to her business.

When I asked her why she wants to promote her website, I learned that she only gets about four orders monthly from web site traffic, her current customers use the website as an online catalog but never really purchase online, and if she received 100 orders tomorrow, she would not have the womanpower to fulfill them. The next question, of course, was, “Do you have a marketing plan?” “No.” “Do you have a business plan?” “No.” “Wait,” she said. “I just picked up this book on business plans.” She showed me where she had highlighted certain sections and told me how she was explaining to her partner how important such a plan was.

Both her and her partner anxiously looked at me. I wondered how they were going to react to what I had to say next. I figured that after they heard my thoughts, I would earn their respect and be a credible resource for them. But on the other hand, I could just dive in and help them put their website in the fast lane which is why they contacted me in the first place.

I looked at her, glanced at her partner, and then looked her in the eye. “More than promoting your website right now, you need a business plan and a marketing plan that includes a comprehensive section for web marketing. And, to really take your business to the next level your plan should cover all aspects of eBusiness,” I said. The expression on their faces, asked the next question, “What is eBusiness?”

What is eBusiness?

As they sat there, like little sponges, soaking up my every word, I began to explain where I was coming from. You want to use the Internet to generate sales and grow your business - this is eCommerce. eCommerce is a small piece of the pie called eBusiness. “eBusiness enables organizations to derive maximum value from every interaction and to continuously improve the quality of the customer experience.”1

This makes sense for her business since the commodity being sold is – you guessed it – pleasure. The majority of her sales rely on customer experiences. eBusiness simply builds on the cornerstone of her existing business. Many of us hear the term eBusiness and believe that this concept is reserved for big business. How contraire. Yes, big businesses like IBM, Chase, and Marriott have implemented very successful eBusiness strategies. But, who’s to say that these principles can’t be applied to small business, maybe your business?

How can eBusiness Help Your Business?

In his book, “Taking Care of eBusiness”, Thomas Siebel cites 5 things that eBusiness enables organizations to do:

  1. Record, measure, update, and analyze (in real time) large amounts of finely detailed, customer-specific information.

    For small businesses, where costs rule and analyzing data in real time might not be the most realistic, processes should be put in place for recording customer profiles, contacts and the result of each contact. A periodic review and analyzing of this data should be performed consistently.

  2. Coordinate and personalize all interactions with customers, prospects and partners – over time, across communication channels, and across all functional areas and lines of business within the organization.

    The whole premise of eBusiness is to give customers multiple ways of interacting with your business. Thomas Siebel calls these ways, channels. Going one step further is the personalization of customer interactions no matter what channel they choose to use. In small business, this can simply mean, reordering client specific data, gleaned from conversations, phone calls, information from the last sale or customer inquiries and using this information in the next interaction.


  3. Program “intelligence” into every customer-facing process and optimize these processes.

    When using the full power of eBusiness, businesses are able to analyze customer inquiries and forward them to the best source—web, phone, email, etc. This goes a long way in improving customer service.

  4. Practice intimate, one-to-one, relationship-based marketing, sales, and service.

    The buzz word in business these days is “relationship building”. This is being touted in marketing and communication approaches. eBusiness builds on this approach by enabling businesses to recall all customer interactions - past and present. When executed properly this can be quite impressive to the customer because businesses are able to use and recite customer information despite the channel of communication used by the customer. What an enriching customer experience this can be when product offerings, services, and communications are customized to match unique customer preferences.

  5. Execute an optimized, integrated, ROI-based (return on investment-based) system of multichannel marketing, sales, and service.

    How often do small businesses measure the return on investment for every day business tasks such as marketing, sales, and service? eBusiness can help determine the profitability of your customers so that you can make wise business decisions.

Benefit From eBusiness

So how can your business benefit from eBusiness? Do what the owner of the adult toy business is doing. Create a comprehensive business and marketing plan centered around eBusiness and think about integrating your sales, marketing, accounting, and service software applications to include gathering data from all channels (Internet, phone, email, etc.). You will save time, money, and gain a competitive edge if you do.

Keshia L. Richmond is the founder and CEO of Richmond Technology Solutions, Inc. a Long Island, NY based firm. She hopes to inspire individuals and businesses to use technology as a tool of empowerment. You can contact her at keshia@richmondts.com

 

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