Hanging Your Net Shingle, Part 1: Intro

March 2002 Communication

As new ventures get off the ground, one of the early tasks they need to accomplish is create their corporate web site. The corporate web site has become right of passage for new ventures. Even when the kitchen table doubles as the corporate office, people can tell the world that they are a bona fide business through posting themselves on the web. It’s hanging-your-shingle on the net to tell the world that you are embarking on an adventure to develop a strong new business.

But what should go in a corporate web site? Creatives can handle your color scheme, layout, graphics, and use of scrolling billboards. Analysts may focus on the speed at which pages come up, which pages will be looked at, and how many unique visitors you have. But this still leaves open the question of what a new venture or small business should try to accomplish with their web site.

Corporate web sites are communication tools that can influence decisions and encourage appropriate actions.

In preparing any communication, one of the early questions to address is who is your audience? For web sites, the business audience is diverse. The audience can be segmented to include Investors, Customers, Prospective Employees, and Partners where partners are broadly defined to include businesses that will sell to you, sell for you, and sell with you. Each of these different audience segments are interested in finding answers to a specific set of questions. It is hoped that at the conclusion of this series, managers will have a little more insight into the questions these audiences are attempting to answer and how managers can address the audience’s concerns in a positive manner.

Furthermore, the value of information published on a corporate web site is in its ability to enable business people to make decisions and take action. Web sites can act as a powerful influencer to decision makers increasing the positive relationships of the company. Likewise, web sites can direct actions so that the company can efficiently interact with the larger community and effectively deal with their issues.

In the next week, I will be reviewing four web sites with a focus of how well they communicate to one of the four different business audience segments. My interest will be in web sites that are there simply to communicate to the business community. Excluded from my analysis will be transactional web sites (i.e. Amazon), consumer web sites (i.e. Power Puff Girls), and informational web sites (i.e. The May Report). The web sites that I have chosen to focus on include two Chicago start-ups that have received some funding, one larger firm with a Chicago presence, and a fourth firm in the industry that I know best, Utilities IT systems.

I hope you will have as much fun reading these analysis as I will have creating them.

The May Report, TECH BUSINESS BRIEFS, March 6, 2002

About the author

Tim J. Smith, PhD is the Managing Principal of Wiglaf Pricing, and an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University of Marketing and Economics. His most recent book is Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures.

Tim J. Smith, PhD
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