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Electronic Marketing–Your Business from Home
With electronic tools, sales reps and consultants can now market themselves so well from home that they sometimes double and triple their incomes. Telephones and fax machines, personal computers and modems, copiers and printers, and other new technologies are helping to proliferate electronic home businesses. Writers can become desktop publishers.
EM is rewarding and fulfilling and can give you a lifestyle you may prefer; it may make you rich. Many software companies start this way. But EM also could cause you to go broke. Success takes the following:
- Self-sufficiency to plan, start, and finish yourself
- The initiative and curiosity to find and master each electronic tool
- Entrepreneurial ideas on how to use each electronic tool
- The ability to match the right electronic tool to the right product
- Creative flair for an electronic presentation
- The financial ability to estimate costs accurately at each step
- Practicality, frugality, confidence, and judgment
- The right product, right cost, right market, and right timing
- The ability to persuade and a willingness to work very hard
Starting a business after hours is safer than quitting your job to launch a business. Overall, start-up business mortality is lower, and, often, firms started this way are sounder. In addition, EM is a great husband-and-wife business. First, both can work at jobs full time and moonlight evenings and weekends. Then, the lower earner can work half-time at a job and half for the new business. Finally, both can work full time for the new business. In bad times, the process can be reversed. Here are some of the many ways to start an electronic marketing business:
- Outbound telephone marketing to businesses, hospitals, schools, and individuals with mail follow-up
- Answer phone inquiries from low-cost ads, first yourself, and then via a low-cost voice system
- Using a computer bulletin board ($2000 or less) to provide an online catalog that you advertise with small ads to your trade
- Use of $500 worth of computer add-ons and programs to target prospects, produce personalized letters and labels
- With a fax board (under $400), send explanatory ads and catalog sheets to inquiries from small ads in trade and business publications
- Any other low-cost electronic tool or method described in this book that is most suited to you
Why EM Succeeds
Electronic marketing succeeds for a wide variety of purposes and kinds of companies because each EM form has special advantages. But there are two advantages common to most EM:
Other general and specific advantages of each of the major and most promising forms of electronic marketing media are detailed in subsequent chapters, including how each medium is used by big, middle-sized, and small marketers. The electronic marketing Help Source Guide then refers you to far more detailed source material.
- Electronic "friend-making," via a seen and/or heard spokesperson, can be more compelling than a printed message. Sights and sound can start a relationship between seller and prospect–and secure the loyalty of a customer. The same spokesperson can give a short message by TV or radio and a far longer explanation in a video. Different spokespeople can talk to distinct audiences on separate different audiocassettes, even in different languages. Electronic testimonials from real people are more personal. Entirely new uses for a product, new benefits, and new reasons for using it come across on EM as news, in a very personal way. Electronic service information help is also more personal as well as faster, and can lower your cost of doing business. With a caller-paid 900 number, customer service can even become a profit center.
- Many companies cannot have their complete range of product available everywhere. Retailers only handle certain brands, and they choose selectively from the brand's line of products. The greatest waste in advertising is a customer's inability to find the product advertised. EM, in many ways, can cut this waste through instant referral or by actually taking orders. Failure to integrate marketing into every available electronic system (especially inventory control) amounts to throwing away a percentage of each dollar you make from your advertising.
Picture Yourself Sitting in My Office
Imagine that you are asking me how to start in electronic marketing. You want to know what form best suits your business and what can be experimented with in the least-risk, least-expensive way. But you also want the maximum chance of success.
I've just met you. I want to raise questions that stimulate you to ask yourself more, to get answers, and to make a sound decision. If you are with a big firm, and it already uses some EM, I would ask: What kinds of EM mentioned in this chapter has your company already attempted? Why were they chosen? What was the objective of each type of electronic marketing in your overall marketing plan? How did that type of EM enhance and integrate other media? Did it ask for action? Were specific results measured? If so, did your EM fail or succeed? Why?
How organized is your firm for doing business via EM? Ask yourself questions like these:
If your firm is small, I would ask you to confirm with your accountant your profit margins and determine the following:
- How much does it cost you to process an order from a salesperson? By mail? On the phone?
- Does your salesforce or dealer network follow up leads you send them? Do you know your cost per sales versus your lead cost?
- Is the "people cost" too high for your firm to distribute information as it now does?
Whether your firm is large or small, you need to hold off on any one form of EM until you get an overview of the field. This will raise a lot more questions for you to answer. Read through this book first and then turn back to the chapters that concern you most.
- What are your successful products?
- Are they now responsive to any form of promotion?
- How much money do you have to spend on marketing?
- What percentage of sales can you afford for advertising?
- Is that percentage comparable to that of your competitors?
- What can you afford to lose in a failed market test?
Now refer to the Help Source Guide and follow up on the sources suggested for more detailed information. These Help Source Guides also will help you select equipment, plus refer you to the directories, associations, magazines, and newsletters for more information and the latest lists of sources.
Most big firms can use EM profitably to a far greater extent than they currently do. Even a small company with a very limited budget has a choice of inexpensive ways to use electronic marketing. Later chapters will discuss how others have overcome problems and money constraints and succeeded. Let's go on to Chapter 2 on "How to Get Started."
Help Source Guide
- Ask for special issues, lead articles on electronic marketing in the following periodicals: Advertising Age, 220 E. 42d St., NY, NY 10017. (212) 210-0100; and Business Marketing, 740 Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611. (312) 649-5200. Adweek and Media Week at 49 East 21st St., NY, NY 10010. (212) 529-5500. Inside Media at 911 Hope St., Six River Bend Center, Stamford, CT 06907. (203) 358-9900.
- For the newest computer-based electronic marketing technology, look for occasional articles in PC World–(415) 243-0500; PC Mag–(212) 503-5255; MacUser–(415) 378-5600; MacWorld–(415) 243-0505; Byte–(603) 924-9281; Computer World–(508) 879-0700; they can be found at your library or newsstand.
- American Management Associations provide free catalog of excellent books, free catalog of videotapes and audiotapes on management skills, and free catalog on seminars: Amacom Publications, P.O. Box 1026, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. (518) 891-1500.
- Arlen Communications, a pioneer analyst of the field, provides a free electronic marketing study: 7315 Wisconsin Ave. (Suite 600), Bethesda, MD 20814. (301) 656-7940.
- "BizPlan Builder" is a strategic business and marketing plan on diskette–how to launch a new product, service, or company. JIAN Tools for Sales, Inc., 127 2d St., Lost Altos, CA 94022. (800) 346-5426.
- Digital Media, a Seybold Report, provides latest news on various EM forms based on digital technology: Seybold Publications Inc., P.O. Box 644, Media, PA 19063. (215) 565-2480.
- Interactive World covers interactive TV, newspaper, magazine, radio, phone, and fax. The Journal sponsors enhanced information services conference and expo: Virgo Publishing, Inc., 4141 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite 316, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. (602) 990-1101.
- Home Office Computing, provides many articles, case histories on computer-based electronic marketing: P.O. Box 53561, Boulder, CO 80322-3561. (800) 544-2917.
- Multimedia & Video Disc Monitor is a newsletter with sound advice on various EM areas; free sample issue: P.O. Box 26, Falls Church, VA 22040. (703) 241-1799.
- NTC Publishing Group provides catalog of business books; latest on electronic marketing areas, media, and marketing research: 4255 West Touhy Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60646-1975. (800) 323-4900.
- Strategies in Interactive Video Company provides electronic marketing, launch advice from John J. Pollack, CEO, a top expert; includes information on cable, laserdisc, videotext: 207 Bridge St., Dedham, MA 02026. (617) 329-5273.
- Telecom Library Inc. provides book catalogs. One features telecommunications bestsellers, another the most important books on business and technology in the field. Both cover various areas of electronic media: 12 West 21st St., NY, NY 10010. 800-LIBRARY.