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The Internet and My Company sample essay

Selling and manufacturing souvenirs, contrary to popular belief, has a big market waiting to be tapped. The souvenirs that I will sell will focus on different occasions and events. I will have souvenirs for weddings, baptisms and dedications, birthdays, and even corporate events. The wide array of these souvenirs will target many different markets. Wedding souvenirs will primarily attract couples and wedding coordinators. Mothers and celebrants will be the target for dedications and birthdays. Corporate souvenirs, on the other hand, will benefit companies. Apart from retail selling, I will also offer wholesale services for retailers who may want to distribute my products. All these should be considered in planning the business’ online and offline presence.

The consumer first

Setting up an online storefront should be by the consumer and for the consumer. The contents of the website, for it to be effective, should have what the clients are looking for. According to Markillie (2005), consumers are now more powerful than ever before. Consumers are using the widely available information around them to procure data on their future purchases. Most of them, researches show, get this information online. Thus, a qualified company for a client’s needs may be missed if that company does not have a website or at least online advertisements and the likes.

Yet not all companies who maintain web presence become the first choice for business transactions, especially for personal-need consumers. There are gauges that clients follow and check against companies before doing business with them. Thus, it is necessary for a company to come up with an engaging and effective website. With souvenirs, it is important that event hosts and organizers are put in mind.

Effective websites require highly targeted selling techniques. It is a requirement that a website serves a specific niche market and not just a vague general audience. (Internet marketing for online businesses, 2007) This will help the website meet its specific buyers, and vice versa. Otherwise, clients will come and go without making any sales. While high traffic is good, it pays that sales also increase as much as the website traffic is rising.

Using the internet for marketing, primarily, is already a good move. Foo (2005) says that maintaining online presence is a sure way to get targeted markets to come. When a souvenir client goes online looking for something, the first thing that he will do is type in some keywords in the search box of a search engine and click on the links that come up, or type the website address if he knows it. When a website is optimized he will have better chances of coming up first—and the websites who get the clicks receive clients who need them. Sometimes, a sale is made. Sometimes, a sale is delayed or lost.

Yet the client should not be lost. By encouraging clients to give in information or opt in a newsletter service the company can get in touch with her and email her about marketing information in the future. As Boorstin (1973) puts it, an important goal of a business should be to create a client base and protect this client base. Businesses who have had a client base, even if this client base are mere inquirers and not all buyers, keeping in touch with the clients is of the essence. (Internet marketing for online businesses, 2007)

The online storefront

Despite the continuous growth of the advertising industry, consumers are ready to rumble off with advertising, or at least with the bad ones. While clients appreciate clever and creative advertising, studies showed that uninteresting and poorly targeted ads put customers off. Yet advertising creates an impact when they are shown as a part of a media which the customer is using. A 2005 forecast made in the start of that year showed that internet advertising will rise in terms of advertising spending by companies. This, obviously, became true. (Markillie, 2005) However, Kallos (2007) claims, ideals alone will not boost sales and online presence.

Marketing souvenirs online is not new so there is a big competition to bear. Yet, however big the competition is, the waiting client base is just as big and is still growing. This should not be a surprise. There are 83% males and 75.2% females who have internet access. This is only within the 18-24 age range. (Warholic, 2007) This population makes it important for the company to escalate the efforts in online presence and advertising. In terms of advertising, posts should be put in event websites such as websites for wedding planning, birthdays, and other party needs. Some suppliers such as photographers, coordinators, and venues also maintain websites and allow advertisers to either pay for advertising space or agree on a two-way link. The company shall take advantage of this.

There are three advantages when a business has online presence. First, websites and online advertisements create stronger brand register. The more that people know about the company, the better chance that it is remembered when the need for the souvenirs comes up. Secondly, online presence drives traffic and sales. Businesses who are present online get more inquiries and get better chance at sales. Lastly, online presence boosts offline sales. While clients may not make instant purchases online, customers will often buy from stores which products they were able to research online. (Beard, 2001)

In connection, Carter and Conner (2001) insist that embracing this change will give a business impressive leverage in the marketplace. Maintaining an online storefront for souvenirs gives the business an edge from the rest of the crop.

An online storefront, however, is mean feat. It requires the host to be highly organized, showcase products and services which are needed, exercise integrity and business ethics, observe proper email and e-commerce etiquette, and provide strong and excellent customer support. (Kallos, 2007) Nielsen (2002) agrees, saying that the most effective websites are only those that have a clear purpose, focus, and relevant content.

With souvenirs, organization is in segmenting. The home page should have options that customers can click so that the information that they get are specific to their needs. Thus, there should be a link for weddings, for birthdays, for corporate giveaways, and so on. If feasible, links for specific base items that a customer would like such as wood, ceramic, or terracotta, may also be installed.

Ethics is an important part of growing an online storefront as well. Businesses which exercise proper etiquette and follow positive mission and vision practices become reputable for such activities and will be regarded highly in their niches. For one, online copyrights should strictly be respected. (Kallos, 2007) The website should use photos of souvenirs that are truly its own, and should secure expressed written consent from material owners should it be necessary for the website to link or post a material that is not owned by the company. This respect will surely affect the business favorably.

Research and traffic

Research also keeps things moving. Maintaining any business in itself is a never-ending process of learning and improving. (Wilson, 2007) Thus, aided by a myriad of web designers or just designing things myself, time should be devoted to learn new things and create new designs for the business. These regular updates in the website will boost sales and inquiry traffic which reflects the success of the company.

High traffic, though, does not ensure success especially if the company is subscribed into the trendy traffic booster services around. While traffic boosting services is a growing trend today, not all businesses fit this bill. Traffic boosters definitely increase the exposure of a website, but the people who view these ads and websites are not necessarily targeted. Rather, most of them are paid to do surfing and ad viewing, not necessarily needing or having to buy anything. (Copper, 2007)

Another important consideration is the keyword. Keywords are important in setting up and maintaining the website. Keywords determine how well the company’s web address will show up in search engines and create stronger web presence. (Smith, 2006) Along with optimization, it puts the website of the company up in the ranks which is beneficial if the client surfing the net for souvenirs is not familiar with the name of the website.

With research, traffic, and keyword information about the target market of the business, the web page shall be laid out with relevant content. Product information should come first, and not the company information as mistaken by some. This way, clients will instantly get information that they need. Prices may be posted, and pictures should be published. Contact information should also be in the opening page so that clients who want to keep in touch with sales personnel can do so right away. The contact information should also be posted in all other pages so that it will be easier for customers to take note of or secure the contact details of the company.

The website should also have an online ordering feature. Even if there are person-to-person sellers, online ordering makes it easy for clients who prefer to transact anonymously through the website to place their orders and pay purchases.

By accepting online purchases credit card acceptance and wire transfer payments should be arranged. To make it more effective, verification certificates should also be secured from trusted providers. The public information such as names and email addresses derived from these online transactions will help expand the client base. To further increase the client base, a guest book or an opt-in newsletter feature may be put in the website. This will allow the company to contact the clients about new souvenir designs, promotions, and new information about the company.

Because the company will also cater to retailers of souvenirs, a special link or page for resellers should be included in the plan. This will enable the retailers to get information on how to be a retailer of the souvenirs including the requirements, the products, and the contact information for their concerns.

Going back, the company information while omitted in the opening page should be published in a separate webpage ready to be accessed by clients who may want to get information about the company.

Alternatives

As formerly said it is not by websites alone that businesses will prosper online. The internet is taking marketing into new levels at that it opens avenues to many alternative marketing concepts never offered before by traditional business management.

Blogs, for one, can help attract more traffic and customers. With an informal approach, blogs make web presence friendly and more approachable for customers.

Article submissions in relevant sites will also help soft sell the souvenirs. Because the interested readers benefit from the articles, they become affected by the marketing without thinking that it was advertising up front.

Posting announcements in other forums and message boards is another option. This gives the word out about the company, products, services, and promotions that the business may have. Announcements also do not require market-specific postings all the time. Inter-topic postings may be permitted by some message boards and it is a chance worth taking, for it can trip someone who suddenly remembers he will need a souvenir for an occasion or two in the future. In such a case, it is the company the he will first have in mind.

Joining relevant networks and communities such as wedding and event coordination forums will also help promote and prosper the business. For one, it gets the business to be referred by other network members to people who may have souvenir requirements. Secondly, it gives the business access to insider information on the industry. Most significantly, it gives the business some kind of reputation that can be built along the way.

Offline meets online

Online business creation has been greatly feared as it is too clever so that traditional means can easily be overpowered. (Steinbock, 2000) While it is true that the internet is far more powerful than the traditional counterparts, it should be noted that getting a website alone does not do the trick. There are many considerations that must be kept in mind that shows the internet will not suffice.

Companies should not at all get rid of their offline marketing efforts just because they are investing on some powerful online marketing plan. Hosts should find a way in which their online marketing plans complement their existing and, or, future offline marketing initiatives. (Ferranti and Rosica, 2007) Thus, creating a souvenir website should not wipe out the thought of the sales person, the physical store, and the physical sample products.

In setting up a website, all other collaterals should contain the website address. This will encourage viewers and readers of those advertisements to view the product or service as well in the internet, making a double-exposure for the advertisement invested on. (Markillie, 2005) For example, all souvenir brochures should sport the website address as well as caling cards, fliers, and other advertising means. Spencer (2007) agrees. He states, in retrospect, that even websites should offer clients alternative ways in accessing business information. Thus, websites should have back information on where brochures and samples and even sales representatives can be seen, secured, or contacted. This two-way advertising makes the overall plan of the company effective.

Carter and Conner (2001) suggests that in incorporating technology into an otherwise offline business, the hosts should be decisive, put customers first, and choose the best technology that will fit their needs and finances. The latter is a sound advice. It is important for websites to utilize all features that will make it easy for clients to use it and to receive basic information about the company, products, and services.

According to Eisenhower (1997), the connotation that online selling has killed the role of the salesman is not at all true. The author insists that successful selling requires sellers to build a personal relationship with their clientele. Only real sales people, also, can immediately detect the needs of the customer and tailor the product or service he is selling to that need to be able to secure a sale.

Copper (2007) views the same. When customers have questions that cannot be answered by the FAQ page of the website, there should be a way to contact the company and get support. This keeps the client holding on to the company long enough to decide for a purchase or not.

This also serves true at that websites alone will not really generate any sale. On the contrary, websites are just parts of the parcel. It is how the website is being used, and if it is being used actively at all, that sales rise. (Bealle, 2004) When the website is made as a part of the overall marketing plan-yes, the offline marketing plan—it will serve its purpose well and create a boost for the business.

Training the sales team

Procuring technology for the business affects the whole business as a whole. For one, it requires an added capital to be invested by the company. With the high price of technology infrastructure and maintenance today, even if there are free online presence processes, this added expense is no joke.

New technology also opens for new skills to be needed. Apart from the people who will create and maintain the website, the existing personnel should be trained to maximize the electronic features of the business. Thus, Craiger (2006) denies notions that technology de-skills the common worker. In fact, he states, technology encourages workers to continue learning and improving their knowledge to be at pace with the changing business environment, especially that the changes are brought about by technology which can be complex and confusing for the undertrained.

In training the sales team, it should be considered that not all of them are versed with the loops of technology. Thus, proper technology-use training should be given. Thereafter, the use of the structure can be explained. The online marketing plan should be explained and discussed in detail. The discussion, however, should closely be correlated with the offline marketing procedures.

The website should be discussed and demonstrated. The purpose of each and every link should be enumerated. The role of the sales person in making the online sale should also be made clear. The sales personnel should know that the company will start receiving online orders. They should be given access to specific IP addresses where they can access and reply to orders and close these sales.

It is also important that the facts known by the sales team are consistent with the contents of the website. Otherwise, the sales team will loose their credibility. In effect, the company will also create a bad impression. This is why the actual website contents should be given as copies to the members of the sales team. If model numbers are to be used, the model numbers of each souvenir should be similar to those posted in the internet.

The sales team should also be briefed that the online marketplace creates a big difference in treating personal-need consumers and business clients, in which case the latter will not settle for online transactions alone and will still require for a personal relationship with a business partner to be nurtured. (Eisenhower, 1997)

With this training coverage, the sales team will have confidence in approaching clients which is essential for being proactive and making more sales that will meet the sales expectations of the company.

Conclusion

The internet is here, and it is here to stay. While it is imperative for companies to subscribe to these new ideals, it is not fair to dissolve offline marketing initiatives. It shall be more effective, studies show, if the online perspective of the business corresponds and complements with the offline processes that the company will have.

The souvenir manufacturing and distribution industry is a big market in the internet. It is not a new venture that is fresh to the clients. Thus, the competition is a feat to prepare for. However, there are ways to combat the tight competition among souvenir providers online. A website is the most basic and regarded to be the most effective. Because it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, websites can give clients information about the company, the products and services, and other information in doing business such as contact details and ordering information. With online presence, one way to beat the competition is through enabling online ordering and delivery. It should be kept in mind that consumers should be first and that for them, convenience is of the essence.

Websites should also be paired with offline marketing efforts and internet marketing alternatives. It should be kept in mind that marketing to be effective requires the usability of more than one media.

Lastly, the sales team deserves proper training and requires guidance in maximizing the features of technology that the company utilizes. The usage of the logistics should be detailed and discussed to them, and the information should be ensured as consistent as the ones in their advertising portfolios. Creating this synergy between the internet and the training of the sales people will make the company appear consistent and unified, brining good impressions that may lead to final sales.

References

Bealle, J. 2004. Seven ways to put your business online and the one guaranteed way to do It at no cost. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.jazardezign.com/articles/ebusiness.htm

Beard, M. 2001. Study: Web ads build brand and drive sales. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.medialifemagazine.com/news2001/mar01/mar26/3_wed/news1wednesday.html

Boostin, D. 1973, The Americans: the democratic experience, Random House, New York.

Carter, R. and Conner, F.W. 2001. Boosting customer loyalty and return on relationships through clicks, conversations and the supply web. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://crm.ittoolbox.com/pub/jo040301.htm

Copper, M. 2007. How to boost internet sales. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.internetwondersezine.com/article-marketing/how-to-boost-internet-sales

Craiger, J. 2006. Technology, organizations, and work in the 20th century. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.siop.org/tip/backissues/tipjan97/CRAIGER.aspx

Eisenhauer, L. 1997. Death of a salesman? What the growth of the Internet really means to the sales team. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.allbusiness.com/sales/659410-1.html

Ferranti, M. and Rosica, C. 2007. Merging your online and offline marketing strategies. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.trainingmag.com/msg/content_display/marketing/e3i8bfae9756a8dc5cafa86e6c979ab68ac

Foo, S. 2005, Online advertising-advantages and disadvantages. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://wiki.media-culture.org.au/index.php/Online_Advertising_-_Advantages_and_Disadvantages

Internet marketing for online business. 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.marketingtips.com/online-business/internet-marketing-for-online-business.html

Kallos, J. 2007. Online business resolutions for success. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.onlinenetiquette.com/online_business_resolutions.html

Kallos, J. 2007. Online copyright myths. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.onlinenetiquette.com/online-copyright-myths.html

Markillie, P. 2005. Crowned at least. The Economist April 2, 2005,

Nielsen, J. 2002. Home page design guidelines. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20020512.html

Smith, S. 2006. Internet marketing increasing sales through strategic internet marketing Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.lbry.com/articles/23640/1/Increasing-Sales-Through-Strategic-Internet-Marketing

Spencer, J. (2007). A review of 15 online marketing techniques from beginner to advanced. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.101biztips.com/articles2.htm

Steinbock, D. 2000, The birth of internet marketing communications, Quorun Books, Connecticut

Warholic, J. 2007, The new web world. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://pwebs.net/marketing/articles/internet-marketing-media.htm

Wilson, R. 2007. Putting together a sound e-commerce business plan. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from http://www.wilsonweb.com/wct/business-plan.cfm

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