HomeAbout UsIndexEditor ProfileTerms and ConditionsContact Us

Murtaugh photo


Don't Let Web Noise
Dull Your Business Sense

Pam Murtaugh
Murtaugh/Match Associates Inc.

(InternetWeek Online, September 15, 1998)

See also:
Electronic Commerce (eCommerce)

          There's a hidden danger with the gold rush to the Internet. Thinking either "We're there" or "We're lost," many companies simply speed onto the Web under the impression that they will evolve their presence -- and their business -- as the information superhighway reshapes the global marketplace. Not true.

          As a marketing phenomenon, the Web is a new twist on a painful old theme. Time and again, marketers have tried to expand their businesses by creating new markets and conquering new delivery channels, only to scratch their heads when the initial sales burst flattens.

          The real problem? They haven't identified, valued and nurtured the true core of their businesses: the underlying needs satisfied by the actual experience of their products and services. Lacking in core esteem -- believing that "what we got isn't it" -- they see new territories and delivery channels as the key to the growth of their brands.

          In truth, seizing hold of their brand's core will identify room for profitable expansion -- and the right way to use the Internet.

          The traditional premise, "If I put my product in a new place, I will sell more of it," is flawed. The old theory only works when the product creates a need-satisfying experience and the company communicates the promise clearly to people who have that need. All too often, failure to discover, engineer, deliver and communicate need satisfaction is what drives marketers beyond their core territory in the first place. Look at McDonald's Corp. and the broadcast networks. McDonald's, thinking it's in the fast food business only, is copying the success of others as a way to jump-start a stalled growth engine. So, the company spent more than $1 billion to create custom-ordering kitchens and launch "me-too" products such as the frozen McFlurry (a copy of Dairy Queen's Blizzard), the failed Arch Deluxe (a Whopper-topper attempt) and the new McWraps.

          The broadcast networks are lunging in every copycat direction, too -- trying all the techniques that have worked on cable to combat audience erosion. They're following the classic business-school operating model: When the category gets crowded and growth stops, find another customer base, territory or delivery channel.

          The Web may intensify and accelerate this syndrome. We live in a world of overcrowded markets. By letting start-up and brand-extension marketers leapfrog traditional channels to get higher margins, the Web is expanding competition and increasing the noise level.

          The flaw beneath the surface of many site-based marketing attempts is the site's inability to identify and serve the core needs of consumers -- a company's brand differentiation gives way to standard site structure and price discounting.

          For example, bears direct resemblance to Barnes & Noble invested hundreds of millions of dollars to turn bookstores into experience destinations but has surrendered its essence to standardized Web formatting and a 40-percent-off policy. With Junglee Corp. attracting price-conscious shoppers to a service that locates the lowest price for any book sold on the Web, both Barnes & Noble and can only set themselves apart and above by engineering a superior consumer experience at its site -- something neither company has done yet.

          By contrast, Saturn Corp.'s Web marketing honors the unique experience that is Saturn by taking the hassle out of ordering a car. Although the site itself does not replace the physical experience of going to the dealer, it does answer lingering questions during post-visit evaluation and allow for simple ordering once a decision has been made.

          So what should you do to lead your company in the right Web direction? Here are some tips to consider:

          Used well, the Internet can actually take a company back to its core fundamentals and help it build a network of experiences that enrich and expand its brands.


          Pam Murtaugh is president of Murtaugh/Match Associates Inc., a business-redefinition firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Clients include Kraft, MasterCard and Mead-Johnson. Ryan Zerwer, president of Internet software provider Ambassador Catalog Systems, contributed to this article.

Pamela H. Murtaugh
President and Founder

Murtaugh/Match Associates, Inc.
6515 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite 241
Madison, Wisconsin 53719

Voice: 608.829.2122 -- Facsimile: 608.829.2022

Your comments and suggestions for these pages are most welcome!

[Return to Main Index] [Return to Home Page]

Thomas A. Faulhaber, Editor

Telephone: 617.232.6596 -- FAX: 617.232.6674

Brookline, Massachusetts 02446.2822    USA

Outsourcing Placard

Revised: January 25, 1999 TAF

© Copyright 1998, 1999 CMP Media Inc. a service of InternetWeek, All Rights Reserved.

I no cost work at home jobs Purchase work from home job search The work from home internet jobs Whith free work from home job listing How accounting home job work This website has information on work at home typist jobs Why free work at home job opportunity For find a work at home job Here free home job postings work This website about work at home nursing jobs In a work at home phone jobs In a easy work at home jobs In a employment work home job If work at home job search This was free home job legit work Best work from home job site As to jobs make money work at home Following a free home job online work Purchase how to find work from home jobs If top work at home jobs Get work from home jobs in canada