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This chapter is from the book

The smooth transition of the brand

The nature and scope of the Internet is so vast that a traditional company no longer can simply satisfy a traditional business model and expect the brand to flourish. There are new considerations for the online company. That means that not only are audiences changing, but their expectations are increasing as well. Companies must develop sites that are delightful and engaging or face the threat of losing customers to the closest competitor. And when it comes to competition, that has all changed too. Just when you think you have figured out exactly who the brick-and-mortar competitors are, in come the new dot-com start-ups and a bunch of online giants that keep merging to add more products and services to their sites.

To recap, here's an abridged list of considerations to keep in mind when it comes to transition and commitment in cyberspace:

  • How much do you know about the Internet and whether or not your audience will accept your brand's presence online? Permission, permission, permission! Ask and you shall receive.

  • Is the online audience the same as the offline audience? What other groups should be included in your research? The wide reach of the Internet allows new audiences to become involved with online brands. Don't overlook these secondary groups, as the Internet has incredible growth statistics.

  • How can we integrate all of our offline efforts to drive traffic to the online site and vice versa? By devoting time and advertising dollars to a well-thought-out marketing plan. The plan should integrate all the branding efforts (using consistent brand communication) and be written simultaneously to fit into the e-business plan.

  • Do the competitors extend beyond brick-and-mortar competitors? Yes, you will see competitors triple in numbers based upon the scope and variety the Internet has to offer.

  • What are the competitors doing with their Web sites? Make sure you know how competitors are impressing online visitors. Warning—Don't just borrow content; your audience will know it and lose respect for the brand.

  • How do we develop a site that is gripping and engaging, far more than just a brochure online? Interactivity and immediate and rewarding two-way communication is more than the brick-and-mortar will ever be able to offer prior to the purchase of the brand.

  • What types of interaction will add a new level to the brand's promise? Audio, video, Webcasts, and the aspect of communities converging online with chat sessions, to name a few.

  • How do you meet and exceed audiences' expectations of the brand online? By providing a site that allows visitors to interact with the brand online and by allowing users to find appropriate, interesting, and updated content that enhances the value of the brand.

Mini-Case Study

Radio going online: Regionalhelpwanded.com

Eric Straus is president of Straus Media Group in Poughkeepsie, New York. For the past 10 years, he has grown his business 20-fold. Straus Media Group is the largest media network in the Hudson Valley—a $5 billion market. Straus has radio stations in Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, Kingston, Catskill, and Hudson, well as offices in various cities. radio stations include program for- mats from adult contemporary nostalgia to news talk radio.

Straus has been conducting the operations of his radio network in a "traditional" manner. His main objective is always to run the best programming possible while trying to cut costs. By hiring top-notch sales experts to increase sales, he is able to sell long-term business on his radio stations. Straus's success is built upon improving his advertisers' businesses, and Straus works to find the long-term marketing answers for long-term customers.

Even with all of the Internet hype, Straus never put much thought into the World Wide Web Recently, as he listened to his advertisers, he found that they were always frustrated with not being able to find good help their dollars were constantly eaten up by newspaper classified advertising, with little or no luck with new hires. In turn, Straus saw an opportunity to solve his clients' problems while at the same time gearing radio toward the Internet. With an idea in mind as he made a deal with a computer His guy (as he puts it), a deal that has the computer expert building Web to sites and the two of them splitting the revenues. So, where does radio fit in? Straus joins together radio groups who are competitive in the same markets to sponsor help-wanted dot-com sites across the country. These regional help-wanted sites provide a valuable and resourceful service for individuals in regional areas seeking employment as well as for area business owners who need to post available employment opportunities. Straus's regional help-wanted dot-com service is a completely separate venture from his traditional radio network. It is representative of how the Internet allows a. vast array of opportunity for different industries. Straus was able to go beyond the conventional transition (putting his station and programming online) and foster a business that breaks a traditional mold.


  • How does Straus convince general managers (GMs) to work together with competitors in their markets?

  • How do the regional help-wanted sites reach 70% of the adults in the market when 5 out of 10 read the newspaper?

  • How does a regional help-wanted site compete with daily newspapers?


Before RegionalHelpWanted.com, no competitive radio groups in the same market attempted to work together. And although the common response from GMs was that they preferred to work alone, it's not enough to beat out the big boys. This is a business where those big boys, the daily newspapers with circulations over 50,000, are making at least $5 million a year in newspaper help-wanted classifieds. Straus convinces GMs that in order to compete with the big boys, radio groups must work together in order to reach enough people.

Straus tested his concept online with his first site, HudsonValley-HelpWanted.com. With much success from this site, he took his idea on the road to a conference in Col-orado that was hosted by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). Straus' presentation at the conference evoked interest among GMs across the county. As of March 2000, Regional Help Wanted was in four markets, with four markets expected mid-March, and another four markets by April 1, 2000. With this steady rate of growth, it was expected that Regional Help Wanted would be in 150 markets within 18 months. Is it any wonder that Smith Barney analysts predict that 70% of classified advertising will move online? It's a whole new revenue stream. Now it's working for radio as well.

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