Answers to your small-business questions
Q: I'm trying to locate a product called Omniglow. It's a glow-in-the-dark, flexible tube sold at carnivals and fairs. Its ends can be connected to form a necklace. I have searched many business start-up magazines and mail order catalogs with no success-although I remember seeing them somewhere! Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
Fall River, Massachusetts
A:Provided by Rich Herlich, director of marketing for Omniglow Corp.:
Lite Rope Glow necklaces from Omniglow Corp. are fun and safe novelties for any occasion. Retailers can purchase them directly from novelty distributors. They are packaged in groups of 50 tubes and are available in green, blue, red, hot pink, tri-color (red-blue-green) and five-color (red-blue-green-pink-aqua).
Omniglow Corp. also manufactures a wide variety of other glowing novelties, as well as glow-in-the-dark safety products for the home, car and boat. For more information, or for the name of your nearest distributor, call (800) 762-7548, or write to Omniglow Corp. at 96 Windsor St., W. Springfield, MA 01089, Attn.: Customer Service Dept.
Q: I have a fairly new mail order business that I have been trying to get off the ground. I have two Web pages and so far neither one of them has done anything. I got a few requests for catalogs from the first Web page, but no orders have come in. Can you give me any advice?
via America Online
A:Provided by Herschell Gordon Lewis, co-author ofSelling on the Net(NTC Publishing Group, $39.95, 800-323-4900) and chairman of Communicomp, a full-service, direct-marketing advertising agency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
The World Wide Web, Ms. Stiffler, is a giant embryo that hasn't yet hatched as a major marketing medium. The typical Internet surfer enters the Web with a short attention span-finger poised on the mouse: "Gotta go! Gotta go!"
Therefore, the first rule of successful Internet marketing is: Stop the surfer in his or her tracks.
Having a presence on the Internet is a means, not an end. Surfers won't land on your site-even accidentally-unless you take these three quick steps:
1. Promote your Web site in other media. Ads in media aimed directly at your primary buyers will help bring surfers to your site. Find out which magazines, newspapers or television programs your customers read or watch and advertise your site there.
2. Establish "links" with similar businesses. This means their site will refer to yours and your site will refer to theirs. Don't worry about the competitive nature of links; the operative term here is synergy, as both sites will profit from the links. You might also buy " advertising banners"-these are strips (about an inch high and four or five inches wide) with powerful "teaser" copy that run at the top or bottom of a Web page. When a consumer clicks on one of these banners, they will automatically go to your Web site.
3. Offer a "special." Be sure your Web site offers at least one sensational bargain or deal that is not offered on any of your other advertising materials. Everyday business offers or standard catalog descriptions are too bland to attract business from surfers flitting from one Web site to another. Also, to ensure that your visitors return, change your "teaser copy" and special offer-and be sure to advertise that your "special" changes every week.
Unfortunately, in the very competitive world of online sales and marketing, even a professional-looking Web site, if isolated, is a marketing orphan that will probably starve. Follow these tips to make sure yours flourishes.
Our January 1997 feature, "Licensing Your Product" (p. 50), erroneously listed the Web site address of the Business Resource Center. The correct address is (http://www.kciLink.com/brc/).
Address your small-business questions to: Q&A,Business Start-Ups, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92614, or e-mail them to 76711,email@example.com or BSUMag@AOL.COM. Due to limited space, time and resources, we can answer only those Q&A letters chosen for publication. Questions may be edited for clarity.