As Dan Harrison, 39, sees it, information is power. The more information this owner of poolandspa.com in Moriches on Long Island, New York, gives his customers and prospects when they visit his Web site (http://www.poolandspa.com), the more educated they become--and the more likely they are to visit his site again to purchase something.
Information, in fact, has always been the secret weapon in Harrison's marketing arsenal. When he started his Web site back in 1994, visitors could purchase more than 50,000 hot tub, spa and pool products and services--and at the same time learn what to do if their pools were turning green or their spas were frothy. Visitors got that information by reading articles on the site written by Harrison or his staff, or by posting questions on message boards, in chat rooms or on the "Ask the Pool Guy" feature.
"My site started out as a content site," says Harrison, who published the Hot Tub Life Newsletter and Pool Life Newsletter and sent them to his pool store customers for nine years before starting his Web site. (He closed his brick-and-mortar store in 1992.) "We believe offering in-formation gives us a competitive advantage. The more information our customers have, the better it is for all of us."
Adding this information to Harrison's 1,000-page Web site has certainly helped his company grow. He and his 43 employees saw revenues double to more than $2 million in just the first half of this year, up from $1 million in 1998.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.