New Book Hot Off the Press!

By Bob Schmidt

 Barbers on the Net

Bob Schmidt
Provider Marketing Group, Inc.

July, 1996 -- I have observed little in the way of local retail oriented efforts on the web to date. I believe it is too early, that local retailers are a tough market to go after, and that their own market may not be there yet.

One of the benefits of the Internet is the ability to reach out beyond the local market. Yet many local businesses have a hard time taking advantage of this. In fact, when discussing the opportunities and limitations, one of the analogies I use of a business that cannot benefit from the Internet is my barber. What good would it do him with a shop in Orlando if some guy in, say, Bombay wants a haircut? The same is true for any local service business where the service delivery is dependent on the customer being physically present.

Yet, were there a viable local venue on the net, not just a web provider creating a "mall" of local merchants reaching out to the world at large, but an online community concept with content compelling enough to draw local residents, and sponsorable enough to attract local advertisers, then there would indeed be opportunities to reach out within the community. I believe many Freenets provide this opportunity. America Online is developing Digital City in a half dozen areas to pursue just this concept.

The price/value could still be a problem though, as far as justifying the expenditure on the part of the local business-- perhaps even more problematic where the producer/publisher is a local media outlet, already dependent on local sources of ad revenue. The pricing and positioning against other media will quickly become critical factors for advertisers, after the novelty wears off.

From a post to the Online Advertising Discussion List
Volume 1, Issue #48, July 29, 1996

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