A website is the virtual equivalent of a brick-and-mortar store. It can be as simple as a one-page site or a complex portal of products, services and affiliate links.

Cost of Entry

It’s expensive to build or buy a shopping center. You can buy a domain name for as little as $1.99 these days. With hosting, some programming skills or a “merchant solution,” and a way to process payments, your Internet real estate can be up and running, ready for business, in very little time for very little expense.

Internet-based real estate has its equivalents and then some:

Location = Domain name.

Secure transactions and privacy = The customer feels secure supplying The Experience.

Andy notes the 10 things that make for a good experience at one of his shopping centers include: personal and financial information.

Traffic = Site traffic can fluctuate in minutes or days, often by a factor of 1,000 and more. Limitations depend on how effectively the business’s computers can handle the traffic volume.

Parking = Unnecessary on the Internet, although I do cover “parking of a domain name” later in this chapter.

Ingress and egress = Did the site download fast enough, or was it so slow that the client left and went to another property? Andy would lose a customer to a neighboring shopping center; you have to compete with every seller in your market who is connected to the Internet.

Lighting and landscaping = The look and feel of a Website is vital to the client’s experience.

Music/sounds = Shopping centers and malls often play music or incorporate fountains to create a soothing atmosphere. Websites can incorporate sound and video (though some users find music intrusive and animations distracting).

Signage = While Andy’s shopping centers spend money on advertising, promotions and public relations, the majority of the long-term traffic depends on the location and the tenant mix. On the Internet, marketing is king, even over and above a great domain name. Anyone can dramatically change the traffic with good publicity, marketing, Pay-Per-Click advertising, securing new affiliates to sell or resell products and search engine optimization.

• Location • Security • Traffic
• Parking • Signage • Music/sounds
• Tenants • Neighborhood • Ingress/Egress
• Lighting and landscaping

Traffic Is Key

Andy and I can spend money to attract traffic to our sites, but on the Internet small changes lead to dramatic increases in traffic. Andy’s physical real estate stays put. He can paint it, change the construction a bit, add or delete parking. He can put in a Home Depot and triple the number of people that come to his shopping center. But there’s a limit to how much he can change the shopping center to attract more traffic. A good programmer and a great marketer can change the traffic to this site by a factor of 1,000 in a few days or even minutes.

CORPORATE AMERICA . . . WAKE UP!

Ninety-nine percent of corporations have yet to figure out that they should own the one or two domain names that will give them the most free traffic: the generic name for each of their products or services. The name of their topic, their industry. They spent millions on marketing, advertising and PR but few have yet to realize the value of these assets.

They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on banner ads and PayPer-Click campaigns, yet the vast majority do not even consider buying the one asset that will yield the highest quality traffic. Why doesn’t:

Palm or Apple buy PDA.com
Sony or Panasonic buy TV.com
Dell or IBM buy Computer.com
Fidelity or Morningstar buy MutualFunds.com
Kodak or Fuji buy Photographer.com
Expedia or United Airlines buy eTickets.com
The American Heart Association buy HeartDisease.com

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