The Information Superhighway. It's supposed to make everyone faster, leaner and more competitive.
Look at your stock report -- probably on the Internet -- and note all the high-flying Net stocks. Maybe they're not as high as they used to be, but investors obviously see the Internet as the future of business.
By the way people talk, every bit of news and information is available online. Just turn on your computer and it's at your fingertips -- after your fingertips spend a few hours sifting through piles of irrelevant information returned by search engines. This is why most search engines turned themselves into portals, displaying the most sought-after information -- news, stocks and sports scores -- on the home page.
This may be fine for the masses, but what do business leaders want from the Internet?
Recently, we conducted a number of surveys of our readers and created several focus groups to find out about their Internet needs. Interestingly, there was a consistent pattern across the board.
Not surprisingly, those participating in the survey are all busy people who spend most of their day trying to make their businesses better. However, when it comes to spending time on the Internet, there is a certain amount of frustration. They know it is a valuable resource but are not exactly sure how to get the most out of it in the least amount of time.
They want information but don't have the time to search for it.
If you are targeting your Web site at this audience, here are four things to keep in mind:
1. Ease of use. CEOs are not Internet savvy. Keep things simple and to the point. Navigation of the site should be intuitive. Put a link to each relevant section in a prominent place on the home page.
2. Time efficiency. The Web is too complicated to use efficiently. Plug-ins, animation and lots of graphics look nice, but can make it more difficult to communicate your message. They also greatly slow download times, so you may be losing a potential customer before your page ever finishes loading.
3. Local insight. CEOs primarily buy, sell and network in their home communities. It might be called the World Wide Web but your best bet may be to focus locally. Advertise your site locally and focus on local customers.
4. Cost efficiency. Make it worth their while to visit your site. If someone is pressed for time, why should they come to your Web page? Will they save money? Get information quicker than through other means? Get a comparison of rates? This is where you can gain a competitive advantage. If you can make better use of a CEO's time, you've just given him or her a reason to buy a commodity from you rather than from the business across the street.
When done properly, buying products on the Internet can save a great deal of time and money. There will be significant growth in higher-end products and services purchased online. More than 50 percent of CEOs indicated either a high or very high interest in e-marketplaces. High interest was shown for things such as group discounts or the e-mall concept, as well as for getting price quotes for products.
The Internet might reach the masses, but if you're marketing to CEOs, make sure you take the proper approach in appealing to this market.
Fred Koury (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and CEO of SBN magazine.