Carmen DeLeo's keys to building an online strategy Featured

8:01pm EDT May 31, 2011
Carmen DeLeo Carmen DeLeo

In the early days of his business, Carmen DeLeo’s company relied on word of mouth.

CDM Electronics, where DeLeo is the general manager, needed customers to tell other prospective customers about the company’s line of computer components. But as the company grew to $20 million in 2010 revenue, its marketing needs became more complex, and DeLeo needed to carve out a presence on the Internet.

“It was an easier transition for us when we were looking into online, because we felt we were already technically savvy, and the good learning curve would be shorter,” DeLeo says. “That was the impetus for getting that going.”

Smart Business spoke with DeLeo about how to conceptualize the website and online marketing strategy that will fit your business, and how to find the people that can help you make it a reality, and enhance it as the needs of your business grow and change.

Out of all the options, how did you narrow it all down to what would work for your company?

The way we did it was to forget about online for a second. We put ourselves in the position of engineers and technical buyers, who are our main customers. They’re the ones who are going to fit the profile for us. Some of the things they would come to us for include specification of part numbers and drawings. The way we decided to build this was figuring out what our customers need, so let’s try to get as much information on the site as we can, and we can make it a 24-7 part of our customer service.

What would you tell other leaders about formulating an online strategy?

First is, you need to put yourself in the position of your customers, how your customers see it. Number two would be content. If you supply the site with as much content as possible, it is only going to help serve your customers. We’re still very early in that the computers that are doing these rankings of the value of your website are still extremely rudimentary. At sites like Google, it is obvious humans don’t review the results, but they still do a remarkable job of returning what is relevant. Even having an ugly site with content is still better than a website with no content on there. If all you have is an address and a little bit about the company, it’s not going to do you much good.

However, the third thing is the look of the site. Once you do get a human to view the site, you want to make sure it portrays the image that you want for your company.

What would you tell other leaders about finding a technology partner to work with?

For us, what we did was we reviewed the old traditional methods – so industry sources. Probably the best thing to do would be to go to an industry trade show and start talking to some of those. You can get a couple hundred companies in one shot, all in your industry. Most of the time, you can find someone who has been through exactly what you’ve done and is willing to help. It is networking. That is a great way to make it efficient.

How can you make sure your online strategy aligns with and complements your overall business strategy?

Results would be what to look at. After six months’ time, did we achieve the results of what the overall strategy is? Part of our strategy is to hit bigger OEMs and target larger and more technical projects. After a few months, we started to see requests to come in from those types of individuals. Some patience is required, but I’d say in a relatively quick time frame, certainly less than a year. Otherwise, that would be a red flag, because things do seem to happen fairly quickly.

How to reach: CDM Electronics Inc., (949) 250-1525 or