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Coffee Trends: coffee.net

coffee.net


June 10, 2008
By Brian Martell

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The Internet is truly an amazing thing. In seeking information that has
never been as easily available, we can use search engines to ferret out
the details we are looking for in a mere three-second span – and end up
with more stuff than our minds can comprehend.

The Internet is truly an amazing thing. In seeking information that has never been as easily available, we can use search engines to ferret out the details we are looking for in a mere three-second span – and end up with more stuff than our minds can comprehend.

For fun, go to your computer and Google “coffee.” An unbelievable 303,000,000 pages are dedicated to our beloved beverage. That’s about twice as many pages as beer fetches and about as many pages as there are dedicated to wine (and might I point out that both beer and wine have been around a lot longer than coffee has).

If this is any indication as to how much people think about coffee, the Net surely has pushed its status up a notch or two.
So why so much about coffee on the net? If we look at the pages that are generated, about half are commercial, the other half, informative.

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From the commercial side of things, there are coffee wholesalers, retailers, specialty coffee purveyors, as well as coffee “healers” who offer medicinal benefits to the type of product they sell. And, as far as our industry goes, OCS and vending providers who promote the service and quality of the products they sell business-to-business (B2B).

The other and more important reason why there is so much coffee info on the Net is that, well, people use the Net. It is a very effective way of inexpensively getting out a message that could be looked at by virtually hundreds of millions of people around the planet.

More people post to the Net because more people look at the Net. Indeed, this phenomenon has become for most companies who engage in B2B selling, the coveted first impression they will make when presenting themselves to potential new customers.
 
It used to be in days of yore (the 1990s) that salespeople or marketers would either be knocking on doors or sending out flashy advertising to present their products and services to potential customers. This was an active strategy that left a lot of the control in the sellers’ hands. In the case of the salesperson, they could tailor their presentation to the type of business they happen to call on. In the case of the marketer, they could limit their advertising campaigns to specific publications or companies in the form of direct mail.

Fast forward 15 years and things have turned around 180 degrees. Most interested buyers of a product or service, personal or business, will look to the Web to get the primary data on what they want. They will scan the relevant pages to determine who they might buy from and generate a short list. This list is often predicated upon how much the site impressed them. In other words, you may not even know you are making a good (or bad) first impression; your strategy has by default gone from active to passive.
 
In most B2B environments, having a website is sine qua non to doing business. Even for established companies who have a solid customer base, the Web is an effective measure to put information out there that they want people to know about.
 
So making a website as attractive as possible is part of the game, but still it is only one part. The rest of the game is effectively communicating, in a way that keeps the surfer engaged, what makes your products and services better than those of the next site. Granted, we cannot be all things to all people, but by having a good definition of what you want to achieve in your business and who you wish to focus on (target market), you can be all things to the people/companies you covet.

Now the big question that perhaps the more tech savvy are thinking of is “how do I stand out as one site out of hundreds of millions?”  All search engines are driven by keywords that are imbedded into your site and allow the engines to call up your page if there is a match. Thinking like a prospect will give you insight into what words they may use to search for the type of service you offer: use these words. If it works, then congratulations, you have overcome the first hurdle; you’ve been found!  Now the passive selling starts.

Taking into account that most people have attention spans that have never gotten past fifth grade, making an impact is critical to encouraging them to actively seek out either more information on your site (primarily by clicking on the links to get deeper into the site) or more aggressively by e-mailing you for more info or an invitation to quote on business. Remembering that your defined target must be narrow enough to service the segment you are designed to handle (i.e. an OCS in Victoria should not be soliciting business in St. John’s), means tailoring the site to appeal to the people you are best equipped to service.

The Net is here to stay and has presented challenges to businesses, but on the whole has offered many more
opportunities.

Questions or comments?  E-mail Brian at Brian@heritage-coffee.com.


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