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Global Marketing on the Internet
The internet is a information resource that is being accessed by a rapidly expanding segment of the world population everyday. True, that segment is biased towards people with technical skills and money, but that's changing as the word spreads and the market grows.
The above situation makes me think:
"Any one with a visually appealing and globally marketable product should be involved in the World Wide Web."
The World Wide Web is the portion of internet activity that is growing the fastest. This is because the Web is a global network of colorful, hypertextual information which is easily traversed by clicking on links which lead to other pages.
A new scheme has developed where information is linked together without regard for geographical location. A frequently heard exclamation around the internet connected computers of Kauai is: "We just went to the Louvre in Paris!". Admittedly, it's a uniquely cosmopolitan feeling to browse a foreign museum from your house in the Pacific.
Text and graphics formatted as a slick magazine with the added bonuses of navigation buttons and fill in forms is the rule these days. As the bandwidth goes up, movie clips and stereo sound will come to us through the computer.
I've found myself explaining this to more and more people lately, therefore I thought I should write about it.
Here are the steps towards getting a Web page on the internet with outside help. Establish a business relationship with an internet service provider. These companies are found in the yellow pages under "computer networking" or referred from computer stores or user groups.The three companies providing internet access on Kauai are GST/Hawaii Online, Kauai Internet and GTE. Each has their pros and cons. The most basic relationship with an internet provider is a standard account. This account costs around $20/month and gives you the privilege of connecting to any computer on the internet worldwide, also an email address and local file storage. This is only the beginning of course.
Because you can connect to any internet host in the world, you can read any information that is in their public directories. This is where the World Wide Web comes in. Once you have your own internet account and are comfortable "surfing the net" as they say, the next step is to rent space on an internet host and present your message to the world.
This involves learning how to format and link the information and then actually "put it up" on the Web.
You also need a place to put it. The current commercial rate appears to be about $35 to $85/month for a small website depending on the level of services. A megabyte of information is plenty of room for about five or six pictures and three or more pages of text. People with experience in advertising seem to agree that this is a very good deal for the coverage involved.
The combination of having a web page and participating in email and usenet can be very effective. Just having your information available to the world is not enough. People need to know where it is. "Links are the commodity of the internet". This is passive advertising, the interested parties come to you. That's where social skills and interpersonal networking come in handy.
As could be expected, there are lots of individual interests on the minds of people who are on the internet. Predictably, people with like interests are clustering together in information groups such as mailing lists and news groups. Involving yourself in the information group appropriate to your business can greatly increase your contacts.
This brings up the subject of "netiquette". It is not a good thing to plaster an information group with advertising slogans. It is, however, appropriate to get to know people and let them find out what you are into. Once they look at your home page, you have another contact who has seen the details of your presentation.
So, how to put information on the internet? The first step is to digitize your information.
Get professional photos taken and then develop the film onto CD.
This will optimize the images acquired. Visual impact is an important factor in identifying your message.
A less desirable yet effective result can be had by scanning clean printed photos on a freshly wiped flatbed scanner. Scanning printed brochures does not produce clean images.
Write up copy on any computer word processor and save as plain text.
Let your thoughts flow into a word processor and then refine them gradually with input from associates. Or, for professional results, hire a journalist.
Email this to your developer or transport on PC or Mac disk. If the file is saved as plain ASCII text, it can be read by any computer.
Next, you need to visualize how the information will be presented. Think of a colorful screen sized magazine that can jump from any page to any other page.
Draw a simple story board on a large piece of paper. A story board is a diagram that will illustrate the flow of information from one page to the next. The browser may land on a opening page with a large graphic or logo and some buttons that link to other pages. Next, the browser may choose a certain link which displays a sub-category of information. Next, the browser could jump to an order form or price sheet that would inform potential customers of specific details.
All of this development can be done by an individual with a color Windows or Mac computer. Mac seems to be the preferred platform for working with graphics. Only a few programs are needed and the majority of them are available on the internet. The primary computer skill needed is called "HTML Authoring". HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the protocol by which web pages are written.
For those of you who prefer to delegate things like this, there are increasing numbers of individuals who have these skills for hire. The current rate seems to be around $50/hr and up.
The ultimate delegator would hire a web producer to manage the project. The producer would hire an internet service provider, a photographer, a CD-ROM development service, a journalist or copy writer, a graphic editor and an HTML programmer. After the page was up, they might hire a like minded internet habitue to "schmooze the net" and promote the web site.
This concept has leveled the playing field as far as global publishing of multimedia information. The opportunity is here for Kauai to promote itself in a whole new arena. This is already happening with some major hotels and various small businesses. Most participants are reporting dramatic successes.
I hope that this information is helpful to Kauai during our stage of economic recovery.