The Difference Between the Internet *Being* Your Business versus It Being an *Adjunct* to Your Business

Businesses using the Web could be divided into three broad categories. (People can be divided into three categories, you know: Those who divide things into two categories, those who divide things into three categories, and those who don’t divide things into categories!)

The first category are those whose business model is such that the Internet is the business. In other words, if it weren’t for the Internet, there would be no business…the business has been created from scratch for the very purpose of taking advantage of the possibilities of the Internet.

An example of this type of business would be The Mountain Zone The Mountain Zone, for whom I provide on-line marketing services, is a 10,000+ page Website specializing in mountain sports. It is a pioneer in building virtual community, where people of like interests come together not only to “consume” the useful information that is published, but to collaborate with others, and to conduct transactions.

To this first category, selling information, products and services and carrying advertising (plus charging fees in some cases) are the mainstays of their revenue-generating model. They have no revenue-generating sources outside the Internet.

The second category are those whose business exists outside and independent of the Internet, but which use the Internet as an additional selling channel. These businesses often carry advertising to help support the cost of the site. An example would be Eddie Bauer, which has retail outlets, a mailed catalog business, plus an Internet shopping/ordering site.

The third category are those who business exists outside and independent of the Internet, and who don’t directly sell products and services on the Internet. These businesses look to the Internet purely as a means to support customers, prospects and other stakeholders with information, service and problem-solving tools. An example would be Boeing, which as yet does not take airplane orders on-line (probably an issue of bankcard limits ). But it does use the Internet to provide all sorts of information to the outside world, including investors.

(The distinctions in these categories are not static. For example, we will see businesses who once existed only outside the Internet who evolve all the way to doing business only on the Internet).

Having made a distinction between these three categories of Internet business, it’s important to note that NetNurturing is relevant for all of them! All need to keep and grow customer relationships if they are to survive and thrive. Neither can make it on one-time customers. That’s why increasing share-of-customer becomes a vital objective, and why strategies must be developed to achieve the objective.