MONTEREY, CA — Fresh from leaving her second dot-com company and referring to the current state of the Internet business as the “Dot Comedy Hour,” Internet business advisor Ruth Stevens shared some thoughts on making e-commerce work for businesses, speaking to attendees of the Frost & Sullivan Internet Marketing Strategies and Exposition.

“Things are in incredible flux,” she said. “Everything is changing so fast that we are now seeing business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and business-to-graveyard.”

Steven also said that the only real constant in the e-commerce business is change, but there are ways to take advantage of change. “Buyers are there waiting for us to do wonderful things through the Internet, to help them learn more about us. Business-to-business transactions should reach $6 trillion by 2005. That’s mind-boggling.”

Stevens listed some ways business can take strategic advantage of the Internet by employing a specific B2B strategy.

Your plan of attack

Stevens said there is a two-step approach to building a strategy that is simple yet effective.

1. “Analyze your current go-to-market strategy of today and break it down into its component processes.”

2. “Ask people in your company to come together and think new thoughts. Set up a SWAT team and give them time to think about some of the cool new technologies and how they can be applied to your customers.”

Stevens added that using e-mail is a key element in measuring and acting on marketing campaigns. “E-mail is an absolute, indispensable, new tool for response management.

“Most of us remember the offline days, when we tried to qualify respondents over the phone and we increasingly couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone. We had to leave 80% of our inquiries on the floor for lack of being able to contact people.”

Stevens said the objective of a good marketing plan is to take a business’ go-to-market strategy to a higher level.

She also pointed out the success of “extranet” Web sites, which are built for “best customers” who have their own Web site available 24/7, and is built behind the firewall of the regular online customers. “It is a tool for purchasing agents who believe they have their own purchasing resource.”

Stevens cited a familiar name in the construction trades, Grainger, as a progressive company that took its online parts ordering one step further. Grainger developed a Web site ( made up of noncompetitive mail order businesses offering over 220,000 consumer products.

“This site represents some of the best business-to-business marketing,” she said.

Not the whole enchilada

Although a big supporter of Internet marketing and its importance to a business’ “tool box,” Stevens said it is only one component of a successful strategy.

“The web is a fabulous new tool, but it’s just that — a tool. It doesn’t replace great marketing. A website is not going to be great until marketers and information technology (IT) people learn to work well together.”

She said that the natural tension between salespeople and marketers has now shifted to marketers and IT people. “This is a new challenge and one we need to address.

“The best and most successful web marketers today keep marketing basics firmly in mind, and use the web wherever it can be applied to their market strategy.”

Stevens can be reached at (e-mail).

Sidebar: Net technologies play vital role

SAN JOSE, CA — To capitalize on the full potential of Internet technologies, manufacturers in a wide range of industries must look beyond e-commerce applications and envision the use of the Internet on the factory floor, according to Frost & Sullivan, an international market consulting and training company.

New research from the company shows that total world Internet initiative technology spending rose from $31.5 billion in 1998 to $40 billion in 1999 among large companies. This growth rate is expected to accelerate quickly, with expenditures reaching $80 billion by 2004.

“By 2004, companies of more than 1,000 employees will be spending 15% to 25% of their budget on industrial Internet initiative technologies,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Lance Gordon.

The challenge for management teams is to transform their businesses into digital enterprises, in which e-commerce is deeply integrated with e-production. For many companies, this will mean a significant learning curve in the selection and implementation of Internet technologies.

“Developing B2B solutions could also bring added benefits for e-procurement vendors, since B2B and e-procurement companies are currently ‘darling IPOs’ of the stock market,” said Gordon.

For industrialists seeking new ways to increase revenues, strengthen customer ties, and reduce supply inefficiencies, Internet-based B2B solutions could help.

For more information on the report, visit (Web site).