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An Electronic Trade Show and a Virtual Flea Market

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An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
Note: Resource documents that contain diagrams featured in this Module can be downloaded from the Module Resource section.

The Module Resource section can be found in the table of contents page of this course.

The Internet and the World Wide Web
The Internet is the most effective and efficient broadcasting and publishing medium. Unlike traditional broadcast media it facilitates two way communication, unlike most personal selling it is not face to face but neither is it time bound.

The Internet possess interactivity. It has the facility for individuals and organizations to communicate directly with one another regardless of distance or time. The Web allows anyone (organization or individual) to have a 24hour a day presence on the Internet.

It warrants serious attention by business practitioners and statistics support this. No communication medium or electronic technology has ever grown as quickly.

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
Most academics and practitioners have recognize the importance of the Web as a marketing communication tool and research to date is proving this to be true.

Most of the work done so far has been of a descriptive
nature -"what the medium is," using such surrogate
measures as the size of the Web audience to indicate
its potential.

While these endeavors might add to our general
understanding, they do not address more specific
issues of concern, such as the communication objectives
that advertisers might have, and how they expect Web
sites to achieve these objectives.

Neither do these studies assess the effectiveness of this medium from the perspective of the recipient of the message (the buyer, to use the broadest marketing term).

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An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
The Web is rather like a cross between an electronic trade show and a community flea market. As an electronic trade show, it can be thought of as a giant international exhibition hall where potential buyers can enter at will and visit prospective sellers.

Like a trade show, they may do this passively, by simply wandering around, enjoying the sights and sounds, pausing to pick up a pamphlet or brochure here, and a sticker, key ring, or sample there.

Alternatively, they may become vigorously interactive in their search for information and want satisfaction, by talking to fellow attendees, actively seeking the booths of particular exhibitors, carefully examining products, soliciting richer information, and even engaging in sales transactions with the exhibitor.

The Internet and the World Wide Web
As a flea market, it possesses the fundamental characteristics of openness, informality, and interactivity, a combination of a community and a marketplace or marketspace.

A flea market is an alternative forum that offers the consumer an additional search option, which may provide society with a model for constructing more satisfying and adaptive marketplace options. The Web has much in common with a flea market.

The central and fundamental problem facing conventional trade show and flea marketers is how to convert visitors, casually strolling around the exhibition center or market, into customers at best, or leads at least.

Similarly, a central dilemma confronting the Web advertiser is how to turn users (those who browse the Web) into interactors (attracting the users to the extent that they become interested; ultimately purchasers; and, staying interactive, repeat purchasers).

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
An excellent illustration of a Website as electronic trade
show or flea market can be found on most financial or Banking
website where they offer full service banking online.

The company uses the graphic metaphor of a conventional
bank to communicate and interact with potential and existing
customers, including an electronic inquiries desk, electronic
brochures for general information, and electronic tellers to
deal with routine transactions.

Thus, the degree of interaction is dependent on the individual user. Those merely interested can take an electronic stroll through the bank, while those desiring more information can find it.

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An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
Customers can interact to whatever degree they wish - transfer funds, make payments, write electronic checks, talk with electronic tellers (where they are always first in line), and see the electronic bank manager for additional requests, complaints, and general feedback.

We have taken the notion of trade shows as a marketing communication tool and extended it to the possible role of the Website as an advertising medium. This is speculated upon, in the context of both the buying and selling process stages, and in both industrial and consumer contexts.

(Please download the Buying and Selling and Web Marketing Communication.pdf document from the Resources section.)

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
Mass advertising and personal selling communication effectiveness of a Website is questioned graphically in Buying and Selling and Web Marketing Communication.pdf, although without prior quantitative data, it is mere conjecture at this stage to posit a profile.

By simply placing a question mark between
mass advertising and personal selling in the
figure, we tempt the reader to contemplate
the communication profile of the Web.

Industrial buying can be thought of as the series
of stages in the first column of Buying and
selling and Web Marketing Communication.pdf.
The buyer's information needs differ at each
stage, as do the tasks of the marketing communicator.


An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
In column 2, a model of the steps in the consumer decision making process for complex purchases is shown, and it will be seen that these overlap the steps in the buying phases model to a considerable extent.

The tasks that confront the advertiser and the seller in both industrial and consumer markets can similarly be mapped against these stages, through a series of communication objectives. This is shown in column 3.

Each of these objectives requires different communication tasks of the seller, and these are similarly outlined in column 4. So, for example, generating awareness of a new product might be most effectively achieved through broadcast advertising, while closing a sale would best be achieved face to face, in a selling transaction.

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
Most marketers, in both consumer and business-to-business markets, employ a mix of communication tools to achieve various objectives in the marketing communication process, judiciously combining advertising and personal selling.

The relative cost effectiveness of advertising and personal selling in performing marketing communication tasks depends on the stage of the buying process, with personal selling becoming more cost effective the closer the buyer gets to the latter phases in the purchasing sequence. This is shown in column 5.

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market

Where does a Website fit in terms of communication effectiveness?

( Please download the Buying and Selling and Web Marketing Communication.pdf document from the Resource Section )

An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
It is not likely that many advertisers are on the Web simply because it is relatively quick and easy, and because they fear that the consequences of not having a presence will outweigh whatever might be the outcomes of a hastily ill-conceived presence.

This lack of clear and quantified objectives, understanding,
and the absence of a unified framework for evaluating
performance, have compelled decision-makers to rely on
intuition, imitation, and advertising experience when
conceptualizing, developing, designing, and implementing

These two concerns - the lack of clear or consistent objectives and the relationship of those objectives to the variables under the control of the firm - are the issues that engage us here.
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An electronic trade show and a virtual flea market
We propose a more direct assessment of Website performance using multiple indices such that differing Website objectives can be directly translated into appropriate performance measures.

We then explicitly link these performance measures to tactical variables under the control of the firm and present a conceptual framework to relate several of the most frequently mentioned objectives of Website participation to measures of performance associated with Website traffic flow.

Finally, we develop a set of models linking the tactical variables to six performance measures that Web advertisers and marketers can use to measure the effectiveness and performance against objectives of a Website. We discuss normative implications and suggest areas for further development.

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