The Dot Coms May Be Dying, But The Internet Lives On!

It’s no secret that the honeymoon days of the dot com revolution are over.

Every day we read about some former Internet high flyer drastically dropping in value (if not going out of business completely), and you can hardly open the newspaper anymore without coming across an article proclaiming the end of the Internet revolution.

Now for those of you who have been toiling away in the traditional economy for the past few years, patiently building your business one step at a time while the Gen Xers accused you of, “not getting it,” I won’t hold it against you if you feel the need to turn on MTV, smile, and shout, “I told you so!” at the screen a couple of times. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

As we’ve said in the past (see, Keep Your Dot Com Envy in Check, 8/25/00 ), you’ve got many advantages as an established, traditional business, and even without what’s happened to the stock market in the last nine months, you’ve got a lot more going for you than you may have realized.

That said, the primary purpose of today’s newsletter is to make sure that you don’t confuse the demise of the pure play dot coms with the demise of the Internet itself(and that you don’t — as some are already implying — interpret recent events as a sign that we can all go back to doing business the way we used to).

Because while it may be true that it’s a lot harder to create a profitable, sustainable business online than had previously been thought, the “different rules and different tools” that the Internet has introduced over the past four or five years are here to stay.

Consider just a few of the permanent changes that the Internet has brought about:

• Email enabled consumers now expect a two-way dialogue between themselves and the companies they do business with. One that is free of smokescreens and “corporate speak.”

• Electronic communications (newsletters, web sites, email, chat) are a whole lot easier, cheaper and more convenient than physical (i.e. paper) communications, and are an essential part of building and reinforcing customer relationships.

• Consumers now have practically unlimited access to information about you, your products, your industry and your competitors, and they can easily share that with one another.

• All of us now have capabilities that simply weren’t available in the pre-Internet world. In just a few years we have come to rely on online tools which allow us to sort, search, track, filter and compare in the course of doing business.

These are just a few examples.

What I’d ask you to notice is that none of these changes has anything to do with dot coms per se, and everything to do with the power of the Internet itself. In other words, we need to see that the flawed business models which are now being exposed, are distinct from the new capabilities and the new ways of doing business that these very same companies introduced us to. The changes will survive well beyond the companies themselves.

Bottom Line: Take a breath, pat yourself on the back, and take some well deserved bows for being true to your “get rich slow” strategy over the last few years. Then get right back to work figuring out how to incorporate the Internet into the way you do business. It — and I’m sure you — are both here to stay!

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