Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

Posted by on Jun 6, 2011 in Blog, Business analysis (including marketing strategy), For Slider, General Business | Comments Off on Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

Marketing & the Internet: do consumers do online research?

During an adjudicatory hearing on the viability of the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) project in Tupper Lake, adjoining property owner Phyllis Thompson brought up the fact that the ACR’s website isn’t currently in operation, wondering if that might have an impact on the marketability of the project (Resort’s marketability questioned, Adirondack Daily Enterprise – June 6, 2011).

Per the Daily Enterprise article, one Terry Elsemore, an expert witness hired by the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) developers in Tupper Lake to bolster their cause, and owner of Fractional Strategies, Inc., responded …the website doesn’t need to be up right now because developers aren’t offering anything for sale yet.

When further questioned by Thompson whether Elsemore expected prospective buyers to research [the] developers on the Internet, Elsemore furthered with, I don’t know to what extent this clientele uses the Internet to determine the fiscal capabilities of the developer.

Thompson went on to proffer that if this clientele did so, they might learn that Preserve Associates, the development group planning the ACR, has regularly been behind on its property tax payments, which could impact potential customers’ buying choices.

Telling information, for sure, in light of the tax arrears. What could be even more telling though, is Elsemore’s own apparent lack of a web site, especially in times like these when just about everyone and their uncle has access to the Internet (things that make you go hmmm…? ).

…the website doesn’t need to be up right now because developers aren’t offering anything for sale yet.

…I don’t know to what extent this clientele uses the Internet to determine the fiscal capabilities of the developer.

So I ran a search on Google for “Elsemore ‘Fractional Strategies’,'” which returned a total of 64 results. Most of those were either somehow tied to projects Elsemore had either been involved with, or was currently managing. A couple of those results stood out like a moose on a high-diving board though. It seems that back about 2007 or so, Elsemore filed a breach of contract suit against one of his previous employers (the Lake Placid Group, owners of the Whiteface Lodge) and won $300,000 in back pay.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t so much the lawsuit that struck me odd. Elsemore probably deserved that back pay (at least the court thought so). He also seems to be competent at what he does and has apparently completed a number of similar high-value projects successfully. What I did find out of place though, given my own experiences with the Internet (since 1994), was how a business like his could get away with not having a web site in this day and age. True, positive word of mouth probably played a large role in Elsemore’s past successes (and probably does so today). And I can’t blame him for not wanting to advertise his services via the Web given what might be interpreted as a subtle propensity for scandal (e.g., the lawsuit, his client’s tax arrears) should consumers doing research online come across that information. But to play dumb and state that a web site is not needed for a project the likes of the ACR because it’s not selling anything yet, or that you don’t have any idea about how or whether your potential market uses the Web to research costly purchases like, uh-hum, fractured  timeshares, well, that just doesn’t make sense. Especially when those statements are being made by a $350,000/year consultant. Unless, of course, you either don’t understand the nature of today’s Web and how consumers interact with and through it (as well as the impact online marketing has on them); or you’re a businessman and there’s just some stuff you’d like to distance yourself from.

The question is: which was it?

OTOH, all this aside, a good web site can help bolster sales quite a bit. One that’s structured with your viewer in mind, one that’s easy to find in the vast jungle that has become our World Wide Web. For (believe it or not) consumers really do use their web browsers now-a-days to locate the things they’d like to buy, the places they’d like to stay at and eat, and where they’d like to live (along with a whole lot of other stuff). And whatever business you happen to be in today, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, regardless of whether it be the sale of goods and/or services, your chances of benefiting from an online presence are fairly good. In fact, the best they’ve ever been.

Unless, that is, your name happens to be Weiner.