Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Who Let These Dogs Out?

An early truism of the web – “On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog” remains essentially true. I was painfully reminded of this after booking a hotel room online recently.

In e-business this translates to: there are plenty of bad deals on the web and potential customers know this. What are you doing about it?

The problem is not new, but the conventional solutions are more convention than solution. Let’s review some of the common ones.

  • Web authentication – does the site indeed represent the business or organization it claims as opposed to being a fraudulent front end. E.g. VeriSign, Thawte.

  • Certification bodies, e.g. BBBOnline

  • Review sites, e.g. Bizrate, igougo

  • Privacy guarantees - trustE

  • Network sponsor (Amazon marketplace, eBay)

  • Your own guarantee

Implicitly and often explicitly you’re just saying trust me. All of these have some merit, though for some customers they do not have much currency and fail to reassure. Indeed too many logos on the page can evoke the resistance they’re trying to overcome (as well as making you look like a NASCAR wanabee).

Trust is a key component of your brand. A trusted brand like LLBean had a ready transition to ebusiness. But what if your brand is little known? Realize that you are part of the product. Service, support, or whatever else is key to the value you add is clear, explicit, and up front. Not buried, hidden in small type and legalese, or missing. Yes, you will get some “buyers”, who will inappropriately and unreasonably demand a refund. Far more importantly, you will create some long term repeat purchase customers and build a your brand.

The iconic cartoon can be seen at

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