Dot Commerce: A Ray of Light

Jan. 1, 2020
2008 will be an interesting year. As we concluded 2007, we started to hear the dreaded "R" word—recession. The clouds that were on the horizon have now manifested into the storm in which we are currently living. But all is not gloom and doom.

Storm clouds keep rolling in while opportunities await online.

2008 will be an interesting year. As we concluded 2007, we started to hear the dreaded "R" word—recession. The clouds that were on the horizon have now manifested into the storm in which we are currently living. But all is not gloom and doom. The Internet is continuing to grow in ways that astound me. We are seeing Microsoft bid for Yahoo in part because they believe Yahoo's audience and assets are a critical part of Microsoft's future. They have been eyeing it for some time and the uncertainty in the marketplace made it obtainable.

During unstable times there is a tendency for many of us to pull in our horns and be a little more conservative. But consider this. Unstable times are times of opportunity! During times of fiscal challenge, people tend to keep their cars longer and more people work on their own cars. As they say, some storms have a silver lining. They also say if you want a change in the weather, just wait. But while you are waiting, there is an opportunity to be had.


A portion of the population has never worked on their car, changed their oil, or bolted on an exhaust header. When they finally turn to learn they will go to the Internet to do so. I suggest you become a beacon of light for those customers you haven't discovered. I am not asking you to give anything away; I am suggesting you invest some of your lifelong experience in the automotive aftermarket into the community known as the Internet. Be positioned to become part of the change that is occurring.

Change is inevitable and either you surf the wave of change or get caught up in its wash. Developing new customers and retaining existing customers is the basis for a growing business. If you keep marketing the same way you have for years and expect something different to occur, then you are only kidding yourself. The Internet isn't the future—it is the present. The time to be online is now.

For 2008, I suggest you utilize it as the year of content. Consider writing, photographing, or videotaping and posting quality "how-to" content about automotive specialty parts online. It doesn't have to be 100-percent polished, but it does have to be 100-percent authentic and accurate. It can be as simple as how to change your oil or as complicated as installing a supercharger system. Our tribe—the tribe of aftermarket parts, suppliers, and monkey wrenches—possesses a vast knowledge that needs to be shared. Sharing the knowledge also gives you the opportunity to merchandise your business.


The learning doesn't stop there. Ask your customers what they want to learn about and listen to them. Start with the traditional public relations route and notify your local newspaper about what you are doing. Making a dollar stretch farther is going to be good story material in the coming year.

All of this content should be posted on your Web site (you do have a Web site?), Flickr, YouTube, and Myspace. Get it posted online but make sure you fill in all the available data fields to create maximum exposure for you. Next month, I will write about social bookmarking. All of this content is designed to push the performance of your Web site in Google and Yahoo in a positive direction. This is a win-win opportunity.

In one year, America will have a new president and in the following year that president will enact his or her policy that will give America and the world a message about where this great country is heading. Citizens will become more comfortable and the recession will end. So there is sunshine at the end of the storm. That said, make the most out of this stormy opportunity.

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