The Internet and brands are probably the two hottest business topics of the moment. So Phil Carpenter's timely book eBrands
, which looks at building brands on the Internet, scores a double whammy on the business groove-o-meter. Carpenter, director of corporate marketing for Silicon Valley start-up Remarq, foregoes the theoretical, business-school approach in favor of the more easily absorbed case-study method, with detailed analysis, interviews, and behind-the-scenes peeks at six Internet businesses that have already established themselves successfully as brands. They include Yahoo!, Fogdog Sports, iVillage, and Barnesandnoble.com.
Carpenter's basic argument is: "In an environment characterized by extreme choice, perplexed customers will turn to the familiar. They will establish relationships with specific Internet brands and do business with them repeatedly." The book is thoroughly researched. In fact, it's amazing Carpenter got his subjects to share so openly and honestly, not only their learning but also the details of their mistakes. For instance, he writes of online CD retailer CDNow's customer acquisition program, "CDNow is already paying an average of $45 per person for each new customer.... this puts even more pressure on CDNOW to wring greater value from online shoppers".
Carpenter makes much of the point that a brand is far more than a logo or marquee and includes everything the company does, from publicity to answering the phone to order fulfillment. While it's an argument that will be old hat to anybody with a marketing background, it's a point well made for those coming from a more technical or general business environment--as many net entrepreneurs tend to do. This is an excellent marketing primer for anyone who needs to know how to make e-business work. --Alex Benady, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Applying traditional business analysis to the realities of the new economy, Carpenter presents marketing case studies of six Internet firms to explain how brand making is conducted in the world of e-commerce. The music purveyor CDNow successfully adapted the old-fashioned hardsell by peppering customers with follow-up e-mails encouraging them to buy more. Yet Fogdog Sports tried more or less the same thing for sports equipment with less success. According to Carpenter (a Silicon Valley marketing director), Barnesandnoble.com has made its mark with Avis's old "number two tries harder" strategy, positioning Amazon.com as its Hertz. Unlike the first three, Yahoo! and iVillage were never bricks-and-mortar stores; their marketing tactics reflect their greater understanding of the Internet medium. Yahoo! staked out prime Internet real estate and defended it successfully with a combination of sharp personality and technical innovation; iVillage draws customers into interactive relationships with content, creating an umbrella organization of branded virtual spaces like Parent Soup and Better Health. Meanwhile, OnSale.com was an early online auction site that missed out on the growth of that business and is now merging with failed bricks-and-mortar computer retailer, Egghead, in an Internet retail venture. From these cases, Carpenter extracts several valuable lessons (among them, pay attention to the power of momentum and forge strong content alliances), but the book's format and organization is more likely to appeal to business school students than to practicing marketers. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.