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Internet Technology and Construction



   Author: Preston Harris
Location: Winter Park Studios, Inc.


In the past few years the Internet revolution has become an exciting business tool that most of us have yet to master. As an IT Professional that has partnered with a business and construction associate, I have been able to witness the merger of Internet based technologies and the construction industry first hand.

The Internet offers a variety of tools that can be utilized to help buyers, contractors, erectors, suppliers and manufacturers find each other and work out the perfect deal. Although not all of these tools have reached perfection, we are starting to see various Internet based enhancements to the way we do business.

Get Connected

Companies that wish to compete on the Internet need to have a fast and stable connection (such as ISDN, Broadband or a partial T1 line), a domain name (such as mycompany.com) and corporate mailboxes (jdoe@mycompany.com instead of mm501@msn.com). Having a good Internet connection and email setup for your company and your employees will actually save you time and money. You can even build a corporate website that can house your contacts, links to industry related sites, shipping links, calendar software, news, documents and more. While you are at it, why not look into the Palm Pilot and Windows CE handheld devices. Wireless versions of these will let you correspond via e-mail and the web while you are on the road, as well as keep your reminders and contacts synchronized with your pocket.

The World Wide Web

Companies can now build online brochures that can present the audience with product and service information, location maps, bid request forms, customer comments, awards, jobsite information, sample projects, photographs, video clips, audio clips and more. All of this information is easily updateable as well - allowing your website to grow and change as your company does.

Search Engines

After building your online web presence, your company should tweak its pages so that the search engine crawlers will eventually categorize your website into their vast databases. There are hundreds of millions of searches performed each day by tens of millions of users around the world. Mediocre placement in only a few of the major search engines will begin to drive users to your website. Paying a professional company to market your website on the search engines can also help, and visiting a pay per click service such as Overture.com can help you purchase targeted web traffic at market value.

Portal Sites

Finding a good portal site that is related to your business category is another great way to drive traffic to your website and ultimately lead to new sales. A good example of this type of website is MetalBuilding.com. This website has been designed to network buyers, contractors, erectors, manufacturers and suppliers. Most of the basic services are free - and they have had many happy customers who have bought and sold buildings, products and services via their website. MetalBuilding.com offers free project photograph displays, classified ad listings and The Metworker program that helps connect buyers and sellers of metal buildings. Upgraded services are minimal in cost and provide a much greater audience to your website and products.

Cross Promotion

After building the perfect website and listing it on a couple of search engines and the perfect portal site, the next logical step is to blend your traditional marketing with your Internet marketing. Cross promotion can be created by listing your website and email address on all traditional marketing materials including your brochures, products, business cards, tri-folds, clothing, vehicles and signage (Placing your website address on your business card turns that small piece of paper into a digital company brochure). On the flip-side to those items your website should have pictures of your buildings and products, signup sheet for newsletters, hardcover brochures, CD-ROM mailings, etc.

Interactive CD-ROMs

Has your company created an Interactive CD-ROM? A digital brochure that showcases your company's projects, history, awards and letters of reference is a great low cost alternative to more expensive paper brochures and are great for mass mailings as well as trade show handouts. New CD-ROM technologies allow you to make standard 5.25" compact discs as well as 3" and custom shaped discs such as the new business card sized CD-ROMs. Most interactive media can be made to fit on these smaller discs - and mass duplication cost is next to nothing. (Don't forget to put your company's website on the label!)

If your company is looking for more information on building upon its current Internet presence (or lack of one) - you can drop me a line over on the Winter Park Studios website and I can help steer you in the right direction. Heck, why not post a comment at the bottom of this article!


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