October 2002 Newsletter

What Has the Internet Really Changed?

**** 4specs Quick Picks

This is a time where the information era overlaps the industrial era. This article provides additional thoughts to this month's newsletter:
Click Z

More information on Google PageRank and other thoughts on search engines.


**** The 4specs Perspective

What has the Internet really changed?

The Internet is finishing the 8th year of popular usage, starting in 1995 . Many things have changed over the 8 year period. While more and more people use the Internet for email, research and daily news, there is a much more fundamental change for the manufacturer of "specified" construction products:

You are now your own publisher.

Simple, but many people do not yet recognize this fundamental shift.

Historically, the sales and marketing department has developed, printed and distributed 3-ring product binders to larger architect's and engineer's firms. In essence, they published the 3-ring binders. Most of these binders were mailed or delivered by their local rep.

The marketing and sales department also developed and printed the 4-12 page catalog for their products and arranged for widespread distribution through print aggregators and catalog collections. This was the only way the manufacturer could ensure access to the 60,000+ design offices and not just the 2-5,000 offices with their binders.

The Internet provides immediate access for every architect and engineer to product information on the Internet. This is certainly a time of transition, as discussed in the first article above. Depending whether your products are specified by smaller architectural firms or the large ones will determine the time line of this change and whether it will be short or long. Just as some firms still draw by hand, some people will want to use paper for a long time. And others already use the Internet as a primary research tool.

Looking to the future, the sales and marketing department has to make a fundamental shift in their focus. No longer will it be sufficient to place the company brochure in a catalog collection, now the company must look to gain users searching for product information on the Internet.

We see the following tasks for the marketing and sales departments for 2003:

  1. Provide an easy-to-use website with all the required product information required to be specified.
  2. Design the website to attract all the free traffic you can from the search engines.
  3. Pay for better placement in search engines and web and print publications to be easily found by the user when they are looking for design information on products you make. (With the suggestion that you watch your cost per referral or inquiry.)

While the Internet can have significant cost savings in the long run through reducing literature distribution costs, the Internet can also shift preferred suppliers. The smaller manufacturer providing excellent design data may be included in the product specifications and thus gain an advantage, and the large, well-known manufacturer with a poor website not providing the required design information may lose to a smaller supplier effectively working the Internet.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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