Marketing Fail: iNET Web Case Study

Welcome to a pillar series I plan on putting together on my blog titled, “Marketing Fail”. The idea behind this came out of watching companies market their products and services. Some do their marketing extraordinarily well, while some just plain fail. Hopefully reading about these marketing blunders will help you avoid these mistakes in your own company and strive to produce a marketing campaign to be proud of.

When marketing your company, there are certain ways to go about it. You have many mediums to promote in, including social media, to be aware of as well. Some mediums are more potent then others, yet each one has its own benefits associated with it. For example, in television commercials; people are listening, reading, and watching all at the exact same time. Compared to print, where someone is just reading something, you are capturing more senses and engaging that person with your message. With social media, you are engaging that person’s senses and encouraging them to respond, building a relationship with an individual that is impossible with television, radio, and print combined. But that is for a later article, lets take a look at a case study of marketing gone wrong.

Case Study: iNET Web

iNET Web is a website design and hosting company located in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They began in 1998 with the intent to “crush every Waukesha web development competitor in not only price but also design”. They have done just that through their radio ads, effectively downplaying every competitor and taking the market over by force.

Two unforeseen problems came up with this stance, and here is the predicament that now looms over my hometown of Milwaukee.

1. It incenses the “Competition”

Marketing 101 for any company regardless of industry teaches owners to focus on telling their own story. Business owners are encouraged to differentiate and sell their unique benefits for the consumers benefit. It is slightly different from the presumed my-product-is-better-than-your-product argument that companies regularly initiate in, but an important difference nonetheless. Think of it this way, are you in business just so you can “crush your competition” or to provide a solution to a consumer need? Act that way. Market your company that way. Your company is not here to give you an ego boost, you are in business to provide a way of living for yourself by providing the solution to the consumers’ need.

iNET Web effectively created a large rift and threw the competition into it, silencing all opposition. As a result, I barely hear of other website design companies. The ones I do hear of? They despise iNET. The flip side? Some of these companies I stumble across make pretty impressive websites and love their customers to pieces.

This is a fine line, yet this could spell death for your company no matter how profitable you are. Not only does this make your “competition” mad at you, it also splits the market and prevents you from working with your “competitors” down the road. Listen closely, your competition is not in business to bash you, they are in business the same reason you are: to make a profit. There are more than enough people in your market for everyone to benefit from, you physically cannot serve everybody in that market. Neither can your “competition”. That is an undisputed fact. As you understand this, you will start to view your competitors in a different light. Now, rather than “bashing” them, you will see how all of you can work together to serve your market; to both widen and deepen it.

2. It keeps the Market in the Dark

Would you be very happy with someone if they deliberately kept you in the dark? At first no, you would just assume that is exactly how things should be. Then somebody walks by your darkened room’s window with a candle. How would that make you feel? Confused? Mad? Jealous? Yup, all that and an insatiable desire to learn more about that light. Questions would be running through your mind, answers waiting to be uncovered. If the person who originally locked you up and taught you about your “dark room” came by, you would probably tackle him to the ground and give him a sound beating before running out the door after that light.

That is the exact situation the website design/hosting market in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is now facing. Business owners are walking around without a clue what their website is and what it could be. They are walking around in that dark room. They are deliberately left out of the loop, fed only the bits and pieces certain companies want them to hear. Not only is this saddening to hear, but it also makes me mad.

I know this as I walk around that very market (I used to run a website design company in Milwaukee as well) pulling out tidbits of information to gauge what is going on. The reports brought tears to my eyes. How could this market stay in the dark for so long? How could they remain this uneducated about the Internet? How could they not see how immensely powerful their website has now become? If they saw the light, they would break down that door running after the light. My response to this was to flip on my webcam and record something to educate that market, in a way hoping to be that light that would pass by their door.

I don’t think you would want to be that company (person) in their way when they see the light and attempt a mad dash towards it.

For those two reasons…

iNET Web is a Marketing Failure in my book.

Want to learn more about iNET Web as well as my own personal story with them? Watch this video on iNET Web Bashing.

Now that you understand what not to do, what thoughts do you have and what do you intend to do? Any company you’d like to see a case study on?