Dot.com dynamo or Dot.com disaster?
Case by Case Solutions to Your Public Relations Challenges
Q. Dear Regina:
I am a hat designer who’d like to start an e-commerce business
delivering hat designs to an urban market over the Internet. While
starting with hats, some funky and others sophisticated, I’d like to
later add a private label cosmetic line for black women, followed by
other unique products [under one brand-umbrella which we can’t
reveal at this time]. As recent as the November 2000 issue of Black
Enterprise [Black DotCom Shake-Up]
I’ve been reading that dot.com’s are going out of business left
and right. What do you contribute this to; and what advice can you
offer an e-commerce start-up on marketing, public relations, and web
A. Most importantly, offer a tangible product that is not vague or
nebulous in form; and intimately know your target market. Many of the
urban-focused sites that have "gone under" have been heavy
on cool, funky content [in most cases ‘generic content’ that’s
been tweaked to appeal to an ethnic audience] ---- and low on anything
that a buying audience could really sink it’s teeth into.
have hit rock bottom have not understood the old "stick to
something that works" adage. Proflowers.com sells flowers.
Nothing more. Nothing less. People visit Proflowers.com because it’s
easier to order flowers via the Internet than to visit a florist.
Travelosity.com works because they book travel, hotel and car
reservations. Amazon.com sells books. There is nothing obscure, hazy,
blurred or confusing about what dot.com success stories are selling.
From where we sit, we have observed that most of the multi-ethnic and
urban audience sites that haven’t worked lack a solid e-commerce
component. Many are mere directories and a hodge-podge of information.
Stick to hats, cosmetics and women’s items --- designed into a
commercially appealing site that "sticks to the point".
Affluent 35-54 year old women buy hats and cosmetics ---- the funky,
cool, hip, happening 14-to 25 year olds borrow money from the 35-54
year olds to buy hats. Stick to the wage-earning sophisticate.
Take a look at TeKay Designs (www.tekaydesigns.com) a new U.S. based mail
order and Internet company specializing in ready made and custom
designed maternity clothing, bridal/ formal wear, and African apparel.
Maternity "R" Us is a division of TeKay Designs specializing
in maternity clothing.
Recently, we tried them out for size and the two dynamic sisters
that own the company custom designed a head-turning full-length
evening gown based on measurements that I provided over the telephone.
The impressive e-commerce clothiers sent fabric swatches for me to
select from by FED-EX, and took my exact measurements based on a
sizing chart and measurement instructions that are provided on the
The company is working on it’s Spring collection and an updated
site. Most importantly, they are prompt, professional ---and anyone
who surfs the site understands what they offer at first glance. While
a limited selection of garments exist on the current site, the duo can
custom design any sketches or patterns not pictured on the site, and
have a staff that can handle bulk orders.
For longevity in the market place, sell something real.
Advertise the product via a commercially appealing and user-friendly
web site. Design a site that appeals to the target market that will
buy your product . Offer reliability and dependable service.
You may not become a dot.com giant selling hats ---- but, nor will
you land in the dot.com graveyard along side sites that didn’t quite
know what they were selling, or to whom.