Internet Marketers Can Learn from the Boy Scouts
by Peter De Legge
Perhaps marketers should have mandatory training from the Boy Scouts, where the
motto is "be prepared." It is a lesson Encyclopedia Britannica is learning the hard
The Encyclopedia Britannica has long
been highly regarded for their top notch product, but the company has historically been
slow to embrace technology. They were late to get their encyclopedia into the CD-ROM
market and late to put together a significant Web site effort. So their recent
announcement to put their entire encyclopedia online for free created a giant media buzz.
You're probably thinking to yourself, wow, the opportunity
every business with a significant Web presence dreams of -- tons of free publicity for a
The problem is, the folks at Britannica didn't plan on
their enormous success. And on the Internet, there is no forgiveness when it comes to
significant increases or "spikes" in Web site traffic.
Britannica.com's servers were simply unprepared to handle
the traffic and the company soon took their site down. It was a disaster.
Read this excerpt posted on the Britannica.com home page
(at the time of publishing this article, the only available page on the britannica.com Web
"The launch of Britannica.com last week created such
an enormous volume of traffic that we were simply unable to handle the demand. We have
been working around the clock to correct the problem. Our teams have been busy unpacking
crates, installing hardware, configuring software and boosting capacity worldwide.
What's more, after evaluating the situation we have decided
to not only boost our capacity several-fold; but redesign our system to meet the
extraordinary demands placed on it. We're taking this extraordinary step to ensure that we
can meet the demands of our users going forward.
We apologize to everyone who has been unable to access
Britannica.com. Soon we will be able to make the Britannica.com site available once again.
In the meantime, I ask for your patience as we work to ensure that our systems around the
world can meet the enormous demand for Britannica.com."
What can marketers from companies big and small learn from
this? First, you need to be ready for spikes in Internet traffic; Britannica blew an
incredible opportunity because they were not prepared. Marketing and IT departments need
to work closely and make sure that everyone in IT and involved in the technical side of
the company's Web site is aware of any potential large traffic spikes. If your company is
going to have an executive appear on national television program such as an interview on
CNN or Nightline, have a plan in place and get things ready long before the event.
Experienced consultants should be brought in...experience is paramount.
Fortunately for Britannica, they are very likely to
recover. But will Britannica receive the same amount of publicity for the re-launch of
their site? If this same thing were to happen to a significant e-commerce or stock trading
site it would have done serious damage to the companys stock price, reputation and
caused immediate losses in the millions.
Internet marketers don't only need to be guerillas, they
should also be good scouts.
Peter De Legge is the publisher and editor of
Marketing Today. He has more than 15 years marketing and advertising
experience that includes holding various marketing management posts at
several corporations and consulting to numerous companies, from start-ups to
Fortune 500's, in the areas of Internet Marketing, integrated marketing and
E-business efforts and Web sites Peter has been a part of have won the praise of
leading marketing and e-business experts, including being selected being
selected among E-Week's "Top
500 E-business Innovators of 2000." Peter's MarketingToday.com
Web site has received the praise of e-marketing innovators like Seth Godin
and industry publications such as Folio
Magazine, which recently selected the site as one of several "Web
sites worth watching." To learn more about
Peter De Legge visit: http://www.businessmarketing.net
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2000, Peter De Legge. All
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