SOARing on the Internet

July 20, 2009
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How can a business make its Web site as effective as possible? It’s a simple question that may have a complex answer.

To help businesses with their Web presence, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and AVID Commerce LLC have partnered to provide MI-SBTDC members with an Internet consulting service.

“Electronic and Web is really where it is right now,” said Jennifer Deamud, marketing manager for the MI-SBTDC. “For small businesses reaching out — not only in the state of Michigan, but looking national and international — of course their Web presence and strengthening that presence is a key component.”

AVID is offering its Strategic Opportunity Analysis study pro bono. SOAR evaluates companies’ Web sites and gives recommendations of what a company could do to improve its site’s effectiveness.

“The SOAR report provides immediate, tangible benefits to Michigan businesses, helping them cope with the downturn by explaining how to improve the effectiveness of their Internet presence,” said Stephen Antisdel, managing director of AVID Commerce.

“The report also gives them an indication of the potential to grow their business in the online channel.”

One company that has benefited from AVID’s work is WorkingPerson.com, a retail clothing Web site specializing in work clothe with brands like Carhartt and Dickies.

AVID re-engineered the WorkingPerson.com Web site and online marketing plan in 2005. Since, the company has seen a 700 percent cumulative growth rate.

“Our partnership with the MI-SBTDC will help us find and assist other WorkingPerson.com-like companies in Michigan,” said Antisdel. “These innovative businesses are going to be an important growth engine that will help pull our state out of the current economic downturn.”

Frames Unlimited might just be the next company to experience those benefits. The 35-year-old, family-owned custom frame shop recently underwent a SOAR study through the MI-SBTDC.

“The process was basically to have AVID take a look at our site, create a report and make a presentation to us based on what he had found,” said Kyle Zimdar, vice president. “It was quite an extensive report; certainly more than we were expecting.”

Zimdar said the report contained a list of positives for the Web site as well as things that needed to be corrected. The process also helped guide an internal discussion, Zimdar said, and point the company to some action steps it could take in the future.

“He gave us some ideas on what we could improve and what we want to do with our site —  refocus some things and give us some ideas or direction that might help us create a better Web presence,” said Zimdar.

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