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The Internet Culture And Early Internet Marketing Efforts In Poland

The internet culture is now ingrained into every society in the world. It was not always that way.

Before the open market economy of the 90s almost no one in Poland had any opportunity to learn about marketing. It was widely believed that only companies with bad products advertised; with nothing in the stores, anything good would immediately sell. Advertising told people that your company was selling junk.

The acceptance of advertising was slow at first, but eventually caught on. And then came the Internet. Many companies around the world are still trying to figure out how to exploit the Internet and yet a small Polish company manufacturing fishing bait has used it very effectively.

Picture the situation for them in 1990: For years they had been part of a state controlled monopoly with state distribution; then one day they were a private company thrown to the lions of competition. They had lost their distribution network and did not even know how to contact the customers. Many of their former customers thought they were out of business.

They knew they needed help but believed that they had good, competitive products. They faced both stiff competition from China and bankruptcy. Despite the odds against them the management decided to go for broke.

It so happened that the new boss bought a computer for his son. And his son introduced his father to the Internet. And there they found a firm of Internet consultants.

The company were advised that the use of the Internet had to be part of their overall marketing plan and not an end in itself. It could not do everything. But it could make their telephone ring and expand their reach. Because of the cost considerations they wanted to put up a site in Polish only. So they made a very simple site with a few pictures of products and a little information about the firm. As no sporting goods distributor worth his salt would order directly on the Internet without knowing his supplier, the company just wanted the right people to visit it and to be enticed into establishing an off line relationship.

The firm visits many trade shows and given their financial condition brochure costs were prohibitive. So brochures were reduced in size and emphasized that people should visit the web site. And to pick up extra traffic their e-mail and web site addresses were posted everywhere and on everything, including their cars.

The company reported that within 6 months profits increased 50%. "Not all of this is directly due to the Internet, but we are extremely happy with the results and have renewed our advertising for another year," says the managing director with a knowing smile. "In fact, we have made very profitable export contacts directly through our Internet advertising. At first we simply put our Polish-language catalogue on the Internet. Even so, we received orders from importers in Sweden and the United States, all of whom happen to be Poles living abroad. We were also invited to a major German trade show because of a contact made through our Internet Page. We now exhibit our catalogue in English as well and plan for an even bigger response."

Management is now convinced that "just having a site on the Internet enhances the prestige of our company. When we, visit trade shows, especially in Western Europe, the other exhibitors and potential customers are impressed by how advanced we are. They are surprised that a small Polish company is using the Internet so effectively. Just being able to tell them to look at our page for the latest products and news is a big plus for us."

The company is profitable and doing well. They have moved from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability using the Internet. They did not use new business techniques. They simply used the Internet as a medium to disseminate information and properly publicized their site's address.

The company grew and has since been bought out by a major international firm.

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