A Little Flash Goes a Long Way

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Bert Emanuel of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has established himself as a wide receiver. Now he has distinguished himself on the Internet with the very latest in Flash animation technology. Emanuel's Web site (www.87mph.com) is one example of many sophisticated Internet animations you will find in cyberspace.


Businesses and individuals are learning that the key to long-term Internet success lies in developing a clean, user-friendly and highly functional Web site. But that's actually the second step. The first step is getting noticed in a crowded sea of Internet competitors. That's where streaming video, digital animation and cutting-edge graphics often provide a critical advantage.


In the case of Emanuel, he needed to connect with the public. He became a sports celebrity as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, and was known for offering his time to charities across Georgia. When Emanuel left the Falcons and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he knew he had to quickly re-establish his image and identity - both with his new fans in Florida and with the following he already had nationwide.


Emanuel needed a Web site for fans to learn about his life and accomplishments on and off the field. He also wanted a site with an unusual cinematic introduction that would grab fans' attention. He used flash technology on the site to show a fire-streaked football launched from a cannon. A sonic boom and driving drumbeat accompanies a helmeted figure - Emanuel - who chases the object, lines it up and lunges in front of it.


Flash and streaming video solutions project energy and generally are cost effective, compared to the overall cost of a successful Internet solution. This is an element of Internet communications that many executives often overlook.


Information seekers use the Internet in an entirely different way than they do when browsing through a magazine, catalog or unsolicited materials received through the mail.


To capture the attention of an Internet audience, a Web site must appear sophisticated and polished at first glance. To hold the audience's attention, the site must be organized to provide clean, quality information that can be quickly and easily located and used. The site must give the user exactly what he or she is looking for - immediately.


Unlike traditional marketing slanted toward subtle image building or specific product promotion, e-commerce must encompass any and everything about a company that a user might be seeking.


A company cannot use an e-commerce site to tell the user only what it wants him to know. It must cater to what the user might want from the company. This involves a radical departure from traditional marketing approaches. In this sense, animation and streaming video can enhance a Web site, but they should not be overused so that they distract from the essential functions of the site.


Migrating traditional advertising concepts directly to the Internet generally does not succeed. Because most advertising agencies have little or no direct experience in online e-commerce activities, there is no perfect formula for converting existing business and marketing activities to the Internet. Also there is no established standard for measuring Internet effectiveness and usage, as there is with print or broadcast advertising.


To succeed in business, a Web site must offer something the user cannot get anywhere else. It must be more convenient than any other avenue, be less costly and it must save time. It certainly helps to show the user something they have never seen before - as long as you don't show too much.
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