By Mary Chen (Sunday Mail, 17 August, 2003)
Internet marketing coach Fione Tan assists companies and entrepreneurs to increase sales and build brand names on-line-once she convinces them not to prejudge her capabilities by her age.
"Prospective clients normally expect a more mature person but by the end of the presentation, they are convinced that the internet is a viable market," says the netpreneur of a four-year-old e-business venture with a list of clients ranging from multinationals to SMIs (small and medium-scale industries) and even home based entrepreneurs.
As an Internet marketing coach, Tan conducts group and individual sessions to guide other business entrepreneurs who intend to enhance their website sales and viewership.
"We look at their text, layout, homepage accessibility and recommend relevant marketing strategies to ensure they remain in the top three listings when surfers use on-line search engines for their particular product or services," says Tan.
"The Internet is a fascinating industry to be in, with many new and exciting experiences. One can work from anywhere and at anytime by simply going on-line to complete many tasks simultaneously . It also allows me to meet with customers from all around the world, without the need of physical travel."
Tan recalls:" When I first started in this line, it was still the time of the Internet goldrush. Many people were jumping onto the bandwagon simply because of the venture capital money and trend. Now, Internet users are more mature, with more businesses realising the potential of a strong on-line presence in this new millennium of IT-driven globalisation."
Ready or not, the future is here with e-Business
How to qualify for this profession
There is no specific age or academic qualification to be an Internet marketing coach, although a background in business and some marketing experience would be useful. Better still if you have on-line experience dealing with a range of products, services and digital information.
Where to take exams/get training
Practical hands-on training is the most important criteria. You will need to experience the entire customer interaction process on-line for the particular type of products/services that the website is selling. Therefore, it's vital to be an avid Internet surfer with good e-mail communication skills.
You should also check out the Internet Marketing courses as well as the latest know-how from such experts as those found at www.InternetMarketingCoaching.com to further improve your knowledge.
Useful skills/personality traits
Important to be passionate about the commercial prospects of the Internet as you will not succeed if you have doubts yourself. However, it's not just having the ideas and foresight but also taking the necessary action to realise them.
You need to be confident in your own abilities, as this is not a profession for introverts. To be able to promote or market clients successfully; you need to start with marketing your own professional services. One good way is to know how to establish your own professional site, as I did with www.FioneTan.com to publicise your resume and accomplishments.
You also need good communication skills to present your ideas and proposals to prospective clients without being too technical. There must be sincerity and persistence as well in order to see clients succeed in this emerging "virtual" market.
Why did you take up this profession?
I was first exposed to the Internet while studying in the US, where surfing and performing transactions on-line become a major part of my lifestyle. Although I knew that I wanted to start my own e-business, my inexperience, lack of start-up capital and fear of the technicalities involved held me back.
After working for some years in the finance industry, I felt ready to make the life-changing decision to start eOnenet.com with the confidence to turn my passion into a viable business.
Any special tools/knowledge required?
Your business may be intangible, but to effectively service clients - particularly multinational corporations - you should have an office with a competent technical support team to boost clients' confidence.
The experience of servicing and promoting a diverse range of products, services and digital information from the various website projects that you host. The Internet provides high leverage so you'll be able to achieve more in less time, with the flexibility of working from almost anywhere in the world.
I have had the chance to attend exciting seminars and even the honour to be appointed Malaysia's representative to the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, comprising 22 member-countries. But my happiest moments are when my clients' website are getting the top ranking in search engines and making on-line sales, through the amazing response for their on-line marketing efforts.
To be an excellent Internet marketing coach, you tend to spend a lot of time surfing and interacting on-line. It is easy to lose that human-to-human socialisation and forget about physical interaction that you will still need for a more balance and quality way of life.
As an Internet marketing coach, you can also be a professional speaker, and consultant for other companies. In terms of employment, you're mostly likely to be hired by Internet of interactive media companies who provide on-line marketing services. You can also set up your own consultancy service.
In the US, the internet marketing consultant can charge up to US$10,000 (RM38,000) for a guaranteed top-three placement of the client's website in international search engines. In Malaysia, the sum is less as not many companies see the importance of their search engine position. As a fresh Internet marketing consultant, the monthly salary may start from RM2,500. You can also receive remunerations from other sources. For instance, apart from our main website www.eOneNet.com, we also derive some income from related sites like www.WebHostingMalaysia.com and www.InternetMarketingCoaching.com
Any personal advice?
Master the different types of on-line marketing tools, and learn to apply the strategies innovatively.
The Internet is a borderless arena, you need to be as good as even better than your international counterparts.
Therefore, constantly upgrade yourself by getting a good grasp of the latest trends and technologies.