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Internet consulting is a broad term that is applied to the task of evaluating and developing strategies for businesses that wish to function on the Internet. The consulting may take the form of developing a retail interface and marketing strategy that functions in conjunction with a business with brick and mortar stores. Internet consulting may include the creation of a process to market business online.
Consultants may also assist in the creation of online sales tools that are used to support the efforts of agents or remote salespeople. Internet consulting may also apply to the selection of hardware and software components to assist a client in creating a general infrastructure that allows employees to access in house information, such as departmental newsletters or other communications.
In all its forms, Internet consulting is about analyzing the current status of the client’s online presence and assess what needs to be added, adapted, or replaced in order to help the client reach his or her goals for a web presence. The consultant normally begins the process by becoming acquainted with what the company produces in the way of goods and services. Assessing the current status of the customer’s online presence usually follows in short order.
Once this basic knowledge is obtained, the consultant seeks to understand what the customer wishes to achieve with an Internet presence. By comparing what is already in hand with the desired outcome of developing or refining the online presence, consultants can begin to make intelligent suggestions about how to develop a web strategy that will make it possible to achieve all those goals.
The exact components used in any Internet consulting job will vary based on the needs and goals of the customer. If the client is part of the retail industry and currently has stores scattered around a large geographical area, the goal may be to use online tools to promote those stores. The client may wish to establish a central online process for making purchases for direct shipment or pick up at a local store. In any situation, the consulting will focus on defining what the client wants to accomplish, the reasons behind the perceived process and finally the development of a viable strategy.
People who do well in Internet consulting usually have a background in one or more areas involving online activities. A working knowledge of information technology is very helpful in that the consultant will have a good idea of what is required in the way of hardware and software to build the model desired by the client. A marketing background, especially in the area of Internet marketing, is essential when assisting a client in creating an ongoing public relations and sales approach. Proficiency in the realm of web site design may also come into play with some Internet consulting work, in that the consultant can assist with using the right mix of graphics, text, and various other tools to create web sites that will attract the type of attention the client wishes to generate.
Many Internet consulting firms specialize in one or two specific areas, such as e-commerce solutions or online product branding. Others will focus on creating a working infrastructure that supports existing sales efforts, while some consultants will address issues such as helping the client place higher on search engine results. As with most consulting situations, an Internet consultant usually works with a given client for a predetermined period of time, then turns the management of the project over to qualified personnel within the client’s organization.