Marketing the e‐Business

Cornelia Droge (Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 September 2004




Droge, C. (2004), "Marketing the e‐Business", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38 No. 9/10, pp. 1316-1318.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

It is refreshing to read an e‐commerce book that is not evangelical in the extreme. In Marketing the e‐Business (2002), authors Lisa Harris and Charles Dennis clearly recognize that most businesses need to run both brick and click operations in the foreseeable future, and that significant problems exist in organizing, implementing, integrating and measuring such dual operations. The authors' stated goal is demonstrating “the benefits of e‐marketing as a tool for improving efficiency and effectiveness rather than for business revolution,” and they generally don't lose sight of this goal through the Introduction, 11 chapters, and a very short Conclusion.

Each chapter begins with a “mindmap,” which is a structured listing of the chapters displayed in boxes. This one‐page mindmap first appears in the Introduction and it seems superfluous to begin every chapter in exactly the same way. Next, each chapter has an exhibit called “Links to other chapters.” This could be useful for readers who wish to explore particular topics rather than read the book from front to back. Next, each chapter has two exhibits: “Key learning points” and “Ordered list of subtopics.” These comprise the standard point‐form “chapter outline” feature found in many textbooks.

The chapter text follows. The chapters are generally well written, coherently organized, and clearly targeted to marketers (in the broad sense). As for writing style, some pages are a bit “choppy” due to the overuse of point‐form style of writing and/or multiple subheadings with only a few sentences under each. It could be a matter of this reviewer's personal preference however: perhaps college students assigned this book as a textbook or readers interested in quick “take‐away points” actually prefer this style.

Each chapter ends with: a chapter summary, written in paragraph (not point) form; case studies, which are more comprehensive than the mini case studies within each chapter; a list of further readings; a list of questions, with possible answers supplied (these are in addition to the “Activities” sprinkled throughout each chapter); and a list of Web links (in addition to the ones within the chapter's text).

The case studies, which focus on Europe and appear to be carefully chosen to illustrate chapter content, are generally excellent and at the appropriate level of detail. Use of this book as a textbook is certainly enhanced by their presence, and the general reader will also find them extremely interesting, even without having studied the entire chapter in detail. The suggested readings are comprised mostly of books rather than newspaper, magazine or academic journal articles. It is questionable whether a significant number of readers would actually investigate a topic further by reading an entire book rather than consulting articles referenced in the chapter itself. Many of these books cover e‐commerce broadly rather than focus on a particular chapter‐related topic. Finally, the Web links have only extremely brief descriptions of the site content. Since numerous Web links are suggested for each chapter, it is time consuming to explore each one on an experiential basis. In this era of information overload, it would have been useful if the authors had suggested in more detail specific content/features of the sites that they deem especially worthy of attention. Nevertheless, it is useful to professors, students and marketers to have a list of sites, even if not every one of the sites is scrutinized.

The book also has a very useful list of abbreviations and a glossary. These features are helpful for the reader confused about what exactly (for example) EDI and CRM mean. There is an extensive set of references at the end of the book and numerous Web addresses for those wishing to explore or read further.

The Introduction clearly states the aim, rationale and structure of the book. Chapter 1, “History, definitions and frameworks,” gives a brief history of e‐commerce and the Web, and provides key definitions. The section on lessons from history and on the problems of the Internet are particularly interesting when considered against the background of generalized Internet hype. Chapter 2, “Marketing research,” begins with a concise overview of the marketing research process and then discusses using the internet for collecting both secondary and primary data. A section on ethics is included. Although problems with Internet research are briefly covered, the issues of validity, reliability and generalizability are probably inadequately addressed as far as an advanced academic audience is concerned. Chapter 3, “Change management,” discusses both the need for and the barriers to (including active resistance) organizational change when setting up click operations and when integrating brick and click. Sample topics include the necessary technology, leadership, communications, and change agents. The chapter ends with “A framework for implementing change” which is briefly written in point form. This reviewer would have liked more detail about this framework; perhaps a case study applying this framework point by point would make it clearer.

Chapter 4 is called simply “Strategy.” It discusses alternate mixes of brick and click, new organizational forms enabled by the Internet (such as virtual organizations), and the distinction strategically between B2B versus B2C. This is followed by Chapter 5, “Branding.” Most of this chapter is about the core issues of branding in general rather than specifically on the Internet. While this approach is advantageous (indeed essential) for a reader unschooled in the theory and practice of branding (such as a student without a prior marketing class), the chapter is a disappointment for the reader interested in Internet‐specific branding topics. Chapter 6 is about the very important topic of “Relationship management” and the first half of the chapter explains what this is in general. However, the second half of the chapter focuses on Internet‐based relationship management, covering such topics as mass customization of messages, dialog and learning relationships and online communities. Chapter 7, “Multi‐channel marketing,” focuses on new internet‐enabled communication channels such as radio, TV, phones and PDAs. The automation of “pushed” communication to users versus the current “pull” model (where the user seeks the message) is discussed as to its implications.

Chapter 8, “The marketing mix,” is about the four Ps (place, product, price, and promotion) with the additional “people, process, and physical evidence” briefly covered. This chapter is like Chapter 5 in that it is not Internet specific and does not emphasize those aspects of the four Ps that differentiate brick from click commerce. Chapter 9, “e‐Retailing,” begins with the advantageous and disadvantages of e‐retailing from the point of view of both shoppers and retailers. The balance of the chapter discusses retailer strategic options and success factors for e‐retailing.

Chapter 10, “Marketing planning” discusses the planning process, including the marketing audit, segmentation, positioning, targeting, implementation of the marketing mix, and evaluation/control. Unlike Chapter 3’s “Framework,” useful case examples of the planning process are given (often provided by other authors).

Finally, Chapter 11 is about “Legal, ethical and public policy issues.” This chapter is comprehensive in scope, covering topics such as copyright, privacy, the “digital divide” of unequal access, “inappropriate” content, and social responsibility. Of course no topic is covered in depth, given the space available. This chapter is least consistent with the book's goal of covering “e‐marketing as a tool for improving efficiency and effectiveness” and could be easily dropped. The book ends with a 1.5 page Conclusion whose purpose this reviewer could not ascertain.

Overall, the book is quite comprehensive and offers an overview of both general marketing concepts and e‐marketing (although, as noted, in some chapters the emphasis seems to be on the general rather than on the “e‐”). It is thus a very good introductory book for students (or other readers) who do not have an extensive background in marketing. Students and their professors will also appreciate the cases, the Web links and the glossary. However, someone already familiar with marketing in general could easily skip over one third of the book, and may become impatient with the time it takes in some chapters to reach the e‐marketing content. The book is also appropriate for practitioners who wish an overview of marketing and e‐commerce, especially for those running a brick business moving towards click. It is not a “how to” book however, nor does it claim to be. So for practitioners running click pure plays who are drowning in returns and order fulfillment problems (for example), this book is of little help.

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