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E-business can boost your organisation's image without busting the IT budget

Daniel Thomas
Businesses will show how they are managing their public image with e-business projects this week at the three-day Internet World conference in London.

Computer Weekly spoke to some of the companies making presentations at the conference about promoting their brand, improving online communication and retaining customers without a huge marketing budget.

Royal Mail will reveal that a new extranet has enabled it to manage its brand more efficiently - a key requirement with hundreds of people involved in the production of items carrying and representing the Royal Mail brand every day.

The extranet, developed by supplier Rufus Leonard, allowed Royal Mail's brand management team to rationalise a number of different sources, said Susan Lewis, service brand manager at the organisation.

"Making the brand more consistent is important to us, but the proliferation of information in various libraries and fewer people in the team meant this was difficult," she said. "The extranet allowed us to centralise our identity."

Brand will also be the focus of the FA Premier League, which will reveal how it uses the internet to market to football fans at home and abroad.

"The site is designed to strengthen the brand globally and act as a portal to lead supporters to individual clubs," said Martin Axford, manager of premier league.com. "As an official outlet, we expect the site to be the first port of call for users to see important statements about, for example, dubious goals."

Virgin Trains will be outlining how a content management system on its new dedicated media website improved internal efficiency and communication with journalists.

The Controlsite system, from supplier Goss Interactive, enables the site to be updated more regularly and quickly, said Tom Everett, communication manager at Virgin Trains.

"When there is any sort of rail incident we can now update the site in about five minutes," he said. "The media site looks the same as our corporate website but we have removed all the extras, such as Flash, to ensure it works as quickly as possible."

Online travel site aggregator Cheapflights.co.uk will reveal how it has become one of the top five travel websites with 1.3 million unique users without a huge spend on marketing - a reversal of the usual internet model.

"Unlike most pure internet companies, we do not spend much on advertising. In fact, we have only spent £600,000 since 1996," said David Soskin, chief executive at Cheapflights.

"We tried to create a 'mousetrap' [a product so good users keep returning to the site] by investing in a continual programme of content and technological improvements.

"For example, we have implemented search technology to allow users to find the cheapest flights, regardless of their destination," Soskin said.

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