With the proliferation of the Internet, even brick-and-mortar businesses have realized the value of having an online presence. There is a ton of information on how to use the Internet to network and create relationships with prospects and customers, but most of it is based on Internet-only or other national/international businesses.
Since this series of courses has been created for the new small entrepreneur, I shall limit our discussion to the basic Internet tools that all businesses can use. These include owning your own domain name, using email servers, newsletters, autoresponders, and basic websites. I shall go into how all of these interconnect with your off-line media to create a well-balanced marketing plan.
Although there is a lot of other methods of communicating out on the Internet -- such as social media, instant messaging, and videos which we discuss in other articles on the site - you need to get good at these basic skills first. Any good marketing plan needs a proper foundation and learning these skills with give you the foundation in which to insert all of the other goodies.
A Little History Lesson
Although you don't need to know the history of the Internet to use it with the modern browsers we have, any discussion of the subject wouldn't be complete without knowing how we got here. I think that most people would be surprised to know the event that sparked the long road to the modern Internet was the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite, by the USSR in 1957.
In response to this, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to make sure that the U.S. military had the lead in science and technology. In 1962, the U.S. Air Force commissioned the RAND Corporation (a government agency) to find out how it could maintain control of its missiles and bombers after a nuclear attack. They wanted a military research network that could not only survive a nuclear attack, but could be used to launch a counter-attack.
What they came up with is something called a packet switch network. It works by breaking the message down into 'packets' of information. Each packet has a label to indicate where it comes from and where it is suppose to go to. The packets can take several routes through the network to arrive at the destination and if the destination notes that one is missing, it just sends a message to the origination point to resend that part. That way messages could be successfully sent even if part of the network was blown up.
In 1968, ARPA contracted BBN to build the first network, which they called ARPANET. It was built in 1969 with a Honeywell minicomputer and connected four nodes: University of California LA, SRI in Stanford, University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. It had a speed of only 50Kbps.
In 1972, Ray Tomlinson at BBN created the first email program and ARPA was renamed The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which still is doing research today. While the system worked, they found the biggest drawback was that by using their Network Control Protocol (NCP), all the computers had to running on the same network.
To solve this, in 1973, work began on a new protocol that would allow different computer networks to communicate with each other which came to be known as TCP/IP. It is named from two of the most important protocols in it: the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), which were the first two networking protocols.
Note: In 1974, the term Internet was first used in a research paper on TCP by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn.
1976 was a busy year. Dr Robert M Metcalfe develops Ethernet, which allowed packets to move to data extremely fast over coaxial cable. This makes Local Area Networks (LANs) possible. The Atlantic packet Satellite network (SATNET) was also created, which linked the United States and Europe using INTELSAT satellites.
In 1977, AT&T Bell Labs released the UNIX operating system and the Department of Defense decided to switch to the TCP/IP protocol. There were now 111+ host computers connected to the network.
In 1979, Steve Bellovin, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, along with programmers Tom Truscott Jim Ellis, created the USENET (the decentralized news group network) based on UNIX. Users read and post public messages to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles bulletin board systems (BBS) in most respects, and is the precursor to the various web forums which are widely used today. IBM also came out with BITNET (Because its Time Network), which was used to forward email and listservs, the first electronic mailing list software application that could email to a group of people.
The National Science Foundation created a new backbone network called CSNET in 1981 for institutions without access to the ARPANET. Vinton Cerf proposed that an inter-network connection be formed between CSNET and the ARPANET.