International powerhouse America Online has given Tom Warner and his company an opportunity to do just that. Warner was approached by AOL’s Digital City about linking his company’s web site to their page. In addition, Warner signed a six–month contract to sponsor the Washington Redskins “Redskins Slam” on AOL.
The icon at the top features Warner in his “Super Plumber” outfit flashing the words “Go Skins.”
“We’re getting some new customers out of it,” says Warner, whose family-run company originates back to the 1870s. “We’re not advertising anywhere else — just on America Online.”
Statistics from AOL show the ballooning affect of linking to a service with 10 million subscribers (another 2.6 million subscribers will join after the CompuServe deal is completed).
Dare Johnson, account executive for Digital City Washington, says that since Warner’s site (Keyword: Redskins Slam) went up on July 29, it has grown in hits. According to Johnson, 9.8 hours (224 hits) were spent on Warner’s page in August. Since football season has begun that number has shot up to 73.8 hours (1,846 hits) in September.
“Tom started advertising with AOL and we started talking about different things,” Johnson says. “It is great to have a web site, but once it is posted the site just floats out there. People need to link to services like ours.”
America Online took the site (washington.digitalcity.com/warnerplumb) over from Warner in early August and has been slowly redesigning it.
“It’s been fascinating,” says Warner. “We built the site ourselves, and they took it over and sped up the page. It’s like they put grease all over the site.”
Warner’s company is unique because he offers area technical directors and area plumbing directors. Technicians deal with the same area over and over again. The web site offers customers the chance to see who will be servicing the call before it is assigned.
“The site gives the customer the chance to meet the technician who is going to show up at their house,” says Warner. “We’re very proud of our technicians, and the strength of this program.”
Right now the site lists zip codes, and you need to locate your respective code among the bunch. Warner says AOL is going to change the site to a form to type in the zip code.
“His web site is going to be dynamic and easy to use,” says Johnson. “We’re going to update it from time to time, but we are going to be training them on how to update the page themselves.”
“Updating is absolutely crucial,” says Warner. “If the page changes very slowly or not at all, people won’t have a reason to look at it more than once.”
Warner says that he is in the process of developing a wide array of new features that will encourage people to revisit often.
“This clearly is a new medium that is here to stay,” Warner says. “Those who get in on the ground floor will be the ones most able to reap maximum benefits.”
Johnson says that as the AOL’s 25 Digital Cities continue to expand, so will links like Warner’s. She says AOL is having meetings on how to roll the program out nationally.
“I’m happy to talk to anyone with a web site and how to link it to our site,” says Johnson.
“It’s been a challenge, as a service company, to sell on the Internet,” adds Warner. “But I think we’ve crossed that hump now.”