Hard to believe 2013 marks our 15th year of business. It seems like only yesterday my brother Andy and I were meeting for lunch to discuss a business opportunity he saw in the area of web design. Keep in mind this is 1997 and search engines while in existence for several years by that time certainly had not become mainstream and there really wasn’t much of a business in online marketing. In fact online marketing at that time really had one channel, search engine ranking. Paid search or PPC came along in 1998.
But I digress. The Info Group officially launched in April of 1998, unfortunately I could not find any record on the exact day, but the initial business model was web design, development and web maintenance. We had zero employees, just the two partners (Andy & I) and some outsourcing we had gotten from Andy’s other company Stonebridge Technologies.
During the first 6 months of business I had a revelation, in part because I realized I personally was not a great graphic artist and not a huge fan of coding but also in part because I was really intrigued with those sites called search engines. I really thought they were an important resource that was being woefully under-appreciated by the general public and in particular businesses. So as I developed websites for clients and for internal use (developing sites just to learn how) I began submitting them to the search engines around at the time, Magellan, Infoseek and DirectHit just to name a few. I then began to tweak things on the sites to see what impact I could make on “ranking” them in the results and low and behold I could make a big difference in rankings. I was hooked!
This led me to scouring the internet for hours looking for any information on how to improve results. Again, at the time there were very few people dedicated to this and even less written information to find on the subject. However, I soon had enough experience from my efforts and the knowledge I was able to get from reading what had worked with other people I put a process together and began to get all of the websites I worked on rankings consistently.
The next hurdle became selling this service. In late 1998 we took on our first search engine ranking client. Although the deal was small compared to where we are today, it was huge in my mind because the entire process up to that point had ignited a new passion in me. I absolutely loved getting websites to rank in the search engines! Over the next year our selling became easier as we were able to show results (ranking reports actually were accurate at that time) and businesses began to embrace this new form of marketing as a legitimate channel. And so began this incredible 15 year journey.
So what has changed over the last 15 years? Too many things to list in this post however we have come full circle in that our web design business has become very successful (no I’m not doing the graphics or coding) but one thing in particular has remained consistent and that is our commitment to the client. When a business signs on with us they don’t deal with a salesperson who turns them over to a project manager who only is accessible via a help desk or when a call is scheduled. Every client has direct access to both Andy & me. We will take a call without notice and won’t hesitate to get in the car and meet face to face. This approach to customer service seems to be getting lost in our ever changing high-tech world but as long as our doors are open it will remain our foundation.
Thanks to all of the clients, present and past who have graced our doors. We look forward to the next 15 years, and the next, and the next!