by Tom Snyder on May 10, 2006


A few weeks ago, a stranger walked into our office.

No big deal, it happens frequently. Sometimes it's a courier dropping off something from a client or a vendor. Frequently it's a lost soul trying to find the office of one of our neighbors. More often than not, it's a salesperson.

Despite our prominent location, and the over 100,000 cars that drive by our office and see our logo every day, I don't believe we had ever had someone show up in our lobby to talk about doing business with us.

sidebar2.jpgBut this time it was just that: it was someone who wanted to talk to us about being a customer!

Over the years, he had mostly done his own Web stuff, but lately had been relying on "some guys" to do it instead. But he had come to a point where he was being let down with bad service and second-rate deliverables. So he had decided to get serious and needed to enlist the help of an expert. And he came to us.

I asked him how he found out about us, and he told me that he's been on our newsletter list since 1997 and has read every issue. I was honored. And I wasn't really surprised, as over the years I've had countless people come up to me tell me how much they enjoy our newsletters and informative they find these articles. What IS surprising is how many people read these, tell me how helpful the information is, but don't actually use it.

Admittedly, we have covered a lot of ground since we started these newsletters back in 1997. In nearly 60 issues, we've shared our expertise in just about every single area of Web strategy. From pre-project discovery and research through development and implementation to post launch support and promotion. We've kept you up to date on all the current best practices for email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click strategies, content management, and more... lots more. Our newsletters have been reprinted in print and on the Web. Some of our articles have caught the attention of the media and gotten us interviewed on the radio, TV and Webcasts.

But none of this information is worth the digital impulses that carry it to your browser or your brain unless you decide to use it. As many of our customers (and all our honest competitors) will attest, it's all right on. Admittedly, it would be difficult and expensive to do everything we recommend. But is that a valid excuse not to?

That boils down to how serious you are about being successful on the Web.

Back in 1997, one customer of ours who had just started a business decided to put himself into our hands. He said "tell me what I need to do and I'll do it." So we worked with him to develop his strategy... e-commerce with the features that re-enforced his brand and his business model; multiple Web sites for different markets; weekly bulk emails to his customers with success tracking and improvement metrics; search engine optimization and pay per click programs; aggressive promotion of the Web sites in print and broadcast; constant content and feature upgrades and enhancements.

It wasn't easy for him to invest this much trust and effort. He had previously attempted several business ventures, but none of them panned out. But with this one, he saw the power of the Web, and wanted to make sure he didn't screw it up. Doing everything we told him he needed to do was at times a real stretch for him, and in the early days, a financial challenge. But he trusted us because he was confident that we knew what we were talking about, and that we would take our responsibility very seriously.

And most importantly, we both knew that on the Web, as in life, success doesn't just find you, you need to relentlessly pursue it until you catch it.

And 9 years later, because of his relentless pursuit, he now owns the top positions in all the major search engines for all of his keywords. He has an email list of over a quarter million addresses. But perhaps the most important, and relevant statistic: in 2005, he caught success in the form of $70 million in sales.

Are his results typical? No. But his willingness to trust our advice enough to act on it all is not typical either. Is there a correlation?

We can't state for sure, but of the hundreds of clients who have come to us over our ten years in business, there are three categories. At one end, we have our Hall of Fame... the small number of successful businesses and organizations who look to us to provide expertise and guidance. They rely on us to create and execute quality Web initiatives. They chase success and in many cases catch it. On the other end, are the ones who were underperforming monuments to stubborn reluctance, who feared the cost, tried to cut corners, and assumed that success would somehow still manage to find them, and are now just memories.

Chances are, you are one of the people in the middle. You're someone who reads our newsletters every month. You nod your head in silent agreement at much of what we tell you is necessary for your success, but you still don't do it, believing that somehow success will catch you anyway. And you're constantly disappointed with your results.

Someone once said unless you change direction, you'll end up where you're headed. And while you may be moving, the terms of success are constant. So the question is whether you are moving toward success or away from it.

Next month we'll give you a checklist for Web success. For most of our readers it will be an eye opener as they realize how much they're NOT doing. Your response to this article and next month's checklist will be the answer. You may start chasing success by taking this seriously, re-reading previous newsletters and resolving to plan a winning strategy. Better late than never.

Or you may unsubscribe. And while we'll be disappointed, we won't try to get you you to reconsider. Because it's not our style to chase people.

Kinda like success.

-Tom Snyder


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