Do What is Right in Business, Give Back

The last few years have been tough for many Americans and tougher for many of the builders and real estate professionals we have the pleasure of working with.  When I founded my company in 1995 I named it Builder Consulting because we were building computers, networks and websites while providing computer and Internet consulting.  I knew many people in the real estate industry so naturally that was a strong part of the business with many of the builders taking my word that this whole ‘Internet Thing’ was going to be BIG.My little ‘hobby’ business went from an extra bedroom at my house to a Main Street office with clients worldwide because of the customers.  When customers started calling and stating they could no longer pay for website hosting, updates or marketing we had a choice to make.  I met with our accounting staff and told them if the customer is legitimately unable to pay and having trouble then Internet Builder Consulting was going to pay it for them and help keep them in business.

My accountant told me it was a bad idea, my office manager actually fought with me about it (she is no longer with the company) but my heart said that we help people when they need it rather than hurt.  These were the people and companies that helped us succeed and the last thing we needed to do was take down their websites so no customers could find them and no leads would come in.  The decision was bad for ‘business’ costing nearly $25,000 in services we paid for customers in the first year alone but I believe it is the way business should operate.  Business should not be just about money, making more and taking more from people – it should be about helping and making things better.

Some of the customers were literally shocked when I called them back to let them know we would be paying for their services until they got back on their feet.  Wallen Builders was a successful New Mexico builder/developer that called to say they were having financial troubles and could not pay to complete the new website.  I called them back and told them we would finish the website, host it and market it for the rest of the year at no charge to help.  Unfortunately it was not enough and they closed the following year but the marketing director, Gia Tidle  let us know that what we did helped them survive and pay their staff a few months longer.

Gary Bringus of Heartland Homes spent his last marketing money with another ‘builder design’ firm who took his money and never produced a website for him.  When he contacted us and asked for help we designed and built him a new website for 1/2 of what we normally charge.  Heartland Homes built some beautiful custom homes throughout Kansas City until the market crash and medical issues nearly closed the business.  In 2010 Heartland Homes made the call to turn off the website and save every penny they could to pay medical bills from nearly a year Gary spent in the hospital.

Rather than turning off the website we looked at the situation and agreed to pay for the services until he was back on his feet and business was stable.  After a few years of paying for customers websites, hosting and marketing it did add up to a significant amount of money that was causing occasional cash flow issues for Internet Builder Consulting so I choose to pay it out of my own pocket.  The last few years I have paid myself around $15,000 a year as the CEO of one of the top Website, SEO and Social Marketing firms in the country.  It’s was easier than I expected to go from making $175,000+ a year to what is considered poverty but I did it and I live a happy full life not needing anything.

Business is not about how much money you make, it is about how many people and companies you are able to help.  Internet Builder Consulting has been recognized as The Best Place to Work in Kansas City 4 times now and we have a happy team of the top experts in the country who do what they love and take care of customers.  Since 1995 I have never worried about the money, there were been several start-ups I was involved with that brought in more money than I ever thought I could spend.  Money has never been my goal, being the best at what we do, knowing the Internet, Search Engines, social networks inside and out and actually watching the people we work with succeed because of what we did for them is what drives me.

I had to make some adjustments in life to take a zillion percent pay-cut but it made things much simpler and more manageable.  Until things are better and the people who helped us grow the business from a side hobby to one of the top website, SEO and Social Marketing firms in the country are back on their feet I will continue to pay.  There is always another day and another dollar but there may not always be another chance to help a company or a friend stay in business when times are tough!

If you believe in what you do, the people around you and doing what is right than putting your money where your heart is makes sense.

Robert ‘Dot Com’ Jackson

Internet Expert, CEO

Internet Builder Consulting

816-842-7774

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More Than a Pretty Face: Website Usability & Cosmetic Appeal

When building a website there are specific business and marketing items to consider including:

1. What is the Purpose? –  Is the website to promote an event, specific product or service and is the goal to sell or brand a product, service or business?

2. Who is the Target Audience? – this is important in terms of knowing how buyers shop, what information they are looking for and even specific considerations like where they use the Internet, what types of Internet Connections they have, what size monitors are they using and how long the buying cycle is for specific products or services.

A promotional or branding website can be ‘pretty’ and simple because promoting an event, movie or soft drink is something people will expect to be entertaining and easy with more style than content.  A website to sell electronics or houses must be ‘more than a pretty face’ because buyers want details, information, specifications (how large is the TV, how many watts is the stereo amplifier, how big is the home, where are homes located and what homes are for sale).

As a website development and online marketing firm with 17 years experience we look at the entire picture, analyze customer business, who our customer has as a customer, look at the online competition for search engine rankings and then determine what the best solution is.  When designing a navigation menu, the layout, usability and flow of a website keep the main items within 2 clicks from the Home Page for the best results.  Buyers never want to ‘search for’ anything or feel ‘stupid’ because they could not find important information easily.

Websites that use large animations (FLASH),  music that plays automatically or HUGE images that take up the entire screen are losing money and costing companies business.  The majority of real estate websites are viewed between 10AM and 4PM between Monday and Friday when people are at their office with High Speed Internet and a nice printer to print details on the homes buyers like with plans to view them on weekends. Saturday and Sunday are the two lowest traffic days on a real estate website.

There MUST BE Text on the Home Page of the website and a well developed structure for Search Engine Optimization or buyers will never find the website.  Having a pretty website that is not ranking well on Search Engines is like having the ‘Best Billboard in Town sitting in a Basement’ – it may look great but it was just an expensive pretty item that produced no results. 

Keep the main information ‘above the threshold’ of monitor viewing and use the KISS rule when designing for the masses – Keep it Simple (never make users feel) Stupid.  If the lowest common denominator cannot use the website (someone with a small monitor, low speed Internet, no experience online, etc.) then that buyer will be lost and that costs a company money.  Pretty and Functional can exist together although given the choice make a website easy to use and easy to make a ‘buying decision’ above making it nice to look at.

If you have a question or would like an expert consultation contact the Internet Experts at 816-842-7774 or email the Website Experts online for a free consultation!

Robert ‘Dot Com’ Jackson
Internet & Technology Expert
Internet Builder Consulting – Building BETTER Websites, SEO and Social Marketing Solutions since 1995