ThoughtLava has transitioned from a Web development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company to a Software as a Service (SaaS) company over the last year. This is a brief story of our success and my role:
I founded ThoughtLava and built a base of clientele from zero to over 50 within four years, with an average annual revenue per client greater than $20,000. My method of closing new business is to quickly identify three or four business drivers (activities that will increase revenue) and show how the Web can partner to achieve those objectives. While, in my opinion, the most important function for a website is lead capture, the conversion of a visitor into a prospect is critical. I have found the higher the relevance the higher the likelihood that a visitor will provide contact information. To that end, we developed patent pending technology enabling websites to recognize representatives of specific market segments upon arrival and deliver a more meaningful experience. We began marketing our technology - Semanticator™ - as a license in February 2008. We now have more than ten companies licensing from industries like automotive, floral, publishing, hospitality and transportation/storage.ThoughtLava is a virtual operation with personnel scattered across the United States, India and Australia. Through our use of technology, we have been able to build strong relationships with public, global companies as a unified organization. I led our company to adopt 100% Web 2.0 applications to operate our business - project management, communication, customer relationship management, accounting, etc. Even our presentations are delivered via Web applications. This enables us to be effective on any computer connected to the Internet. With regard to managing our developers in India, we initially experienced 70% accuracy due to misinterpretation and ambiguity within requirements. To resolve this issue, we began using another Web application that enabled us to create rapid prototypes for each Web project which increased developer accuracy to 95%. This is successful for two reasons. First, it allows our clients to become more involved in the process - they find it easier to contribute when playing with a functioning prototype versus reviewing business, functional and technical requirements. Second, our Indian developers deal with less ambiguity when a prototype accompanies the traditional requirements documentation.We use guerrilla marketing to accomplish our client acquisition goals. Each of the three principals have been extremely active in social media networks like LinkedIn and Plaxo - having networks in excess of 400 contacts. Our only rule: don't connect unless you know them. These networks have resulted in the majority of our business opportunities. In addition, I participate in other social networks like Twitter - by following those in my target market, I have found that 80% will begin following me. This gives me direct, instant access via computer or smart phone to hundreds of opinion leaders that not only find what we do interesting, but can take action. I have also found "Comment Marketing" to be a fertile activity. I monitor hundreds of blogs read by my target market using Google Reader. On a daily basis I look for opportunities to be relevant. Several times each day, I contribute comments on blogs that are related to our work - always promoting our product, albeit subtly. This has resulted in significant qualified traffic to our websites (http://www.semanticator.com and http://www.thoughtlava.com) and my blog (http://thoughtlava.typepad.com/mindflow/). I am constantly on the look out for press opportunities, using services like ProfNet and HelpAReporter.com. Recently, I was published in "Website Magazine" for my work in the Semantic Web or Web 3.0 (http://tinyurl.com/4al8tx).