Thomas Young Gazette Interview
Intuitive Website CEO Thomas Young recently sat down with the Colorado Springs Gazette for a Q&A on a variety of topics. They spoke about the beginnings of Intuitive Websites, where we are headed, and what makes is different.
Thomas Young was born in Madrid, Spain, where his father was stationed in the Air Force. The family traveled with the service, landing in Colorado Springs when he was in third and fourth grades, and again when he was in high school. Young graduated from Doherty High School in 1980, attended the University of Northern Colorado on a swimming scholarship and returned to Colorado Springs, where he worked as a sales and marketing manager for a publishing company.
Young got the bug to become an entrepreneur in 1999 after he earned an MBA in Organizational Management from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He began consulting in sales and marketing in 2001 and formed Intuitive Websites in 2004.
Young just published his second book, “Winning the Website War: Four Steps to Marketing Success,” which details the strategy he uses for his clients.
Question: What does Intuitive Websites do, and what is your four-step process?
Answer: We started as a software usability testing company, doing user testing for Memorial Hospital and Intrawest (the owner of mountain resorts, including Steamboat). Now we focus on building websites for our clients by first, developing a strategic direction including marketing and branding plans to align their website with their market. This defines a road map for step two. Step two is design and development. We don’t build any website until we have the strategic plan in place. When we started in 1999, no one thought strategically. Now there is a huge market place for strategic planning with websites. Step three is to bring in traffic to the site with search engine optimization, (SEO), Ad Words, email marketing, social media and content. The final step is monitoring and measuring the results so the website becomes an active, living, breathing marketing thing you look at every week.
Q: What is the fastest growing part of your business?
A: Our fastest growing part is the monthly retainer programs. We function as the outside marketing department for the client. We take care of all of their web needs from development design to marketing, and then we push the fourth step, which is tracking their returns using tools like Google Analytics. This has been fast growing because our clients can see their return on their investment with us.
Q: How did the recession affect your business?
A: When the recession first happened, we actually grew. We had excellent years in ’08, ’09 and even ’10, because people needed to market all of a sudden. We saw a drop off about ’12 and last year, but business is starting to pick back up again. I kind of see the work we do as leading indicators almost, because as soon as business owners start to think “we need more business so let’s get some help,” they call us.
Q: What experiences have prepared you for your success?
A: I was an athlete all my life, first swimming, then a triathlete and now a tennis player. So I know you that you get good success when you work hard at something, and you’re not going to perform well if you’re not balanced in your life. The other thing I do is I always respond to people. I know it sounds simple, but I respond immediately and that makes a big difference.
Q: What advice would you offer entrepreneurs?
A: I would suggest they check out Vistage as a resource. It’s the world’s largest CEO roundtable organization where CEOs get together and help each other improve their businesses. It’s a very powerful organization. We have three groups here in town and I’m also a speaker and presenter to Vistage groups. I do about five to 10 presentations a year and that brings in a ton of business.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Colorado Springs business climate?
A: I’ve always wanted to do more work in Colorado Springs but it’s always been a challenge. I feel there’s not enough private industry here to have its own momentum. There is still such an influx of the government and military and that impacts wages and the ability of a company like mine to really thrive in this town. I would like to see an improvement in infrastructure so we can make this a more viable place and attractive place for enterprises to come in. I see how Denver is booming and thriving and I know Colorado Springs could thrive, too.