Business consultant Jacques Habra’s greatest marketing triumph may have been finding his lost cat, Majnoon, who disappeared for three weeks. After an all-out electronic media blitz, Habra identified enough people who had spotted his cat that he could triangulate its location.
The founder and president of First Click, Inc., Habra will soon roll out a new website called getmycat.com which compiles all of the useful cat-searching information he learned while Majnoon was missing. (If you aren’t willing to shell out for infrared photo equipment, you might want to stick with flyers, though.) When I asked the big-brained business guru how this website will generate revenue, he looked at me quizzically and said, “It’s not supposed to make money. It’s supposed to help people find their cats.”
Despite Habra’s act of philanthropy, his cat-searching skills are of a piece with his online marketing bonafides. First Click, which recently changed its name, started out as an SEO consultancy. For those not initiated in the titillating acronymic lingo of online marketing, SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the fine art of getting a website to the top of a Google or Bing (or any search engine’s) results list and attracting potential customers to the site.
Getting customers to pay attention to one website in the vast sea of the internet is kind of like, well, getting them to pay attention to a lost cat in the middle of Santa Barbara.
Habra recently changed the name of his business from First Click SEO to First Click, Inc. because he is branching out his services to web development due to customer demand. Despite all the buzz about social media sites like Facebook and Twitter revolutionizing marketing, websites are still most businesses’ primary portal for potential customers.
One of the typical indices for whether web browsers are staying on a website is called “bounce rate.” It measures how many viewers leave a website (or bounce) rather than click to a page on the same site. First Click, however, focuses on “conversions,” some tangible contact with a potential customer — an email, a phone call, an RFP. They do their best to create media that engages customers such as the weekly web video on the real estate market featured on their client, Pacifica Real Estate Group’s website. Other area customers include Westmont College and Steve Handelman Studios.
Habra, who started a company called Web Elite as a senior at the University of Michigan, which he sold in 2001, has been lucky enough to work for himself his entire adult life. Still, he says, “Santa Barbara is a place for survivors.” The high cost of living leads to a limited applicant pool when it comes to hiring, and the small market means that business is competitive.
Habra believes he has been able to survive because of his liberal arts education as a philosophy and literature major in Wolverine country. That background has given him the ability to think critically about his clients’ businesses and to listen to their needs, he told me when I stopped by his office on State and Islay Streets recently. “In a tech world full of programmers and designers, I was able to ask the right questions.”