Glenview Trader leaves Merc and starts internet marketing company
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:03AM
Several years ago Glenview entrepreneur Bob Hunt left his job as a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and decided to put his Internet marketing talents to good use by launching his own company aimed at helping local businesses optimize their online presence.
Deviating from the traditional 9-5 corporate career, the 34-year-old Hunt now works as his own boss operating The B24 Group, a start-up Internet marketing company that offers a variety of online marketing services to businesses in the North Shore area and beyond.
Two years since starting his company, Hunt has so far proven himself as a successful business owner, adding more than 25 clients and four employees to what started as a one-man endeavor in 2010.
Working around-the-clock from anywhere with an Internet connection, Hunt is focused on helping local businesses grow by widening their customer bases and increasing sales through a variety of tools including automated lead capture and follow-up systems, Google Places optimization, specialized YouTube videos, and text message marketing.
Hunt’s list of Internet marketing services has expanded during the two years since he started The B24 Group, but the initial idea for the company started with his objective to help businesses increase their search engine optimization, or achieve better rankings on Google search results pages.
Hunt, a Glenview native and graduate of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, first got his feet wet in Internet marketing after he left his job as a trader in 2004 and started following his interests in marketing and web site creation.
Fully confident that the last place he wanted to be was in an office working for someone else, Hunt began deeper exploration of his personal interests and talents by writing e-books on topics like dating, silver and gold investing, and a variety of health topics including pet health.
Needing an effective way to get readers to find his e-books online, he taught himself the best ways to use SEO to get his sites ranked higher on Google search results pages.
“After I learned how to get web sites ranked through SEO, I noticed there were a lot of businesses that could use my help getting found online,” Hunt said. “That’s when I decided to help local businesses with Internet marketing.”
Hunt named The B24 Group after his grandfather, also named Bob Hunt, who was a bombardier in WWII in a B24 heavy bomber aircraft. His plane was shot down during a mission over Europe, but Hunt survived and was interned in Switzerland, which was considered a neutral safe zone during the war.
“He has always been an inspiration to me,” Hunt said. “What he did was help liberate Europe from the Nazis, and I help liberate local businesses from a bad economy, bad web sites and bad Internet marketing, which is why I named it after the B24 Liberator.”
Although Hunt founded his company with the goal of helping businesses increase SEO, he has since added on additional services that reflect the newest innovations in Internet marketing, including an automated lead capture and follow-up system.
The system works by targeting prospective customers automatically with a variety of marketing methods like e-mail, voice mail, text messaging and mail, and then follows up automatically with those clients over a certain time period.
Hunt says failing to properly follow up with potential clients is one area where many business owners are losing money.
“Once a business captures a lead, the system automatically makes five to 12 follow-ups with the prospective customers through different marketing channels, and that increases sales immediately,” Hunt said. “Eighty percent of sales are made after making contact five or more times, so if a business isn’t following up they’re leaving lots of money on the table—this is the easiest and most effective thing a business can do to increase sales.”
As part of the service, the automated lead capture system lets Hunt’s clients see their results by instantly tracking the return on investment, which Hunt says frees business owners up so they can concentrate on what they’re best at — selling their product and running their business.
The B24 Group also offers a mobile mass text messaging service that aims to help merchants bring in customers immediately by sending out limited-time special offers or discounts via mass text message. Hunt began offering the text service last month and several businesses have already signed up.
Now that he’s established a promising career working as his own boss, Hunt said he wouldn’t have it any other way — but he also admits that working for yourself isn’t always a cakewalk.
“I had huge problems with procrastination at the beginning,” he said. “There were always daily distractions because you’re on your own and can basically get up in the morning and do what you want.”
Six months ago he tackled those demons by mapping out his days by the hour to avoid falling off-track. Keeping a detailed schedule of how he spends each hour of his day has helped him prioritize and focus on the needs of his business.
“Planning out my days the night before has been a tremendous help,” Hunt said. “For me it was about learning how to build routines and develop good habits while taking action toward your biggest goal each day.”
Some of The B24 Group’s local clients include Chiropractic First in Evanston, The Appliance King in Northbrook, Dr. Gruby in Glenview and other Chicago-area businesses.
For more information on The B24 Group, go to www.b24group.com.