SmartFinds helps biz brave the electronic frontier while creating jobs

Advertising used to be as easy as buying space in the local newspaper or broadcast time on radio and TV stations. Those strategies seem downright prehistoric in the age of websites, text messages and iTunes. SmartFinds Internet Marketing, however, aims to help businesses navigate through the brave new world of electronic information.

The downtown Birmingham-based company specializes in helping businesses understand how people use the Internet and how to adjust their advertising and marketing campaigns accordingly. They promote their expertise as ways for businesses to maximize both advertising and marketing efforts (yes, there is a distinct difference) in new economy mediums, like the Internet.

"There's more to the Internet than websites and search engines," says Melih (pronounced may-lee) Oztalay, CEO of SmartFinds. "There are all of these ways to drive people to your business without relying on search engines."

But how SmartFinds made its way to where it is today is the more interesting story. The company started in 1994 as an Internet Service Provider but has morphed into its current Internet consulting business, employing 15 people as well as a number of contractors.

Its list of clients includes companies like Delphi, Flagstar Bank and Big Boy restaurants. Oztalay says his firm attracts those types of heavy hitters because they are "on a higher level and expect a higher level of service."

That higher level of service means doing more than moving an old newspaper ad onto a website banner. It means taking advantage of both traditional advertising while doing other little things, such as improving the company's brand through traditional media stories (like this one).

Helping business bridge those gaps has helped SmartFinds grow about 1,000 percent in recent years. Partly because SmartFinds sees the ever changing demographic of Internet marketing as providing more avenues for companies to accomplish their goals.

Source: Melih Oztalay, CEO of SmartFinds
Writer: Jon Zemke