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The Internet is the most powerful communications tool ever created.  Search for, or “Google” a term, topic or phrase and you will face an avalanche of pages offering information, places to purchase, facts, and opinions.  With more than 124 billion Web pages…yes, billion, how do we really know what is the truth, who has an agenda, and ultimately who can we trust in this faceless world of information?

If you Google “rubber mulch” more than 302,000 pages come up.  That is pretty impressive as there are only a few companies in the world that produce the product.  If you just type in the word “mulch” it will take you a while to get through the pile as there are 7.3 million entries.  7.3 million pages about mulch.  If memory serves me correctly my old set of encyclopedias had one entry – it was straightforward and offered no opinion.  Back then we relied on conversation, word-of mouth and trial and error.  Sometimes we chose wisely and sometimes not, but we learned from the experience.

I frequently search the Web to see what is being written about rubber mulch and recycled rubber products and am more often than not left shaking my head at the misinformation that is being populated in this medium.  When most people make a purchase of any sizeable amount they do some research, visit a store to speak with a salesperson, take it for a test drive, sit on it to see if it is comfortable or ask to try it out.  The one step that is often missing is to ask to speak with someone who actually has the product.  At IMC we have a sales team, but often our greatest sales group is our customers.  Call us and we will give you a place where you can see our product, not just in a photo, but in the real world – we believe in our product that much.  If you feel the need to ring the bell and ask the homeowner about how our products have performed, we encourage that type of communication.

In our mind, the best consumer is one that is educated about the product and the one who has received unbiased information about the product.  Basically, they have gone back to a time before the Internet where conversation has helped them determine whether or not to buy.

I leave you at the end of 2008 with a question to ponder and perhaps a resolution to put into place for 2009.

What would the world be like if the Internet disappeared tomorrow and we were all forced to think on our own and navigate through life without an electronic guide?  For some the prospect is frightening, for others exhilarating.  Could you go a week without the Internet?  Could you make your next purchase by asking trusted friends rather than reading what anonymous others think?  Give it a try and the world may seem even larger than it already does on the World Wide Web.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you again in 2009.