NATCHEZ — Authors dream of having their book profiled on Oprah Winfrey’s TV talk show because it is a sure fire route to the bestseller list. But who would have guessed that an appearance on “Oprah!” by the founder of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste would lead to skyrocketing sales for the diaper cream?
And lead to a significant new account for the Natchez-based Internet Web host and development company, MissLou Internet, which stepped in quickly when Boudreaux’s previous ISP was unable to handle the 70,000 hits on the company’s Web site that occurred as a result of the television appearance.
Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is a diaper cream that is also favored by athletes at Louisiana State University (LSU) and elsewhere to prevent chafing. The product has been featured in People magazine and on ESPN. Jay Leno mentioned Butt Paste on “The Tonight Show,” and ESPN joked that it was the LSU Tigers’ secret weapon in winning the 2003 NCAA national championship in football.
“It is fantastic for chafing,” said company founder George Boudreaux. “Guys this big and hot, they get chafed. A lot of major league teams are using our product now. Lance Armstrong uses it. A lot of bikers, hikers and triathletes use it.”
Boudreaux recently appeared on “Oprah!” for a segment on companies with quirky ideas that have been successful. As you would expect of a product with “Butt” in the name, the piece on “Oprah!” was tongue-in-cheek.
“It was a satirical thing, but well done,” Boudreaux said. “It was over five minutes long and ran several times. It was a hoot, and the response was overwhelming. Businesses we had been trying to place our product with for a long time suddenly started calling. It took a while to get everyone on board, and the product is now available to all drug stores and major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. We’re having a lot of fun, and the product is doing well.”
The company saw 70,000 hits on their Web site in 24 hours, and the company’s previous Internet development and hosting firm couldn’t handle the traffic.
“We lost a lot of sales,” Boudreaux said. “We had to turn our Web site completely off until we contacted MissLou Internet out of Natchez, which got us back online and taking orders again just a few hours after our initial call to them. They are able to provide us with unlimited reception of e-mails. We went with them because they are real progressive. We find them to be very receptive to anything we have asked them to do. They have been very, very easy to work with.”
Responding to the dramatic increase in traffic on their Web site was critical to picking up new customers. Now the product is in most drugs stores, 3,300 Wal-Marts and 1,250 Target stores. Boudreaux expects their sales to double to $4 million this year.
The company that took over hosting the Boudreaux Butt Paste Web site, allowing the company to seize the moment, is run by father-and-son team Bill and William Adkins. The proprietary software that was used to quickly launch the Web site on the MissLou server was developed by the son, William.
“Our proprietary technology that we use in all of our applications allowed us to put up a full blown e-commerce site in about 20 minutes,” William said. “MissLou is a tier-one data center, a top of the line data center that goes directly into the backbone of the Internet and has triple redundancy as far as server connections and power. Even during hurricanes, MissLou has been able to continue to stay online to serve clients. Another important feature that Boudreaux liked is our burstable bandwidth. No matter how many people come to the site, the bandwidth expands like a rubber band to meet the demand.”
William describes the burstable bandwidth technology as a “sponge.”
“You put a little water in there, and eventually a sponge will fill up,” he said. “What do you want it to do? It’s like ordering a hamburger. Do you want lettuce, onions, pickles or a little bacon on side? Since I build it, I can go in to make it do what individual clients need. It is very versatile and can be done on a short time frame. Then I continue to plug in features as the customer’s needs change.”
Atkins has been building Web sites since 1996, and has several certifications including his main e-commerce training from IBM. He got tired of having to start from the ground up to build Web sites every time he got a new customer.
“Over a period of time, he said there had to be easier way,” said Bill. “He wrote computer code that allowed him, with proprietary technology, to provide those same services to any business that would come to us. The technology William wrote also allows our clients to go in and make changes without having to learn computer language. It is very user friendly. What William did was simplify technology. People are very, very busy. Time is extremely valuable. If you can get it done for them that day, that is a huge advantage.”
MissLou Internet moved to Natchez a year ago from Baton Rouge because they saw a void in Natchez for business site Web development. The company, which still maintains an office in Baton Rouge, works with the Natchez Chamber of Commerce to allow members to use MissLou’s technology for $25 per month. Some customers have told them they joined the chamber just to take advantage of the group discount deal. MissLou Internet is also doing work for companies around the world. Just recently they turned on a Web site for a company in Sierra Leone, Africa.
“We deal with individual businesses, but we also have distributors using our technology who are able to build a Web site in a number of hours rather than weeks,” William said. “We have and are constantly looking for distributors in other areas of the U.S. We talk to people all over the country. They can represent us or themselves. We can be totally invisible to their clients if they want.
“We have gone so far as to build business management software that is integrated on the Web site. Say you are selling computers. The software keeps up with inventory, parts and service time. Technicians can fill out information on the Web site regarding the parts that were used and how many hours were spent on the job. The software automatically sends an invoice to the client at the end of the month.”
Another service is a template for e-mail newsletters that can be sent out to a database of clients or customers to showcase new products and provide other news.
One selling point for customers is that MissLou Internet will set up a subdomain so the company can actually check out what the Web site will look like before purchasing it. There is no software to install on their computer. It is Web based. So, for example, if going on a vacation to Florida, customers can still keep an eye on what is going on with their Web site.
“They are not constricted to be in front of their computer,” William said. “With our systems, you can be anywhere in the world and still manage the site.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com.