By Evan Crimmins
Creative writing can be enough of a challenge for some, but Derek Allard of Tunnel 7 wanted more.
“I was fascinated by the internet,” says Derek, who earned a bachelor’s degree in professional writing in 1995 before feeling the tug toward a career centered around cyber pursuits. “I thought it was really interesting. It brought together communities. It was new and fresh. There was so much potential.”
“Online, you have the ability to create something that the entire world can see. It was pretty exciting back then!” Derek adds.
“Back then” was around 1998, when Derek got interested in web design and development and all that went with it. He created his own online presence, was trained in web development at Springfield Technical Community College, and began work in the industry. Instead of writing prose, he was writing code.
Many companies and organizations were slowly beginning to embrace the internet. Derek worked for companies such as Health Communities in Northampton; Stevens 470 in Westfield; Gravity Switch in Northampton; and ISO New England in Holyoke, where Derek refined the skills necessary to excel in a web-focused career.
Fueled by his passion for web design, coding, and content management, Derek transitioned into part-time employment so that he could start his own shop. Drawing on the title of author William H. Gass’s novel, The Tunnel, as well as his favorite number—seven—Derek came up with the name of his Easthampton-based business, Tunnel 7. Derek placed quality customer service as his number one business goal and grew the business over time, and in 2007, Tunnel 7 became his full-time work.
In addition to web design, Derek now specializes in digital marketing, helping clients achieve better results with their online presence. “I built a lot of websites for clients, but building alone wasn’t enough for them or me,” he says. “I was trying to meet specific goals with projects. Digital marketing was the logical next step from website design/development because I knew I could produce better results for my clients. I wanted to see them get a return on their investment.”
Derek begins by learning each client’s needs for a website and gaining an understanding of the audience they’re trying to attract. He then pairs these needs with a design that fits and a tailored digital marketing strategy that’s driven by what the data is telling him.
“We have a specific strategy and steps to accomplish,” he explains. “We roll them out, and we test them with analytics. We check up on things. Everything online can be measured; you want to see what’s working and do more of that. If there are weak performance results, it’s back to the drawing board, to rework those parts of the marketing strategy.”
Derek’s had exceptional results. With stellar reviews from clients that range from small businesses and nonprofits to much larger projects, Derek and Tunnel 7 have a proven track record of success.