The digital marketing economy is very much a product of the 21st century. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the latest research reveals that despite major advances, business has yet to scratch the surface of realizing the potential of the digital economy.

New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Every aspect of the economy was knocked down to ground zero. But in a decade the city has been rebuilt from the ashes. I spoke to Brian Hong of Infintech Designs about the growth of the digital marketing economy in New Orleans post-Katrina.

AJ: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to my readers. Could you begin by filling my readers in on what Infintech Designs does?

Hong: Not a problem. Infintech Designs is an SEO and web design company based in New Orleans. Like so many other digital businesses, the disaster set us back many months. The fact we are an online business made sure that we were able to get back online faster than other businesses, which contributed greatly to our survival during this difficult time.

AJ: New Orleans has rebuilt itself at an incredible rate, and the digital marketing economy has been at the heart of that. Why do you think that is?

Hong: For a start, a brand new infrastructure replaced the old slow Internet lines of old. Like a developing country, New Orleans was able to benefit from a completely new infrastructure. There was no debate over it. It had to happen. It gave online companies the resources they needed to grow this part of the economy.

On top of that, many companies had no choice but to look online. The local population had been devastated. The population was reduced and those who returned quickly had nothing. For online companies, the local population was not our target market.

It forced many businesses to look outside the city in the short-term, which led to a boom in the digital marketing economy. In fact, businesses that didn't look outside of the city had a hard time getting their business back on their feet.

AJ: Why do you think it happened like this in New Orleans, whereas it may not have happened in other cities hit by natural disaster?

Hong: I think that New Orleans managed to capture the imagination like no other disaster. It was already a popular city with millions of tourists coming in every year. However, as we have seen from the boom of the tourism industry post-Katrina, New Orleans has become something of a trendy city.

As morbid as it sounds, while Katrina wiped New Orleans off the map it simultaneously put it on the map. It's no surprise that the digital marketing economy exploded, as with practically every other part of the local economy.

New Orleans was on the lips of people who had previously never considered it.

AJ: But why digital marketing specifically?

Hong: The disaster forced people to be creative. They couldn't use a billboard because there were no more billboards. Desperation forces businesses to adapt. Many desperate businesses turned to the online arena. Our company saw an incredible amount of growth as companies looked into transitioning into the digital economy.
Digital marketing is part of that and we have advised many clients on how they can create websites that can say the most about their brands.

Digital marketing is a main driving force of the economy in all sectors. So it only makes sense that it saw the growth it did.

AJ: And what about the future of the digital marketing economy?

Hong: Who can say for sure? Nevertheless, on the other hand, growth in New Orleans has barely stalled. Apart from a bug during the 2008 financial crash, businesses have sprung up all over the city.

Crucially, they are realizing that they can no longer put off getting online. That means they need a website and a comprehensive online marketing plan. The future of the digital marketing economy is something that has remained bright. I can see no reason why that is going to change anytime soon.

I would even like to make a bold prediction that the digital marketing economy will explode again. Most companies haven't yet achieved their full potentials when it comes to creating a solid online presence. It's one of the reasons why Infintech Designs has also seen substantial expansion during this period.

AJ: Thanks for sharing your insight with us today. I'm sure we all have a new outlook about the digital marketing industry.