Over the course of my professional career, two major shifts have resulted in the birth of &Marketing: The Internet as the dominant marketing channel, and the emerging power of SMBs.
First and most obviously, the emergence of the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people do pretty much everything — including making purchases. In the marketing context, the cost of information has plummeted to virtually zero, and people gather information about new products and services in completely new ways. We ask our phones anything from “Where is the nearest pizza shop?” to “What’s the best CRM?” That’s right, it’s not just for B2C marketing… B2B purchasers of the most complex type are going online to learn more digitally. A recent report showed that a staggering 61% of the much maligned but extremely vital millennials describe themselves as key decision makers in technology purchases.
I recently led a segmentation project for a B2B industrial provider looking to understand how their organization could win more RFPs. We interviewed key decision makers to understand how they make these complex, high-priced choices. Among other findings, a major conclusion was that these decision makers did their own research prior to calling any technology provider. They used online search engines, industry e-publications, and exploited their own networks primarily accessed online. The initial RFP question was the wrong one because, by the time they wrote the RFP, most of the purchase decision was already made.
The Power of SMBs
Second, the allure of large companies is disappearing. The basic contract used to be: Get a college degree, land a good job at a big company, work hard, and you’ll be promised a wonderful upper-middle-class lifestyle and a stable retirement after a few decades. Today, the pension, the promise of stability, and the guarantees are gone.
Big public companies are under tremendous pressure to cut costs and return shareholder value, a burden many smaller private companies do not shoulder. As someone who has spent his career at (and supporting) large, global companies, I’ve lived through multiple booms and busts. To be clear, I am eternally grateful for these experiences that shaped my career. I respect and admire these companies in many ways—they are solving vexing global challenges that can only be fixed by leveraging their size and scale.
What’s the result of this shift in the modern workforce? ‘Job-hopping’ is the new norm. More entrepreneurs. More small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). More people are leaving or bypassing large companies altogether to work in faster-paced environments competing against these larger companies. And how do SMBs compete with far fewer resources? They out-execute them. They’re faster and more nimble. They focus better. They pivot quickly.
So what do these two shifts mean for SMBs? They mean that in the digital world, some companies have led, some have kept up, and some have fallen behind. Almost all that have fallen behind know they need a “modern” marketing strategy but don’t have the staff or experiential knowledge to execute it. These SMBs tend to be good at what they do in their specific area (a particular technology or software, local knowledge, ability to provide unparalleled service or other expertise), but many don’t have the marketing support to bring these new world skills into their organizations.
That’s where we come in. A tremendous amount of formal and informal research has gone into the birth of &Marketing. Counterintuitively (to some), smaller companies don’t want the same type of marketing support as large companies… it must be scaled perfectly to fit the specific needs of that organization. One size does not fit all, and bigger is certainly not better. “&” symbolizes the partnership we strive to build with our client’s organization. Yes, we bring marketing expertise, but we don’t make outlandish claims to ”dominate the market” or “10x your sales.” That level of hyperbole is impossible to attain without first understanding core business challenges and building a sound strategy and execution plan within the context of your industry and your company.
& specifically aims to solve identified gaps in the marketing services space for SMBs:
- Strategy & Execution: Many marketing providers either can’t step back and see the big picture, or don’t roll up their sleeves and actually do the work. Their feedback was clear to me: SMBs don’t need yet another consultant telling them what to do, and don’t have time for junior level employees who need to be given detailed instructions. & provides qualified professionals who can both develop and execute an effective marketing plan.
- Transparency & Flexibility: Many marketing providers don’t provide transparency about what they are working on and often demand high retainers. Clients want to know what work is being done, how previous campaigns went versus their KPIs, and they want the ability to make changes on the fly.
- Win – Win: Many marketing providers charge based on activity, not for results. &Marketing works with our clients to lower overhead costs and aligns activities to our client’s success criteria—# of leads generated, # of new customers, increased revenue, or some other aligned metric. This ensures that all activity is focused squarely on moving our client’s business forward.
Wherever you are in your growth journey—whether you are just getting started with marketing, or if you have an established team that needs specific support—we encourage you to consider &Marketing for your growth challenges. Let us help you navigate your challenges and prepare your organization for the future. With &Marketing, it’s us & you.