Based in New York City, but with a worldwide presence, The Original Runner Company is as well known for its superior customer service as for its creative custom runners. Like many small businesses, the company has thrived because of its exceptional reputation in the industry.
Groundwork for Expansion
Word of mouth garnered orders from wholesalers — a large segment of potential customers — but owner Julie Goldman saw an opportunity to expand even further by developing a plan to tap directly into this market. At the same time, she wanted to grow the business intelligently without losing the smooth internal processes that her company had been relying on to operate successfully.
Before pitching wholesalers with her marketing campaign, Goldman worked with the OPEN team to identify the best overall strategy for growth, including steps to target her audience better and strengthen her company’s infrastructure.
“When you’re a small business and you find yourself adding more and more clients, you need processes to manage your growth,” she explains.
To match this need, Goldman implemented a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which allowed the company to remain flexible and organized as it handled client orders. Once she loaded the system with her database of clients, she was able to communicate quickly and solicit feedback before she undertook a new marketing plan.
Using simple surveys she deployed through the CRM system, Goldman asked her clients how they thought The Original Runner Company could improve, what it was already doing well and the type of fabrics and colors they wanted to see in future products. By doing this, Goldman built a reliable communication stream to ensure that The Original Runner Company would continue to deliver on the aspects of the business that distinguishes it from other companies.
“CRM has been a big factor in launching the wholesale business,” says Goldman. “We’ve been able to put a feedback mechanism in place to learn how our business can improve before setting out to reach new clients.”
Segment the Audience
Goldman relied on the feedback to learn what resonated with current clients so she could build on these proven tactics with new customers. Armed with this information and her understanding of the custom fabric runner market, Goldman worked with the OPEN “Out of the Box” team to create a strategy to target wholesalers using a mix of online and offline marketing tactics.
Each week, Goldman and her team focused on a different group of wholesalers, from florists to event planners, to craft a customized outbound marketing strategy. For example, with florists they chose e-mail marketing since florists’ small staffs and busy storefronts make them potentially less receptive to drop-in marketing pitches.
In addition to developing an outbound marketing strategy, Goldman consulted her small business owner peers to gather information before making any decisions.
“Most people think networking means gaining new business by generating sales and leads,” says Sheena Banton, a member of the OPEN team. “We tend to underestimate how much it can also help small business owners to keep in touch with their colleagues and learn more about their needs.”
Deliver Highest ROI
With assistance from her OPEN team, Goldman set up a process to continue to deliver quality products and service to her existing customers while focusing her marketing efforts on getting the biggest return on her investment. She has taken steps to ensure that her business’s growth is targeted and intelligent, such as requesting feedback from clients, reaching out to peers for advice and planning the company’s infrastructure to support growth.
“We’re learning to market better by asking questions of our clients so we can continue to go above and beyond,” Goldman says. “A lot of people overpromise and underdeliver. We overpromise and then go in and do more.”
OPEN “Out of the Box” team: Sheena Banton, Kianti Brown, Sapna Champaneria, and Allison Keller