Small businesses are this country’s greatest resource.
Both of my parents owned their own businesses for most of my life, and I grew up with an appreciation of entrepreneurship as the true “American Dream.” I also saw firsthand what it meant to know that the health of your business in a given month directly impacts the lives of the business owner and the people that depend on them. Small business owners have to do it all with limited resources, and they can’t possibly be great at everything needed to run their business… product, sales, accounting — to name just a few.
Marketing and advertising — which every SMB knows they have to master to survive — is often the biggest, most expensive blind spot. Seventy-one percent choose to do it themselves[iv] and will never hire an advertising agency to help them, and most don’t have a marketing expert in-house. This means the vast majority of small businesses are left with the few platforms built with self-serve or accessibility in mind.
Years ago, people like my parents fumbled their way through the existing options in a serviceable if not always expertly executed way. Local radio and television spots. Ads in the local newspaper. Direct mail flyers. The marketing channels were fairly straight-forward and easy to understand, and if and when you could spare the budget you knew who to call to place them.
Today those local radio spots and paper flyers have been replaced with dozens of complicated options and hundreds of vendors — all promising to reach their customers with inside-baseball acronyms and digital jargon.
When my team set out to build AdMessenger five years ago, we made a bet on what we thought was an under-served market — small businesses trying to achieve their business goals by reaching the right people at the right time to turn an audience into customers. We wanted to build a platform that was simple and efficient, so that business owners could spend more time serving their customers and less time talking to people like me. What resulted was a clean, simple mobile messaging platform that removed the barriers SMBs are typically faced with when placing digital campaigns. Simplicity, efficiency, and self-serve functionality lit the path for our roadmap. Now a part of a4 — an ambitious organization with very similar core DNA — we’re able to translate that same approach to every screen, agnostic to wherever the audience in a household spends their time.
Focusing on SMBs isn’t an easy path — their needs are different, oftentimes more challenging, and their budgets are smaller than larger advertisers. That may be why we are in the minority of companies spending time building thoughtful solutions for them. We believe in this category as a driver of economic growth, job creation, and innovation born of passion-driven necessity.
Going into 2019, with business loan approval rates trending upward, and more people choosing entrepreneurship for work-life balance and lifestyle flexibility, we are doubling down on the bet we placed five years ago. Small businesses will continue to drive growth and a4 will continue to find new ways to help them do it.
—Rosie O’Meara, Senior Director of Product Management, a4