“Paul Sparrow and Chief Outsiders helped us understand where to place our time and effort, enabling us to move forward with confidence and a sound strategic plan, changing the way we work as a company.”
Brad Herrmann, President and Co-founder, Call-Em-All
Call-Em-All provides group messaging services to more than 40,000 customers, including Fortune 500 companies. Seeking to enhance marketing expertise and re-direct sales, President and Co-founder, Brad Herrmann, brought in Chief Outsiders CMO, Paul Sparrow, for a three-phase, six-month engagement. Guiding the company to focus on key industries and texting, Sparrow activated a comprehensive strategic plan and handed it off to new marketing leadership, leading to reduced risk and a 17% increase in revenue for 2016.
Despite significant success, particularly in the staffing industry, Call-Em-All’s revenue growth was not meeting expectations. Seeking to accelerate and diversify growth while maintaining company culture, executives recognized the need to adjust their strategy.
“We weren’t happy with the way the company was growing,” explains Hai Nguyen, VP of Engineering and Co-founder. “We felt that the client base could be more diverse, not only in terms of industry but also in terms of size.”
At the same time, the marketing manager, a former engineer, left the company. In the process of hiring his replacement, leadership grasped the importance of bringing in experienced marketing talent.
“We had this big hole to fill,” Nguyen explained. “We wanted to understand the role of marketing in our organization and what kind of team we needed to achieve some of our broader goals.”
Initially, leadership considered a full-time hire. “We went through the hiring process looking for a marketing manager, and weren’t entirely confident we were on the right track,” related Brad Herrmann, President and Co-founder.
Herrmann had previously connected with Chief Outsiders through the Small Giants organization. The insights of Managing Partner, Tom McCrary, and the option of leveraging an entire group of professionals impressed and intrigued him.
After considering several Chief Outsiders CMOs who looked like a good fit, Herrmann set up a discovery call with Paul Sparrow, who he quickly engaged.
“We were impressed with the knowledge Paul was able to bring to our particular situation,” stated Nguyen. “He brought experience that we wouldn’t have had on our own.”
To get the project going, Sparrow flew to company headquarters every two weeks, following up with numerous Skype calls. He worked closely with the interim marketing manager and built a strong camaraderie with the Call-Em-All team.
“Paul brought the ability to help channel our energy,” Herrmann reported. “He held us accountable for progress and kept things moving throughout the entire project.”
Phase one of the engagement encompassed a comprehensive analysis of the company, its customers and the competition, including:
“Paul was able to jump right in and adapt to our culture,” Herrmann related. “He asked the right questions about what was going well and what was not and helped us organize those thoughts in a way that was beneficial for us.”
The assessment phase highlighted the need for strategic focus. Not only did Call-Em-All cast a wide net in selling to 23 different industries, but voice messaging totaled 98% of its business. In addition, the percentage of Call-Em-All’s business concentrated in its top five customers, increased to 29% in 2015.
Considering those numbers, together with the consumer shift from voice to texting as the preferred method of communication, the company faced unnecessary exposure. “That insight was startling,” related Sparrow.
Sparrow’s research also helped the team identify new markets, including a growth opportunity in community colleges with commuter-based campuses, where communication is extremely important.
Phase two entailed building the strategy, focusing on the right markets, offerings and positioning. Drawing upon his deep marketing and sales experience, Sparrow incorporated all the insights gained into a go-to-market plan that he presented in a detailed document.
“The second phase is where Paul really rolled up his sleeves and got to work for us,” related Herrmann. “He had the ultimate responsibility for making a cohesive marketing plan.”
“Paul’s strength is in being able to understand your business and the problem, dive in and do all the research, present the available options, and help you make the right decision,” added Nguyen.
Sparrow’s recommendations included economic and demographic data to support the focus on five industries. “There was uniform agreement that those were the right industries because I had worked so closely with them in phase one and in the formulation of the strategy,” reported Sparrow.
With a strategic plan in place, Call-Em-All required a talented and experienced marketing director to move the strategy forward. Insisting on a timely decision, Sparrow worked with company executives to write a job description, network, and interview candidates.
“Phase three was all about the transition from plan to execution and putting it in the hands of someone who hadn’t been a part of the company,” stated Sparrow. “We hired the best candidate, and he’s a rock star! Culturally, it’s working quite well for them.”
The integrated marketing plan developed together with leadership outlined key initiatives, priorities and recommendations for activating the proposal, including:
With the new director on board, Sparrow worked to bring him up-to-speed on the messaging and strategic plan. “We were focusing on relationships, relevance, and reputation. All of the strategic initiatives fell under those categories,” Sparrow explained.
“The handoff was quite smooth,” Nguyen added. “Ron Kinkade (the new Director of Marketing, Product and Strategy) had nothing but good things to say.”
Soon after the close of the engagement, Call-Em-All experienced record third and fourth quarter revenues, and the company forecast 17% growth in revenue for 2016.
“They made a significant shift for all the right reasons,” stated Sparrow. “I was so pleased to see dramatic results in a short period.”
By swiftly capitalizing on an opportunity, Call-Em-All increased its texting revenue from 2% to 5% of its business, resulting in decreased revenue risk.
“Because of the work we had done with Chief Outsiders, we were able to quickly determine that a new technology would solve several problems,” Herrmann explained. “We started a huge shift towards text messaging with confidence and speed.”
Working with Paul Sparrow and Chief Outsiders yielded meaningful change with long-term benefits for Call-Em-All and its leadership. “They were poised to make the shift because they were engaged in the process,” related Sparrow.
“When I look back, I feel like we are a totally different company in terms of mindset and strategy,” Nguyen added. “I've grown as a professional and am more confident about thinking long-term.”
“The benefit of working with Chief Outsiders is being able to leverage this really smart group of people and using that information to inform our strategy,” concluded Herrmann. “The quality of the work that we got was outstanding. It was a great experience!”