“Sandy Barger’s work allowed us to double our revenue and remain sustainable at that level. And, now we’re poised for additional growth in 2020.”
Joe Matta, Principal & Chief Executive Officer
Hanson Lab Solutions manufactures innovative furniture and casework for laboratories. Seeking to accelerate growth, principals Joe Matta and Mike Hanson engaged Chief Outsiders fractional CMO, Sandy Barger to update the company’s image and elevate marketing to the next level. Drawing on Barger’s deep marketing expertise as well as customer and competitive insights, they developed unique, differentiated messaging, identified market opportunities and implemented demand generation tactics. The changes doubled revenues over the next year, setting up Hanson for continued hyper growth.
Hanson Lab Furniture (Hanson) started out as a family-owned business in 1973 and for years, succeeded handling mostly smaller projects. Over the past five years, however, the company hit its stride by establishing itself with general contractors that specialize in laboratory interiors.
Gaining respect in the construction industry, revenues increased by several million. Known for quality, but relying on tribal knowledge and processes, leadership decided to take a major step forward.
“We were no longer a small company,” explained Joe Matta, Principal & Chief Executive Officer. “We completed lean business manufacturing training to smooth out operations, but we also needed to step up our marketing to the next level.”
Getting to the Next Level
Hanson had worked with a smaller marketing firm for 10 years but was outgrowing its capabilities. Out of date, the Hanson website needed a complete re-do. “We wanted to change the message and the old impression in the market to reflect the new Hanson—and our breath of capabilities,” related Matta.
A consultant and trusted advisor at Bio Science Alliance, a local industry group, recommended Sandy Barger, a Chief Outsiders fractional CMO, as someone who could help. Meeting to discuss the opportunity, Barger impressed Matta and Mike Hanson, Principal & Chief Marketing Officer, with her expertise.
“I don’t know all the answers, so I try to get people around us that are smarter than we are and leverage that in getting to the next level,” he related. “That’s what we saw in Sandy.”
Initially, Barger worked on-site once per week then conducted weekly remote video conferences. “Sandy is very smart, easy to work with, chock full of ideas and a go-getter,” related Matta. “And she’s a task master, which is what you need to get it done.”
Immediately, Barger conducted a review of top competitors including messaging, targets, products and services, and advertising tactics. Seeing low website traffic and few qualified leads driven primarily by sales, she held win/loss interviews to learn why decision makers choose Hanson.
Her research and a SWOT analysis showed that Hanson provided unique benefits to customers but suffered low brand identity and needed to change the market perception to match their service and product offerings. Her work identified these additional challenges:
- Increasing, aggressive competition
- Heavy reliance on the sales guys for leads
- Lack of sales and marketing integration
New Identity, Messaging and Tactics
Based on the company, customer and competitive insights gathered, Barger and the leadership team established a clearly differentiated identity and compelling messaging to drive demand for Hanson, it’s Looped Logic inventory/quick ship business and Hanson’s new Agility product line, including:
- Identifying key decision makers and target industries
- Understanding prospects primary decision-making factors
- Developing the positioning and key messaging, including unique value proposition and points of difference
Barger and the leadership team renamed the company to Hanson Lab Solutions and formalized their new image. Barger also managed the:
- Website revamp
- Development of key sales materials
- Lead generation system implementation
- Content plan development
- Defining and hiring on-going resources, including a permanent marketing manager
- Adding e-commerce, with shipping calculations and logistics support, to the quick ship business
100% YoY Growth
Hanson achieved 100% YoY growth for the 2019 fiscal year.
“Sandy’s work allowed us to double our revenue and remain sustainable at that level,” stated Matta. “$12 million to $25 million is hyper growth, and we’ve done it with our own cash and resources. Now we’re poised for additional growth.”
Hanson did all of this in the middle of a relocation. “We increased capacity 5X and set up a modern manufacturing facility,” reported Matta. “Everything came together at the same time.”
The Way to Grow
“Chief Outsiders is a good way to go,” concluded Matta. “As a small, growing company, we would never be able to afford a dedicated experienced person like Sandy. But the ability to tap into that on a fractional basis is a great way to have access to these resources without having to carry the whole load."