(Warning: We’ll be tooting our horn a bit here, but hope our learnings are transferable)
What does it take to get listed on the Inc 5000 (Inc Magazine’s list of the Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in the US) six years in a row?
It’s not a trick question. And yes, our firm has made the Inc 5000 every year it’s been eligible to apply. In two words, it takes consistent growth. So, what’s the secret to consistent growth? Truthfully, there’s no one secret. But there is a repeatable process!
We set out with a very heady mission: To be the firm where the world’s best marketers come to do the best marketing of their careers, surrounded by peers they love to learn from. The risks and rewards for our growth is shared by all our CMOs (70% of which are already Partners in the firm). This reduces our requirement for capital and allows us to swing with economic shifts and market demands. As a result, it’s enabled us to grow.
We always have growth goals – for the long-term, mid-term and current year. And while we’re compelled to adjust them regularly, knowing where we stand relative to our objectives is hugely powerful.
Our fractional CMOs find themselves with a level of freedom (they are not told how to do their work, we only hire rock stars) and support (from the company’s back office, but mostly from each other) that is unprecedented in a management consulting company. What’s most rewarding to witness is how our CMOs appreciate and support each other. For example, our CMOs share family photos at the beginning of each staff meeting and send up “Smoke Signals” to recognize one another for assistance. When a new engagement is announced, the CMOs and Managing Partners congratulate each other with “virtual high-fives.” As a company with employees all over the U.S., these practices are crucial to maintaining value alignment and a team mentality.
Forbes magazine recognized our firm as one of the top 25 small businesses in the country for 2019, largely for putting our purpose ahead of profits (oh, and we are profitable!).
Perhaps our most encouraging measurement is client happiness, using the Net Promoter Score approach (score ranges from -100 to +100). We’ve seen data that shows the average B2B consulting firm NPS score at +22. A national benchmark revealed one of the Big Three firms as -1. Since we began measuring 3 years ago, we’ve been pleased to see our overall score at around 58. This year, however, our NPS is running at 76 (that’s higher than Disney or Apple). So, we’re highly encouraged that we are delivering remarkable client value.
Each year, businesses should invest in research to improve insight into their marketplace. They should be striving to better understand their customers (especially why they buy), their competitors and their ecosystem, along with getting a better handle on how the company views itself. This discipline allows the company to refresh its strategic assumptions on everything from its products and services, to pricing, positioning, even routes to market. With this information, the company is best prepared to avoid any “random acts of marketing” and ensure their go-to-market investments are grounded in a strategically sound market reality.