Small Businesses Get Big Business Marketing

When you think about marketing, do you get excited about the new opportunities to grow your business? Or do you worry about the challenges it will bring, and the money and time it’s going to cost? On good days, you don’t have the hours needed to market yourself, and when business is slow ... well, it might be too late. These are tough pain points for nearly all small-business owners.

David Farmer and Robert Cox, big-agency marketing professionals, understood these concerns and came up with an innovative solution ― use technology to bring marketing experts, advertising vendors and small-business owners together. As a resource for business solutions that help businesses grow, FedEx Office is a part of that strategy.

After nearly 15 years of developing and perfecting the concept, the solution came to fruition two years ago as MODsocket ― “MOD” being the acronym for Marketing on Demand, and “socket” being the connecting piece. The online marketing agency provides small businesses with “Madison Avenue talent” and affordable access to advertising sources ― all without leaving the MODsocket system.

“Our small-business customers know that marketing is important, but they don’t have a clue as to what direction to go. That’s why the strategic consultant piece is so important to them,” Farmer says. “This person becomes their partner who sits down and talks to them and realizes their goals.”

Making connections

Partnering with a marketing specialist at MODsocket is easy. When you register online ― either by going directly through modsocket.com or FedEx Office ― you complete a survey called Jump Start to tell where your business is in its lifecycle and what marketing techniques you’ve put in place. Based on your responses, a marketing coordinator pairs you with a consultant experienced in your industry.

During the first 30 days after registering, you’ll receive free guidance from your marketing consultant and a free marketing plan designed to help meet your business goals. You pay only for the services executed from the plan. After the 30-day trial expires, you can continue working with your consultant and receiving marketing services by paying a monthly subscription fee.

From an online portal, you’ll have access to hundreds of marketing products and services from dozens of vendors at an affordable price, whether you need a focus group coordinator; web producer; a social media strategist; television, radio and print advertisers ― and much more. You have the option to execute the strategy yourself or ask your MODsocket consultant to handle it for you. For instance, because we’re a vendor of MODsocket, you’ll have easy access to printing services available with FedEx Office.

“The most valuable thing to small-business owners is their own time,” Farmer says, explaining how the co-owners pioneered the acronym: DIFM: Do It For Me.

Just ask Ron McIntyre, owner of Square Feathers and one of MODsocket’s first clients.

Case in point

We’ve all heard about successful businesses that started in a garage — think Apple and Google. And now there’s Square Feathers, a pillow design and manufacturing company started in 2006 by Ron McIntyre.

McIntyre, a former high-tech professional from Silicon Valley, moved to Austin, Texas, a decade ago. He turned his love of art and design into a successful micro-business creating pillows in his garage and selling them to area boutiques. “I made one, sold one. Made two, sold two. Soon I had a car full of pillows I was selling,” he says.

Within two years, he added to his growing list of clients a home décor showroom in Dallas, and his business grew even more. “A buyer from Neiman Marcus saw my pillows there. One design made the cover of the store catalogue and that pillow was sold out for a year,” he says.

His garage remained his office and workshop for another three years until he outgrew the space and moved into a production facility in Austin. Orders increased so he hired an operations manager, two cutters and two sewers. When customers asked for his fabric designs on furniture, McIntyre found a manufacturer to make chairs, ottomans and sofas.

Growing pains

Over the course of the years, McIntyre’s marketing efforts included a website, word of mouth and a direct mail campaign through FedEx Office. Business was growing, and he understood he needed a better marketing plan. “I started my company seven years ago and for all those years I did the marketing by the seat of my pants — including social media, a website and direct mail postcards. I didn’t have the funding to hire an advertising agency. I was just a small little pillow company,” McIntyre says.

And while a friend contracted a New York advertising agency to market her bedding company ― “She spent a fortune!” ― the dollar figure was out of reach for Square Feathers. When FedEx Office informed him of a new service from a business they were working with that provided small businesses with a free custom marketing plan, McIntyre jumped at the chance.

“I’ve used FedEx Office for all of my printing needs from day one [including direct mail pieces, brochures, handouts, tags and business cards]. When they connected me to the marketing experts at MODsocket for the strategic help I needed, I knew I had to do it,” he says.

Polished and powerful.

For the last couple of years, McIntyre has worked with a MODsocket consultant who has more than two decades of experience with big-client advertising agencies.

“He recommended creating better selling tools for my reps in the wholesale industry and to revamp my website,” McIntyre says. MODsocket connected him to carefully chosen vendors who helped him redesign his company website, produce a digital magazine to draw traffic to his site, and create various pieces of sales collateral.

“[Before working with MODsocket], it was extremely trying to do it all on my own,” McIntyre says. “It’s difficult for a small business to know where to turn for marketing help and web development. I could have Googled the services I needed, but it’s so hit-and-miss. Now, with help from FedEx Office, I’m connected to a high-end, successful marketing firm.”

And McIntyre is happy to continue designing pillows ― and leave the marketing strategy to the experts at MODsocket.

“I just returned from three furniture shows and the response I got to my new materials was fantastic,” McIntyre says. “We just finished a 52-page catalog with beautiful photography. My little pillow company now looks like it’s right up there with Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware thanks to the help I’ve received from FedEx Office and MODsocket.”

Small business, big opportunities

Cox and Farmer stress the importance of using strategic marketing to grow your business ― and that requires working on it day in and day out. “Marketing is not an event, it’s a continual process,” Cox says.

“That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot,” Farmer adds. “You just have to have a plan.”

Market your business

Find out how FedEx Office and MODsocket can help get the word out about your business. Go to modsocket.com for additional information on their services and the Terms of Service.