Like most ideas of any worth or value, altREVOLUTION was born in a bar...
Do you know the feeling you get when...
...you walk into a place of business and you feel like you're a part of something? You can't easily put it into words; but you feel welcome or special or find yourself immersed in some unique or warm experience. It's a little moment of magic and it's exceptionally hard to pull off.
Hi. I'm Barry Tonoff, Founder & President of altREVOLUTION and I've often felt that connection in an amazing restaurant, shop, bar or with a service provider—at an event or concert or just being around artisans who clearly have passion for what they do.
So back to the story about the bar...
I was in one of my favorite pubs, a small place with good food and amazing owners and staff that took the time to really build relationships with customers, especially the regulars. I loved that place; but on that day, I got some unwelcome news: They were closing. The rent had increased and they just hadn't been successful enough at introducing new people to their bar and building steady, repeat business.
I had 20+ years experience in corporate marketing, PR, business development & management and I was left there feeling sick that these folks couldn't get the expertise they needed to keep their business thriving. As I was chatting with them about their challenges, a few things crystallized for me:
1. before any marketing, businesses need to focus on creating an exceptional experience.
Although the pub owners were naturals at creating a great customer experience, they didn't think about it in those terms. For them, it was just their personalities shining through. They didn't recognize it as a business asset and build on it, reinforce it, and amplify it to really grow their business. Exceptional customer experiences, properly leveraged, can be a business's best and often most cost-effective marketing channel. That's where the magic lies.
2. small organizations need to tap customized marketing expertise on demand.
When it comes to marketing services, small businesses and organizations are faced with a few stark choices: 1.) expensive agencies; 2.) generic, automated online marketing/CRM tools; 3.) those awful online marketing "gurus;" 4.) freelancers; or 5.) good old-fashioned DIY. And because small business leaders are busy actually running their enterprises, the costs in time and money often make even these options unfeasible.
A thought leapt to mind: What if businesses could tap into the exact marketing expertise they needed, delivered in the exact way that suited them best, and at rates they could afford—PLUS still get the ongoing strategic advice that you don't get with limited, one-off engagements? This idea combines the strategy and in-depth business knowledge of a retainer-based engagement with the flexibility and affordability of freelance projects. Hmm, now it's getting interesting...
3. the most common missing element for small enterprises is marketing strategy (not tactics).
When it comes to marketing, I've found that many business owners and entrepreneurs are "master toe dippers." They try different marketing channels; never really commit to any; and don't follow up with the analysis to determine if what they're doing has been successful. They're deploying marketing tactics without really tying them to an overall strategy, a framework through which they can analyze their efforts:
- What's the goal of my marketing efforts (leads, sales, exposure, web traffic, foot traffic, etc)?
- Is my marketing aligned with my brand experience?
- Is each marketing channel driving a measurable return on my investment?
- Is what I'm doing scalable?
Without an effective marketing strategy to guide their efforts, businesses spend precious time and money without correlating returns.
altREVOLUTION was off and running...
About a week later, I attended the farewell party for the pub; and except for a lingering hangover, my experience with that business came to an abrupt end. But, the owners' situation continued to nag at me. How could local and independent businesses get affordable marketing expertise to help them thrive? How could they get the strategy and guidance they needed to survive against larger, corporate competition? How could we keep our local business districts diverse and interesting and not some homogenized chain store wasteland?
And most importantly, what kind of marketing organization would you need to deliver these types of services?
Not long afterwards, the Great Recession gave me the opportunity to find out. And instead of diving back into the corporate or agency worlds, I decided to test my ideas in the marketplace and altREVOLUTION burst onto the scene like a rising Phoenix. Well actually, like most small startups, it coughed and wheezed its way to life. It was a time of testing new models of organization and client engagement. And most importantly, incorporating feedback from our client community.
Now passing its sixth anniversary, altREVOLUTION is a thriving firm with specialized marketing services and business consulting for local businesses, artists & creatives, startups, nonprofits, healthcare practices, and more. And those initial ideas have come to life. Clients can work with us through comprehensive strategy relationships, on a subscription basis, project-by-project, or even use us for an hour to get feedback and advice on what they're doing. And altREVOLUTION is a collective, a low-cost operational model—allowing our clients to tap into world class marketing, design, & production specializations without breaking the budget.
All of this ties into that underlying mission of keeping our communities unique, diverse, and a little funky by making sure local businesses & organizations not only survive, but win.
And BTW, what's with the chihuahua?
People often comment on the chihuahua images we use to signify our small business clientele. But this is no stock chihuahua. His name is Clancy. And he is friend, confidante, and Vice President of Client Relations. (Have a complaint? Talk to the dog.)
Clancy is a 5 lb. rescue with a bent leg and paws that go in every direction. That said, he has no sense of any limitations, is fearless, and has the heart of a champion.
He's more than a pet or company mascot. He's become an icon for the fearlessness, passion, and sheer grit of all the entrepreneurs, small business owners, and independent artisans and creatives that we're proud to have as clients.
I hope you join the altREVOLUTION.
If your business or organization is looking for consulting or marketing solutions, give altREVOLUTION a look. I think you'll find we offer the right marketing expertise to promote and grow your business, combined with a flexible, affordable, and fun partnership experience.
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Ready to take the next step? Contact us now and let's chat.