Looking Big

“He who has a thing to sell 
and goes and whispers in a well 
is not as apt to get the dollars 
as he who climbs a tree and hollers.”

I learned this doggerel from Brian Smith, CEO and Founder of Ecolite Concrete. Chusid Associates began collaborating with him while his business was being run out of the garage behind his house. He envisioned building wall panels that were over twenty feet long, yet his only prototype was just 12 inches square. And he needed either an investor or a large order that would enable him to get a loan to build a factory and begin production.

Brian had founded Ugg Boots, a breakthrough in the fashion industry, and was now working his magic in construction. His philosophy is "we have to look like we are big and successful" before anyone would be willing to take a chance on his disruptive technology. While still working on code approvals and R&D, he also insisted on investing in branding, sales collateral with high production value, and aggressive PR.

Another Chusid Associates' client has a nationwide presence selling coatings and chemicals for floor finishes. The company is run by its entrepreneur without staff. All manufacturing is by private label, warehousing is by distribution, and accounting and other backroom functions, including marketing, are outsourced. Even though there is only one person in the office, the phone answering system still says, "Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Customer Service, 3 for Technical Assistance, 4 for Directions to our Plant...," reinforcing the image that the company is a big brand.

Outsourcing marketing can also be used by larger firms. Engelhard Corporation is a Fortune 500 business. Yet its MetaMax brand of a high-reactivity metakaolin, for use in concrete, was such a small part of its operations that it only merited a 1/4 time product manager. Yet by working with Chusid Associates, MetaMax was made to look like a large part of Engelhard's business by getting extensive publicity in the industry press, speaking at industry conferences, participating in standard's writing committees, taking the brand to trade shows, and creating a strong presence on the internet.

Of course, some of our clients want to stay below the radar. By looking like they are small businesses, they limit competition by keeping their competitors from knowing how profitable their market niche can be. But that is the subject for another blog post.