Some say there are a thousand ways to find customers, but the reality is options are limited for small business owners, and it’s still difficult to measure success across most channels.
Although digital platforms like Google AdWords have made it far easier to evaluate the success of campaigns, they often measure outcomes in clicks rather than the pleasant sound of the cash register ringing.
What our experiences serving businesses showed us
While building Kabbage, the leading provider of working capital solutions for small businesses, we’ve become well acquainted with the hard but important work done by entrepreneurs fueling most of the new jobs and GDP throughout the United States. Through this experience, combined with other conversations with a variety of small business solution providers, we’ve learned that two things keep small business owners awake at night: cash flow and customers. Not shocking, given that the two are closely related. While we’ve worked hard to solve the working capital gap at Kabbage, we couldn’t sleep well until we addressed the other issue.
But first, why are these issues so difficult for small business owners? Most business owners are incredible at the craft or trade that compelled them to start a small business. If you love to bake, well why not open a bakery? If you’re a master car mechanic, please let us know when you can take a look at our cars! However, so much mystery revolves around acquiring customers and funding your business. That’s hard for the most accomplished of marketers. And who has the time? Small businesses owners are generally considered those with the least free time among all working adults.
How Drum solves these challenges
Our new on-demand sales platform, Drum, was born out of our own desire for an instantly available, massively scalable, and completely flexible channel to find new customers. We wanted to stand up a campaign easily and within minutes, monitor it and make changes to it in real-time, and know that our dollars were driving customers our way.
Drum aggregates the demand for a sales force that many businesses want, but can’t easily access. To date, large companies, typically selling to enterprises, have had the exclusive privilege of using an outside sales force. This reality existed because it’s been complicated and expensive to use a sales force and have the salespeople dedicated to you alone. In this world of “haves” and “have nots”, we recognized that if businesses marketing to similar customers, could “share” a sales force, then maybe every business could experience its benefits. Drum is the result. Businesses sign on to the platform, share information about, and a compelling offer for, their products and services along with how much they’re willing to pay a Drummer (our name for a salesperson) for a sale. With a click of a button, the business can publish that offer in the geographies they want.
Once published, our gig-powered salesforce of Drummers can view the offer and decide whether they can and want to promote it (based on their experience and network). Drummers promote just like how you or I might recommend the home contractor that helped create a dream kitchen or the project management software that revamped the efficiency of a small business.
Drummers have these promotional conversations in many ways-in-person, via email or text, or even on social media with buyers who are interested. Buyers “redeem” these Drummer-specific offers at the time of purchase, at which point the business pays the commission and Drum compensates the Drummer responsible for the sale. Our platform also comes with an in-built referral structure, whereby Drum issues Drummers a bonus each time a Drummer, Business or Buyer referred participates in a transaction.
What it all means moving forward
Now, businesses are finally able to supercharge their sales and marketing efforts without sacrificing performance and taking on risk. They can tap into the power of referrals at scale, and even gain better measures of customer loyalty by measuring the frequency and success of referrals made by their existing customers.
Drum offers a new and more leveraged acquisition channel for businesses, all while affording gig workers improved earning and skill development potential and injecting ad dollars back into the community. Buyers also now have a platform to discover new products and experiences through trusted advocates, rather than filtering through an endless stream of discounts available on couponing websites. After all, there’s no form of advocacy better than an in-person recommendation.