Getting Traction in Your Business

– Written by Brian Rainey, Chief Executive Officer, Path2Response

“I recently presented a session about “Getting Traction in Your Business” at the “Understanding Your Customer” VT/NH Marketing Group Annual event. The audience’s attention was captured by the Path2Response story.”  

When we first talked about creating Path2Response, we faced tough choices regarding how we were going to gain traction with the business in a crowded Cooperative industry. (Building a business is a difficult task even when everything’s going right, but new businesses can gain traction and avoid losing industry footholds by asking and answering tough questions.) In order to create a successful business model, we identified 3 areas where we could solve problems right away:

  1. What did the customer want?
  2. What was missing in the market for these customers?
  3. What value could we provide to people? What were we experts in?

These 3 key areas drove decisions during the forming (and norming) stages of the company: know your customer, know your markets, and, most importantly, know yourself. If you strive to understand the opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses (sooner rather than later) in these three areas, your new business venture or startup will gain traction and ultimately long-term success, faster. At Path2Response, this is what drives us:

Know Your Customer   

Your customers are the most important part of any business. (The business wouldn’t exist without them, after all.) But before you even start your business plan, it’s essential to talk to your potential customer and go through the due diligence necessary to understand their needs, wants, frustrations, and so on. This effort continues and grows as your business grows.

In our “past lives” we were starting to hear complaints from our clients. When considering whether or not to start “another” Cooperative database company, I spoke to many of my former customers who were becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of innovation in the industry. I heard that several companies in the industry were trying to bring together offline and online data in their models, with little or no investment, and with absolutely no success. We needed to build a better “mouse trap” in order to satisfy our customers.

You must constantly analyze your customer’s needs to innovate business solutions and improve results. By constantly working to fill industry gaps and solve problems, you gain loyalty. If you know a potential customer’s pain points, you can provide solutions, and traction will happen naturally.

Know Your Market

From our due diligence, we gained customer knowledge about the gaps that currently existed in the marketplace. We also had our own experience with competitors, so we knew business gaps as well. By taking steps to know the market landscape, you differentiate yourself from the competition and carve out a large foothold in the process.

The Data Cooperative space is a competitive one, but our goal was(is) to do things differently than the rest. We identified differentiators so we could fill market gaps. Path2Response shares some of the same concepts as the other Coops, but we have two unique differentiators—in our data and our modeling techniques—that solve significant problems for today’s direct mail marketer in a new, innovative way – finding qualified new universes to target.

To get traction, you have to have a “baked” concept that’s unique in the market. In data, we combine transactional, browse intent and compiled data in our models.  By leveraging intent data, we can identify potential prospects browsing within categories relevant to your existing customers.  We know from our clients that adding their own browse activity from their own website yields a better response rate from like segments on their customer file. Path2Response takes this concept one step further and utilizes synergistic browse activity for generating prospect lists.

In our modeling techniques, our technology platform is faster and more secure than any other Data Cooperative in the business.  As you know Recency, Frequency, Monetary are in that order for a reason. And, our solution leverages recent activity in all forms rapidly to get an extra boost in performance.  We are updating our Cooperative database daily.

The key is to do something different and stay on top of the market. Add loyalty from a customer base, and you’ll gain more traction more quickly. The better you know the market you are competing in, the better you will be able to serve your customers and, ultimately, secure a more stable position for your business.

Know Yourself

The best advice any business owner could take to heart is that it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers yourself. Fill in gaps with other people’s strengths. A good idea paired with the right people is a recipe for success. Use your connections and market knowledge to find the best people to staff your company. Employee referrals are often a great way to find quality people and talent without having to sift through a number of applications and poor candidates. (At Path2Response, 95% of our employees are referrals.)

It is important to take your time when it comes to finding talent, and always remember that your greatest asset (or detriment) is your employees. If you take the time to invest in them, they will invest in you in return, provide better service to your customers, and share in your vision more completely. Without a good group of employees, making serious business traction is next to impossible.  Nothing gets done without putting the right people in the right places to be successful, and knowing your own limitations.

At Path2Response, we have a simple saying: Good people + good concept =  good traction. We started from the ground up with these steps, and we iterate, iterate, iterate…constantly.

Are you trying to gain more traction in your own industry? Please contact us at Path2Response to learn more about our own beginnings and how your business can better target your customers, fill service gaps, and leverage your employees to gain a better standing in the marketplace.


BRIAN RAINEY | Chief Executive Officer

A 30-year veteran and original cooperative pioneer, Brian has spent his entire career building creative solutions to help marketers improve their efforts. By recognizing the challenge that marketers face and understanding which media drives behavior and response by consumers, Brian has been focused on developing solutions to integrate both online and offline media into the cooperative environment. Brian was previously the president of Epsilon Targeting (formerly Abacus), held senior marketing roles at The Sharper Image and Sara Lee Direct.