Small Business Spotlight: Team Players

Two former Ohio State athletes have used their MBAs to launch and grow m2 marketing.

By Melissa Kossler Dutton
From the May 2013 issue of Columbus CEO

By Melissa Kossler Dutton

Two former Ohio State athletes have used their MBAs to launch and grow m2 marketing.

While athletes at Ohio State University, Ryan Miller and Megan McCabe relished being part of a team. They liked seeing how their strengths could combine with their peers’ to produce a winning strategy.

As owners of m2 marketing, McCabe and Miller take a similar approach to helping their clients succeed. They don’t just offer Web development, application development and graphic design services: They form partnerships with clients.

The intent isn’t to offer a quick fix, says Miller, a linebacker for the Buckeyes from 1992 to 1996. “We want to understand their business from their perspective,” he says. “As the world changes, we want them to feel comfortable coming to m2 for solutions.”

As a small marketing firm, m2 can offer that personalized service, says McCabe, who played on the OSU women’s basketball team in the late 1990s. “We’re able to be agile,” she says. “We pride ourselves on our responsiveness to our clients.”

The company, which began in 2004 as a Web development company, now offers a variety of services to help clients use the Internet to grow their businesses. It also provides graphic design and artwork services, such as sales folders, letterhead and business cards. m2 employs eight people and earned $770,000 in revenue last year.

Many clients turn to m2 for Web-based solutions to business problems. The development team routinely creates software to help clients operate more efficiently, generate sales leads or improve work flow.

The United Way of Delaware County recently hired m2 marketing to overhaul its website and create a program that would accept online registrations for a new children’s reading program. The organization had a long list of requirements, says Brandon Feller, president of the agency.

The site needed to be very interactive, he says. The organization wanted to allow online visitors to easily make donations or register for events. The data from those functions needed to be organized and processed efficiently for the staff members who handle them. The staff had to be able to update the website without having to go through a third party.

Working with m2 was “fabulous,” Feller says. “It’s really been a back-and-forth partnership as we’ve built this to be what we wanted it to be.”

The cost “was very competitive,” Feller says. “It was an excellent investment for us,” he says. “It allows us to communicate with the community in a way we weren’t able to before.”

Often, the cost of a custom program is similar to what companies would pay for off-the-shelf software, says Miller, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA from OSU’s Fisher College of Business. Many clients realize additional savings when they implement the made-to-order programs because they do exactly what employees need them to do, he adds.

When the m2 staff designs software for clients, they focus on creating intuitive processes to accomplish the task, says McCabe, who has a bachelor’s in software engineering and a Fisher MBA. The company looks at what data needs to be obtained or shared and how employees will use it, she says. It’s an area they hope to expand.

“We want to understand the business process. We will connect the dots to tie in technology and solve problems,” she says. “It’s like putting together a puzzle. Sometimes we have to create the pieces. That’s a big part of what differentiates us.”

The business partners conceived the idea for the company while at Fisher. That education helps them better understand their clients’ needs, they say.

But m2 is about more than business, the partners say. From the start, the company has focused on being ethical, accountable and responsible. “We wanted to make sure that was at the forefront when we started this business,” Miller says. “People like doing business with us because our heart is in the right place, and we want to be part of somebody’s team.”

The company headquarters provides office space for 2nd & 7, a foundation Miller started with OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and former Buckeye and NFL star Mike Vrabel to promote children’s literacy.

Miller and McCabe’s dedication to doing the right thing is readily apparent to their clients, says Dan Ponton, president of Roosters Inc., the Dublin-based restaurant chain. “We’re all about relationships and doing the right thing,” he says. “You know right away that their values and ethics are in tune with yours.”

Melissa Kossler Dutton is a freelance writer.