RevLocal leans on culture of innovation to yield success

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

It may be a given that success requires effective planning and strategy, but for a business to really thrive it takes many ingredients, especially culture, says Marc Hawk, president of RevLocal.

"I believe culture eats strategy for lunch," Hawk says. "We intentionally focus on building a culture of constant innovation, from the skills we need in those we hire to the strategies we employ in every industry we serve."

It's worked well. RevLocal helps companies market their businesses on the Web. The company emerged in 2011 from the Knox County-based ECR, which began in 1994 as an Internet service provider.

RevLocal has grown from 10 to 175 employees, with plans to add 100 more in the coming year. The company has representatives in more than 20 major cities and Canada.

Called pushpin marketing, RevLocal helps companies ensure that potential customers in their region will spot their businesses in the top echelons of all Internet search engines.

Key to helping RevLocal attract customers has been its transparency about customer value and its own experience as a small business, recognizing that investing in a new strategy or a vendor can be a threat if the move does not provide bang for the bucks expended.

"With an approach of no contracts and our business model aligned with the needs of our clients, we have been able to earn the trust of clients and exceed their expectations," Hawk says.

While the company found great success in other cities like Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and Minneapolis, its leaders focused on the best location to attract and retain talent for their industry.

"We came to the conclusion that the Columbus Region is one of the top locations for secondary education and the retention of talent," Hawk says. "The improvements to the city and the quality of our university system are major factors in our decision to grow here."

With the area's exceptional universities, aggressive programs for supporting job training and companies that create jobs, other businesses would do well to follow RevLocal's lead, Hawk says.

"It is a great business environment to innovate and grow," he says. "We believe there is a lot of momentum in Central Ohio for businesses that are staying relevant and providing the services needed in the digital age."

It's an age when marketing is changing rapidly, requiring companies like RevLocal to learn quickly to stay on top of their game.

"There is no doubt that we learn more from our failures than our successes, and we have learned to fail fast, remain agile and continue to iterate repeatedly with new produces and services for our clients," Hawk says. "The strategies and avenues for creating value have dramatically changed industry by industry in the three years we have been scaling our business nationally."

Future success for RevLocal can be simmered down to one word-execution.

"The market we serve is infinite with over $40 billion in annual spending on digital marketing and millions of small to medium businesses in North America," Hawk says. "There is no limit to the growth of our business. It all comes down to our commitment to expansion, learning from our failures and scaling our business to serve more and more clients effectively."

TC Brown is a freelance writer.


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