Marketing lessons learned from small and large firms

My career has followed a trajectory of sorts.

After college, my first three full-time positions were with small companies, each with less than a dozen employees. I then began working for larger and larger companies, until in November 2000 I was working for 150,000 employee Motorola. It turns out that was the peak of Motorola’s headcount as layoffs and divestitures reduced the number of employees dramatically. I worked for two other multinational corporations after Motorola, until I found myself at my present position as a sole proprietor.

This has given me a valuable perspective on how things get done.

For example, right now I’m in the middle of a summer promotion for Bredemarket.

By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Photos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This promotion includes website, podcast, social media, and email elements (I ended up not pursuing my video or event ideas). Needless to say, the approval process for all of the different elements was fantastically streamlined. I’m almost done with the launch, and the whole process (including my tests) probably took a little over a week.

Imagine doing the same promotion at a 150,000 person company, especially a company enamored with process like the pre-split Motorola was (and post-split Motorola is). The team creating the promotion would have to adhere to design and branding guidelines and get approvals from multiple stakeholders. There is NO WAY that the promotion could have been launched in two weeks.

I’m not saying that small, nimble firms are good and big companies are bad. A small, nimble firm could easily make a serious blunder that big firms would avoid.


Frankly, with all of the approval processes, I wonder how big firms manage to make so many blunders.

Partially it’s anecdotal, because the few big firm blunders outweigh all the big firm non-blunders. But on the other hand, perhaps the processes and sheer size result in a sense of isolation from the potential customers.

Take my email campaign that I’m doing as part of this promotion. I went through every single contact in my CRM and decided whether to send the email to the contact or not. I am now reviewing every single email before sending it out to make sure that it didn’t include a “Dear FIRSTNAME” error or anything like that.

There’s no way that a 150,000 employee company could do that.

But the exposure to both sizes of businesses clearly benefits me, because I better understand how my teeny contribution at the multinational level fits into the big picture, while also understanding how my single-person campaign has so many elements.

Not that I’m about to set up ISO 9000 processes at Bredemarket…

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