The past 18 months have brought unprecedented challenges to all businesses, and the US mid-market has not been free of disease.

Of Central Market National Center NCMM has been monitoring the company’s performance and sentiment since 2012, with annual revenues ranging from $ 10 million to $ 1 billion. After experiencing negative growth rates in 2020, the current average income growth From June 2020 to June 2021 It was 8%. That’s good news, the average annual growth since 2012 was approximately 6.5 percent. However, a closer look shows a divided recovery: 45% of companies reported 10% or more revenue growth, while the other 34% experienced flat or reduced revenue.

Job growth has returned to positive levels, with an average growth rate of 5.9 percent. In addition, 70 percent of the central market’s workforce has returned to its original position from June 2021. Leaders of medium-sized companies also mentioned two of the most difficult issues to carry out their work in the current environment, saying that 51% of them are challenging. They reported issues related to labor relations, participation and productivity, and 45% customer engagement.

The severity of these challenges varies from industry to industry. For example, 60% of healthcare companies say they struggle with employee engagement, and 55% of construction companies find it difficult to engage customers in new and useful ways.

How can medium-sized companies grow with unbalanced recovery and ongoing challenges? From our research over the past decade, we have learned that they are generally useful in dealing with limitations such as capital, knowledge and time. Focusing on digitizing their businesses can help solve problems around customer and employee engagement.

The plague has changed its priorities.

At the time of the outbreak, investment in various technologies was accelerated, with the aim of addressing a number of areas such as cyber security, customer engagement and communication. But this transition to digitalization does not necessarily reflect the way executives feel about their own business situation.

When we asked leaders about the importance of digitization, 52% said it was important or very important, while only 35% considered themselves to be older or ahead of their peers. In addition, only 46% of mid-market companies claim to have a digital roadmap built into their strategy, which means that the rest have no specific plans or cannot solve them at this time.

Like other challenges, digital maturity levels vary by industry. Take approximately 17% of all companies in the manufacturing industry, one of the largest sectors in the mid-market. Fifty percent of these businesses say they are concerned with the right technology to compete. This is not just a matter of advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence in the factory – technology affects all aspects of the business.

For example, Gertrude Hack is a chocolate maker in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The 85-year-old company operates 40 physical locations in three states, as well as a consumer e-commerce site and a B2B platform. While their internal process was excellent, the company ignored the need for strong digital platforms to engage customers. Recently, they have invested in digital marketing tools, such as improved website photography, as well as easy-to-buy and order mobile devices for customer rewards. Recognizing that the company was behind their peers, the site’s traffic increased, the site’s longer average visits, and reward membership increased due to their investment.

While most of the concerns at the beginning of the epidemic – uncertainty, job continuity, work capital – have largely decreased, customer engagement and employee engagement have remained a challenge. Nearly a third of medium-sized companies say they have moved permanently into digital communications, while another 24% plan to do so in the near future. In addition, 31% of companies have consistently implemented technology to engage with customers.

A good example is TWD and Company, a hospitality company in Duck, North Carolina. Tweed, who owns hundreds of rental properties in foreign banks, relies on his strong customer relationships, frequent business and verbal references. However, when the industry literally closed in the spring of 2020, the company’s president, Clark Tweed, began using investments in CRM platforms to reach new customers. For example, future and past tenants have found that they respond better to text updates than phone calls or emails. CRM also allows TDD’s marketing and sales teams to collect and monitor every point of contact, regardless of the method used to ensure accurate mixing and transparency and to calculate conversion rates. The results are impressive, inspiring historical growth and resilience. Going forward, the company is committed to continuous innovation, experimentation and digital media experiences.

Many mid-market companies are also challenged by resource constraints. So making the same investments is easier than ever. When asked about barriers, most companies mention the costs and budget issues associated with new technology. Central Market IT spending is focused on day-to-day business operations and cyber security, both of which account for 11 percent of total budgets. Companies also recognize the time constraints and lack of real resources available to others to implement these technologies effectively.

Digital Transformation Framework

Investment in digital devices and processes has not hurt much in the last 18 months as much as in other businesses. Indeed, the investment has accelerated and paved the way for a more efficient, profitable and productive future. Medium-market companies with a digital vision that guide clear, comprehensive and strategic decisions Growing at an average of 75% faster Less digital peers.

Surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of leaders also say that the digital skills gap in their employees is holding them back from more aggressive activities. So how should executives address these issues? NCMM has developed a framework to guide mid-market companies in the digital transformation process. Basically, the organization is divided into five different but interrelated activities:

  1. What we sell – product and service supplies
  2. How we produce it – supply chain, production, jobs
  3. How we sell – customer experience, channels, marketing
  4. The backbone of our IT – infrastructure, security
  5. Our manpower – talent, digital skills

To address the two biggest challenges in the mid-market, we focus on how we sell (customer engagement) and our workforce (employee engagement).

Customer engagement.

Customer experience, leadership generation and marketing tools are the three main priorities of digital marketing that are currently in conflict with the customer. Here are some great practices to improve in these areas

  • Find the right mix of online and offline marketing, sales and services and focus on integrated multi-channel marketing and sales.
  • Create a more functional website that connects customers with employees and supports products and services.
  • Increase online interaction with customers (website, social media, mobile).
  • Use a variety of digital customer experience and analytics tools.
  • Use marketing support technologies such as CRM systems and social media.
  • Create end-to-end digital experience across all platforms and channels into a comprehensive channel.

Staff participation.

Finding, attracting, and retaining the right talent has been a challenge in the mid-market for many years. Leaders find it difficult to find employees with the right digital skills. To solve these problems, mid-market companies need to do the following.

  • Make a concerted effort to invest in people with limited digital knowledge and be willing to pay a premium for the right skills.
  • Use state-of-the-art technology and digital processes, including the use of digital platforms for employee goal setting and performance management and the use of mobile applications for skills acquisition.
  • Take a strategic approach to address the digital skills gap, adjust manpower and decide which activities can be contracted with external specialists.
  • Provide vocational training and development and clear career paths.

Initiated in 1947 near Philadelphia, Insako manufactures and manufactures high-precision machine parts (primarily for the phonograph and textile industries, but more recently for medical, defense and aerospace clients). Investments in advanced manufacturing technology have enabled them to meet strict production standards up to millions of inches. While practical investments have helped keep them at the forefront of their industry, the focus on customer and employee engagement is an important part of their growth. They have upgraded their website to a one-stop shop to make it easier for customers to navigate and make it easier for employees to access product and make improvements. Since the launch of the new site, Insako has seen significant increases in page views, pages per session and average session duration. You also saw a low return rate, which shows that the redesign has a significant impact.

Using some of these best practices, mid-market companies can strengthen their own digital journey and start or contribute to the future growth of the process.

Editor’s note: 10/20/21 ፡ Clark Tweedin work title updated.