In the face of economic headwinds, the complexities of mid-market growth have never been more apparent. In this Expert Insights Series interview, Blue Margin’s Director of Consulting, Kate Eberle, sat down with Richard Byrd, Fractional CMO and President of BlueByrd Strategic Sales and Marketing, to explore how companies can navigate this challenging landscape.
His advice? A return to “the good old-fashioned way of going out there and improving the commercial side of the business to help it grow. Maybe you can't quadruple a company through acquisition over the next three years, but maybe you can grow it 20-30% just by taking a more disciplined and strategic approach in marketing.”
Richard Byrd has extensive experience in B2B marketing. His experience includes Global Creative Director for Schlumberger, where he focused on product commercialization before transitioning back to agency work and eventually founding his own company, BlueByrd, in February 2019.
BlueByrd is a marketing consultancy serving the B2B mid-market in industrial, oil and gas, and life sciences sectors. They specialize in “helping technical people sell complex products to complicated organizations” through their premier offering of a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer. Their Fractional CMOs help middle market companies, particularly those backed by private equity, grow their revenue through differentiation and customer-centric messaging.
Below, we’ve highlighted several key takeaways from the interview, but listen or watch below for the full conversation.
- Overcoming Mid-Market Marketing Challenges
- The Role of GenAI Across BlueByrd Clients
- Private Equity’s Shifting Landscape and Renewed Focus on Organic Growth
- BlueByrd’s Proven Process for Strategic Execution
Overcoming Middle Market Marketing Challenges
According to Byrd, within the middle market, there's a consistent inconsistency in how companies approach marketing.
"We see a lot of consistency in pain points in the middle market," Byrd states. Companies often struggle with "inconsistencies in their processes, their tech stack isn't fully utilized, and their messaging and positioning is not clearly articulated."
For best results, Richard advises his clients to:
Get out and talk to strangers.
Sales teams often rely on their existing network and don't reach out to new prospects, limiting their growth potential. To achieve ambitious growth targets, companies need to expand their outreach and "talk to strangers," as Richard puts it.
Develop an end-to-end strategy.
Additionally, it's not uncommon for Richard to see the companies he works with try individual tactics like social media or email marketing but lack an end-to-end strategy to guide customers through the buying process.
Get access to the right tools and metrics.
Byrd finds that some clients lack essential technology in their stack altogether while others have the necessary tools but aren't using them to their full potential. Both of these issues lead to the inability to access critical metrics such as deal velocity, revenue cycle, and customer lifetime value.
And without visibility into those metrics, it's challenging to develop a marketing plan that ensures a return on investment. Accessing the right data is crucial for equipping companies to make informed decisions on where to invest their effort and budget.
The Role of Gen AI Across BlueByrd Clients
Marketing is an evolving discipline that needs to adapt as companies grow and the market changes. As AI capabilities continue to expand, they provide a new set of tools to help marketing teams do just that.
"[Our mid-market clients] are a little more bullish on Gen AI, and our enterprise-level clients are terrified of it... they have a lot of concerns about trademark infringement... but we've seen it as a way to really help out with market research and desk research.” - Richard Byrd
Byrd highlights AI-supported account-based marketing software like 6sense and RollWorks as promising tools to help companies target audiences with buying intent. This targeted approach effectively streamlines long sales cycles and helps add key accounts to their customer base.
Byrd also shares some operational benefits his team is experiencing through AI note-taking tools that automate the documentation of client meetings bringing efficiency to their client onboarding process. The more efficient your internal processes, the more time you can allocate to client-specific strategies and problem-solving.
While AI offers various advantages, there are reasonable concerns about data accuracy and ownership, particularly among BlueByrd's enterprise-level clients. All companies should be cautious about implementing AI solutions if they don't have a clear understanding of how the tools source their data.
Private Equity’s Shifting Landscape and Renewed Focus on Organic Growth
The private equity landscape is shifting, and with deal cycles slowing down, firms are looking for alternative ways to add value to their portfolios. The answer, Byrd suggests, lies in organic growth achieved through a disciplined and strategic approach to sales and marketing.
“One thing that we see when we're working with private equity firms is that they're kind of in a tight spot right now with the interest rates the way they are and that affects the evaluation of the companies. ...If that deal cycle is slowing down, then how are they going to add value to those organizations? Well, our answer is: organically.
The good old-fashioned way of going out there and improving the commercial side of the business to help it grow. Maybe you can't quadruple a company through acquisition over the next three years, but maybe you can grow it 20-30% just by taking a more disciplined and strategic approach in marketing.”
Kate Eberle echoes this sentiment, noting the industry's journey from a focus on financial engineering to heavy M&A activity, and now, a return to the basics of organic growth. "In the last two to three years," she observes, "as those things have gotten more complicated, going back to basics, grow the company with organic growth, definitely seems to be top of mind."
BlueByrd’s Proven Process for Strategic Marketing Execution
"We start by understanding both the long-term and short-term strategy for that company. We conduct an audit of what has and has not worked historically. Then we build a playbook to help the company understand and communicate their differentiation and budget for their initiatives to increase market share." - Richard Byrd
BlueByrd begins every engagement with a discovery phase to understand the company, industry, and goals. They then tailor their strategies based on whether a company is looking for quick growth to sell or long-term, multi-generational growth.
After discovery, BlueByrd conducts an audit of what has and hasn't worked in the past. This includes evaluating their sales force engagement and tech stack. From there, they build a playbook to help the company define its position, understand its differentiation, and communicate effectively with prospects and clients.
Once the playbook is in place, BlueByrd oversees its execution. They adapt as necessary and maintain open communication with the management team and investors to monitor growth.
For companies in the mid-market, it's not just about having a strategy but about having a playbook—a tactical guide that is deeply rooted in an understanding of both the company and the market it operates in.
Connect with Richard Byrd and the BlueByrd Team
About Blue Margin
The evolving marketing strategies Richard mentioned throughout the interview align with Blue Margin’s data management approach to help clients leverage their data to support both top and bottom-line growth. Our goal is increased data visibility that drives team alignment and accountability to the growth plan.
We do this through a subscription Managed Data Service, which provides a fractional team of experts to build and manage your data platform, advise you on your data strategy, and build reports that evolve as your company grows. Learn more about our approach and philosophy through our book and podcast, "The Dashboard Effect". Download your copy here and subscribe to our podcast for weekly insights.