ForwardLine: Taking a Big Data Approach to SMB Marketing (and Capital)


Small business marketing management and back office operations haven’t had much cross over. Perhaps Intuit has worked to marry them together; so have Microsoft and Web.com. Until recently, that was the extent of it.

Now we’re seeing a new batch of companies volunteering to work with SMBs as both marketing helpers and business managers. The rise of online scheduling has made such a marriage much more logical. So has the extension of web site presence management, and leads management.

ReachLocal and GoDaddy, for instance, have crossed the line – in different ways – to eliminate the silos separating marketing and back office ops. Another approach is being taken via ForwardLine. The ten-year old, 60-person company is primarily known for short-term SMB loans and payment processing – and has cleverly linked the two businesses for many customers. Roughly one quarter of ForwardLine’s customers are restaurants. Other large categories include salons, dentists and drycleaners.

CRO David Teichner tells us that ForwardLine is a natural partner because “capital is a key ingredient for SMB growth.” Furthermore, many SMBs renew their relationship with ForwardLine when they need money for new equipment; a new ad campaign; or other reasons. “More than eighty percent of our customers come back for additional funds when a new opportunity comes their way,” says Teichner.

Recently, ForwardLine began structuring strategic partnerships with companies offering services to SMBs. ForwardLine offers its partners data on credit card sales volume and other sales data to give insight into what makes SMB owners tick. This allows ForwardLine’s partners to offer up tailored services for SMBs and demonstrate the ROI.

Teichner, who came to ForwardLine in 2013 from Yowza, a mobile coupons company, adds that “small business owners want to grow their business. They need capital, which ForwardLine provides, but they also want effective marketing services that they can measure. We provide a convenient source of client-side visibility, so that SMB marketers and other service companies can demonstrate the value they are adding.”

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