This article was originally published on reverb, Drake Cooper’s reflections on advertising, creativity, and trends. Read more.

One-Third Of The US Economy Is Driven By Middle Market Companies. Here’s What They Need From Their Marketing Partners.

One-third of the US economy is run by mid-market companies which is commonly defined by Dun & Bradstreet as any company with annual sales between $10 million and $1 billion. Such companies have unique needs which, too often, agencies miss. They miss it because the creative efforts of large companies–from Unilever to Nike—take the majority of the trade press. This is too bad because the mid-market comprises 200,000 companies, employs 44.5 million people, and generates more than $10 trillion in annual revenues.

Interestingly, mid-market companies have a bit of a paradox to manage. They have marketing resources, but they don’t have huge marketing teams. They invest notably in R&D, but not everything scales to work for them or is affordable. They are hiring at greater velocity than small business and large enterprise, but don’t have established ways for every position to work yet. They bring enormous passion to business, but still make the effort to have interpersonal relationships with partners and suppliers they like. These conditions, and more, make for a unique set of marketing needs that aren’t talked about very much in the media.

“The tendency in the US to overlook middle market enterprises is extremely short-sighted, as it fails to appreciate the major contributions made by these companies in terms of economic activity, job creation, and investment in innovation.”  -World Economic Forum, 2018

Our belief is that the mid-market is both a factual definition and a mentality. Some companies are right in the heart of the mid-market by economic definition. Additionally, some teams within a large enterprise take on the wonderful mentality of the mid-market and do their finest work with partners who approach things in a mid-market manner.

When it comes to working with creative agencies, marketing partners and R&D innovation providers, there are nine core needs mid-market companies seek to achieve growth.

Mid-Market Companies Must:

  1. Make themselves very findable (online/offline) by those who aren’t very familiar with them, or don’t know the brand at all.
  2. Use creativity as a core market advantage to be incredibly distinctive with their story to draw people into a brand they often know little to nothing about.
  3. Steal market share from very large resource-rich brands while also actively watching for aggressive moves by smaller, yet credible, competitors who can displace them quickly.
  4. Be very clear in their messaging about what they do, why they do it, and show how much people like them.
  5. Offer a surprisingly-easy customer experience and customer journey.
  6. Spend notable time building strategies to enter new markets, both physically and among consumers.
  7. Maximize their brand penetration by showing the brand, brand assets, packaging, etc. in a consistent and distinctive manner.
  8. Create a culture based on brand purpose that attracts and retains talent from the lure of large enterprises and their attractive employment packages.
  9. Be able to personally show the owner(s) of the company, who often work just steps away, how their marketing investment is working.

Perhaps some of these sound familiar to any company… But for big enterprises many of the above are already done/different or they don’t use an agency to achieve them. Conversely, many small businesses are simply not at some of these stages yet.

The mid-market is one of the most exciting places to perform marketing. Whether a brand is physically in the mid-market or has a specific marketing division looking for mid-market grit, smarts and agility, agencies need to be able to deliver against these nine needs if they are to be successful with brands who drive one-third of the US economy.


The DNA of Middle Market Growth, The Ohio State University

Economic Might of Middle Market Firms, Dun & Bradstreet/American Express

Fueling the US Economy’s Middle Market Growth Engine, World Economic Forum