MarTech Interview with Brendan King, CEO of Vendasta

SMEs are the backbone of our economy, what does it take to ensure steady ROI and growth as events surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic continue to create disruptions? Brendan King, CEO of Vendasta takes the time to share his thoughts in this chat:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Brendan. Can you tell us the story of Vendasta’s journey leading up to this point?

It’s a pleasure to chat with you! Thank you for the opportunity.

Vendasta builds the leading platform for channel partners providing digital solutions to SMBs. We work directly with local experts of all kinds, including marketing agencies and consultants, media companies, managed service providers, and independent software vendors. We build a platform to help our partners scale and a curated marketplace of products and services to sell. Both are tightly integrated into an operating system for SMBs, allowing the clinics, stores, restaurants, and professional service businesses to access their own single sign-on for everything they need to succeed digitally.

I would like to say we had this grand plan out of the gate, but in reality, it is a result of continuous innovation and improvement. We started from 2011 to 2013 as a white-label, point solution provider of listings, reputation, and social media management. We soon realized our channel partners had a bigger problem than products to sell. They needed to lower their cost of acquiring customers and expand their customer base.

From 2014 to 2015 we added our sales CRM and marketing automation and realized that our channel partners needed a complete platform to run their business. We also realized that they needed more than the advertising and marketing solutions we were providing.   So in 2016, our Marketplace was born so we could leverage best-of-breed technology and provide a complete SMB operating system or “business-in-a-box.” 

Then in 2019, we accelerated our plan to become the channel partner and SMB operating system. Through the first year of the pandemic, we proudly supported partners and SMBs as they worked to meet consumers and clients online. We leaned into ecommerce, remote tools, and online learning tools to help. We’re proud to report that in 2021, a group of incredible VC investors liked what we were doing, and invested $119.5 million in our plans.

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What should small and medium businesses do right now to futureproof themselves post-pandemic?

The single greatest thing you can do is to set your focus on how your customers make a purchasing decision online. COVID-19 triggered a step-function increase in demand as consumers were literally forced online. The habits they’re forming won’t go away. Online commerce is where people will continue booking appointments, scheduling meetings, and purchasing goods. You must think of your customers first and build a strategy around their consumer habits. This means helping your business thrive in a digital world. You need to be found online, have a good reputation, and execute a strong social media strategy. It all contributes to a transaction. Remember: Your competitors are only one click away. My second piece of advice would be: Find a local expert who can help. 

You covered how small businesses are changing in the wake of COVID…how are the experts who serve them changing?

They have a lot in common with their business clients. They need to have a strong digital presence and ecommerce capabilities. The difference is, it’s no longer good enough to be a single solution provider. Industries that provide their expertise and technology to businesses are learning this. They’re realizing that they can retain their clients for longer and be that singular local expert if they offer their customers a full suite of solutions and services they need. We’re watching marketing agencies provide cybersecurity solutions or productivity software like Google Workspace. In another arena, people who typically provide IT solutions are now realizing they can offer marketing technology too. It’s a convergence of channels that will become more prevalent over time. It all traces back to the SMB clients’ needs.

Other than productivity software and cybersecurity solutions, what other changes are you seeing for businesses working in marketing technology, specifically?

Of the eight different SMB-serving industry segments we work with, marketing agencies and consultants are among the ones most willing to change. We see them providing accounting software, booking and scheduling solutions, CRMs, and HR solutions. I would anticipate we’ll see logistics, procurement, and other technologies added to that catalog soon. 

Do you have some top-of-mind thoughts or best practices you feel marketing and sales teams need to follow to drive ROI?

Customer habits have changed, but so has the customer journey. It’s no longer linear. Consider how you can help your customers or clients on an ongoing basis through many product and service categories. Your SMB clients should be able to rely on you. Customer churn is expensive. Become the local expert and you’ll unlock monthly recurring revenue and improved customer retention. 

A few thoughts for marketing leaders to keep in mind through the rest of 2021?

Knowledge is a huge problem for agencies and marketing leaders. You need to keep up with all the new technologies and strategies out there, and learning by experience is expensive. You don’t need to go it alone. 

Find a community of leaders in your industry who you can grow from, and heed others’ advice and experiences. It’s why we built conquerlocal.com so our customers can interact with one another and grow in a way that reduces risk.

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core purpose is to drive local economies by democratizing technology for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It accomplishes this by providing a robust platform to local experts around the world—its channel partners. Partners use Vendasta’s technology to market, sell, bill, fulfill, and deliver digital solutions to their SMB clients. Its end-to-end platform and marketplace are tightly integrated into an operating system delivered to SMBs, providing a single sign-on to digital products and analytics. Vendasta serves 50,000+ channel partners, who in turn work with more than five million SMBs worldwide. Explore Vendasta at www.vendasta.com.

Brendan King is the innovative force behind Vendasta. Responsible for providing the vision, thought leadership, and business strategy, it is Brendan’s ability to focus on the big picture while maintaining quality on the finest details that drives Vendasta’s success. Prior to starting the company, Brendan has many business ventures, including a computer chain that was nationally franchised. He was also the entrepreneurial force behind Point2 Agent, a real estate software company, where he grew its membership to more than 185,000 agents and brokers in 85 countries. Brendan and Vendasta are almost synonymous. Both are governed by four core values: Drive, innovation, respect, and agility. Brendan is extremely passionate about upholding these values while helping Vendasta on its path of democratizing technology for local businesses.

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