2012 Columbus Smart Leaders: Bill Balderaz, President, Fathom

Bill Balderaz, President, Fathom

Bill Balderaz, President, Fathom

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

For the first few years of our organization we were in a unique market position. Companies were cutting back on broadcast and print advertising and shifting their budgets to online marketing, public relations and advertising. At the same time, social media was on the rise as an effective means of generating new business and technology allowed for highly targeted online marketing. We were in the online marketing space early, literally on the dawn of social media marketing and had a great head start. For years we were growing as quickly as we could onboard people. We enjoyed a market position with very little competition and very high demand.

Then in 2010, larger, well-funded agencies began seeing the opportunity in the online space. Suddenly, our clients and employees were being courted by “brand name” agencies 10 times our size. At the same time, smaller firms and individuals sprung up overnight offering at cut rate prices.

We caught this threat early and reacted fast. We focused on creating new market spaces in which the smaller firms couldn’t compete in terms of resources and larger firms couldn’t compete in terms of innovation and flexibility. We redefined ourselves as a data driven marketing firm for regulated industries. More than redefining ourselves, we lived up to these claims in everything we did. These two market positions separated us from the noise in the market and allowed us to not only maintain our clients and employees but accelerate our growth.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

Innovation is our lifeblood. The firm started in 2006 to help companies use the social media and search engine marketing to grow. YouTube and Twitter had been in existence less than a year. Facebook had only just opened up to the general population. We can literally say that no one has been marketing on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube longer than we have.

In 2006, we built the very first tool to measure social media activity. Today, such tools are common, but at the time, no one had a tool like this. This again helped us establish a market leadership position early.

In 2010, we launched a new division with a proprietary process to analyze hundreds of thousands of online conversations from consumers, the media, government and other influencers and turn that data into actionable intelligence our clients can use for everything from product development, to creating sales strategies to building communication plans to defining a logistics process. Again, we believe we were the first organization to have this type of offering.

In 2012 we launched our social media predictive analytics service. Today, we believe that by analyzing historical social media conversation and correlating those discussions with actual events, we can use social media to predict the outcome of everything from the presidential election and sales of a new or existing product, to climate change and the unemployment rate.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

We work with many of the largest and best known organizations in Central Ohio. In all cases, we help those organizations grow, which creates more jobs. Our clients are successful and it makes us proud to have a small part in their growth.

Aside from our direct work with clients, we actively work with the Columbus Region, The Columbus Chamber of Commerce, TechColumbus and the Conway Center for Family Business  and other groups that are focused on economic development efforts. We also frequently offer free seminars at events sponsored by the local chapters of professional organizations to help local business use the Internet to grow.

In addition, we employ a talented team of professionals here in Columbus and have plans to continue our aggressive growth in Columbus.

Bill Balderaz is the president of Fathom

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