Digital presence is one of the most important things in this digital era. It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that a digital presence decides the fate of a company. SMDigital is one such company that is helping people make it work with their innovative solutions.
In this interview with F.M Byers, the CEO of SMDigital, let us know more about the company.
- Tell us about the company.
We started the company in 2003 with one simple mission: to help our first client with mobile messaging. Then another company needed a website. A few more needed mobile ads, dynamic landing pages and animated video production. Shortly thereafter, we started earning some awards and the word spread. We added more talented teammates. And we just kept growing from there.
Fast forward to today (that’s like 150 web years later), and we’re proud to have worked with some of Earth’s most respected brands. We’re small enough to be personal and uber-responsive, yet big enough to make stuff happen quickly. We’re selective of the companies with whom we work, and we never bite off more than we can chew.
- What were the initial challenges you faced?
Like many hard-working companies in their early stages, our initial challenges centered around managing growth. We were fortunate to have more work than we could handle, so ensuring that we instilled the right processes and hired the right teammates was always a critical responsibility.
- Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
We’re fortunate to still be growing today (even during COVID-19) but I’d have to say it was when we landed our first multinational client. We had to think about the different markets, hire some teammates born in these countries and then ensure that the cultural differences — internally – were recognized and respected. This was an incredibly challenging experience, but our team pulled through and we really started growing from that point on.
- How have the company graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?
As a privately-held company, we don’t discuss our results. But I will share some key points that I am incredibly proud of. For one: I would have to say our tenure is among the highest in the industry. When we find talented and passionate teammates that can make things happen, we hire them – and they stay.
I believe we have a great culture and working environment and our team loves their jobs – and working with our clients. Secondly, we have expanded from a particular focus in healthcare, education and real estate to other industries such as consumer packaged goods, fashion, e-commerce and banking. We now have clients in 26 different industries.
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.
- What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
I always say it is because we have talented people with “fire-in-the-belly”. Our folks are really passionate about what they do and our clients recognize that. I also stress responsiveness and fluid, transparent communication. There are many other factors contributing to our collective success, but these, to me, are the most meaningful.
- What are the products/services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
We’ve been labeled a “full service digital agency” – and I hate that term. We have 116 teammates and can handle just about anything our clients need in the digital marketing arena. But, we’re really more of a digital consultancy; our approach is to find out what our client’s challenges are, ask tons of questions, perform a diagnostic to make sure we understand the client’s challenges – and then figure out if there is a fit. We are expert practitioners and we don’t sell services to clients who don’t need them.
- How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
We are committed to constantly learning. We like to think we are in tune with trends and the digital landscape and by really listening to our clients, and prospects, I think we are in the front of the pack. We also encourage en environment of methodical risk taking (which means we make mistakes at times) but this is how we learn and innovate and perform for our clients. Everyday.
- Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?
We don’t have any new “products or services”, per se, to mention. However, as we are constantly evolving, I can say that we are proud to say we are partnering with more and more clients – leaving behind the traditional agency-client relationship and becoming a true partner. After all, it’s in our name: SMDigital Partners
- What do you think are the responsibilities of an entrepreneur?
In no particular order, effective entrepreneurs must be great communicators, supportive of each teammate, take personal responsibility, possess acute listening skills and work tirelessly to execute the vision.
- Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
I started my career at a FORTUNE 100 company in their corporate HQ. After a few years, I had the opportunity to work in one of their healthcare divisions in a variety of operating roles. I stayed there nearly 10 years and left as a division president.
We like to think we are in tune with trends and the digital landscape and by really listening to our clients, and prospects, I think we are in the front of the pack.
Looking back, his was a terrific experience as I was able to build on my experiences from a large conglomerate to a smaller operating entity
- What are the key achievements of your entrepreneurial journey?
From there, I reconnected with two former colleagues and we started several healthcare companies. This was where the entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. Many of these companies grew quite rapidly; a few were sold and some are still in existence today. One of the companies was featured in FORTUNE magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America.
- How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?
We have created a true family culture at SMDigital. As I mentioned, when people are welcome into the company – our family – rarely do they leave. My role is to provide as much support to everyone as possible – and help them be successful – professionally, personally and financially. I like to think we are unique because I don;t think anyone sees their role as a “job”; it’s what they love to do – and they are darn good at it. Our clients notice this key distinction.
- Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?
Sure. I’m not sure I would call it special, as I know we would do it again, but it sure is relevant. In short, soon after Covid started, one of our global travel-related companies was severely impacted by the pandemic. Their business came to a screeching halt. They had to let many employees go and they could not afford to keep us engaged. But, rather than halt our services, we kept going. We knew they would come out of the storm at some point, and we felt we had to support them in times of crisis. Just another great example of the partnerships we have with our clients.
- Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
I’m a big fan of Elon Musk. His indefatigable spirit, outspoken personality and ability to make sh*t happen is very inspiring to me.
- Constant vigilance- a need or a strategy? Please share your views.
I think high-performing, successful companies must always be aware of what’s going on: inside their company, with their clients and in the markets. It’s not a need or strategy – it’s a “must”.
- It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?
This goes back to one of our core values: responsiveness. I believe all companies must not only be talented, results-driven, innovative – and more – but they have to be fast, constantly anticipating what’s out there and proactively communicating with our client partners.