Unexpected go-to-market strategy.

The industry


The client

SBA lender, loan servicer and small business solutions provider

A start up in the fintech space, specializing in servicing SBA small business loans.


Our client came to us with a business idea and a lofty revenue goal. They were building a business around the servicing of SBA loans during COVID. Given the backdrop of the PPP loan activity across the country, they needed to launch with speed and scale. Their goal — $10B in revenues in the first year.

They had an existing lending partnership with a well respected, approved SBA lender. Their initial request was for us to create a national marketing approach so that together, they could offer PPP loans to small business owners in need across the country.

Our findings

The PPP loan issuing space was very crowded and in flux. The returns to the lenders as well as the loan forgiveness and servicing process was still being written by the SBA.

Most US business owners turned to their current banking institution for PPP loans. Some sought alternatives and marketing in the space was extremely saturated with many well known lenders. Competing to issue these loans was going to be an enormous challenge in and of itself, much less getting to the volume of loans which would be required to meet our client’s revenue objectives.

The solution

Through extensive research, we helped guide the client to a highly effective approach to acquire PPP loans for servicing at scale. Our findings disclosed a key insight — while local and regional banks were required to participate and offer PPP loans to their small business customers, many of these banks across America were not well equipped (staff, nor expertise) to service the volume of PPP SBA loans they had issued during the Covid-19 crisis. In fact, many had grave concerns about the unique and intensive servicing requirements — both the forgiveness process as well as possible long term service and collection. They were simply not staffed for the loan servicing that would come next.

With this insight, we offered an unexpected go-to-market approach — targeting banks and institutions instead of small business owners. We proposed marketing directly to financial institutions across the country who were faced with this concern about servicing, and buy issued PPP loans in bulk. This approach would allow our client to acquire large portfolios of existing PPP loans en masse, versus an approach to target individual small business customers offering single loan originations.

Our client was an experienced loan servicer. When we unpacked this as an option, there was no real upside for them to issue each loan, merely to service it — that’s their business model. The ROI model for loan acquisition costs to demonstrate the practicality of this approach was a slam dunk.

Additionally, this approach offered a slew of benefits — they easily filled an important need to help other financial institutions across the country by offering experienced servicing. Our client was also able to do what they did best in the process — offer white glove servicing for PPP loan customers across America. The banks were equally happy that their clients would be well taken care of for these transactions.

We marketed exclusively to banks and financial institutions through dedicated media channels to find banks in need. Our client’s team was able to handle the volume well with this approach as they were dealing with hundreds of incoming loans via a single transaction — the bank to the servicing agent, transferring loans in bulk versus single loan application processing.

Banks and institutions responded well. An unexpected go-to-market strategy provided wins all around. Including our client, exceeding their revenue expectations in less than 12-months.

The details —
Research to identify innovative approaches

Extensive research is the foundational element to help develop key insights. In this case, the research was critical for us to create an innovative and unexpected go-to-market approach. We completely shifted the business strategy to help our client achieve their goals.

Keep the client’s capabilities in mind

Our client had a small front-line team and a lofty growth goal. We needed to keep in mind these operational constraints when marketing — sending more leads than is possible to manage would be like throwing marketing money away. In this case, the solution ended up being perfect for the market and for our client’s business model. Front line staff were able to service a single client (the bank) in order to initially onboard many loans (the bank’s PPP loan customers) in single transactions.

Source dedicated channels for marketing

Once we identified that our approach was to banks versus small business owners, it was critical to identify the best channels to message bankers and their staff. We were able to remain nimble with marketing spend by ensuring we were using the best channels for our messaging.

“Creativity and innovation are about finding unexpected solutions to obvious problems, or finding obvious solutions to unexpected problems.”
Rei Inamoto — Principal, Inamoto and Company
The results

Our go-to-market plan was not the expected one, but exactly the right one. Research and the resulting key findings allowed us to target financial institutions and community banks who had issued PPP loans, offering them support while at the same time, helping our client exceed their business objectives. Financial institutions received needed relief from loan forgiveness and servicing while the PPP loan holders were placed with a high quality servicing agent.

All parties win.

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