Cameron Maxwell x The Future of Fandom

Fundbox Head of Brand and Content Marketing Cameron Maxwell on Fostering Fans From the Small Side of Small Business

by The Future of Fandom

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Fostering Fans From the Small Side of Small Business

Today on the Future of Fandom, we explore an explosion of entrepreneurialism, chatting with Fundbox about how to build and retain communities of small businesses and its similarities with consumer efforts via their Head of Brand and Content Marketing, Cameron Maxwell.

Think about it for a moment: How many people that you know have started up a side hustle over the last few years? The truth is, small business is on the rise, and Cameron has a front seat as to how those businesses are being built and supported. We also talk about how to market when small businesses and consumers become indistinguishable. After all, on the small side of small business, we’re essentially just talking about people. Thus, a fandom can be achieved even in a B2B context, and Cameron explains how. So let’s all put on an entrepreneurial hat and predict the future with Fundbox and Cameron Maxwell.

Connect with Cameron Maxwell on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cameroncookemaxwell/

Read more about Fundbox: https://fundbox.com/

Full episode here:

FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW

Adam Conner (01:11):

Cameron, thanks for joining me. How are you?

Cameron Maxwell (01:14):

Hey, Adam, I’m doing well, thanks. How are you?

Adam Conner (01:16):

I’m doing fine. This is an interesting angle that I haven’t really got to approach yet, and we haven’t on the show, which is this great nexus of the individual, the side hustle and the small business, all as it relates to building, retaining, sustaining community and getting to that ultimate F word, Fandom. Now, let’s get to another F word to start this, which is of course, Fundbox. For those unaware, could you explain what it is and does?

Cameron Maxwell (01:44):

Yeah, absolutely. Fundbox is an embedded working capital platform for small businesses. So we’re embedded in customers, systems and workflows, and we’re also embedded in the tools they use every day. For instance, we have partnerships with QuickBooks, recently announced a partnership with Stripe, we’re embedded natively in their new mobile app center. So small businesses can come directly to Fundbox for working capital and spend management solutions or they can access Fundbox through those partner tools.

Adam Conner (02:15):

Got you. So Fundbox is generally speaking when it comes to the entity on the end user, let’s say. These are small businesses of what, generally between one and 10 employees or does it vary?

Cameron Maxwell (02:27):

That’s right. Our customers are the smaller side of small business. So prop, generally less, up to 50 employees, less than 1.5 million in annual revenue. So on the smaller side of small business. Yep.

Adam Conner (02:40):

Okay. This is actually perfect because in most of the conversations we’ve had so far here on the Future of Fandom, we have been talking with businesses and brand purveyors of those businesses who are marketing to consumers, individual entities aside from any business entity. And so knowing that you are approaching the small side of small businesses helps this case a little bit. And the case that I speak of is this rising wave of entrepreneurship that of course was spurred by COVID and a lot of people losing their jobs in 2020. I certainly was a part of that. And now has led to a, not resurgence, but just a never stronger side hustle craze. Outside of what Fundbox does and what you’ve experienced for them personally, have you seen this in your life, just with friends that you know, family members, maybe even yourself, have you noticed people taking on more side hustle type of maybe small business before they call themselves a small business just in the world?

Cameron Maxwell (03:43):

Absolutely. Like you said, COVID has driven a lot of… Folks have just had more time and obviously the job market is crazy right now, but I think similar to how photography or music production have become more accessible over the years, starting a business is easier than ever. It’s fairly simple to start a website. So much of the process of getting started as a business can happen digitally. You can stand things up pretty darn quickly. So I think that’s amazing. And there has been this renaissance and it’s a really exciting time for small businesses where I think folks are really empowered with the tools that are available to them now, to be able to stand up their businesses and really pursue their passions.

Adam Conner (04:40):

Yeah. It’s never been easier to start something. I’ve seen this in real life too, between friends of mine, personal contacts, even colleagues who have started things. I don’t even know if it’s with extra time or time that’s been opened up, but just the need to produce more for whatever reason, prevalent, persistent, perhaps linked to a newly found non-permanence of a job. But in essence, it seems that most people are at least thinking about this if not doing it. So again, easier to start than never. I would argue as a result, harder to sustain than ever. Now I’ll talk a little bit about what you may perceive as part of your work at Fundbox. What do you see as challenges for these small businesses that are starting at a higher clip than ever? And in many cases are first time ventures. I’m curious to get your thoughts there.

“The challenge is the competition. When it’s easier for anyone to start a business, then it’s much easier to have a whole lot of competitors and I’ll use music again as an example. It’s fairly simple to open garage bands now and anybody can put together some sound loops and record their voice over it and make a song. But what that means is it becomes a fairly crowded space. There’s a whole lot of content being produced. And because of it, the way that content is consumed has really changed over time. You have a lot less big music stars as an example, and you see a lot of playlists and on Spotify or Apple Music, et cetera, and songs don’t necessarily have the shelf life that they used to.”

— Cameron Maxwell (05:35)

Cameron Maxwell (06:29):

You don’t see hit songs sticking around necessarily unless you’re Adele or something, for a year, right. A lot of songs might blow up for a couple weeks and that’s it. And then it’s on to the next. So just to draw the parallel with business, a lot of businesses starting in similar spaces, in similar categories, I think from a brand perspective, differentiation is extremely important and is going to be part of the challenge and part of what separates the winners and those who forge ahead. But in general, I think having access to the tools to be able to start these businesses is great. The sustaining part is, I think the big factors are differentiation, increased competition and operational and execution excellence is of course important for the success of any business.

Adam Conner (07:25):

Totally.

Cameron Maxwell (07:25):

But those key factors.

Adam Conner (07:28):

Now let me get to another part of this whole thing, of course, because given this newest, strongest wave of entrepreneurship, just as you have the movements out there that say buy local, shop with small business, you have on the other side of that, of course, these small businesses, tons of them who are all going after the same overall dream, growing, surviving in some ways. In terms of the ways that you bring those people together, and I say people because a lot of times these small businesses are just single entities. In that way is building a community of small businesses that much different from building a community of just people, individuals like you might with a consumer audience?

“The lines are blurred a bit, especially when you’re talking about the smaller side of small business in terms of how that happens on both sides from a B2B and B2C perspective, I think particularly for digital businesses like ours that we don’t have a whole lot of human touch points. Content is key. It’s the way that we have a conversation with our customers, the way that we provide additional value and the way that they get to know us as well. So I think content has really become in whatever channel that’s distributed through, wherever your customers are, whether it’s social media or email or own content on your blog, et cetera, content has really become a key part of building communities because we’re so digital. And so particularly I think that’s true of both B2B and B2C companies. So again, in some ways the lines are blurred. In other ways, once you get into bigger businesses, there’s account-based marketing and things like that and the tactics become different, but certainly from the consumer and the smaller side of small business side, there’s a lot of parallels there.”

— Cameron Maxwell (8:15)

Adam Conner (09:36):

Yeah. And I’ll get to that growing angle in just a second, but it’s good to have your perspective on this. Listeners, just as background, Cameron has done this both in B2B and B2C for many years from the content point of view. And this is in some ways, if you are a small side, small business owner, sometimes you feel like, well, there’s not a whole lot of support around you. I feel like it could just be you trying to make it. And so bringing together people via content related experience can be incredibly powerful. I’m curious and I might as well just dive into this just a little bit deeper. Cameron, what are some of the ways that you do this today at Fundbox?

Cameron Maxwell (10:15):

There’s a couple of ways we do it. I think having a robust life cycle marketing program is vital. Additionally we have our Resource Center on the website, which is blogs and eBooks and guides, and we publish content on a weekly basis on the blog, if not more often than that. And I think part of it for Fundbox it’s being a trusted resource. And again, truly adding value to our small business customers. It’s about offering actionable insights. So from a tactical standpoint, we’re giving businesses tools and learnings that they can leverage in their everyday lives. But there’s also a storytelling theme as well, like what we’re doing with podcasts. Some things that we’re developing with video where it’s not just a list with maybe best practices on marketing or sales or ops topics. It’s told through the stories of individuals in a way that is I think more relatable, and small businesses in general, there’s no one size fits all. They all have different experiences. And learning through the stories of others is a really powerful way, I think, to still deliver interesting content from an entertainment and enjoying the consumption perspective, but also layer in really actionable insights and takeaways that other folks can relate to and apply to their daily lives.

Adam Conner (11:56):

Agreed. And hey, good nod to the podcast world. Obviously much appreciated on this side of the mic. So let me ask you about that growing angle that I mentioned just a moment ago. This is mostly today an offering that as we described up top is mostly taken up by the smaller side of small businesses. Employees could be up up to 50 in an organization taking advantage of Fundbox. I’m curious now how you keep folks engaged with the offering during their growth, but once they have grown beyond that typical threshold that you serve. Obviously you and any brand wants to grow with their customer. And so I’m curious, have you thought about this? Once a small business gets out of the small side or stops being a small business altogether, how do you stay with them?

Cameron Maxwell (12:49):

Yeah, it’s a great question.

“I think in general, our product roadmap is certainly taking this consideration, certainly reflects our thinking around this. And it’s a good point particularly for a lender, for instance, which we do provide working capital, but we also offer spend management solutions as well. So I think it’s really looking at, for us, the product roadmap and making sure that the products and services we offer address the needs of our target audiences. Additionally, knowing your target audience is really important for a small business of a certain size. There’s certain things that really a bank has the type of infrastructure that’s needed, right? You have an individual banker and there’s treasury services, et cetera. So there does become a time when a business might become so successful or grow in a way where they outgrow the product. And obviously we want the success of our customers, so that’s okay. But I think the thing about Fundbox is we recognize that there’s a whole segment of the small business economy that’s really underserved. The big companies have access to working capital. They have access to the tools that they need to run their business. And that’s not necessarily the case for businesses on the smaller side.”

 — Cameron Maxwell (12:50)

 

Adam Conner (14:16):

So with this in mind, talked a little bit about the fandom, how to build content and service around small businesses who sometimes feel like they could build on a very small island in a very large ocean, how you’re bringing together archipelagoes as small businesses let’s say. I want to get to the other F word that we focus here on the show, which is future. I’m curious, given the fact that you’ve been able to see firsthand the ways in which consumers starting small businesses and small businesses themselves have engaged with services like Fundbox and other adjacent services, which you’re no doubt aware of, what do you think will be certain elements of the future of how those types of services will attract and retain communities of small businesses for themselves? Essentially I’m asking, what do you perceive to be the future of behavior in these small businesses that you’ve just started to see the beginnings of now?

“I think maybe there is something to the content piece in general. It becomes a real differentiator in the way that content is delivered. I think in general businesses are already of course getting really smart about social media and their email marketing programs and things like that. But in terms of the future, I think there’s also efficiencies and new technology and content production, for instance, like AI copywriting tools, that just make it easier from a self-service standpoint for businesses to more efficiently produce quality content. So in terms of the future, I think that there are some really cool tools being developed that will make it more accessible for folks who maybe aren’t creatively inclined to be able to produce content that’s relevant to their audiences easier and faster and more efficiently. And so similar to what we were talking about earlier, it’s easier to start a business now, but from a future looking standpoint, I think content’s going to be really important, especially differentiating from the competition, from everything we’ve been talking about in terms of establishing and maintaining relationships with your customers.”

— Cameron Maxwell (15:14)

Cameron Maxwell (16:42):

And I think there’s some really cool tools out there that will, and you’re already kind of seeing it with Canva, for instance. Just make it a lot easier for these small businesses to create content that addresses their target audiences in a way that’s more impactful and it’s just easier for them to create than it has been historically.

Adam Conner (17:04):

Making that process easier lightens a lot of loads. And especially if it can be value creative to a provider or even a small business, all the better. I appreciate getting your thoughts on that and for speculating on this a little bit with me. I have one more question, which is the inverse of the one I just asked, but one I’ve asked a little bit recently and well, I enjoy listening to the guests give the answer. So I’m going to give you a blank. I want you to fill in the blank for me, if you could, as we round out today. Gone are the days of blank when it comes to getting in touch with, attracting, and retaining communities of small business as a service provider.

“I’m thinking about this in the context of, again, this might seem selfish, through the lens of content and I keep bringing it up. But I think that there’s really a requirement from a content perspective to have a strategy, to make it a robust strategy, and I guess gone are the days of being able to be successful without creating and being intentional about creating communities. And again, I think I mentioned earlier, I think one of the primary ways that’s done today is through content. So I would say gone are the days of low level of effort, creating a successful long term relationships with your customers and growing your business.”

— Cameron Maxwell (17:47)

Adam Conner (18:36):

Just as it’s become easier to start a business than ever, so too has the baseline of required effort to grow it and sustain it risen, and so too has that barrier risen for providers like Fundbox. I’m glad that you’re at the helm there when it comes to branding content. And again, thanks for exploring the future there with me. Look forward to seeing how else small businesses will be supported going forward. For giving me a look at the now and a glimpse at the what may be, Cameron, thanks so much for joining me.

Cameron Maxwell (19:07):

Thanks Adam. Thanks for having me.

Adam Conner (19:12):

Thanks again to Cameron Maxwell from Fundbox for joining us. Hopefully you got your mind racing about your passion project and how much easier it may be to start than you thought. And thanks to you, of course, the listener for exploring the Future of Fandom with us. I’d encourage you to stay connected. So here’s what you do. You go to livelike.com/podcast. Of course, listen to all our episodes there and you can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Finally, across socials, LinkedIn at LiveLike and Twitter at LiveLike, Inc. I look forward to predicting the future again with you real soon, and until then I’m Adam Conner saying so long and thanks for being a fan.

Written By
Megan Glover
Content Manager
Written By
Megan Glover
Content Manager

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