Our History (or how we got into Tech).
It started with a marketing problem that needed a tech solution.
Our company was founded in 1972 as a marketing agency. We soon learned that making clients successful involved becoming experts in related fields such as tech services. Consequently, over the years we built connectivity apps for ourselves and our clients. In the late seventies, our tech projects had grown to the point we opened a “tech services” division. In the mid-nineties we turned that division into full line of business.
The thing we discovered, early on, was that there were many marketing problems that couldn’t be solved until a tech solution was found.
But solutions weren’t easily done. Efforts to deploy a tech solution were crippled by the silos created and maintained by legacy systems. Indeed, those providers had a strong disinclination to make their systems virtual “secret society” to which only a very few were admitted. So, when there was a marketing problem that could be solved by rewriting some code, the legacy companies made such modifications impossible, either by refusing to make changes, or (and this was the majority response) making it so expensive and time consuming it discouraged clients from even thinking about making changes.
We hate hearing “no.”
So, we began looking for ways to break into silos. We weren’t always successful. And more times than not we were reduced to begging for a flat-file of data we could use to hack together a solution. But we had enough success to encourage us — and our clients — to persevere. Here’s quick example.
In the early 80’s, in the direct mail world, there was a grim ratio that applied to mature financial institutions: 2.15:1. That meant that every bank customer had at least 2.15 accounts. Some had 4 or 5 or 6 or more accounts with the bank. And that’s not a bad thing except for direct mail. Remember, this is the 80’s and there no practical way to automate the process of de-duping the account data base. So, sending a mailing to all customers almost always resulted in sending 2 or 3 or 4 (and in one case I recall, 8) of the same mailing to one customer. When that happened all hell would break loose and bank officers would flooded with complaints, some hinting darkly that the bank was must be making too much money to afford such a wasteful excess cost of postage. But, those complaints weren’t the worst thing that happened.
The real worst-thing was the institution simply avoided direct mail because they didn’t want the hassle, this despite the fact that direct mail was proven to be the most successful and least cost way of driving new accounts, particularly checking accounts. This is what we mean when we say “there are some marketing problems that are waiting on a tech solution.” Not utilizing direct mail because there was no technical way to de-dupe lists was a classic example.
And, then, there was a break-through.
So, we partnered with a young couple in Grapevine, Texas, to build the first “housing holding” program in the USA for San Antonio Savings in Dallas. It was clunky by today’s standards, but it was pretty damned effective and provided an easy way to spot and discard duplicate addresses. This program was the dubbed “MCIF,” for Marketing Customer Information File. This early MCIF was the precursor to other programs that revolutionized direct mail usage for the financial industry.
A break-through followed by an epiphany.
For us, this was an epiphany. It showed us that when we put the right people in the right place, we could solve lots of marketing problems and increase our clients marketing success. Plus, building the tech was completely and unalterably cool!
From that time until this, we have been prototyping, building, installing, training, supporting and maintaining connectivity apps from our offices in Asheville, NC. Along the way, we have saved clients hundreds of thousands of person-hours and many thousands of dollars. I gotta’ say, it is an uber-satisfying line of work.
Long live the API!
And, I also have to say happy we all are to see the current growth of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that are programmatic ways for one computer to talk to another. All the APIs that are now coming online are nothing short of marvelous to us. It will finally break the choke hold legacy systems have over clients. For that, I’m not just thankful, I’m delighted. It’s going to open up new worlds of enriched customer experiences and vastly greater opportunities for gains in productivity and efficiency.
What our clients say
SVP Retail Banking Division
“A&M built our first online account opening system in 2008. They’ve made consistent improvements in the program and have been most responsive to our needs. We’re happy with the 99% uptime performance as well.”
USA Retail Product Manager
“A&M built our online parts spec system. It worked from day one and has not only saved us countless hours of customer inquiries but has been a home run with our customers and distributors. We rarely need maintenance, but when we do, the A&M people are on it. We get service in hours, days.”
Community Financial Institution
“I’m not going to lie. Originally, these people made me and my core processing provider nervous. But it turns out they knew what they were doing and even our core provider has no complaints. I also hasten to add their stuff never causes problems. It just works.”
Member Services Manager
“These guys did a careful, thoughtful workscope and delivered exactly what they promised, when they said and slightly under budget. We asked for a complex search process and it works exactly as we wanted. The system has been running for more than 5 years and except for maintenance, it is always up. ”
FYI, we keep your data to ourselves. We don’t share. Ever.