Is middle market a real thing?

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Growing up a deal guy, I’ve often been astounded at the brave new levels of “finance geek” we can speak to each other. I’ve managed a ton of relationships in the middle market, smaller business and large corporate space and the one thing I have found is that rarely do the actual companies identify with those phrases very well.

Don’t get us wrong, the work GE, Ohio State do with the National Center for the Middle Market is awesome and CIT’s “View from the Middle”—really cool, but my question is do the decision makers message their companies and see themselves as middle market? Do a Google search of the phrase and count how many DOZENS of pages you have to turn before you actually find a middle market company instead of a lender, equity/mezz player, investment bank, insurance provider, news source, etc.

What does that tell you oh sage finance geeks? If you have the leading solutions for the middle market and the person you’re telling that story to doesn’t immediately identify themselves as middle market…how is that good?

Often it is the names of your org structure that is driving what you call the market internally which over time has translated into what you call them externally. I get it. Still doesn’t answer the question. Oh and what is the definition of middle market? To some $50MM-$500MM, others $100MM to $2B, even others $10MM-$50MM. Investment analysts, Investment Banks and large commercial banks/lenders are on the high end, while smaller financial institutions have a smaller definition. I had a client once who was middle market and large corporate at the same time. Huh?

Do the needs of a $60MM company line up well with a $500MM company? What is the difference in economies of scale, international operations, access to capital, etc., etc.? MASSIVE. “But it’s all middle market” seems a little ridiculous to me. In a world where 1:1 marketing and sales, or personal selling and value creation at the job position level, is becoming increasingly important, the financial services business is hard wired into 3 very vast and poorly defined buckets to cram people into.

Are your clients more interested in how other middles do things or how other people in their industry do things? Both probably, but the over-use of middle market might just give you an opportunity to cut through the clutter by taking a more personal approach.

If you ever want to chat about how to rip through the noise, give us a holler.

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