OrangeBoy Specializing in Data-Driven Customer Insights

Customers are everything to a business. Knowing who your customer is can be a challenge in itself, but having targeted analytics about your customer base – that’s invaluable.

Columbus-based OrangeBoy has been helping their clients gain a deeper understanding of their audience and turn that insight into actionable strategies for nearly 20 years.

OrangeBoy was founded in 1996 by Clark Swanson.

“The business really started in fundraising consulting, then it evolved into strategic planning for social service and government-related entities,” says Sandy Swanson, Clark’s wife and current OrangeBoy president who joined the firm in 2001.

With a broad client base the business largely focused on using analytics in a philanthropy model. For example, among the 20,000 members of an art museum, how could the organization segment that group according to how they would gift?

“The foundation of our work is really in the area of customer segmentation,” Sandy says.

Applying the concepts they had honed in other industries, OrangeBoy started working with the Columbus Metropolitan Library on a customer research study in 2006. It was a way for the library to gather information on customers as part of a marketing plan. Looking at trends and how customers were using the library, they could develop strategies, allocate resources and implement targeted marketing efforts.

CML was the catalyst that would move OrangeBoy to the public library market, which now makes up about 80 percent of their business.

After performing numerous consulting studies for other libraries across the U.S., they realized, “A lot of analysis was done for that work, but then they really didn’t have a mechanism to collect and evaluate customer data on an ongoing basis,” Sandy says.

OrangeBoy started speaking with some key accounts about a software system that would collect and report library information in real-time. Four clients were willing to fund the venture and be the beta group for such a system, and thus SaaS platform Savannah was born.

“Savannah is a way for them to have ongoing and more real-time data as opposed to looking something up after the fact,” Sandy says.

Libraries are getting more frequent reports about circulation, visitation, and a new release in the software will even map out patrons’ locations. Tools also help users analyze all this data.

“The value of that is they can then employ targeted marketing,” Sandy says.

In just a year since Savannah’s launch, OrangeBoy has amassed about 30 library clients who are using the platform.

The software represents an opportunity for growth both in its current state and other iterations. Savannah is specifically designed for libraries, and they plan to grow that market, but Sandy sees the software as easily adaptable to other industries, specifically municipal and county governments. And while the software arm of the business grows, consulting will continue to be a key service in their repertoire.

OrangeBoy has grown to about 14 full-time employees with its headquarters in Columbus and remote workers in Portland and Chicago.

OrangeBoy finds Columbus to be an affordable community with a strong pool of young and developing talent. As they are employing a younger workforce, they’ve done a downtown-Grandview-downtown boomerang, landing a spot on bustling Gay Street.

“The vibrancy of downtown is something that’s appealing to a lot of our employees,” Sandy says. “I can feel just a different energy being downtown.” 

OrangeBoy is also responding to workplace trends, utilizing non-traditional spaces in their other locations. In Portland and Chicago, their employees are stationed in coworking spaces. It provides an environment and community for those employees, even if they aren’t all working on the same project. It’s a model they’ve embraced and will likely replicate as growth requires.

“I think our growth is going to come with where we can find the talent,” Sandy says. 

For more information, visit orangeboyinc.com.

(And just in case you’re wondering why OrangeBoy, the name was inspired by a spunky cat named Opie that knew how to protect his territory.)