When Matthew Strunk decided to start his own business in 2015, he had a great idea, but one with a narrow concept. BitMoto would offer digital marketing solutions for car dealerships.
Five years later, BitMoto is a successful sub-brand in a rapidly expanding empire, Strunk Media Group, which is something more akin to a big city advertising agency cropping up in Maxatawny Township.
Strunk Media recently placed 12th on the Top 50 Businesses in Berks County for 2020, the firm’s first time cracking the list — and that’s just the latest accolade.
In August, Strunk Media placed 888th on the Inc. 5,000 List ranking the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. And in 2017, Strunk cracked the Lehigh Valley Business Forty Under 40, while his enterprise went on to win a pair of Stevie Awards for startup and veteran-owned business of the year.
There doesn’t appear to be any singular reason for the company’s performance, though it all began with Strunk identifying an underserved need for what he terms a “technology driven marketing agency” that can handle everything from email marketing and websites to social media and search engine advertising.
“It’s quantifiable,” said Strunk. “When we can say to a client, ‘You made X return,’ it just becomes math.
“We can do direct mail or video production, but we really like to live in the data and tech behind things. That’s more our niche.”
Like most businesses, Stunk Media did hit a bump in the road when COVID-19 struck in March, particularly on the BitMoto side with car dealerships being completely shut down in Pennsylvania.
Yet, the resulting consumer swing toward more e-commerce simultaneously made web marketing expertise more valuable than ever.
“It was a really important time to be strong on communications,” said Strunk.
‘One of those epic moments’
Even with a fresh business model, Strunk first had to decide he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Then, he needed to think bigger than catering strictly to the automotive industry.
Strunk, a Kutztown High School graduate, was working as a sales consultant at Haldeman Ford and doing web development on the side when he observed car dealerships in general were “way behind the ball” on digital marketing.
He pitched a web marketing plan to the owner, but didn’t get the response he expected.
“It was one of those epic moments where I felt very triumphant,” said Strunk, “And he was like, ‘No.'”
The powers that be eventually came around though, and two years later, Strunk shifted into an internet management role. There, he created a web experience that did more than merely look pretty. Along with a dedicated call center, his site would generate actual sales leads.
Before long, Strunk was implementing the same system across the entire Haldeman Auto Group. Still, it was small potatoes.
“There were so many more dealerships at the point Haldeman was,” said Strunk. “It just felt like there was a good opportunity in the market.
In 2015, Strunk decided to go out on his own. He convinced Haldeman to pay a fraction of his salary to continue performing in essentially the same capacity — a tough sell, no doubt — only now as BitMoto’s first client. Then he teamed up with friend Devin Peterson, another Kutztown grad, to help bring the vision to fruition.
What it was all leading up to caught even Strunk off guard.
‘I would pay for that stuff, too’
Shortly after BitMoto’s launch, Strunk was attending a chamber of commerce mixer. He wasn’t quite sure why though. He hadn’t anticipated picking up any new clients.
“It felt kind of weird because there were zero car dealers,” said Strunk. “But I got to talking to someone in another vertical, and that person was interested. ‘I would pay for that stuff, too.’
“I was like, ‘Oh, crap.'”
Since BitMoto was already gaining some traction as an automotive brand, Strunk Media was born. The company has handled marketing solutions across a number of different industries, including health care, legal, manufacturing and home services.
While those other sectors weren’t necessarily their background or expertise, technically driven marketing has a place in most any business nowadays.
“When we started crossing into other industries, we were able to draw parallels to what we were already doing,” said Strunk. “They want to generate new leads, opportunities, so we looked at the raw similarities — the stuff I’m doing here also works over here.
“We might not have 57 construction companies, but it’s a similar end goal, and these other experiences give us a different view.”
The company was wise to adapt, as Strunk Media reported a 527% average annual revenue growth over the last three years, according to Inc.
‘If you’re taking the trash out…’
While that growth rate might sound unsustainable, the demand for digital marketing is only expected to rise, especially after the coronavirus further tilted consumer preference toward e-commerce.
“Even companies that are quite large can still be so far away from having the resources to have a dedicated team on top of it,” said Strunk. “That’s just how it goes.”
Because Strunk Media Group produces almost of its own materials in house, it’s able to keep prices reasonable, said Strunk, as well as allows every solution to be customized to each client’s needs.
That level of personal service, which Strunk attributes in part to his experience serving in the Air Force Reserve, is also partially responsible for the firm’s success.
“We have different core values, but one is this idea of service before self,” said Strunk. “When a client calls at 8 p.m. on Sunday night, I answer. And it’s not because I want to. It’s because it’s important.
“It’s excellence in all we do. If you’re taking the trash out, do it really well. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just do it really well.”