In 2015, The Original On Hold will celebrate 25 years of helping brands improve their customer experience, enhance brand-awareness and increase sales.
The company’s roots trace back to 1990, and are somewhat accidental in nature. But, it’s no accident how we became a recognized leader in the audio marketing arena. The company was born when it’s CEO, Eric Lightman, had a long time friend who owned a local car dealership had complained to Lightman that he had called into the dealership on his day off to speak with his general manager. He was placed on hold, and had heard a competitor’s ad on the radio they had plugged into their phone system for hold time.
That’s when the light bulb went off! Using idle hold time as a marketing opportunity, instead of just the traditional dead-silence, or broadcasting a local radio station on hold. This would allow the dealership to present targeted marketing messages to an interested and captive audience, and was also free of competing advertisers. So, the very first music and message on hold recording was produced. The solution not only helped with his friend’s dilemma, but also resulted in the birth of a new business venture.
The early years were filled with challenges. Like many other success stories, The Original On Hold was started simply with a vision, and two sales people working out of the basement of the CEO’s home. As they began to approach local businesses with their on-hold marketing concept, few people even knew what an on hold message was, let alone be willing to invest their marketing dollars in one. However, with persistence and perseverance, and praise from clients, they started gaining some real traction by penetrating much of their local market. Before long, they decided to broaden their horizons by expanding beyond their local marketing, and begin offering service nationwide.
Mid 90’s/Growing Up:
With the company’s success, it was time to move out of the CEO’s basement and into its first office and production facility. With both demand and growth, the company also expanded its sales force from 2 people to 10. It was tough sledding at first as the on hold message business was somewhat of a cottage industry with less than 5% of all businesses using on hold messaging.
Gaining national recognition, the company enjoyed becoming the approved supplier for some of the nation’s leading franchises and buying cooperatives as they expanded. Once again, it was time to broaden their horizons. With no nationally recognized brand in the on hold messaging industry, and a wide open market, the company once again set out to broaden its horizons and began franchising its business model in 1998.
Once again the offices and staff were expanded to support the franchise system, and the headquarters would act as a single source for the audio productions to maintain its high standards of quality, while the franchises would handle sales and marketing. After being featured in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Annual Franchise 500, franchises were sold in several major territories including New York, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Texas.
After selling 12 franchises in its first year, the CEO decided that while some of the franchisees were experiencing tremendous success, others did not share the same burning passion and desire of becoming the McDonald’s of the on hold industry. The company then decided to purchase back the franchised territories, and all sales and marketing were once again handled by the corporate offices.
Building A Better Mousetrap:
As the company approached the new millennium, they began to look to improve upon their success by simply building a better mouse trap. After years of producing on the only available media at the time, endless loop cassette tapes, the company understood the pitfalls of this media. Back then, endless-loop cassette tapes were played on shoebox style cassette players. The problem being that due to the amount of continuous use, the endless-loop tapes would often stretch, wear-out and break. The customer would experience down-time, while they waited to receive replacement cassettes. This seemed ludicrous, so after several months of seeking a better solution, The Original On Hold eventually partnered up with a manufacturer of digital media equipment. This eliminated any of the pitfalls of the endless-loop tapes by giving the end-user a maintenance-free way to receive service.
However, looking to build a better mousetrap didn’t stop at just improving the delivery method of the audio equipment. In its early years, the only way clients could approve script copy was by sending script copy in the mail, lots of phone calls, faxing back and forth, emails, etc. Once again, the company set-out to streamline the process for its clients to provide faster turnaround and improved service.
In the early 2000’s, the company revolutionized the music and message on hold industry by introducing “M.O.M” (Message On Hold Manager) first-ever online system for client script approval, new script submission, selecting voice and music, archiving and more. Giving the client a 24/7, streamlined approach to controlling their on hold marketing needs.
Expanded Its Portfolio Of Services:
As a digital presence started becoming popular in the early to mid 2000’s, the company once again looked to broaden its horizons by expanding upon its portfolio of service offerings to the digital marketplace. In 2007, the company saw an opportunity to transition from its already in-house audio marketing & production services to offering video marketing and production services including: in-store video, video/digital billboards, web commercials, mobile video, YouTube videos, corporate videos, product demos and sales videos. In 2008 and every year since, they have been recognized as one of the top 10 video marketing and production companies by TopSEO’s.
As the company entered the end of the first decade of the 2000’s, in 2010 the company performed 2 acquisitions of industry competitors (Telephone On Hold Commercials and Virtual Media Group), further growing its customer base and foothold on the industry.
Sign Of The Times:
Always trying to remain on the cutting edge, the company is never satisfied with status-quo. In 2011, the company began investing in a content delivery network infrastructure needed for streaming video services to provide improved service to its video clientele. In 2013, the company became one of the first on hold service providers to offer steaming music and message on-hold, much like how Pandora or your favorite internet radio station works.
Long since their humble beginnings 25 years ago, the company has produced more than 1 million audio and video marketing programs, and is recognized as an industry leader. However, in 2015, they remain as steadfast on customer service, product quality and support as they did when they first started. From that small 2 man sales-team in the basement of a home in 1990, today The Original On Hold Inc has grown to a staff of more than sixty, and enjoys servicing more than 25,000 customers nationwide.