Repositioning a Brick-and-Mortar Company in a Clicks-and-Mortar World


DoveBid conducts online and on-site business asset auctions for Fortune 1000 companies around the world, including Apple Computer, AT&T, British Airways, Boeing, Computer Warehouse, HP, IBM, National Semiconductor, and Rathyeon Systems. Sterling was hired to ensure that DoveBid attained industry prominence as the leading clicks-and-mortar auctioneer of business assets.

The Challenge

DoveBid (then called Dove Brothers) was an $8M company with a rich 63-year history as a bricks-and-mortar auctioneer of business assets. Senior management saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall when eBay became a driving force in consumer auctions almost overnight and a number of online-only business asset trading communities started to spring up around it. DoveBid was determined not to get “left behind,” so it embraced the Internet and turned to Sterling to leverage the company’s domain expertise as a true differentiator in what was quickly becoming a clicks-and-mortar world.

Strategies and Tactics

Sterling employed all of the elements of its Inside PR approach (vision, message, validation, attention, and measurement) to generate visibility for the new DoveBid with the media and analyst communities – and through them with Fortune 1000 customers looking to auction off business assets anywhere in the world, and potential participants in the company’s online auctions.

The first step was to work with CEO Ross Dove on the vision for DoveBid going forward, and to create positioning messages that would distance DoveBid from its new online-only competitors as well as its traditional bricks-and-mortar competitors. To signal that the company had entered a new phase in its corporate life, Sterling recommended a name change that would link to the past, yet have a fresh, new feel. Dove Brothers became DoveBid. To put in place the validation necessary for the aggressive media outreach program that was to follow, Sterling took DoveBid on the road for a corporate tour designed to introduce the company’s top-tier industry analysts and also worked with key corporate customers behind the scenes to identify the evangelists among them. Sterling also cultivated the newly hired CTO as a spokesperson on technical issues and leveraged the high-tech pedigree of the company’s new president to bring the “clicks” part into relief.


DoveBid garnered much positive trade and business press attention for its new corporate strategy, culminating in a profile of DoveBid’s CEO in The Economist and his appearance on the cover of Forbes magazine, as well as features in over 40 other media outlets. Once the pump was primed, Sterling ensured a continuous stream of positive coverage by carefully timing news about high-profile auctions, acquisitions, prestigious board appointments, etc. The company’s business grew from $8M to $100M in revenue in roughly 24 months, with a substantial portion of that increase resulting from the addition of online participation in DoveBid’s auctions. DoveBid successfully made the transition from old-world company to clicks-and-mortar market leader, both in the real world and in the world of perception.