Our answers to questions from CEOs

Q  My business is complex and our industry is changing.  It’s going to take you quite a while to get to the point where you can contribute and help me.

A  We don’t expect that we’ll ever know your industry as well as you do.  However, we’ve found that by working closely with CEOs we can collaborate and put together a plan that we’ll go and implement.  We’ll review all of the research you have, read the trades, and attend the conferences.  We may, working closely with your sales and business development teams, observe customer meetings or listen in on calls.

When we do these things, we bring a fresh perspective, one that is not bound by long-held assumptions or beliefs about what’s possible and what’s not possible.

There are principles and insights in sales, marketing, and business development that can be applied across companies and industries, especially in B2B and B2B2C industries.

The lesson of the dramatic changes we’ve seen during the last two decades, from changing global supply and demand to the introduction of the Internet and the upending of traditional business models, is that the only prospect for success is innovation.  Those who lead, who seize the opportunities, will grow and prosper.  We can help you do that.

Q  I’ve hired other consultants who created a detailed plan and left.  It cost me a lot of time and money, and the plan is still sitting on my desk.

A  We’ve heard that before.  We have a tremendous focus on implementation.  Rather than spending time developing a long, highly-detailed plan, we will work to create a framework that we can implement, and then continually revise and update as we learn more from the marketplace.

Q Are you a Marcom agency? 

A No, marketing is our focus.  We see marketing as a critical part of any business venture, one that seeks to understands the needs of customers and potential customers and works collaboratively to deliver that product or service to the market in a way that is easy for your customers and prospects to understand, buy, use, and recommend to others.  Our focus is on delivering business objectives.

Marcom is part of that, but it comes after a marketing plan is in place.  We can work with any internal or external marcom resources you have, or we can meet all of your marcom needs ourselves and with external collaborators, such as designers and booth fabricators.

If an organization simply needs marketing collateral–they know the positioning, the target audience, the message, their product or service features and benefits–then it will make more sense for them to hire a freelance writer or designer or a marcom agency. 

Q Are you an ad agency?  Market research agency?  Web agency?  PR agency?

 No, but if you are already working with one or more agencies, we will work with them.  Our focus is on marketing broadly and putting in place a plan to help you achieve your business objectives.  Once plans are in place, we work with internal and external resources, including agencies, to implement the plans.

Q When do companies typically engage you?

A We usually are brought in when the leadership of the company decides that it’s time to invest in marketing, or significantly improve their return on their marketing expenditures.  Up to that point, the CEO may have focused on product development and scaling up a sales and support organization, but at a certain point, there is the realization that, with a proven product and basic internal infrastructure in place, they will generate more revenue by investing in marketing to lower their cost of customer acquisition.

The reason any venture is as successful as they are is because of the skills and abilities of the founder.  The most successful businesses are headed by individuals who realize that, at a certain point, they need to bring in people who specialize in key areas.  Engaging with us provides a way for a CEO and his or her leadership team to work peer to peer with individuals with deep expertise in marketing.  An engagement allows them to move more quickly and without a full-time salary and the months-long search process to find the right person.

Our goal isn’t to make our clients dependent on us, but rather to help CEOs build strong, successful organizations.  We may serve as an interim CMO, a long-term external resource, or a trusted advisor.

Q  What about an existing marketing organization?  Or building a marketing organization?

A  We work with existing marketing staff and help strengthen or build out marketing organizations, even writing job descriptions and interviewing candidates as well as putting in place foundational materials and processes.

Q  Do you work with startups?

A  Yes, we work with funded startups, typically after a seed round.  We’ve started venture-backed companies, been a part of management teams at venture-backed companies, and advised founders and CEOs of venture-backed companies.

Q I am an investor? Do you work also for investors, VC, business angels?

A  Yes, and this can take many different forms, including evaluating the market potential for the products or service offered by companies in your portfolio or in which you’re considering investing; evaluating management teams; and, defining roles and screening new senior talent.

We can also work collaboratively with you and the management team of a company in which you’ve invested to accelerate their success in the market, execute a pivot or a company relaunch, or serve as an interim CMO.

In all of these cases, you are able to immediately to bear individuals with deep experience dealing with sometimes difficult and often very fluid situations, markets that are shifting rapidly or poorly defined, small organizations that are struggling to find their market or meet the demands of their customers.

As outside experts hired by you, our interests are very closely aligned, giving you the confidence you need that you’ll get direct, clear, fact-based answers and recommendations that are not influenced by any earlier claims that may have been made.

Q  If I bring you in, what can I do to make sure that help us get the results we need.

A  Here’s what we’ve found is critical:

  • Your commitment to the process.
  • A clear definition of objectives.
  • A direct line of communication and regular briefings with you.
  • Access to primary and secondary company research.
  • A willingness to challenge existing assumptions and beliefs
  • Your commitment to ensuring that we’re able to hear directly from customers and potential customers.  This can take many forms, including primary research, tradeshows, or serving as an observer on sales calls or meetings with existing customers.
  • Your commitment to act–to review recommendations, implement, measure, and assess the results

Q What is the typical engagement length? 

A It varies from an intensive week, to ongoing work over 6 months or longer.  That’s a range.  After an initial conversation and once an NDA is in-place, we’ll work with you to figure out the right approach for your company and needs.  The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to make a commitment to bringing on someone full-time as an employee and instead we’ll work with you to adjust the time we spend with you based on the needs of your business at that point, and this can change over time, from initial discovery and research to a later more-intensive implementation phase.

As internal capabilities are put in place and their effectiveness demonstrated, working with you, we might begin to focus on more targeted efforts, such as the launch of a new product or the introduction of the company into a new region.  Eventually, our role might be as advisors, reviewing annual plans and campaigns and evaluating strategic options.

Q  Will you travel to our offices?

A  Yes

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