A Catalyst for Growth and Sustainability
for Small to Mid Sized Companies
The Client: Ziff-Davis Market Research
The leading high tech publishing firm
The Assignment: Take a $50,000 high-end research database developed by the market research arm of Ziff-Davis Publishing, and parse it to sell the data over the Web to a broader audience.
The Challenge: Salvage a misguided engineering-driven effort that was high on technology bells and whistles but low on product value.
The Deliverable: Over a twelve-month period assumed the position of General Manager with oversight of development, marketing and sales. The first challenge was to reset unrealistic expectations. Management believed that the product would yield an instant windfall. The mantra was “millions why we sleep.” But no groundwork had been laid to create a market, making that outcome unattainable.
Sufficient marketing/product work was completed to make the initial launch date. However, shortly after, the dot.com bubble burst and the parent company experienced a dramatic decline in its primary advertising revenue stream. An already stressed budget was further scaled back and the effort was unable to recover.
The Take-Away: Not all assignments have a happy ending. This project was a classic example of how important it is to - up front - clearly defining goals, expectations, and priorities so that resources can be properly allocated. It also illustrated how external events can cause an otherwise solid idea to fail.
The Client: The Soros Fund
Venture capital firm founded by billionaire
George Soros and one of Wall Street's most
closely watched investors
The Assignment: Evaluate the investment potential of a “last mile” fiber optic startup.
The Challenge: Review the target company’s product, unique selling proposition, intellectual property, and development plans to determine if the company was worthy of investment. And if so, if the valuation established by management was realistic.
The Deliverable: It was determined that although the company had a novel approach, its technology and development strategy did not provide a sufficient advantage over known products and technologies to warrant any level of investment. The recommendation was to pass and the client concurred.
The Take-Away: Illustrated a firm knowledge of product and development strategies along with the ability to assess the value of new products versus existing solutions.
The Client: PSMJ Resources, Inc.
A privately held SMB and leading authority, publisher, and
consultant on the effective management of architecture,
engineering, and construction firms.
The Challenge: PSMJ had concerns regarding their marketing strategy and wanted an outside review and assessment of their approach to marketing.
The Deliverables: A comprehensive report on all aspects of the company's marketing effort including organizational structure, the market, competition, products, collateral materials, and sales strategy. Eighteen specific long and short term recommendations were made related to organizational and marketing communications changes, product enhancements, cross selling/marketing opportunities between product lines, and strategies related to leveraging social media.
The Take-Away: As a result, the company restructured its marketing organization resulting in financial savings, and improved communications and execution. PSMJ also moved to consolidate and standardize its contact management effort in order to better coordinate and leverage the revenue opportunities within their installed base.
The Client: Hero Nutritional Products (HNP)
A $3 million family-owned business and one of the first
companies to market “gummy” vitamins.
The Assignment: Could (and should) the company shift its focus from selling exclusively through the health food channels, and attempt to penetrate mainstream food, drug, and “big box” retail distribution including Wal-Mart?
The Challenge: Develop a strategy to approach the mainstream channels and determine how receptive they would be to carrying the product line. More importantly, evaluate the various risk/rewards of attempting to expand into new distribution channels. Simultaneously, establish internal processes and financial controls to create a foundation for long-term sustainability.
The Deliverables: Became an “adjunct “ member of the leadership team, assuming the role of Chief Operating Officer. Developed financial processes and inventory controls to ensure the company was well positioned to sustain its success. Presented to an array of major chains including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Alberstons, and Kroger. Though the channels were receptive, the risks and investment requirement was beyond the company’s comfort zone. Almost two decades later, Hero Nutritional remains in business, and, on a limited basis, did ultimately expand its distribution to CVS, Target, and others.
The Take-Away: Showed a breadth of knowledge in not only evaluating a multi-channel strategy but in developing strategies to penetrate new channels.
The Client: AT&T
One of the world's largest
The Assignment: Determine if credit and phone card fraud detection and prevention technology developed for internal use could be monetized.
The Challenge: Without having any previous market knowledge, in 120 days, become an expert in fraud detection and prevention.
The Deliverable: Using only publicly available information, we developed a comprehensive 167-page report that detailed the market size, competition, system strengths/weaknesses, and the associated risks and opportunities of productizing the technology. Including a Q&A session, the report was present to an audience of more than 20 AT&T veterans. The attendees walked away believing we were also veterans in the field.
The Take-Away: Demonstrated the capability of a versatilst by quickly assimilating information and becoming an expert in a new market and industry.
The Client: Greater Nashua Mental Health Center
One of New Hampshire's 10 non-profit community mental health
agencies that provide services to the most needy and severely
mentally ill clients.
The Assignment: The agency was experiencing a prolonged period of operational difficulties and financial losses. As a former Board member I was asked to conduct a review of senior leadership.
The Challenge: Assess whether the leadership team possessed the appropriate skills and mindset to successfully turn the agency around.
The Deliverable: Conducted extensive interviews with employees at all levels of the organization to determine what was, and wasn't working.The review resulted in a change in leadership in which I assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer. Serving in that capacity for two years, I acted as a bridge until a new permanent leadership team could be established. Responsibilities included all day-to-day operations: clinical services, information technology, development, quality improvement, compliance, human resources, finance, and facilities.
The Take-Away: The assignment became a turn-around project in which I successfully integrated within the management team. Results included dramatically improved financial results from six-figure losses to near break even, increasing the delivery of the agency's most critical service by 14%, a complete revamp of the technology infrastructure, increased efficiency throughout the agency, and with improved morale, greatly reduced staff turnover.
The Client: Areva Solar
Offers environmentally responsible
concentrated solar energy solutions
for the global power generation market
The Assignment: Create a product management and project management infrastructure.
The Challenge: Develop internal buy-in for creating more of a product focus in an industry whose traditional drivers are construction and engineering.
The Deliverable: Became a member of an inter-diciplinary team that included engineering, research and development, construction, sales, finance, Customized a product management process that was consistent with the unique product development and delivery processes. Also conducted extensive work on the competitive landscape in order to refine the company's positioning statement and public relations strategies.
The Take-Away: Assumed a leadership position to represent marketing and successfully integrated with, and won the trust of a skeptical management team. Was able to move the needle in a positive direction with respect to the critical role marketing and a product management could play in the development process.
The Client: Sybase
A leading enterprise software, services,
and relational data base company
The Assignment: Determine if the development tools business unit was a viable candidate to be spun off or sold.
The Challenge: Develop a valuation for the business unit by evaluating the existing products, development plans, user base, and future market potential. Assess the market value versus the value of maintaining the business unit as an integrated product line within Sybase.
The Deliverable: Assessed the product development plans along with the development team to determine if the technology was sustainable, and if key staff were likely to be retained in the event of a sale. Evaluated the existing user base and developed projections to determine future market revenue and profitability. Investigated if alternative approaches existed or would emerge to support the development needs of the company's database customers.Developed a valuation of the business unit and compared the potential sale value to the intrinsic value of maintaining the status quo.
The Take-Away: The challenge with this project was twofold: to assess the value of the technology and to identify the potential unintended consequences that might impact the revenue stream of the company’s primary database products. The decision was to maintain the status quo.