The foundation for business success - as Yogi Berra said, "If you don't know where you're going, you're likely to end up somewhere else". Plans can be high level, or extremely detailed, even including full P&L's, depending on your needs.
Is your product portfolio optimized for growth and profitability? Is it clear and easily explained? Can your message withstand the "telephone game" of being passed through numerous people and come out the same on the other side? Does it make sense to consumers and the trade? And regarding profitability - how are your margins? Is the enterprise focused on the right products and segments, to help accelerate the growth of sales and profits?
Does your brand tell a story? Does it have a personality? Is it unique vs. other brands? What makes it special? Why should a consumer want to purchase your brand vs. others? A strong brand positioning, executed well, will go a long way toward helping you achieve success in the marketplace. And conversely, "fuzzy" positioning will hurt, in numerous ways, from Sales not being able to explain it to customers, to consumers not "getting it" (and being willing to pay for it), etc.
Here we're talking about anything from simple pro-forma analyses to full-blown, highly detailed, and multi-year forecasts. Scenario planning - best case, worst case, most likely. Opportunities and risks. Contingency planning and staging target dates - many times, companies do not react until it is too late. Let's put together strong, aggressive but achievable forecasts that the organization can believe in and achieve.
Thinking of entering a new business, segment or category? Need to better understand the industry, or the competition and where their weaknesses can be exploited? Considering an acquisition to fill a gap in your portfolio or entering a growing market? A thoughtful, thorough analysis will help in numerous ways and lead to desired success over the long-term.
Naming is one of the hardest things there is to do. But it is also one of the most important. It is usually the first clue consumers have in relation to brand identity and image. It becomes the "badge" they wear when consuming the product - and this is especially important if the brand is consumed with other people present, as it says something about them. Regarding brand identity and packaging - think about the wine industry - other than the name and the price, the package is usually about all the consumer has to rely on when making a purchase decision. Let's get it right!!
It has been said time and again, but it's true - new products are the lifeblood of a company and a brand. And a brand can become stagnant without "new news", and innovations based on true consumer needs can help build momentum for the brand. What does your new product pipeline look like? Do you have a steady stream of ideas going into some kind of logical process? Let's talk....
Can't afford or don't really need a full-time CMO or VP of Marketing? Maybe you have relatively junior Marketing personnel who are great at execution, but would benefit from senior-level experience and guidance on strategic issues, project management, or just "putting it all together"? Are you uncertain what you are lacking in terms of solid brand management, including right-sized systems and processes? Let's talk about flexible arrangements.
Spending an inordinate amount of money on trade promotion? Always wanting to increase pricing and margins but finding that it "can't be done" in the short-term? Trying to reduce the percentage of revenue spent on price reduction programs but always seeming to go the other way? Let's do some deep-dive analysis into your pricing strategies, where your trade promotion money is going, where it is most effective and recommend changes that will save money and grow the business simultaneously.
The vast majority of CPG purchases are still made in-store, and that remains the "battleground" for the shopper's attention. Well designed point-of-sale and other promotional pieces can grab the shopper's attention and win the battle with the competition. In-store communication must be highly compelling and in keeping with the brand's positioning and consumer messaging. Done properly, it can be a significant investment in the brand's long-term equity building efforts. Done improperly, it can be a big waste of time and money, and a huge source of frustration. Let's do it right!!
Especially in the wine industry, "DTC" is hugely important. From the Tasting Room, to the Wine Club(s), to on-line sales, the margins are significantly better, the loyalty you develop is much stronger and these core consumers, treated well, can and do become highly effective brand ambassadors. How long has it been since you've taken a good hard look at your DTC strategies and tactics? What are your goals and measures? How do you know if you are living up to your potential with this profitable channel?
P&G used to talk about the two "moments of truth" - in the store, and at home (or wherever) the product was consumed. To that has been added a "ZMOT" - Zero Moment of Truth - that is, most consumers are pre-disposed before buying the product, through reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, etc. Social and digital media strategy and tactics should be deployed strategically to enhance the brand's overall communication and to encourage the consumer to ACT. Let's put together a plan of attack - much more than just "having" a Facebook and Twitter page....
This is probably one of the most boring areas of any business. But it is absolutely true that the right systems and processes can make or break you. The best, most elegantly conceived strategies and programs will fail if not executed properly due to poor communications, systems and processes. But we must also keep in mine that what works for GM or Apple is not usually best for a mid-sized company, for example - I have worked for organizations of all sizes and can design systems and processes that will be optimal for your situation.
Wish you could clone yourself sometimes, so you would have more time to work with your staff? I can provide an objective second opinion on a wide variety of issues and opportunities. Do a few of your people need coaching, but again, you just cant find the time to give them the help they need to be more productive? Let's talk - I'm available on a one-time, project basis, or I can be an on-going advisor (see "Part-Time CMO" at the top of this column).