MARKETING STRATEGY & PLANNING
Even great ideas fail without proper execution. Nucifora Consulting Group helps clients better define and understand the critical marketing factors that determine a program’s chance for success. From idea development to roll-out, NCG helps clients prepare to do battle in today’s uncompromising marketplace. NCG’s strategic marketing and planning programs often include the following:
- An assessment of the client’s marketing goals and objectives.
- Background research, including interviews, focus groups, on-line computer database queries, etc.
- A comprehensive situation analysis, including product / service assessment, industry analysis, market analysis and competitive review.
- An actionable positioning strategy, based on an assessment of the client’s Unique Selling Proposition.
- A tactical plan of action designed to take the client from current to desired status.
- An integrated marketing communications plan which may include collateral development, advertising, public relations, direct marketing, interactive communications and other marketing tools – and the budget necessary to implement them.
- Selection and management of third-party vendors and agencies.
NCG structures programs to meet each client’s individual needs – from a quick assessment of a market opportunity, to a comprehensive, “cradle-to-grave” marketing plan.
Georgia’s largest home building materials supplier retained Nucifora Consulting Group when its long-term growth became threatened by a increasing number of competitors. Following an exhaustive review of the company’s background, its industry, its competition and its customers, NCG learned that while current sales were strong, name awareness was low or outdated. In response, NCG prepared a 12-month, integrated marketing and communications plan designed to reposition the company and build brand equity, while simultaneously driving sales from existing and new accounts.
Much like an accounting audit, a Marketing Audit is a comprehensive, diagnostic program that identifies areas of strength and weakness within a marketing organization.NCG examines the client’s overall business operation, including its approach to marketing and management, to determine key opportunities. Findings are detailed in an actionable, analytical report, which includes both strategic and tactical recommendations. Most NCG Marketing Audits include some or all of the following:
- An assessment of the client’s marketing and overall business goals and objectives.
- Market and competitive research.
- Individual interviews with both senior management and support staff to determine the “mood” of the organization and identify strategic opportunities for improvement.
- A thorough review of the client’s current marketing, communications, promotion and sales plans and operations.
- An all-inclusive recommendation on issues such as positioning, communications, marketing, business development, staffing, and organization.
NCG’s Marketing Audits help clients to reorganize, restructure and re-think their businesses to better compete in today’s brutal business environment.
The largest and most successful chain of allergy and asthma treatment centers in the country felt vulnerable due to an increasingly competitive environment. NCG reviewed the organization’s marketing and promotion materials, and then conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with doctors, staff and marketing personnel to determine key strengths and weaknesses within the organization and its marketing strategy. The study revealed several areas of opportunity for improvement including inconsistency in the marketing message, an inefficient use of media spending, and poorly motivated employees. NCG recommended a strategy that emphasized brand building, promotion, patient service and employee reward. Following the implementation of NCG’s strategy, the chain continues to be the most successful in the country, and annual billings are at an all-time high.
Many service providers have tremendous value to offer their clients, but most don’t have the time nor the expertise to develop new business effectively. With experience on both the client and agency sides, and a highly successful track record for generating new business opportunities, NCG is uniquely suited to assist professional firms, agencies and service providers with New Business Development efforts. NCG’s services include:
- Review and assessment of client’s current business development efforts.
- Development of promotional strategies for increasing awareness and raising perception within the client’s target markets.
- Assistance with creating effective new business development strategies designed to generate incremental leads and increase the close rate.
- Assistance in the development of compelling, needs-oriented credentials presentations and background documents.
- Training in the art of pitching, and more importantly, closing the sale.
A major Southeast advertising agency retained the services of Nucifora Consulting Group when it decided to become more aggressive with new business development. NCG helped identify the agency’s foremost strengths, and worked closely with management and key personnel to develop customized pitches designed to increase the agency’s close rate.
MARKET DEVELOPMENT & EXPANSION
Survival, not to mention growth, is dependent upon a company’s ability to identify and secure new revenue sources … not a simple proposition, considering today’s highly competitive climate. The key is to selectively target those opportunities which make both economic and strategic sense. Basic criteria often include market size, demand, established communication channels, affordability, barriers to entry, etc. Nucifora Consulting Group has worked with many companies to maximize their efforts.
Specifically, NCG can:
- Provide an objective assessment of market and industry opportunities.
- Assist with the development of an actionable, goals-oriented marketing strategy.
- Prepare an integrated marketing com-munications plan, which may include collateral development, direct marketing, advertising, promotion, public relations, trade shows, direct sales, database marketing, etc.
- Provide guidance in the selection and management of key players and vendors necessary for the program’s success.
- Assist with managing and measuring the campaign roll-out.
A startup technology company was approaching critical mass in its home market, but outside investors were pressuring management to grow sales faster than one market would allow. Nucifora Consulting Group’s assignment was to help select and penetrate new geographic markets. NCG profiled the company’s core customer and prioritized target cities within the context of growth objectives and parameters. NCG’s penetration plan began with a positioning strategy that characterized the unique strengths of the company’s technology, while heeding the demands of the target market. Recommendations also included strategies for building awareness and interest among prospective end-users and for distributing product through traditional and non-traditional channels.
Computer database technology has enabled many companies to target their customers more closely than ever, resulting in greater efficiency, improved customer service, and dramatic increases in sales. NCG helps clients understand the dynamics of Database Marketing, and how a structured, properly implemented micro-marketing program can impact their business. NCG’s services include:
- Analyzing the client’s needs and capabilities with respect to identifying database information pertinent to achieving their short- and long-term marketing goals.
- Exploring the best methods for obtaining, analyzing and assimilating database information.
- Developing a tactical plan to most effectively leverage the database information.
- Assembling the necessary resources, technology and vendors for program execution.
- Providing strategy and guidance throughout the implementation process, to ensure compatibility with marketing and sales objectives.
Nucifora Consulting Group helped restructure the internal advertising department for one of the nation’s top retail trade marts. The in-house communications function had grown in a patchwork, reactionary fashion, from a handful of PR practitioners in 1978, to a 30-plus group, responsible for executing nearly 3,000 jobs and events annually. The department had little opportunity to develop a strategic focus or an operational framework with which to manage growth and plan for future needs. Nucifora Consulting Group assessed the condition of the communications department, identified weaknesses in its operations, proposed corrective measures, and where appropriate, made recommendations for improvements in the overall marketing operations of the mart. NCG’s findings resulted in cost savings through the elimination of redundancies, more effective internal communications, and ultimately, a superior product delivered by the communications department.
AGENCY & EXECUTIVE SEARCH
The selection of a marketing communications agency, whether for advertising, public relations or any other purpose, is one of the most important processes a company can go through.
An agency should be professional and experienced, and capable of handling the client’s immediate and long-term needs. The agency should command an understanding of the client’s industry and market dynamics, and should display a desire to work diligently to help the client achieve its goals. And, because the most successful client-agency relationships will be the ones in which a “partnership” is formed, it is also important that the agency be able to “fit” within the client’s corporate culture. The same requirements apply to the selection of key marketing executives. And candidates should possess a variety of skill sets including critical thinking and leadership.
NCG applies experience from both sides of the client-agency equation to assist clients with the initial search, the selection, and the structuring of the relationship.
NCG’s Agency and Executive Selection services include:
- Developing specifications for the search.
- Assisting in establishing criteria for selection.
- Preparing an initial “short list” of candidates.
- Preparing interview guidelines and assisting in the interview process.
- Participating in the final selection.
- Providing guidance on contract negotiation.
Nucifora Consulting Group was responsible for selecting a public relations agency to handle a major, national consumer advocacy campaign for one of the country’s most noteworthy manufacturers associations. NCG helped establish the search criteria; prepared a list of prospective agencies; and managed the review and selection process. In addition, Nucifora Consulting Group served as the interface between the client and the prospective agencies, relieving the client of day-to-day follow-up responsibilities.
NCG helps clients identify their research needs and strategize their information-gathering efforts. Some projects are answerable with pre-existing data, and others require new research. By using current informational resources, as well as custom fact-finding techniques, NCG can structure and execute a research program that provides insightful answers to clients’ marketing questions.
When more involved or large-scale research is necessary, NCG can assist clients with locating a full-service research agency. NCG’s Marketing Research services include:
- Focus group design and moderation.
- On-line computer database research.
- One-on-one interviews and group discussions.
- Quantitative and qualitative research design.
- Database assessment and design.
The organization tasked with promoting the city of Atlanta to the travel and tourism industry approached Nucifora Consulting Group to design a study that would determine how to best position the city for the 1996 Olympics and beyond. NCG first hosted a planning session with over 70 representatives of Atlanta’s leadership to identify some of the major themes that best describe the city. The planning session was followed by a massive, multi-media advertising and PR campaign which attracted over 4000 responses from the community at large. NCG then tabulated and assessed the data, and prepared a white paper analysis. The platforms that resulted from this extensive, year-long study have become the basis for many of the City’s promotional efforts that will be launched throughout the remainder of the decade.
BUSINESS THINK TANK: MIND SURGE©
Most organizations employ creative people; what they lack is an effective system for extracting their creative juices and packaging the input in a way that is orderly and actionable. NCG’s MindSurge goes beyond idea generation to provide for assessment and prioritization of ideas as they are developed.
MindSurge is designed to stimulate top creative thinking … it literally pulls the ideas from participants’ heads. Most sessions are held off-site, in a casual setting. The afternoon normally begins with a review of the stated objectives, and a discussion of all relevant background data. If requested, NCG can arrange for a “Creative Ringer” to participate in the session. A “Ringer” typically holds a key position in his or her company or industry, and can provide an insightful, yet unbiased perspective to the particular challenge at hand. NCG can also support the creative process with computerized “groupware” technology, designed to optimize efficiency, synergy and data collection capability.
MindSurge results in actionable idea generation, and is ideally suited for a variety of applications, including:
- Product, Service or Company Naming
- Promotion Development
- Opportunity Maximization (e.g., Olympic sponsorship)
- Product Development
- Consensus Building
- Strategic Planning
- Positioning Strategy Development
- Mission Statement Development
NCG facilitated a brainstorming session for a multi-billion dollar consumer goods conglomerate seeking to maximize the internal benefits of its 1996 Olympic Games sponsorship. The session was attended by 21 employees, representing 15 operating units within the company. The vision was clear, yet ambitious … identify ways in which the sponsorship could be leveraged across its operating and functional boundaries to improve employee satisfaction, morale and motivation. The session produced hundreds of ideas which were ranked and qualified by the group. The top suggestions – those which earned the greatest overall approval – were categorized and then further developed, ultimately resulting in strategic blueprint appropriate for immediate action.
Alf Nucifora, Chairman of NCG, is an experienced meeting facilitator and focus group moderator having worked on behalf of some of the nation’s leading organizations including Barclay’s Global Investors, Deloitte, The Kroger Company, Turner Broadcasting, American Bussiness Association and The Coca-Cola Company. Most meetings involve an inordinate amount of waste due to poor planning and facilitation, but NCG can maximize the productivity of key planning and evaluation sessions.
Clients’ meetings are led by a skilled facilitator, who will expose organizational dynamics; encourage individual and group responses; articulate and organize relevant issues; and efficiently move the group toward consensus in a non-political environment.
An NCG Meeting Facilitation package often includes:
- An initial brainstorming session to establish guidelines and set goals.
- Meeting preparation, including facilities and logistics.
- Meeting facilitation.
- A follow-up report of key discussion points and resolutions.
A major, cross-divisional meeting had been scheduled by one of the airline industry’s top four competitors. Never been done before, this meeting would be the first opportunity for representatives from more than 20 departments to join minds in a single planning session. Given the importance of this precedence-setting meeting, there would be no room for trial and error. Nucifora Consulting Group planned and facilitated the session, seeing to it that the agenda was efficiently, effectively and completely addressed.
TRAINING & SEMINARS: NCG’S BUSINESS BOOT CAMP©
We developed Business Boot Camp in response to clients’ requests for high-quality training and seminar programs focusing on selling techniques, marketing strategies and professional development. Business Boot Camp is modular, so it can be tailored to suit your particular specifications. We can easily accommodate a half-day, full-day or multi-day schedule, and our sessions can be customized for senior management, staff or even key clients.
Perhaps the best feature is that Business Boot Camp is completely turnkey … we’ll handle all of the details. Simply choose from the following topics:
- Relationship Marketing
- Customer Service
- Promoting and Marketing Your Firm
- Account Management
- New Business Development
- Small Business Marketing
- Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling
- Sales Techniques
- Time Management
- Corporate Retreats & Team Building
We are also able to arrange for additional topics through guest trainers. In addition to leading the session, we can prepare the agenda, arrange the facilities and supervise the logistics. Many of the modules also come with supplementary materials, such as handouts, books, videos and audio cassettes (supplemental materials are subject to availability).
Nucifora Consulting Group delivered a training module for the sales and service representatives of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturer of commercial and residential water heaters. Attendees reviewed the importance of customer service and how consultative selling can be used to improve sales and customer relationships in a price sensitive industry. They also discussed the significance of customers’ “lifetime value,” and practical tips on how to maximize this value. At the end of the seminar, participants were given the opportunity to apply what they had learned by working together on customized exercises prepared and facilitated by NCG. The training session was so successful that it was reproduced for other functional divisions, and is now a regular component of the company’s annual sales meeting.