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The client had experienced a decline in sales for 3 years straight. The team felt they were working harder but nothing was working. After an internal review, we determined that the company was modestly growing sales from existing customers yet, new business was declining. Upon further examination, we determined a problem converting new customers. Requests were coming in but conversion was low.
We developed a program to gain a better understanding of how their teams were responding to new client inquiries, as well as how they stacked up against the competition.
We put together a market intelligence program to evaluate service, sales experience and pricing of the client and their top competitors in 6 different countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific. Part of the program was intended to measure the reality of the experiences with the company's expectations, as well as to identify areas of opportunity.
In this case, the client journey was broken. The process getting to a sales person and getting the information needed took too long and buyers were choosing others, even more expensive providers, who provided better service and what they needed in a more timely fashion.
Client was in a high growth new business segment. They were growing fast and the current market leader. Money was being invested in new competitors at a furious pace. The client reached out to see if we could help them understand the competition, the market and the products and services being offered. We developed a plan to evaluate 6 companies, their products and services, and their online presence and conversations.
A specialty image production company was looking to improve its business. Its goals included greater brand awareness, broader global distribution, and improved revenue performance. Additionally, the company knew it had organizational issues to address. After our internal review, our team recommended a bold strategic plan to reorganize operations, implement a new marketing plan and diversify distribution. The new plan called for a change in management as well as operational processes. The team worked with the client on communication, implementation and execution. A new HR process was established to include performance goal setting and a regular review process to include more communication and a more collaborative process. The new process included 360 degree evaluations across all levels. As the new plan was rolled out, ongoing feedback mechanisms were put in place to ensure appropriate performance measurement. Distribution was focused on a global network of third party distributors. This allowed the production company to focus on its strengths and to find partners who were expert in selling its product. The reorganization of staff was then focused on production and servicing the network of distributors.
The previously apathetic staff re-engaged. The team became creative, innovative and analytical. Production levels increased, image content quality improved and was directed according to market data, distribution partners began to prioritize the company’s content, and sales increased. Brand awareness was raised through a series of PR programs initiated in conjunction with distribution partners and independently. The client commented “our team is now focused on raising the level of success rather than getting out of the hole we were in. We feel like a real team.”
A well established company’s sales had stalled. The business model was changing, the economy had taken a turn for the worst. They knew they had to do something but were unsure of what. The company had a very competitive product, had been diligent defining client territories, and had developed lists for their small, but experienced sales team. They had established weekly cold calling quotas for their sales reps but sales were not growing. They reached out to VisualSteam specifically to help define strategies to increase revenue and grow sales.
The first thing we did was to immerse ourselves into existing client and sales data. We looked at where existing sales were coming from, sales patterns and transaction data. A pattern began to form. The company had lots of “customers” who were simply not buying. They had past customers who had not returned. They had a lot of one time buyers. We knew we needed to understand what was happening and why.
Once our team analyzed the data, we knew we had to go to the source - the sales reps and the clients. Through a series of steps which included spending time on the sales floor, speaking to clients and people who should have been, we were able to identify several gaps where customers were customer needs were not being met. Additionally, there were significant practical issues with in the sales process and client experience that created barriers for customers. We tackled these first. We also identified several issues related to how sales reps were focusing their activity. We were able to create new sales processes which eliminated cold calling in favor of targeted “warm” calling, and which redirected sales efforts according to specific, and more targeted activities intended to fill the gaps identified by customers. The company improved sales, customer relations and grew their client base within months of implementing the new strategies.
A small digital image company needed help determining the best path (build or buy) for creating their digital asset management system. Keeping up with their growth had become a challenge. They were balancing multiple systems and suffering because of it. The goal was to get to a fully enabled and integrated DAM system that would handle image management (editing, metadata), e-Commerce (transactions and shopping cart), distribution/delivery, and integrate if possible with their sales, order, entry system.
Build or Buy?
After evaluating the needs of the company, it became clear that the growth levels and expansion plans of this company required a flexible system that would grow with the company. We recommended they buy a system that was robust enough to allow them a full suite of services but still at a price that was consistent with their current size. This type of approach would allow them to choose a system that could grow as they were growing, and would give them the greatest flexibility. We further recommended they update their financial systems to ensure solid and seamless financial integration.
Integration, stability and control
This project extended into execution. Our team aided with the planning and project management. The new systems were implemented within 6 months and for less money than originally planned. The company estimates a significant savings in man hours due to the newly integrated financial systems. Additionally, added functionality has added process improvements that they estimate increased productivity in their image production department. Based upon our recommendation, the company negotiated upgrades in their contract for the first three years.
A mid-size media/publishing company sought to acquire a specialty image company to provide content for ongoing niche print and online publications. The company’s goals were to acquire one or more companies that could provide content unencumbered with rights issues yet provide a long history of the required content while eliminating the need to pay for ongoing license fees. Our team was to provide a list of targets, open up confidential discussions, evaluate operations and content collections, and assist with due diligence and final negotiations.
The team worked with the company to outline the content requirements being sought. We further built out the ROI metrics with leadership that would make an acquisition a financial success. We then identified a target list of companies in the US and Europe that met the required specifications. The strategy required that the company focus on a core set of content to meet the broadest range of needs. After an initial review, the team narrowed the list to those that most clearly met the strategy. On-site collection reviews were done in the case of the top contenders. Following financial and operational reviews, a selection of two companies was made. These companies met the criteria most closely aligning to the strategy outlined, providing the content and meeting the required financial and operational picture.
In the end, one company made the cut. The acquisition provided over 500,000 images. It is estimated that 50,000 would be accessed on a regular basis for a significant savings that exceeded budgeted predictions.
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