Case Studies
Out-of-the-box strategies to help you grow your brand!

A story of Discovery

It was a hot summer’s day in Phoenix and we got a call from a contact saying his CEO was in town and wanted to meet. We met over lunch at an Italian restaurant in Tempe downtown and discussed his concerns. They had a business that formulated, manufactured and distributed beauty products for women. They had been in business for 25 years. While their products were well liked by customers, there was also a lot of confusion about what the company philosophy was and the vision behind the products. They had a passionate and enthusiastic sales team that felt they needed help communicating the ideas and vision behind the product to the market.

Over a one hour lunch the CEO Richard decided that he will take our help to remedy the situation. The following week two of us from Alchmi flew to Houston, Texas where his company was headquartered. We quickly got down to action. Three days and several interviews (with employees, customers, distributors and Richard) later, we had a first draft of the company’s Core Purpose, Core Values, their Vision & Mission and their core philosophy. This material was then used to rewrite their sales training program as well content for all of their marketing collateral. Over the next 1-2 quarters the results were evident. Sales had gone up by 20%!

Stopping the leaks: return to profitability

When Earth and Sky Services was a small company and with a single location and a single manager everything ran relatively smoothly. When they grew up and started operating in diverse markets with managers from diverse backgrounds and varying levels of experience, expertise and commitment it was a new ball game all together. They now had 10 branch locations and all of them were set up as separate entities and all of their P & L’s carried a corporate overhead to pay for the central operating leadership and back office. We were sitting with Roger the owner and CEO looking at his financials for the previous 3 years. The company had been consistently making losses. Roger was scratching his head trying to figure out what was wrong with his operation.

Slowly we delved deeper and deeper into his financials to see what they could tell us. It was obvious from looking at his financials that they were not set up the way they should have been. They were not even consistent from branch to branch. We had a lot of work to do. However, we intuitively felt that we could potentially make the company profitable simply from streamlining operations, reducing costs and significantly improving their financial reporting practices. After going through several discussions with Roger’s branch managers we developed a process that we thought could get us the results. We implemented the process over the next 2-3 months and just as our intuition had predicted found enough cost savings to create a 5% profit margin for the company. With further streamlining of operations coupled with improved reporting we were able to bring that number up to 15% by the end of the year. Things were looking up again for Earth and Sky!

Inspiring salespeople to learn networking: growing revenue organically

It was the beginning of fall in 2009. Bob the CEO of a mid-sized services company in Colorado was worried. He was worried about the coming winter. His business was cyclical and peaked during six summer months and suffered during winter and spring. The market had changed and his old ways of doing business were not working anymore.  In spite of several coaching sessions and messages from the CEO, the salespeople were not receptive to the idea of networking to generate leads for themselves.

As we listened to Bob pour his heart out over lunch, I said, “We need to teach them how to fish.” Bob looked up puzzled. He had just taken another bite out of the salmon dish he was having for lunch. “We need to teach them how to network and generate their own leads”, we clarified. He nodded in agreement and looked relieved, inspired and curious all the same time. Over the next week or so we pulled a team together and designed the entire day’s program including the networking game. The event was held in a hotel in a nearby town. And we played the game. At the end of the game the salespeople demanded that we quickly conduct a training program for them on how to network and generate leads. The event was a success! But there was more work to do – We now had to design the training program!

Teaching order takers to sell: growing revenue organically

Fresh from the success of the sales day event, we sat at a table in a nearby Starbucks coffee store and worked on the details of the new sales training program for Bob’s company. It was a bright Friday morning. We had a nice group there – two of us from Alchmi, Bob the CEO, Bob’s general manager Tom and sales manager John. Tom and John were very excited to be doing this exercise. We sweated through the most intricate details over fresh coffee – the strengths and weaknesses of their sales team, the dynamics of their business, the profiles of their customers, the changes in the marketplace and the behavior of their competitors. By lunch time we had an outline ready.

Over the next week or so we built out the training plan and refined every detail with inputs from salespeople, people from other departments and customers. The training was carried out over 3 months and evidence of success began to trickle in soon after. Six months after the training started we had clear evidence of success. The percentage of leads generated in house out of the total number of leads had gone up from 5% to 30% and continued to go up. Bob was now very happy indeed!

Retail: Return to growth

Roger had spent the last 40 years building his pharmacy and retail business. He retailed high end supplements. The margins were impressive but suddenly his growth rate had slowed down and he was running in the red. Roger asked us to figure out what was causing it. On investigating we found a whole list of reasons that were causing the slump in his business but we want to talk about one phenomenon here. We immersed ourselves in his store environment and conducted some observational studies. We discovered that many people would walk in to the store attracted by signage or having heard of the store from somewhere. They would even spend a good 10 – 15 minutes in the store looking at things on display but would walk out without buying anything. The reason was Roger’s products had a built-in education factor and his store customers were looking to him and his staff for that education but Roger provided none. Roger’s staff stayed behind the counter and only responded to the questions that the customers asked of them. There was a disconnect between what the customers needed, wanted and what Roger offered them. We created a cross-sell / up-sell training program that included training the staff on a few things: product knowledge, how to interact with the customers in the store, how to provide assistance to the buyers in a non-intrusive way and how to educate different types of customers on the store’s products and services. Within 3-6 months of implementing the program sales improved dramatically and Roger’s retail business was on its way to restored health. Roger’s business returned to black and grew 30% over the previous year and maintained that growth rate. Roger began to sleep well again and everyone remarked that he was looking his healthy and cheerful self again!

Clarity of Communication brings growth

Many times we run into entrepreneurs that know how to build extremely sophisticated products but have no idea how to explain the product to the market. We dealt with one such situation (not the only one though) many years ago. There was this maverick genius who had some amazing medical products but when we spoke to the market, there was no clarity about what the company or the products stood for. After immersing ourselves in the company culture, history, processes etc and by talking to employees, customers, distributors and end consumers we were able to piece together a picture that represented what the company really was all about. From this we were able to tell a story about the company and its products that resonated with both the employees and the marketplace. Most importantly, it was not marketing spin. We don’t do that. It was a true, authentic story told in a language that the company’s audience understood. This unleashed a lot of pent up growth that helped the company double its revenues very quickly.

Start-ups need strategy too…

A lot of entrepreneurs think they do not have to worry about branding until they are big and can’t handle the volume of customers anymore. This is quite incorrect. But that is exactly how Mary thought about it. She was a budding entrepreneur with a start-up idea that we just bumped into at a networking event. We would not have typically thought of her as an ideal client or a target. But there she was bubbling with enthusiasm about her new venture idea. She wanted to create a platform to bring together people who wanted to start a movement. Rather she wanted to create an online platform to help people who were interested and passionate about a particular cause to come together and instantly gather in big numbers and have their voices heard. She believed that people should not have to wait for ages to make an impact on people with the power to change things. She sought our help. We spent many hours listening deeply and intently to her verbalization of her vision. When we felt we had a good idea of what she wanted to accomplish through this platform we set out to validate some of her assumptions, observations, insights and strategies by talking to her target and peripheral audiences. We came back with some suggestions, new insights and many refinements. We brainstormed with her and debated with her about the pros and cons of various approaches. Finally, we reached an agreement. Next we set out to develop a creative and design vision out of her requirements, wish lists and stated as well unstated goals. She loved the prototype we designed. The prototype became a platform and her vision came to life and is already impacting the lives of people everywhere.