"We've spent $200 million in advertising and $40 million in consulting fees just to keep our nose above water--there has to be a better way!" - Fortune 500 CEO

Marketplace Execution Practice 

AHPL realizes that brilliant insights and superior strategic plans are price-of-entry requirements. However, AHPL also realizes that the best strategic plans all to often either go un-executed, or worse yet, mis-executed. Too many traditional strategic advisory firms see their role as ending with the deliver of the “plan.” At AHPL, we provide the executional guidance, and in many cases, the turn-key services required to get new initiatives into the market quickly, on-time and on-budget.

Which is why AHPL and its Alliance Partners have built a global inventory of resources that provide our Clients with the ability to tap best-in-class assets to either assist or fully execute new initiatives across a full range of go-to-market activities ranging from primary research to marketing communications to sales support to promotion and to in-market metrics and reporting.

As Client-side marketers ourselves, we recognize the three basic issues facing any company trying to compete more successfully in the “Next Economy” and have designed our Marketplace Execution Practice to provide the required solutions:

  • My internal assets are fully devoted to the day-to-day necessities and I can’t risk diverting them. How can Ilaunch new initiatives without either de-railing my current momentum or alienating internal constituencies?
  • Before investing in new initiatives, am I sure my internal and external assets have the skills required?
  • If I outsource the execution, how can I be sure of being able to re-integrate in the future?

How can I launch new initiatives without risking my existing businesses?

All too often, the launching of new initiatives has to happen in an environment of highly constrained--and sometimes inappropriate--internal and external resources. As such, achieving proof-of-concept validation is made more difficult. The reality is that it is an exceedingly high-risk proposition to completely re-engineer one’s company, people and processes in order to validate an unproven new initiative.

Which is why AHPL has structured itself to be able to work with its Clients to develop, either in parallel with internal and external assets or on a turnkey basis, the executional expertise required to provide measurable marketplace results without risking a “let’s blow up the company and see what happens” approach.

For example, the largest agricultural and fuels cooperative in the US had recognized that after having made 4 major acquisitions it needed to completely re-structure everything from its brand to its operating units and to its go-to-market approach. In addition, a first-time float on the public markets required the traditionally privately-held company to get all of its constituencies on the same page. However, the company was smart enough to realize that trying to orchestrate this much change in a turf-ridden, siloed culture would doom the long-term effort and pose serious risks to quarterly ongoing results.

Beginning with a complete audit of the brand, operations, personnel and market-facing strategies, a new corporate brand, structure, identity and market strategy was devised entirely outside the company in conjunction with the CEO and Corporate Communications offices. The resulting recommendations were presented to the BOD for approval and, on a fait-accompli basis, to the heads of the warring SBU’s. AHPL functioned as a shadow corporate strategy, brand, planning and communications unit handling a holistic re-structuring of the company.

Once the new direction was introduced to the company, AHPL personnel became the lead trainers and implementation consuls who over a period of two years, worked side-by-side with internal assets in order to assure the implementation was on time, on budget and on plan. As of this writing, the company has nearly doubled its earnings growth rates over periods prior to the re-structuring.

How can I be sure I have the right internal and external teams?

Much as a NASCAR racer wouldn’t succeed at Le Mans, it is a fact that organizations are not nearly as adaptable as we’d like to think. As a result, many new initiatives either never get off the starting line or fall short of the finish line because they were never built with a new kind of race in mind.

AHPL recognized long ago that a thorough analysis of the “team potential” is critical before considering implementation of new initiatives, which is why we and our Alliance partners offer a full range of organizational and human diagnostic tools that we deploy to determine a fair and objective assessment of the organization’s and its people’s collective ability to execute a new plan.

For example, on major cable and internet-based home shopping channel was facing a cross-roads in their business strategy. For many years, the company had grown in lockstep with its ability to reach homes passed. However, as household penetration levels reached saturation, the company realized that the household growth had masked a basic lack of growth in demand from existing households.

In short, the company had to migrate from a “sales-driven” strategy to a “demand-creation” strategy. However, it became clear as the company struggled to migrate its strategy that one of the reasons it was struggling was that there was no human capital either within the company or within its partners that had the required marketing expertise to even devise a new strategy, much less execute it.

In this case, we were able to help stop the company from embarking upon a “bet the company” initiative when our analysis of the skills requirements indicated that they hadn’t the talent or resources in place to succeed. A “clean-sheet” organizational strategy is in the process of being developed, which maps internal and external resources against strategic needs and will result in a major investment in new people processes and partners, but will avoid a situation doomed to fail.

How can I re-integrate outsourced activities?

More and more companies are moving to an outsourced model in which operations that functioned traditionally as internal assets are moved out of the organization. However, we are beginning to see the beginnings of the “snap-back” effect wherein companies realize that the wholesale relocation of IC can severe handicap the organization.

Which is why AHPL has from the beginning structured its Marketplace Execution Practice so that at a point in the future, all its outsourced activities can be seamlessly re-integrated into the Client organization. Since all the AHPL principals and Alliance Partners come from the Client side, we are extraordinarily sensitive to the concerns of internal constituencies and valued partners. We design our executional programs so that they can be easily transferred back to internal assets.

Case in point; a major automotive manufacturer had for years and years invested in an owner-loyalty program with virtually no metrics on performance. Which was fine when sales kept going up; and not so fine when sales slowed down. AHPL was brought in to assess the program, establish the necessary baseline business case, recommend new go-to-market strategies, review the internal and external assets that were currently in place and build meaningful measurement systems.

It was quickly determined that neither the Client or its external partners had the required expertise to execute the new strategy. As such, AHPL was engaged to manage the entire strategic and executional deployment of the new program. After a year’s time, in which plan goals were significantly exceeded, the Client began to execute our recommendations for a new internal staffing plan and set of external partners.

As of this writing, about 50% of the work has been transitioned to the new internal and external partner assets with no slippage in market performance.

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