About The Cornucopia Group
Since 2001, The Cornucopia Group has been a marketing consulting and execution company focused on helping CEOs of privately held companies develop more predictable outcomes from their company's marketing efforts through better systems. The central goal in establishing the company was to create measurable marketing that would support continuous improvement. To achieve this goal, the many inefficiencies that most businesses experience in their marketing and sales functions would need to be overcome by offering those companies a clearer, more systematic, and scientific approach.However, most companies experience breakdowns and gaps as a result of the management team's attention being drawn into the day to day operations, preventing these companies from leveraging the benefits of a systematic approach to sustaining and measuring organizational improvement and change in the most critical of all of the areas of business: marketing and sales. These areas are where improvement must occur to build a value relationship with the customer. These are the areas that connect the CEO with the customer.
Michelangelo Celli is the founder and president of The Cornucopia Group, a consultancy that has taught thousands of CEOs how to seize control of their marketing through systems-based thinking.
Michelangelo believes that changing your thinking is the first step toward changing how your business works, and it all begins with the CEO. His logical, systematic approach is surprisingly simple—but not simplistic. Once you master it, you’ll never look at marketing the same way again.
Michelangelo’s ideas have appeared in MarketingProfs, CEO Refresher, Emerald Insight, and more. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he has presented his innovative theories to The Academy of Chief Executive Officers, The CEO Clubs, Vistage International, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and the MIT Forum. He is currently at work on a book, Beat the Street, for CEOs who want to learn how their private businesses can outperform Wall Street.
David Hindman is the Online Performance Marketer at The Cornucopia Group. He specializes in the design, execution and management of Internet marketing strategies that feed a company’s sales and operational processes with qualified opportunities.
David has successfully managed TCG client promotional spending resulting in dramatic increases of qualified leads and sales activity. His expertise in planning, execution and management helps clients leverage the benefits of pay per click, search engine optimization, email marketing and social media.
David Hindman is a graduate of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.
About Smart Systems Technology
The Top 10 Challenges Our CEO Clients Face
Every organization is different, but there are certain problems that seem to exist with nearly every one of our clients when we begin working with them.
- Poor lead generation with prospects who are pre-qualified and pre-disposed to buying their products and services.
- Marketing is a black box with well-developed top management and sales functions, but no formal marketing approach or department.
- Top management has no feedback or measurement mechanisms to influence, improve or control the sales process.
- Silo thinking across the marketing and sales operation that lead to misalignments between the CEO, marketing, sales and the customer.
- Breakdowns in delivering the message to the “first marketplace,” which exists inside the walls of the company.
- Ineffective communication tools that fail to deliver fact-based messages to support and activate the sales process.
- Poor customer visibility and listening tools.
- No rationale for the amount of revenue generated by each customer over time, and therefore no idea regarding how much money they should or should not invest in marketing to generate more customers.
- Feast and famine revenue fluctuations.
- No real predictability regarding marketing and sales outcomes.
Do some of the challenges in this list sound familiar? If so, you can sign up for a free Map it Now Session with a Performance Marketer to discuss the biggest challenges you are facing and how to go about solving them.
What a CEO Needs to Know About Marketing
Companies that fail think they fail because they are lacking opportunity, sales leads, or resources. But more often, they are lacking context, lacking a structure to support their vision and propel sales. If the CEOs vision isn’t clearly communicated, the marketing department is without direction, missing the vital organizational processes needed to carry the CEOs vision to the sales force. Without these structures, sales people – regardless of their skill level – cannot build the strong customer relationships that are essential for on-going business.
What’s worse, most CEOs do not have a feedback or measurement function to reveal how these gaps have become pitfalls. They only see declining sales, unpredictable revenues, and a listless, unproductive sales team.
Though CEOs may blame external forces, most B2B marketing failures are rooted inside the company.
Why Most Investments in Marketing Fail
Most investments in marketing fail before they ever leave the walls of the company. The reason is that most CEOs of companies with between $3 million and $30 million in annual revenue do not have an adequate understanding of what marketing is, how it works, or why it works. Without a strong understanding of the hidden mechanics that drive your daily marketing and sales operations it is impossible to know where to begin diagnosing where those operations are failing when things break down. Consequently, most CEOs who are more familiar with managing sales conclude that they have a sales problem. Yet all of their sales are coming from relationships with customers.
So really, they don’t have a sales problem.
They have a problem with weak customer relationships. The most fundamental component of these relationships is communication. Therefore, they don’t really have a problem with weak customer relationships. They have a failing communication structure. When you make marketing investments through a marketing and sales operation that is not tightly integrated, those investments were lost before you even wrote the check. This failing communication structure looks like this:
Who Should Work With Us
The Cornucopia Group exists to solve a very specific problem in the marketplace. Our solution is not for everyone or every business. If you want something else, you should probably go elsewhere. However, if you fit all of the criteria below and want to know more about our solution, we are the best at solving this problem and you should begin by requesting a Free Map it Now Session with a Performance Marketer.
- Your company is a privately held business-to-business company.
- Annual sales are between $5 million and $50 million dollars.
- As CEO, you believe that marketing can mean life or death to your company.
- As CEO, you believe that your company should be performing better than it is.
- Your company must be selling a complex product or service where the average customer relationship is greater than $50,000.
- As CEO, you are genuinely committed to the improvement of your business.
- As CEO, you are looking for a long-term partner of at least one year to get your expertise from.
- Company sales must depend on strong customer relationships.
- You are spending or planning to spend greater than $250,000 on your marketing budget each year.
- You must be interested in measurement.
Before & After The Cornucopia Group
Throughout The Cornucopia Group’s 10 year history we’ve helped many b2b CEOs gain better control of their marketing and sales functions. The following case studies highlight the type of change that our methodology can bring to various organizations.
RESTORING PROFITABILITY TO A STRUGGLING DIVISION
With a languishing division becoming a financial burden, the CEO of a $15 million dollar, family-owned IT and Internet business turned to The Cornucopia Group for help. The Cornucopia Group designed a new sales process, then reorganized the division’s entire marketing and selling functions to map into that process. As a result, each salesperson went from an average of two to three sales appointments per week to three to five appointments per day. In just 17 months, the division restored its profitability with a more than 100 percent increase in sales.
FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION
When the CEO of a 600-employee nonprofit wanted to define its target audience and build a promise that matched his vision, he turned to The Cornucopia Group. Through the CEO Vision Marketing process, the CEO learned his $15 million organization could only offer two of the three major components in his vision. In order to fulfill his vision, the organization merged with another $12 million nonprofit. During and after the merger, The Cornucopia Group worked with the CEO, CFO and COO as another member of the management team to ensure that the new combined organization maintained the integrity of its promise and product offerings.
CLARIFYING THE CEO’S VISION
The CEO of a $40 million software company needed help redesigning and engineering its product offerings and promise. The Cornucopia Group positioned the company through CEO Vision Marketing, developing product messaging and a product planning template to support marketing functions. At the end of a seven-month engagement, the company’s top management team shared clarity and direction on communicating the CEO’s vision to its sales and marketing managers.
IMPROVING THE SALES PIPELINE WITH MEASURABLE RESULTS
The CEO of a $12 million packaging manufacturer wanted to regain control of his company’s sales process, which had stopped cold calling and prospecting and slipped to relying on word of mouth. After building a rationale for the lifetime value of customers, The Cornucopia Group reengineered the sales process to allow the sales team to focus on engagingand closing new customers, instead of identification and qualification. Six months into the project, the CEO Vision Marketing Client has increased the opportunity pipeline by 300 percent. In addition, the CEO can now measure every dollar put into marketing, which before was a black box.
ELIMINATING COMMUNICATION MISALIGNMENTS
The CEO of a $15 million professional services group asked The Cornucopia Group to help his company articulate its selling arguments. The Cornucopia Group organized the company’s product offerings and defined its promise. After 3 months, the CEO could clearly communicate the arguments to his marketing and sales groups and had eliminated misalignments between the prospect, the promise and the company’s ability to fulfill.
REACHING THE TARGET MARKET TO INCREASE SALES
A $5 million medical consulting firm, in business for 15 years, had hit a ceiling, remaining at the same top line for four years in a row. Its CEO needed to find a way to increase sales. The Cornucopia Group, discovering the company had been reaching less than 1 percent of its target market, designed a sales process for relationship acquisition that targeted 3,500 hospital CFOs. Now, the company regularly communicates with more than half of its market, leading to requests for interactive studies by more than 10 percent of its potential customers. The company expects sales to increase by nearly 50 percent in the next 15 months.
CONNECTING WITH A TARGET AUDIENCE
After acquiring less than 8 percent of its potential customer base over 18 years, the CEO of a $22 million custom chemical manufacturer was searching for unique ways to reach new customers. His company’s marketing had focused on trade journal advertising, assuming the publications would reach the target demographic. The Cornucopia Group showed the CEO how his company could develop relationships by publishing its own magazine. The CEO and The Cornucopia Group worked together to create a custom publication targeting chemical engineers and to control editorial content to align with the company’s offerings. With a circulation of 9,000, the magazine helped the company nearly triple its customers, growing from 3,000 to 11,000 in less than 18 months.
CREATING A NEW STREAM OF INCOME
With half of his company’s business coming from colleges and universities, the CEO of a 50-year-old architectural firm was looking for a way to connect with college presidents before they presented RFPs and master plans. The Cornucopia Group helped the firm create a consulting program to engage newly-hired college presidents by helping them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their facilities. This program generated a new consulting stream of income for the firm, and led to the acquisition of building projects totaling $42 million.
INCREASING QUALIFIED LEAD GENERATION
The CEO of a $3 million IT network consulting firm wanted to increase qualified lead generation by gaining control over its best customers and the promises made to them. The Cornucopia Group helped them understand what their top customers really valued through an educational process that included training workshops with top management teams. The company emerged with physical documents defining the right customers and their lifetime value. With that in mind, The Cornucopia Group reengineered the company’s communications to create new ways to engage prospects. The sales pipeline increased by 25 percent and generated 150 opportunities in 90 days.
DIAGNOSING A SALES PROBLEM AND FIXING IT
A sudden rapid sales decline shocked and confused the president and CEO of a $12 million videoconferencing business. The Cornucopia Group conducted a study that identified the problems and defined the root causes of the sales decrease. Working with the president and CEO, The Cornucopia Group implemented action plans to immediately stop the bleeding and allow the company to regain stability. The Cornucopia Group also created a 15-month turnaround plan to get the company back on track.
EXPANDING MARKET REACH
The CEO of a $1 million custom metal fabricator wanted to take his business to the national market. The Cornucopia Group worked with him to develop a strategy that sold to architectural firms nationally, instead of directly to end customers. By offering free consulting services to the architects, the company would then be considered for manufacturing contracts with those firms. The company now works with 60 percent of its local customer base and has opened up four new national markets. Due to five times as many qualified inquiries and three times as many appointments than before the program, sales have increased 75 percent over 16 months.
REPOSITIONING A BUSINESS AROUND ITS STRENGTHS
The CEO of a $35 million steel manufacturer was losing market share in an increasingly commoditized and price driven industry. The Cornucopia Group worked through a strategic planning process to reengineer the company’s offerings. The Cornucopia Group repositioned the business around its people, expertise and knowledge.
DEVELOPING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH NEW CUSTOMERS
The CEO of a $17 million forklift distributor needed to obtain a more predictable flow of selling opportunities for his business. The Cornucopia Group created a business intelligence program that offered a free equipment analysis to qualified customers. The company sent technicians to visit the customers and diagnose their equipment inventory, and then was able to offer its products whenever equipment needed to be replaced. The program led to many appointments, strong new relationships and six-figure contracts.