Running Up StairsWe’ve helped hundreds of clients build their businesses. Here are just a few case studies that illustrate our results.

New Business and Product Launch Strategy, Planning and Execution

New Business Launch – Regional

The firm’s assistance was sought by a startup organizational development consultancy to help the consultancy refine its strategic objectives, mission, brand definition and marketing strategies, as well as develop a marketing plan and all branding and marketing materials. The firm’s consultant developed not only a clear plan for the organization’s growth but also well-designed, consistent marketing materials and communications. The firm’s owner lavished praise on Hickman Consulting Partners, and is excited to be launching with its full slate of services – something the owner said would never have been possible without the firm’s assistance.

New Product Launch – National

Faced with a growing new segment that threatened its core brand, a major brewing company recognized the need to prepare and launch a competitive entrant. As part of two-person team, the firm’s consultant was tasked with developing brand strategy and a marketing plan and launching the new product in less than twelve weeks. The consultant worked hand-in-hand with advertising, packaging and consumer promotions agencies as well as sales, operations, R&D and legal to successfully launch the brand. She led the development of outdoor, print and radio advertising, point-of-sale materials, sales strategy and product refinements. Her teams achieved the twelve week launch requirement, cutting the typical new product launch time by nine months. Strong consumer trial resulted in market share far above management’s expectations.

New Product Launch – Regional

Seeking to compete in a growing import market segment, a large company had been stalled in the development stages of a new product for more than a year. The firm’s consultant was tasked with getting the product launched in multiple test markets. The consultant developed and codified a successful launch process, including a launch budget of $4MM that she created, helped sell to senior management, and then managed. She participated in the development of brand essence, strategy, advertising and media plans. She negotiated distributor investment and sales goals, and led the development and execution of consumer promotions and point-of-purchase materials. As traditional data providers did not adequately cover the test markets, she developed an easy-to-use tracking tool to measure key indicators of brand health. As a result, the brand was launched successfully on time and within budget in eight test markets. The use of her tracking tools resulted in improved analysis and reporting of brand performance, which was instrumental in developing subsequent marketing plans and programs.

Marketing Plans and Programs

Strategic Realignment, Brand Definition, Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan

After assisting with a strategic realignment of an area nonprofit, the firm’s assistance was sought in developing brand definition, marketing strategies, marketing plan, and recommendations for materials, systems and staff needed. Our consultant worked with the management and staff to assess the nonprofit’s marketing strategies; recommend systems, infrastructure and staff necessary; and even conduct activity-based costing on core service lines as the organization did not have accurate estimates of its cost to deliver a unit of service. Just one immediate result of the project was that the organization quickly implemented a change in its pricing strategy and renegotiated current contracts. In addition, on a very limited budget, the consultant developed simple but effective marketing materials to replace outdated, lengthy brochures and provided assistance and guidance in the organization’s first fundraising efforts, which were praised as highly successful.

Brand Definition, Marketing Strategy and Elevator Pitch

A nonprofit providing mental health care for immigrants and refugees sought our help developing a simple, clear message and a compelling elevator pitch. Our consultant worked with the management team to assemble a motivated team of management, board members and front-line staff and facilitated a short series of sessions to clarify and prioritize target audiences, relevant and unique benefits, and reasons to believe, including compelling quantitative data and anecdotes. As a result, the team that began the project unable to clearly express the services they offered left with a short, compelling elevator pitch tailored to top priority target audiences.

Brand Definition, Marketing Strategy, Elevator Pitch and Marketing Materials

A nonprofit provider of affordable housing struggling to communicate effectively sought our assistance in defining the brand and developing a core communication. Our consultant developed an approach to seek input from the entire board, staff, and management, and led a team of management, board members and key staff in the assessment of current branding and activities; development of a clear brand definition and unique, relevant positioning; identification of target audiences; and a compelling customized elevator pitch including relevant quantitative and qualitative reasons to believe. Messages developed by the team were quickly incorporated into the organization’s proposals, board and management speeches, and other core communication vehicles.

The consultant also trained staff on how to write creative briefs, how to better evaluate creative and marketing materials, and provided guidance on writing more effective copy and communications. In addition, she conducted an assessment of current marketing and communications materials. Within a very limited budget, she led the evolution of the nonprofit’s logo and recommended simple but impactful changes to the website.

Assessment, Brand Definition, Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plans

The firm was approached by a branding and design agency to provide pro bono marketing strategy and communications consulting to participants in the area’s annual CreateAThon event (an event where nonprofits with limited budgets receive pro bono design and consulting services). In the space of two hours each, the firm’s consultant took several nonprofits through an initial assessment, discussion and recommendations for brand definition and marketing strategies, and recommended low-cost communications and a set of prioritized marketing activities and tactics. Participants raved about the practical advice and solutions provided. The firm’s consultants will provide advice and recommendations to five area nonprofits in this year’s event.

Marketing and Retail Merchandising

A women’s clothing retailer, interested in expanding market share and opening additional retail outlets, requested assistance with branding and marketing. The firm’s consultant provided guidance to client on developing a marketing plan, clearly establishing company strategy, focusing on the target market, and on the best use of advertising, consumer promotion and grassroots marketing tactics. When the consultant’s initial analysis identified the need to improve merchandising in current stores, the consultant was able to add a merchandising expert to the team without increasing the client’s budget. The consultants were instrumental in helping the client successfully double her number of retail outlets.

Product Reformulation

A large consumer products company suspected that the decline in sales of one of its major brands might be due to product taste. The firm’s consultant was asked to increase the appeal of the product while keeping a similar flavor profile. The consultant led a complex cross-functional team composed of brand, operations, R&D, flavor experts and an outside market research firm to optimize the product taste. Changes made greatly enhanced consumer appeal.

Marketing Plan

A manager in a non-profit organization sought the firm’s expertise in developing a marketing plan when she was tasked with performing marketing and public relations for the organization. The consultant adapted a marketing plan template to better suit the non-profit and coached the manager on the planning process, including identifying strengths the organization could leverage, how to manage around the organization’s weaknesses, and identifying additional resources the organization could tap. As a result, the manager developed a clear, actionable marketing plan that supported the organization’s long-term goals.

Market Research

The firm was approached for assistance in conducting market research by a tourism company seeking to improve its products and customer service. The firm’s consultant worked with the company to clearly define its objectives and create a concise, actionable consumer questionnaire. The consultant provided input and helped refine the company’s plan for executing the research, including recommending consumer incentives for completing the survey that reinforced the company’s brand and image.

Business, Data and Cost Analyses

Product Line/SKU Analysis

Seeking to increase sales of a mature brand, a major manufacturer of consumer packaged goods tasked the firm’s consultant with analysis of current SKUs. The consultant performed a comprehensive analysis of the product line, from distribution and velocity to cost of goods to data on consumer preferences. The consultant identified unexpectedly weak velocity in an SKU launched only two years prior and recommended replacement, resulting in an expected increase in sales of $2MM.

Business Analysis

Seeking to identify high-potential clothing manufacturers for a short-term export promotion program, a Ukrainian market development expert requested an assessment of two short-listed manufacturers in Ukraine. The expert was not able to provide any sales or consumer data, and the manufacturers were not willing to have any outside party review their books. Despite the lack of data, the consultant was able to accurately assess both businesses based on introductory meetings with management and tours of the facilities. The consultant quickly identified significant problems at both sites, including outdated equipment, significant underutilized factory space, onerous overhead, inadequate margins, and management’s unwillingness to invest in necessary sales and marketing activities.

The consultant conducted initial assessments for both sites and provided recommendations immediately afterward, including the recommendation that no further resources be expended to analyze either business. The expert adopted the consultant’s recommendations. Neither manufacturer was included in the project, freeing up resources to invest in higher-potential firms that did produce the needed short-term results.

International Marketing and Sourcing


A US-based buyer seeking to work with a Ukrainian furniture supplier was unable to get the specifications, pricing and terms he had requested four months earlier. It was stated that the manufacturer had not sent any of the information promised and would no longer return phone calls. The firm’s consultant was tasked with getting the potential deal back on track. The consultant gathered as much information as possible from the client and then arranged a face-to-face meeting with the manufacturer. On listening to the manufacturer’s summary of the previous meeting, the consultant concluded that not only had there been miscommunication through the interpreter, but also that next steps had not been clearly defined. The consultant worked with the manufacturer to clearly set next steps, outline responsibilities, and set timing, and provided an example of a desired price quote/product specification and sell sheet. As a result, the required information was delivered in the format needed in less than two weeks, keeping the deal alive.

Marketing, Sales Strategy and Materials

A Ukrainian manufacturer was seeking to increase revenue by exporting home furnishings to the US. The company had not been successful in appealing to US buyers in the past. The consultant was tasked with improving the company’s marketing and sales materials. The consultant worked with the manufacturer to determine its core competencies, understand its weaknesses, and refine its brand image and positioning. The team then worked together to clearly identify the manufacturer’s full product line and prioritize products for export. The consultant and manufacturer worked hand-in-hand to create and produce brochures and a presentation for potential buyers. Beyond the initial scope of the project, the consultant used personal contacts to find a potential buyer and worked with the company to create a sell-in kit that showcased the manufacturer’s high-quality workmanship. As a result, the buyer agreed to travel to the manufacturer’s site for a meeting and ordered product samples.

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