High-Tech Marketing Business Plan
Acme Consulting will be a consulting company specializing in marketing of high-technology products in international markets. The company offers high-tech manufacturers a reliable, high-quality alternative to in-house resources for business development, market development, and channel development.
Acme Consulting will be created as a California C corporation based in Santa Clara County, owned by its principal investors and principal operators. The initial office will be established in A-quality office space in the Santa Clara County “Silicon Valley” area of California, the heart of the U.S. high tech industry.
Within the US and European high tech firms that Acme plans to target,we will focus on large manufacturer corporations such as HP, IBM & Microsoft. Our secondary target will be the medium-sized companies in high growth areas such as multimedia and software. One of Acme’s challenges will be establishing itself as a real consulting company, positioned as a relatively risk-free corporate purchase.
Industry competition comes in several forms, the most significant being companies that choose to do business development and market research in-house. There are also large, well known management consulting firms such as Arthur Anderson, Boston Consulting Group, etc. These companies are generalist in nature and do not focus on a niche market. Furthermore, they are often hampered by a flawed organizational structure that does not provide the most experienced people for the client’s projects. Another competitor is the various market research companies, such as Dataquest and Stanford Research Institute. Acme Consulting’s advantage over such companies as these is that Acme provides high level consulting to help integrate market research data with the companies goals.
Acme Consulting will be priced at the upper edge of what the market will bear, competing with the name-brand consultants. The pricing fits with the general positioning of Acme as providing high-level expertise.
The company’s founders are former marketers of consulting services, personal computers, and market research, all in international markets. They are founding Acme to formalize the consulting services they offer. Acme should be managed by working partners, in a structure taken mainly from Smith Partners. In the beginning we assume 3-5 partners.
The firm estimates profits of approximately $65,000 by Year 3 with a net profit margin of 6%. The company plans on taking on approximately $130,000 in current debt and raise and additional $50,000 in long-term debt to invest in long-term assets. The company does not anticipate any cash flow problems arising.
- Sales of $550,000 in Year 1 and $1 million by Year 3.
- Gross margin higher than 70%.
- Net income more than 5% of sales by Year 3.
Acme Consulting offers high-tech manufacturers a reliable, high-quality alternative to in-house resources for business development, market development, and channel development on an international scale. A true alternative to in-house resources offers a very high level of practical experience, know-how, contacts, and confidentiality. Clients must know that working with Acme is a more professional, less risky way to develop new areas even than working completely in-house with their own people. Acme must also be able to maintain financial balance, charging a high value for its services, and delivering an even higher value to its clients. Initial focus will be development in the European and Latin American markets, or for European clients in the United States market.
1.3 Keys to Success
- Excellence in fulfilling the promise–completely confidential, reliable, trustworthy expertise and information.
- Developing visibility to generate new business leads.
- Leveraging from a single pool of expertise into multiple revenue generation opportunities: retainer consulting, project consulting, market research, and market research published reports.
Acme Consulting is a new company providing high-level expertise in international high-tech business development, channel development, distribution strategies, and marketing of high-tech products. It will focus initially on providing two kinds of international triangles:
Providing United States clients with development for European and Latin American markets.
Providing European clients with development for the United States and Latin American markets.
As it grows it will take on people and consulting work in related markets, such as the rest of Latin America, the Far East, and similar markets. It will also look for additional leverage by taking brokerage positions and representation positions to create percentage holdings in product results.
2.1 Start-up Summary
Total start-up expense (including legal costs, logo design, stationery and related expenses) comes to $18,350. Start-up assets required include $7,000 in short-term assets (office furniture, etc.) and $25,000 in initial cash to handle the first few months of consulting operations as sales and accounts receivable play through the cash flow.
2.2 Company Locations and Facilities
The initial office will be established in A-quality office space in the Santa Clara County “Silicon Valley” area of California, the heart of the U.S. high tech industry.
2.3 Company Ownership
Acme Consulting will be created as a California C corporation based in Santa Clara County, owned by its principal investors and principal operators. As of this writing, it has not been chartered yet and is still considering alternatives of legal formation.
Acme offers the expertise a high-technology company needs to develop new product distribution and new market segments in new markets. This can be taken as high-level retainer consulting, market research reports, or project-based consulting.
3.1 Service Description
- Retainer consulting: We represent a client company as an extension of its business development and market development functions. This begins with complete understanding of the client company’s situation, objectives, and constraints. We then represent the client company quietly and confidentially, sifting through new market developments and new opportunities as is appropriate to the client, representing the client in initial talks with possible allies, vendors, and channels.
- Project consulting: Proposed and billed on a per-project and per-milestone basis, project consulting offers a client company a way to harness our specific qualities and use our expertise to solve specific problems, develop and/or implement plans, and develop specific information.
- Market research: Group studies available to selected clients at $5,000 per unit. A group study is a packaged and published complete study of a specific market, channel, or topic. Examples might be studies of developing consumer channels in Japan or Mexico, or implications of changing margins in software.
3.2 Competitive Comparison
The competition comes in several forms:
The most significant competition is no consulting at all, companies choosing to do business development, channel development and market research in-house. Their own managers do this on their own, as part of their regular business functions. Our key advantage in competition with in-house development is that managers are already overloaded with responsibilities, they don’t have time for additional responsibilities in new market development or new channel development. Also, Acme can approach alliances, vendors, and channels on a confidential basis, gathering information and making initial contacts in ways that the corporate managers can’t.
The high-level prestige management consulting: McKinsey, Bain, Arthur Anderson, Boston Consulting Group, etc. These are essentially generalists who take their name-brand management consulting into specialty areas. Their other very important weakness is the management structure that has the partners selling new jobs, and inexperienced associates delivering the work. We compete against them as experts in our specific fields, and with the guarantee that our clients will have the top-level people doing the actual work.
The third general kind of competitor is the international market research company: International Data Corporation (IDC), Dataquest, Stanford Research Institute, etc. These companies are formidable competitors for published market research and market forums, but cannot provide the kind of high-level consulting that Acme will provide.
The fourth kind of competition is the market-specific smaller house. For example: Nomura Research in Japan, Select S.A. de C.V. in Mexico (now affiliated with IDC).
Sales representation, brokering, and deal catalysts are an ad-hoc business form that will be defined in detail by the specific nature of each individual case.
3.3 Sales Literature
The business will begin with a general corporate brochure establishing the positioning. This brochure will be developed as part of the start-up expenses.
Literature and mailings for the initial market forums will be very important.
The key fulfillment and delivery will be provided by the principals of the business. The real core value is professional expertise, provided by a combination of experience, hard work, and education (in that order).
We will turn to qualified professionals for freelance back-up in market research and presentation and report development, which are areas that we can afford to sub-contract without risking the core values provided to the clients.
Acme Consulting will maintain the latest Windows and Macintosh capabilities including:
- Complete e-mail facilities on the Internet, Compuserve, America-Online, and Applelink, for working with clients directly through e-mail delivery of drafts and information.
- Complete presentation facilities for preparation and delivery of multimedia presentations on Macintosh or Windows machines, in formats including on-disk presentation, live presentation, or video presentation.
- Complete desktop publishing facilities for delivery of regular retainer reports, project output reports, marketing materials, and market research reports.
3.6 Future Services
In the future, Acme will broaden the coverage by expanding into coverage of additional markets (e.g., all of Latin America, Far East, Western Europe) and additional product areas (e.g., telecommunications and technology integration).
We are also studying the possibility of newsletter or electronic newsletter services, or perhaps special on-topic reports.
Market Analysis Summary
Acme will be focusing on high-technology manufacturers of computer hardware and software, services, and networking, who want to sell into markets in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. These are mostly larger companies, and occasionally medium-sized companies.
Our most important group of potential customers are executives in larger corporations. These are marketing managers, general managers, sales managers, sometimes charged with international focus and sometimes charged with market or even specific channel focus. They do not want to waste their time or risk their money looking for bargain information or questionable expertise. As they go into markets looking at new opportunities, they are very sensitive to risking their company’s name and reputation.
4.1 Market Segmentation
Large manufacturer corporations: Our most important market segment is the large manufacturer of high-technology products, such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Siemens, or Olivetti. These companies will be calling on Acme for development functions that are better spun off than managed in-house, for market research, and for market forums.
Medium-sized growth companies: particularly in software, multimedia, and some related high-growth fields, Acme will offer an attractive development alternative to the company that is management constrained and unable to address opportunities in new markets and new market segments.
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
As indicated by the previous table and Illustration, we must focus on a few thousand well-chosen potential customers in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. These few thousand high-tech manufacturing companies are the key customers for Acme.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
The consulting “industry” is pulverized and disorganized, with thousands of smaller consulting organizations and individual consultants for every one of the few dozen well-known companies.
Consulting participants range from major international name-brand consultants to tens of thousands of individuals. One of Acme’s challenges will be establishing itself as a real consulting company, positioned as a relatively risk-free corporate purchase.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
The key element in purchase decisions made at the Acme client level is trust in the professional reputation and reliability of the consulting firm.
4.3.2 Main Competitors
1. The high-level prestige management consulting:
Strengths: International locations managed by owner-partners with a high level of presentation and understanding of general business. Enviable reputations which make purchase of consulting an easy decision for a manager, despite the very high prices.
Weaknesses: General business knowledge doesn’t substitute for the specific market, channel, and distribution expertise of Acme, focusing on high-technology markets and products only. Also, fees are extremely expensive, and work is generally done by very junior-level consultants, even though sold by high-level partners.
2. The international market research company:
Strengths: International offices, specific market knowledge, permanent staff developing market research information on permanent basis, good relationships with potential client companies.
Weaknesses: Market numbers are not marketing, not channel development nor market development. Although these companies compete for some of the business Acme is after, they cannot really offer the same level of business understanding at a high level.
3. Market specific or function specific experts:
Strengths: Expertise in market or functional areas. Acme should not try to compete with Nomura or Select in their markets with market research, or with ChannelCorp in channel management.
Weaknesses: The inability to spread beyond a specific focus, or to rise above a specific focus, to provide actual management expertise, experience, and wisdom beyond the specifics.
4. Companies do in-house research and development:
Strengths: No incremental cost except travel; also, the general work is done by the people who are entirely responsible, the planning is done by those who will implement it.
Weaknesses: Most managers are terribly overburdened already, unable to find incremental resources in time and people to apply to incremental opportunities. Also, there is a lot of additional risk in market and channel development done in-house from the ground up. Finally, retainer-based antenna consultants can greatly enhance a company’s reach and extend its position into conversations that might otherwise never have taken place.
4.3.3 Business Participants
At the highest level are the few well-established major names in management consulting. Most of these are organized as partnerships established in major markets around the world, linked together by interconnecting directors and sharing the name and corporate wisdom. Some evolved from accounting companies (e.g. Arthur Andersen, Touche Ross) and some from management consulting (McKinsey, Bain). These companies charge very high rates for consulting, and maintain relatively high overhead structures and fulfillment structures based on partners selling and junior associates fulfilling.
At the intermediate level are some function-specific or market-specific consultants, such as the market research firms (IDC, Dataquest) or channel development firms (ChannelCorp, Channel Strategies, ChannelMark).
Some kinds of consulting are little more than contract expertise provided by somebody who, while temporarily out of work, offers consulting services.
4.3.4 Distributing a Service
Consulting is sold and purchased mainly on a word-of-mouth basis, with relationships and previous experience being, by far, the most important factor.
The major name-brand houses have locations in major cities and major markets, and executive-level managers or partners develop new business through industry associations, business associations, chambers of commerce and industry, etc., and in some cases social associations such as country clubs.
The medium-level houses are generally area specific or function specific, and are not easily able to leverage their business through distribution.