We categorize our services in four areas: Convergence Consulting, Convergence Research, Convergence Digital, and Convergence Training. The following summarizes selected services within each group:
Customer relationship development
Relationships are predictive of future business performance and, more than anything else, should be the key business assets that are built and measured. We assist firms that market to both consumers and other businesses to assess and develop customer relationships to drive dramatically improved business performance. Customer relationship engagements often lead to different areas of examination and relationship strategy but it is common that the starting point for this consideration is understanding the current state of relationships. To do this, we may supplement a client's existing measurements with measures of customers from a cognitive, behavioral and sociological perspective (see below). Financial analysis is also usually required to more fully understand customer profitability. We work with clients to identify the “right” customers for the firm, establish customer objectives such as their desired behaviors, assess customers' motivations and barriers to change and describe strategies to accomplish the objectives. We work closely with clients to plan the implementation of relationship improvements and measure the outcomes of these changes.
Revenue acceleration and margin improvement
Convergence helps clients to accelerate their revenues and improve their margins in a variety of ways. It is vitally important that firms “do the right things” to drive revenue and “do things right” to improve margin performance. Working closely with clients, we develop marketplace, internal and other facts as necessary to identify the main reasons their revenues are underperforming by, for example, assessing their industry and market positions, identifying achievable revenue targets, prioritizing and assessing barriers to growth both external and internal to the enterprise, and developing plans to break through. When we are tasked to conduct revenue-related assignments specifically internally within the enterprise, we have conducted assessments of customer and channel profitability, sales teams' strategies, execution and personnel, and the reasonableness of their marketing plans, for example. We also frequently conduct assessments of the market, customer and revenue prospects of acquisition candidates and other industry, marketing and sales aspects related to M&A engagements.
Convergence assists clients to develop product marketing plans (i.e. for goods or services) in a number of ways. Our services include guiding marketing plan development, developing the actual plan, coaching marketing executives and training management groups. A comprehensive marketing plan comprises the following five components. The plan starts with the Business Review which describes the current state of the marketplace and relevant trends, buyer behaviour, distribution channels, industry/supply, the environment of the firm and the firm's financial performance. Next comes the Marketing Plan itself which projects a future state, sets and describes measurable objectives, and describes both strategies to achieve these objectives and the tactics that action the strategies. The plan notes target market, positioning, and strategies and tactics for customer relationships, product, pricing, promotion/communications and distribution. The plan is followed by Financial Projections which forecast results to be achieved in the forthcoming year with a comparison to the prior year. The Implementation Plan details tasks to be performed to transition from the current to future states, along with responsibilities, timing and costs. The last component of the plan is the Contingency Plan which identifies major risks and plans associated actions in response to threats over the plan’s horizon. There is an adage, “you get what you plan”. Weak marketing plans can make a company vulnerable, provide insufficient focus, impede efforts to cut costs and manage change strategically, and affect market and financial performance. Strong plans provide an opportunity for the firm to break through, penetrate existing markets and customers and develop new ones, and create innovative revenue streams. Either way – whether plans are weak or strong, companies will indeed get what they plan.
Convergence assists clients to develop strategic plans. For us, strategic planning means doing a number of things very well: working collegially with the client, developing - or helping the firm develop - a fact-base to illuminate the firm’s current marketplace position, facilitating a shared management perspective of its current condition and future state possibilities, assessing and developing a position that is attainable, defensible and singularly appropriate for the client, and describing transitioning elements to capture the future. We have developed strategic plans and marketing plans for fast-growing emerging companies, firms in a wide variety of industries that want to improve their marketplace performance materially, and some of the largest and most respected firms in the world. We also routinely facilitate off-site strategic planning sessions to help clients find and capture achievable destinies. This work can include assisting participants to imagine, project, clarify, simplify, focus and engage.
Positioning, differentiation and branding
Companies want to occupy unique and desirable positions in the minds of their targeted customers. Sometimes firms' positioning becomes less differentiated over time or less relevant to customers and management wants to sharpen their positioning. We help management accomplish this objective for their existing brands, new brands under development and acquired brands. A typical assignment could include measuring and assessing existing brand positions in the minds of their customers and potential customers, determining what positioning changes if any are needed, and working with management to refine aspects of the firm's marketing mix - usually marketing communications - to help achieve positioning objectives. Some firms have specific branding questions such as whether to change brand names, establish a new brand system, determine where the value of a brand lies (e.g. for acquisitions and divestitures), examine existing brand equity or develop a new brand name, system or new tag line to resonate with customers and energize employees. We are used to working collaboratively alongside ad agencies and have helped a wide variety of organizations with their positioning and branding challenges including a major energy company, an asset management company and software companies.
Marketing and sales performance
Companies naturally want to optimize the results and efficiencies of their marketing and sales functions. We have worked with many companies to evaluate and enhance marketing and sales performance. Some assignments have focused on sales plans, territory design and remuneration. Other projects have concentrated on marketing including marketing metrics, marketing organization and marketing planning. We have conducted assignments to evaluate and enhance clients' major account proposal submissions. On occasion, senior management may also ask for a professional and fact-based opinion in respect of the performance of individuals in marketing or sales roles.
New product and service planning
Innovation is the lifeblood of many companies not just for revenue acceleration but also to assist in the reversal of margin contraction. Some companies have an insufficient number of viable new product or service ideas and some have too many. Revenue growth can be impeded by either situation -- in the first case because there is an over-reliance on previous innovation and in the latter because execution may fail to achieve its full potential and even be derailed by the constant introduction of new ideas. There is a time for new ideas and there are proven processes for achieving extraordinary performance from new products or services. We help companies to conceive, measure and plan the commercialization of new product and service concepts by taking them through a process that gets results.
New LOB start-up
Convergence provides practical support to help clients achieve their revenue objectives by starting up new Lines of Business (LOBs). Sometimes clients do not have the internal resources to undertake all of these tasks themselves but recognize the need to adapt quickly to marketplace change and capture the commercial potential of their ideas. In one such example, a client wanted to diversify from a slow-growing base business and launch a service for the customers of major retailers. Working collaboratively with our client, we developed relationships with their major accounts, formulated a detailed launch plan, established and outfitted physical premises, hired management and operating staff and led a major software development initiative with third party software developers to web-enable and cost-reduce processes, among the many other activities we performed. The result was a new line of business that had $5 million in annualized sales within a year of start-up, after which the business was returned to the client for ongoing operational management.
Distribution channel planning
Well designed and managed distribution channels accelerate manufacturers' sales and create brand value. The reverse is equally the case. Channels that are no longer appropriate or which have not been considered recently in the light of factors such as current strategies, competitive conditions, business models (company and channel), end-customers and mutual expectations may well impede sales performance. And it can be particularly damaging to an enterprise for management to make products ubiquitously available without a thoughtful strategic review. We have worked with many firms to develop distribution channel strategies that consider the four touchstones of channel design and then to plan the implementation of new distribution channels. We frequently assist with key aspects of diagnosis and implementation such as reviewing the business plans of channel partners, developing data to inform the four touchstones referenced above, and facilitating strategy sessions both internally and with key channel intermediaries. We have also examined the distribution channel competitiveness of entire industry sectors including Canadian suppliers of non-durable consumer goods, semi-durables and durables, such as new and used automobiles.
Industry-wide issue resolution
Changes in the economy, markets and technologies can precipitate industry-wide situations which need to be addressed by governments at different levels, industry consortia and associations. We help clients to develop an informed fact-base, frame and assess strategic options and develop plans to adapt to new conditions. We have conducted engagements to address issues such as technological change and its impacts on human resources, e-learning as an economic and effective alternative to in-classroom education, attracting investment to a Province or State, and Canadians shopping in the USA and the associated impacts on distribution channels and Canadian competitiveness. In projects of this type, getting the right answer is usually not the only objective. It can be similarly important to ensure that the recommendations of the engagement are embraced and implemented by engaging with stakeholders - many of whom have differing interests - and developing a process for information sharing and alignment.
Business-to-business market research and analysis
Business-to-business market research differs markedly from consumer market research tools and techniques, and consumer research methods – such as statistical sampling or mass research – should generally not be used when researching business markets. Convergence has conducted hundreds of market studies for technology products and services, industrial goods and business-to-business services such as financial and treasury services. We understand how to develop a sound fact-base from appropriate secondary research, executive interviews, focus groups and executive online research. We immerse ourselves in the facts to learn how to inform management decisions. We fully understand research methods; we have lectured marketing research in university courses and have led industry associations focused on B2B marketing research and CRM.
Customer relationship measurement
When listening to customers, it's common that firms measure customer satisfaction and develop Net Promoter Scores by obtaining responses to the so-called "likelihood to recommend" (LTR) question. However, it is increasingly apparent that measures such as these, although important, are insufficient predictors of customer loyalty on their own and do not provide much guidance to firms wanting to improve their customer relationships. These measures either fail to focus on relationship directly, are more descriptive than prescriptive, or both. We focus on measurements that drive change - not simply developing "nice to know" metrics. Our firm measures customer relationships directly using a proprietary methodology we have developed over many years of conducting such engagements. We assist firms to improve the fact-base that informs key aspects of customer relationship development or for planning relationship improvements with other categories of stakeholders.
The commoditization of many goods and services means that competitive advantage and astute pricing is now more important than ever. Convergence helps companies to assess their competitive position and specific competitors to help identify and obtain an improved marketplace position. We wrote one of the first books on competitive intelligence, Beat the Competition, and Competitor Targeting, which integrates competitive strategy with customer relationship management. We are founding members of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals in 1986.
Data mining and predictive modeling
Many companies have the potential to unlock additional shareholder value from their customer databases. There may be a number of reasons for this. In some cases companies have not focused on any aspects of customer data to increase the value of their customers. Some organizations do not have integrated plans that link the management of customer relationships to data collected on individual customers' interactions and transactions. Databases may not be fully integrated or lack a single, real-time view of the customer. Sometimes data have not been mined to understand customers' behaviors, explore how each individual customer can be better served and predict what each customer will want next so that the company can be ready to sell when the customer is ready to buy. We help organizations of all sizes assess and address a wide variety of customer data-related issues including diagnosis and prioritization of key opportunities and challenges, extracting meaning and value from data and using data for marketing and communications initiatives that create new shareholder value.
Customized training programs
Convergence assists clients to understand and adopt new approaches to achieve improved marketplace results and to change organizational culture to align with business objectives. We have developed open market and client-specific training programs in areas such as customer relationship management/relationship marketing, marketing planning, entrepreneurial behaviour and strategy, consumer behaviour, competitive intelligence and competitive strategy, management consulting and strategic pricing. Some of these programs are on-line but most are delivered either in open market programs or on site, at the client’s premises. We have trained representatives from over half the Fortune 500 firms.