MCM Capital Partners 5th Annual Executive Summit
In this difficult economic climate CEO’s are facing extraordinary challenges growing revenues and building shareholder value. At MCM Capital Partners 5th Annual CEO Summit chief executives from their respective portfolio companies came together to listen, learn, and share their viewpoints with industry experts.
The event was held at the Nottingham-Spirk Innovation Center in Cleveland where each presenter discussed relevant topics chosen by the portfolio company executives. The three topics discussed over the two day period encompassed product innovation and development, web-based interactive marketing techniques and strategies, and business development in recessionary conditions.
The event began with lunch and a tour of the Nottingham-Spirk Innovation Center, housed in an awe-inspiring structure built in 1931 to serve as the first Church of Christ Scientist. The building’s unique architecture served as the prototype for Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. In 2005 it was acquired by Nottingham–Spirk Design and repurposed as their headquarters.
John Spirk co-founder of Nottingham-Spirk Design Associates, Inc., a leading new product innovation and development organization, spoke to the group about product innovation and development while the chief executives sat on pews taking notes in the old church choir loft high above the cubicles below. A very engaging Spirk articulated the importance of innovation. He stated, “Innovation creates growth” and, when well executed, is one way to create growth and build a competitive advantage, especially in a down market. Spirk spoke from experience, evidenced by N-S being awarded over 500 patents which have generated combined product sales exceeding $30 billion for its clients. He encouraged the audience to “see the unseen and think without boundaries.” It is imperative to have the ability to extend your businesses core products and services. In John’s opinion, companies should not make the mistake of cutting their R&D budget during a downturn. In fact, they may want to consider the exact opposite, allocating more resources to gain a distinct competitive advantage and gain market share as the economy becomes bullish.
The second topic proffered by the executives was e-marketing tactics, trends, and tools. MCM Capital invited Mark Goren, founder and CEO of Point to Point Inc. to leverage his comprehensive knowledge in advertising, design, and marketing technology and applications. Mark has worked with numerous global brands including Sherwin-Williams, La-Z-Boy Furniture, and Owens Corning. The presentation began with one pressing question on the minds of all those present: How do I stretch my marketing budget while maximizing ROI? The answer according to Mr. Goren can be found in the small 1” white box on your computer screen. This little white box is an under utilized marketing tool and is available to anyone with a computer and internet access, companies just need to learn how to use it to their advantage. The Google search box is a gateway to more website traffic, to more sales leads, and ultimately a better top line. He stressed the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) and posed another question: “When potential customers search for companies or services like yours, are they finding you or your competition?” Choosing the correct keyword or phrase is vital to increasing visibility of a company’s website and garnering more web traffic and ultimately sale leads. However, he stressed that populating your website’s HTML with key words will not guarantee optimal search engine placement. He articulated the need to employ an integrated, multifaceted approach utilizing social media, banner advertising, pay-per-click, email newsletters, blogging, and white papers to enhance the likelihood you will be found when a potential customer clicks the search button.
The Summit came to a close the following morning with an open forum discussion on business development in recessionary times. The forum was led by John Mariotti, President and CEO of The Enterprise group and accomplished author of numerous business books including The Complexity Crisis which was selected as one of 2008’s Best Business Books.
John opened the forum by writing three words on an easel: Time, Talent, and Money. These words describe the key resources of any company. During recessionary periods or a downturn in the business cycle one of the key tasks a CEO must handle is the allocating of these three resources especially the assignment of the top talent to the best opportunities. However, prioritizing how to allocate these resources to the best opportunities, and still meet all the needs of the business is the hardest and most important decision the executive will encounter. After a decision on prioritizing is made, the first step an executive must take is to get his company “lean” by eliminating waste and unnecessary expenses, according to Mariotti. He advised the executives to act sooner than they think is necessary and cut deeper than they think required, but he made it clear to cut fat and not muscle. The executives must analyze where the company makes money and where the company does not, and then find ways to allocate resources to grow the more profitable parts of the business.
Mariotti went on to list five ways a company can grow their business in good times and in bad. A company can gain market share, expand the market, enter into new markets, change the mix, and innovate. He believes changing the mix to more profitable items rather than commoditized ones is the most underrated way to grow a business in sales and profits. However, the best way to grow a business according to Mariotti is through innovation. He continued, the key is not in the idea as there is no shortage of good ideas but instead it rests in the commercialization or execution of the product, process, or method of taking it to market.
As the full effects of the recession have yet to unfold the CEOs in attendance will be sure to use the tools given to them at this years CEO Summit to dampen the effects posed by the soft economic conditions and to drive growth and shareholder value.