When a business is stagnating, actions must be taken to boost sales, profits and brand.
Ted Karkus, chairman and CEO of ProPhase Labs, shares the insights and strategies he used to turn around this maker of Cold-EEZE, the leading cold remedy.
- Minimize inefficiencies across the board. This includes a thorough analysis of every project under development. Eliminate all projects with a poor risk/reward ratio. That is, cancel the development of products that had little chance of being approved for commercialization and eliminat products that have small potential markets.
- Change the staff to meet the new challenges by reducing headcount while also hiring employees who are more qualified and can manage more responsibilities.
- Lead by example and take on responsibilities to show determination to succeed.
- Streamline operations to free up capital for products with a greater chance of success.
- Research the market and build a plan to insure success of new products.
- Adjust the product to meet the market needs.
“One factor in building sales is having a dedicated, motivated staff,” Karkus says. “Hiring motivated people is a great place to start.”
He also believes that strong, motivational leadership that invites input from staff and clear defining of roles and goals are keys to success. Having a dedicated and enthusiastic team working on behalf of the company and brand is very important.
“I believe that leading by example is also critically important. When I became CEO, I personally took on many responsibilities. Everyone in our company also knows that I work my butt off and come to work with great passion every day,” he adds.
Good staff communications is also important. Karkus believes in keeping everyone in the company up to date by hosting monthly company-wide meetings. At the meetings, participants review company activities, and everyone is welcome to provide input – in fact, he encourages it.
Karkus also builds channels that encourage everyone to be creative and share ideas they have on how to improve the brand, streamline operations and create a better company.
“Involving them in certain day-to-day decisions will make them feel vested in the brand and want to continue to build a successful company that we can all be proud of,” he says.
Conserving capital by focusing on products and services that are growing and profitable is another facet of Karkus’s efforts.
“Streamlining operations freed up capital to develop our flagship Cold-EEZE brand,” he says. “Cold-EEZE Cold Remedy had been in decline for years, but I realized the potential that could exist for the brand. Therefore, we focused on extensive research of the Cold-EEZE product and then used this research to improve its flavor and its packaging”
Building a new brand image is difficult but can be done. The first step is to know the brand image that is to be projected.
He argues that consumer research is a great place to start.
Then there is the need to be committed to spending what’s necessary to reach the target with a consistent, clear message across all channels.
“We basically ‘tore down the house’ with Cold-EEZE within the last few years. The brand was declining, so we started by conducting packaging research, redesigning our package, and then focused our efforts on re-evaluating all marketing efforts,” he said.
“Then we determined not only the right message to convey to consumers, but also which channels would be most efficient and effective in reaching our target. The next step was to create an effective message and then distributed it efficiently to our target consumer.”
Getting advice during this process requires time, effort and thought.
“No one person has all of the answers, so when I need advice or help with an issue, first and foremost, I look to my team,” Karkus says.
“I also spent several years developing the very best network of consultants to work with. I also speak to several of my former business colleagues and know that I can reach out to the various agencies I work with regarding any concerns or issues that may arise.”
”When looking to boost sales, profit and brand, there are a number of actions you can undertake to make sure you are doing what is best for the company,” Karkus says.
Karkus’s taking on numerous responsibilities himself made “our executive management team more efficient while also making sure that all of the operations of the company were running properly….
”Just having a great product isn’t enough to be successful. We conducted significant marketing research and deployed additional capital to develop a fully integrated marketing campaign for the Cold-EEZE brand, he says.
"Then we began to educate new consumers as to the benefits of Cold-EEZE: the fact that it is clinically proven to shorten the duration of the common cold, that it is No. 1 pharmacist-recommended, and so on. We hired a great PR firm (5WPR), we developed a nationwide radio and TV campaign, focused on new social-media initiatives and events, nationwide sampling of Cold-EEZE products, etc," he adds.
Karkus discusses the last piece of the puzzle.“Finally, once we improved Cold-EEZE, and increased consumer interest, we were then in a great position to improve our relationships with our retailers, which has led to better shelf positioning for Cold-EEZE products and has also led to the expanded distribution into more stores.”