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Health Communications Company Improves Fiscal Fitness With ForeSight™ Business Planning Services

The CEO’s Predicament
The founder and CEO of a health communications business targeting a specific demographic market had dedicated her professional life to researching and producing health care information and education. She had acquired funding through government grants. She had created and distributed a wide variety of documentary videos, radio broadcasts and Internet communications aimed at her target market. But she realized that her process was creating an impossible time sink for her employees as well as financially inconsistent results. She knew that there had to be a more stable commercial application for her products. So, she began to explore new opportunities.

That’s when she ran into obstacles.

The development of a business plan alone – answering simple questions like how much she would have to charge for her media offerings and determining who would be likely to pay for them – was daunting. “I’m a medical researcher, not a business analyst,” explains the CEO. “The more reading I did, the more I realized that I had get out of the grant cycle. And to do that, I would need the advice of someone with no bias and no emotional attachment to the work. I needed someone who would ask hard questions that I didn’t know to consider such as, ‘how much do you think you can sell this for?’ and ‘Is the market big enough to support this concept?’”

The CEO sought advice from business development specialists who had helped her in the past and they recommended Soyini Coke of Annona Enterprises.

Annona’s Individualized, Highly Objective Approach
The CEO rapidly learned that the Annona Enterprises ForeSight™ business planning service is anything but formulaic. It began with a reciprocal exchange of key information. “Soyini is not a scientist, nor does she produce media,” she recalls, “but she is a great listener, which got her up to speed quickly. She’s also a strong communicator, which made it easy for me to understand the business analysis side of the equation. And she has an eye for bottom-line issues, which enabled her to bring up new perspectives on what I was doing.”

Annona Enterprises conducted a hard analysis of what kinds of commercialization options might be feasible for the organization. Ms. Coke presented three new potential directions for the business, including pros and cons of each. The CEO decided to focus on marketing a community health communications package to large, well-funded non-profit organizations that targeted her audience. But Annona Enterprises’ deeper analysis showed that there weren’t enough of those organizations to make the program financially feasible. While this might have intimidated some, the CEO says that it was an “aha!” moment for her. “I was finally looking at what I did from a business perspective, not an academic one. So, my response was not, ‘why won’t this work?’ It was, ‘why didn’t I think of that sooner?’”

A New Direction for the Business
Armed with new strategic insights and options, the CEO chose not to sell her product directly to the non-profit organizations. Instead, she would market individual communications package elements to businesses that wanted to leverage their own relationships with the non-profit support organizations in order to reach their target audience. “The businesses buy the content from us, then distribute it through the target organizations as a sponsor,” explains the CEO. The new approach favorably positions the businesses within the demographic market they want to reach. It enables the non-profit organizations to provide powerful, important health information. And, since the ultimate target audience receives this critical health information from a trusted source, they’re more likely to make substantive changes that could positively impact health statistics for the overall community.

With this new direction in place, the CEO asked Ms. Coke to research additional information that the organization needed to proceed. She conducted analyses of money spent treating the target population because of excessive morbidity and mortality each year. She examined how much money could be saved if people took steps to avoid disease diagnoses at late stages. And she researched specific companies that would be most likely to sponsor the distribution of this content through target non-profit groups.

The Value of Tangible – and Intangible – Deliverables
This information ultimately informed the final business plan that the organization is now using. The CEO affirms, “Having worked with numerous subcontractors on projects, I can confidently say that you get what you pay for with Annona Enterprises. Everything is all in order. It’s very well written. And it makes the benefits to every audience very clear. This is a document I could hand to a potential customer or investor with complete confidence.”

The CEO is quick to add that in addition to the tangible business plan, Annona Enterprises also provided many intangible deliverables. “So many of Soyini’s questions gave me concepts that would help me write better proposals – both for grants and commercial sales,” she says. In fact, she is so pleased with the results of the business feasibility study and business plan that she is planning to continue the engagement with an examination of how she can pull together her organization’s other initiatives for more profitable results.

“Any small business person who is trying to grow a business while working to the point of exhaustion will realize that something has to change. Otherwise, they’ll always make the same amount of money, doing the same thing over and over,” says the CEO. “But in order to make those changes, you need the time and expertise to step away, examine the business critically and make hard decisions. And that’s not always easy. Soyini stepped up to gave us that critical perspective we needed to recognize and pursue the ideas that are most likely to succeed.”

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