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Case Studies: Executive Coaching

Client: Direct Marketing Results, Intl.

Client Situation.

From its founding DMR's primary role has been to help radio stations develop and deliver unique direct marketing programs targeted at increasing station listenership. When a new Chief Operating Officer was brought in to run DMR, he sought strategic guidance on how to value the existing lines of the business and develop a plan for the future growth of the business.


  • For eight years the core business had been focused on providing radio stations with direct marketing advice and campaigns, each of which was primarily driven towards expanding the breadth and loyalty of listeners to the station in an effort increase ratings and market share and thereby increase the potential to attract advertising dollars. This was and is a very competitive and fickle business that tends to view direct marketing groups more as vendors than full business partners.
  • Beyond the core business, DMR had spread into several other businesses that were only tangentially related. Each had the potential to be a promising business in its own right, but did not build off the existing strengths of the company. The challenge was to evaluate the investment made to that point in these new businesses, their future potential, and the logic of DMR being in these businesses.
  • The company had been run by its founder since inception. The new COO had been hired to transition the founder to an advisory role so that the founder could pursue other business commitments. The challenge included all the typical challenges of transitioning leadership from a founder (and majority shareholder) to a successor, as well as balancing the continued involvement of the founder in the business.

Lighthouse Role.

The solution involved three key steps:

  • A strategic assessment of the businesses in which the company was involved, their related markets, and the skills and resources within DMR or to be acquired by DMR to effectively manage them.
  • Development of a strategy and business plan for each of the businesses, including the unwinding of at least one business unit.
  • Create a personal plan for the COO in charting his own course within the company.
  • Developing a method for executing the strategy that allowed Lighthouse to continue to play a limited but integral short-term, cost-effective role given lack of personnel for DMR to execute it independently.


  • After an initial assessment of the businesses, Lighthouse convened and facilitated a strategic retreat to evaluate a series of management issues (differing strategic views, transition of the business to a new leader, voids in key skill sets required by certain businesses) and build a framework that could be used by management to guide not only immediate businesses decisions but also future ones. Such a framework had not previously existed.
  • In a few short months: 1) A framework was developed by Lighthouse and each business evaluated through it. 2) The future of each business was decided (including 3 distinct strategies for each business unit - stabilization, growth, and closure) and pursued. 3) And a new management approach was established.
  • All aspects of executing the business conclusions were done entirely by management with continued guidance from Lighthouse, making everything from the decision-making to execution of the business plan entirely theirs.
  • Lighthouse transitioned to a role of only providing advisory support to the COO on an ongoing and regular basis, thereby managing costs while providing needed support during growth. This relationship has continued uninterrupted since 1998, reflecting the continued value of the advice as the business has advanced through numerous subsequent growth stages.

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Duke Chung, CEO & Cofounder


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