A boutique consulting firm that provides advisory services in business and marketing strategies, we focus on the revenue side of the business and all our consulting work is related to this.
We do this to the exclusion of all other forms of consulting. We are not a full services firm; we specialize in one area that is marketing / business development. We do not carry out primary market research and nor do we provide any design or communication services.
We however engage with a wide variety of firms like advertising agencies, PR agencies, market research firms, law and IP firms, product design firms, etc. to get the solutions our clients need.
We work with medium to large business corporations (with annual revenues ranging from Rs.10-500 crores) to address issues of market entry or business growth. We do have some start-up ventures as clients too.
Our engagement is usually with the upper management; that is the business owner, CEO and / or the Chief Marketing Officer. While we do need to interact with other levels of management, our advice is of a strategic nature and is best provided to the persons capable of making those strategic calls.
While start-ups do have a constraint in being able to pay large sums as consulting fees, we do engage with those that have a radical new business idea that has the potential to make a difference. We also seek to ensure that the start-ups we engage with have a long term vision and a goal of achieving leadership in their chosen sphere of activity.
Most of our clients have been with us for long through multi-year engagements. Our oldest client has been with us for almost ten years and many have been engaged with us for 4-5 years. With these clients we have multiple projects that are ongoing.
We do have a few one-time projects that we undertake that are of shorter duration, but none less than 4-5 months. For the most part the assignments are longer as formulating strategic plans and direction takes long.
Our assignments are a mix of the following:
We want to be able to have a transformative impact on the businesses we engage with. To us, it is important to add value in terms of growing markets, growing market shares and / or brand value / pricing power.
First and foremost, we want to have an opportunity to learn something new. We also want to create something that is seen as a lasting contribution to the business, be it a new product / service offering, a new brand, a revised distribution or sales program, an innovative promotional program, etc. Lastly, we do look to earn a fair compensation for our efforts. However, the learning and creating take considerable priority over earning.
Our focus is on formulating marketing and business strategies. We do this across industries and we have clients across sectors. For the most part our clients can be classified into a few broad groups- automotive, engineering, technology (IT products / solutions, IT infrastructure and IT enabled services), consumer goods, retail and services.
We see Littler as a learning organization. We would like to add to the body of knowledge in marketing / business through our work. This contribution can be in the form of new frameworks, ideas, thoughts or white papers / articles.
We wish to use this learning to create new businesses, new business models, new brands, new markets, and grow businesses in all of these areas. This is our purpose; the meaning of our existence.
Learning, humility, integrity and attention to detail are the 4 cornerstones of our firm. We want to be constantly learning. We want to remain humble enough to accept that we don’t know many things and need to learn and that we have gained immensely from people before us that have built a rich body of knowledge, frameworks and tools for us to use in our work.
We are fierce about retaining independence and respecting client confidentiality. We will never share client data or work to undermine our client's business in any way, now, or in the future. We drive ourselves to ensure we have enough detail about the business issue and industry to provide robust solutions.
We also challenge ourselves with examining all alternative solutions and approaches before we present our recommendations. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail.
Our consulting style is not typical. We do not depute consultants on site to sit with the client all through. We believe in focused meetings with clients to collect information and exchange some thoughts.
However, we spend a huge amount of time and effort in researching the client’s business and their industry. In formulating a solution we go to great lengths paying attention to minute details, considering all possible alternatives in thrashing out a solution.
This is an effort-intensive consulting style where we input a lot of effort to evolve solutions that can find ready acceptance and immediate application. Nor do we content ourselves with presenting reports. We engage as far as possible in supporting implementation of our recommendations.
Almost all our work comes to us through referrals from associates, known contacts and satisfied clients. We do not actively solicit business or promote our work in any way.
The first test that any assignment has to pass is our alignment with the client. If we sense that the client is serious about finding a solution and is willing to commit to the engagement (more than money it is also time on their part that we need), we move forward. Thereafter, the assignment must lead to new learning (about an industry, a way of doing business, etc.). It needs to afford this opportunity.
Further, we do look for a tangible demonstrable outcome that we can consider as our creation at the end of the assignment. If the assignment meets these criteria, then we examine if the client is willing to invest a fair amount for our time and effort, but we do compromise on this if the learning and creating bit are exciting enough.
We pay great emphasis on first developing a good understanding of the industry structure. We then try to classify the stage of the market in which the client company operates (this is more relevant for the technology sector).
We also spend a fair amount of time and effort to develop the critical success factors for our client's business and the possible sources of competitive advantage before we attempt an actual diagnosis. It is important to develop this context. This involves collecting considerable input from the client as well as data from primary and secondary research as required. This then gives us a fair idea of the current situation that is termed as "As-is" in consulting-speak.
Once we have the "As-is" and the desired business objectives, "To-be" in consulting-speak, we move onto developing a roadmap. We then classify the business issue as either one relating to value creation, value delivery or value communication. Arising from this we get to a diagnosis of the root cause using a combination of industry parallels, marketing theory and case studies.
We work closely with associates like the various agencies, with some SMEs (subject matter experts) and a few consultants that might want to work on a specific assignment to support our own in-house consultants and analysts. In all cases we are completely transparent with the client on the resources used and all pass-through expenses.
For the most part since we recognize there is a potential risk in implementing new, untried solutions, with some uncertainties, we recommend piloting solutions. Thus limiting the scope of the "trial" to geography, product line or in time allows us to make course corrections before a big-bang roll out.
We also secure buy-in with strong rationale for our recommendations based on grounding in theory and by drawing on parallel examples.
We do not operate on a time and material basis, charging for the time that our consultants spend on client site. We instead work on retainers or a project basis with a fixed bid. We accept no commissions on sales or any other compensation by way of finders’ fee or agency commission. This helps us maintain our independence and guarantees our advice is in the best interest of the business.
The only other charge that our clients pay is for specific outstation travel at their request and any pass-through with no add-ons on outsourced services/reports that they route through us.
We have not done any of these activities so far. Our consulting keeps us fairly occupied.
We recognize the need to keep learning as we have mentioned before. This means that we invest a considerable amount of time on reading up literature, industry reports, books and articles. We also allocate some time every year to formal training sessions at leading business schools or with independent trainers. This is a critical part integral to our practice.