Dundee Advisors

Client:Dundee Advisors

Categories:Market Research, Concept Validation

KOVUS Hours:200

Dundee Advisors New Business Venture

Dundee Advisors, a spin off of Dundee Venture Capital, is a new business concept with the purpose of helping e-commerce companies grow through a partnership model. Mark Hasebroock, a very successful e-commerce entrepreneur, was unsure if there was demand for the Dundee Advisors proposed service and partnership model, and was reluctant to pursue the opportunity without further vetting the concept.

Project Goals

KOVUS was hired to conduct market research with the target market to validate the business concept for Dundee Advisors. The goals of the research study were:

  1. Identify demand levels for Dundee Advisors’ services
  2. Identify how potential customers solve the revenue growth problem today and how they think about outsourcing the work and pricing
  3. Identifying target market pain points so Dundee Advisors can craft its offering and communicate benefits so clients immediately see the value in Dundee Advisors’ innovative approach

KOVUS Services

12 Research Interviews
150 Hours Recruiting for Interviews
6 Recommended Strategies
Dundee Advisors Team



After the kickoff meeting with the Dundee Advisors team, KOVUS was able to extrapolate the target customer was a CEO of an ecommerce business with $2-20 million revenue and seeking growth. Recruiting CEO’s for 60 minute research interviews was very difficult, especially considering the project started in December, a busy season for a vast majority of e-commerce executives. KOVUS rallied the team to contact 86 different CEO’s to get the 12 research interviews, using a variety of methods like email hacking, cold calling, LinkedIn, drop ins, etc.

Marketing Messaging

CEO’s were very reluctant to entertain the idea of hiring what they perceived to be just another traditional marketing and/or SEO company. Typically, they had not experienced good results from working with traditional firms. CEO’s overwhelmingly mentioned the idea of having a true partnership, a “skin in the game” approach to working together. Whether that was through pricing options, contractual agreements or other ways, it was clear that Dundee Advisors would needed to position themselves as a non-traditional marketing company that could help companies grow and share in the success.

In the Details

A target strategy session was facilitated by KOVUS with the Dundee Advisors key stakeholders to identify the the hypothesized target market and pain points that Dundee Advisors service would address.

Based on the results of this strategy session, the following 11 problem statements were developed by KOVUS:

  1. There are so many different marketing tactics I can choose, but I don’t know whether I’m choosing the tactic that is going to give me the best return on my investment. I feel like I may be wasting money on the wrong initiatives.
  2. I don’t know key marketing metrics like customer acquisition cost and lifetime customer value, which negatively affects my ability to plan marketing spend.
  3. We think we know what marketing tactics we should use, but we have a hard time executing this tactically with our existing marketing team.
  4. We have trouble forecasting what sales are going to be in the future because we don’t understand the key metrics that drive our sales funnel and conversion. I don’t like that we only have a vague idea about where we might be in the future.
  5. I don’t know how to interpret all this data I already have (Google Analytics, etc) and that makes me feel like I’m missing important information that could make my business more successful.
  6. I don’t know how much money I should be spending on marketing to reach our growth goals.
  7. I feel like we need to take a step back and look at our entire business strategically to identify how our marketing and growth effects all the aspects of our business. I think it’s hard to piece all of these moving parts together.
  8. I don’t feel like my Chief Marketing Officer or marketing team is very effective since we’ve had such stagnant growth, but I’m not really sure what to compare it to. I don’t know if this is the best we could be doing and that’s frustrating.
  9. I feel like I don’t get the best advice from my marketing agency or advertising agency.
  10. We spend so much money with our advertising agency, but I’m unsure whether it’s worth the money. I have a hard time measuring how successful their efforts really are.
  11. I’m not willing to spend a lot of money on marketing without more confidence that it will make a direct impact on our business. I would prefer to work with companies more on a commission basis rather than for a large flat fee, but I don't know many partners that are willing to share in the risk of marketing efforts.

Based on the research objectives, KOVUS drafted 30 questions in addition to testing the problem statements listed above. The following are examples of open-ended questions that were developed to identify marketing pain points for the target audience:

  • Of all the issues that affect the success of your business, what would you say are some of the biggest areas you are focusing on right now?
  • Specific to your company's marketing and marketing strategy, what do you think are some of your biggest frustrations or areas that are challenging as a company?
  • How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your marketing firm? What are you happy about and what do you wish they did better?

After the open-ended questions, participants were read each problem statement and asked if they felt like it applied, somewhat applied, or didn’t apply to their business.

Results from the 12 interviews were transcribed and analyzed to address each research objective. There was significant consistency in the pain points interviewees expressed proactively and the problem statements that resonated with the vast majority of participants.


Based on the research, there was strong evidence that demand for Dundee Advisors’ services exists (50% of the participants responded positively to working with Dundee Advisors for their own company). Additionally, one research participant was so interested in the offering he requested to be connected with the founders of the company.

The target market was further refined. Originally it was hypothesized that companies with stagnant revenue growth would be an ideal target; however, the research revealed there was more interest from companies that were already experiencing good levels of growth that had aggressive goals for future growth. In addition, KOVUS recommended focusing specifically on the e-commerce space and excluding software as a service businesses since interviewees perceived these to be very different and wanted a company that specialized in their industry.

Four different pricing models were tested to validate whether Dundee Advisors hypothesized pricing model would appeal to potential clients. Overwhelmingly, the majority of participants preferred a small monthly fee combined with paying a percentage of increased revenue. The percentage of revenue was tested in later interviews to give clear direction to Dundee Advisors on what revenue percentage potential clients were comfortable with. The “skin in the game” and “strategic implementation” concepts were widely repeated in the research interviews, and it was clear that those ideas would be key selling points for Dundee Advisors offering.

Of the 11 proposed problem statements, 4 problem statements were validated through both open ended participant responses and through review of the written proposed problem statements. Seven of the problem statements were deemed as less critical or overall not important. This gave Dundee Advisors a data-driven strategy to developing the content and messaging that would resonate with their target customers.

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