PAW PAW — The one-two combination of market research and strategic planning is enabling Perspectives Consulting Group to maintain its profitability in uncertain economic times.
Gary Goscenski, director of consulting services for Perspectives, said there are a number of individuals and organizations who do strategic planning, but not market research. The ability to offer both is an attractive option for the non-profit sector clients Perspectives serves.
“This gives our clients future planning based on solid, statistically accurate information,” Goscenski said.
Organizations such as foundations, churches, United Ways and schools make up Perspectives client base. The Paw Paw-based business was established in 1987 by Goscenski and Paul Lane, a professor of marketing at Grand Valley State University, who serves as Perspectives senior consultant.
The two men began laying the foundation for their business while at Western Michigan University where Goscenski was a student and Lane was one of his professors.
“I had a marketing class with Lane,” Goscenski said. “He took me aside and talked with me about starting a consulting company. He said if it didn’t work out he’d help me find a job.”
The pair initially started out doing market research for “anyone and everyone.” Goscenski said within the first six months he and Lane realized they were naturally attracted to working with and understanding the needs of non-profits. Since 1998 this sector has been Perspectives primary focus.
Philosophically, Goscenski said he and Lane develop strategies to help organizations plan based on a timeframe of three to five years.
Even though the nonprofit sector has not been affected by the economic downturn as much as the for-profit sector, Goscenski said those organizations still need to plan to find the best uses for increasingly limited resources. At any given time Perspectives’ 15-employee workforce is working on 10 to 15 projects.
“As the impact started to take hold in 2008, we saw non-profits not getting donor support,” Goscenski said.
As financial contributions began to decrease, the client loads for these nonprofits increased. Goscenski said more and more nonprofits are finding they can no longer be all things to all people.
“There’s clearly been a change here that organizations have had to make,” Goscenski said. “I don’t see them saying that when the economy comes back they will go back to doing what they did before.”
The impact on the non-profit sector prompted Goscenski and Lane to seek opportunities outside of Michigan. Gosecnski said five years ago 80 percent of their clients would have been Michigan-based.
“We’ve gone from 80 percent to 20 percent,” he said. “In the last two years we’ve started doing business in 20 states more to the south than anywhere else.
“Growing the business that way has almost been a necessity.”
Goscenski declined to provide financial details about his company, but said that until 2008 Perspectives had experienced annual growth, some of which came from relationships with some of the 1,300 United Ways in the United States.
“We’ve been really fortunate to develop expertise in certain segments. One is with the United Ways,” Goscenski said. “We’re blessed to have that referral network working for us.
“We have made a conscious decision to make sure key groups like United Ways know about us and are aware of what we do.”