Our Work

Strategic Marketing Priorities & Growth Plan

Before our work with Shopko Optical, leadership and the board were not aligned on strategic marketing priorities, causing choppy execution.

New CMO Jennifer Nobui joined Shopko Optical, an affiliate of Monarch Alternative Capital, in 2021. She arrived to find a business ready to grow, with a board eager to accelerate progress.  She quickly identified opportunities within the marketing plan and began implementing a few new tactics with her team. Executing with speed was prioritized, but the board was not yet satisfied or clear on the growth strategy, especially for a segment of the business in need of a swift turnaround.  

We partnered with Jennifer to build a new strategic marketing plan that was cohesive and easy to understand, for everyone in the organization.  Our external perspective and disciplined approach brought new areas into focus that were previously overlooked or deprioritized for a later date.

Using our CROW Planning System, we:

  • Unified the team around a thorough situation analysis
  • Illuminated the key business challenge
  • Focused resources against 3 strategic marketing priorities
  • Communicated the marketing plan with easy-to-follow plain language (no MBA required)

At the next board meeting when our work was shared, the tone shifted from anxious questioning about the plan to “thank you, how can you get this plan into the market faster?”.

"Melissa has an incredible ability to unpack strategic choices and build alignment to one clear path forward in a sea of endless viable options. She makes the nebulous concrete and clear.

While leadership teams are often anxious for in-market results, there is significant work to do before launching a new strategy into market. Melissa knows how to build confidence in the way forward.

Now, my team is calm and focused on executing the plan rather than 'internally selling' the path forward. They feel supported and confident, which allows them to move significantly faster."

- Jennifer Nobui, Chief Marketing Officer, Shopko Optical

Brand Positioning & Marketing Plan

When Takeda hired us, the Knowledge Management team did not have a clear value proposition and usage rates for their services were declining.

In 2019, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company acquired the US company Shire to become a global, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader.  In the three years following the merger, Takeda grew to one of the Top 10 pharma companies in the world, while integrating its legacy organizations into one structure. 

The R&D Knowledge Management team, comprised of library sciences and competitive intelligence experts, was impacted by the structure changes.  Many key customers within the R&D community had lost touch with the KM team, didn't know what resources existed, or how to access them.  Crow & Pitcher was brought in to reinvent the “brand” with new positioning and build a marketing plan to increase awareness and usage of the Knowledge Management tools and expert services.

Using our customized PITCHER Positioning Method, we authored a brand story that clearly communicated the benefits customers would receive from using the client's services, rather than simply stating the services provided.  Then, we built a marketing plan leveraging available corporate communication tools to drive customer behavior change.

Key steps included getting alignment on the growth strategy (leveraging two of the four growth strategies), completing voice of the customer interviews to identify the unique value proposition, and clearly defining the “From – To” deliverables of the marketing plan, which is being executed by the team throughout 2022. 

Example of Marketing Plan Goals in a "From-To" Format

"Melissa from Crow & Pitcher engaged quickly, carefully reviewed existing information, and honed in on the essential questions needed to conduct a customer survey without unduly taxing the customer populations.

Her questions of the Knowledge Management team not only resulted in great aspirational branding and marketing messaging, but also built team cohesiveness.

Working with Crow & Pitcher was a breeze. Melissa's professionalism, expertise, and approach left me totally free to lead the change management program at a higher level. The final deliverable - the "brand story" of the Knowledge Management function - was compelling and received enthusiastically. I would partner with Crow & Pitcher again in a heartbeat!"

- Julie Noonan, CCMP

Strategic Planning & Prioritization

Before our work with Pillars, leaders had minimal experience with strategic planning and were primarily focused on day-to-day operations. 

The team at Pillars excels at operational execution while serving individuals in the community experiencing homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these skills were put to the ultimate test as the 24/7 operation was overhauled nearly overnight to improve the safety and well-being of clients and staff. After settling into this “new normal” by mid-2021, the Executive Director recognized a need to step back from the intensity of the day-to-day operation and take a more strategic look at priorities moving forward.


Using our signature process, the CROW Planning System, we led the leadership team through a disciplined strategic planning approach that identified 3 critical priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 operational plan.

  • A culture improvement initiative to repair and build relationships across the burned-out organization
  • A significant shift in compensation strategy to increase employee satisfaction and retention
  • A new fundraising strategy to increase the consistency of and total contribution from individual giving


We continued supporting Pillars through the creation of the new fundraising strategy, which has resulted in a 70% increase in individual donations. And in 2022, Crow & Pitcher was invited back to facilitate 3-year strategic planning.  That work improved clarity on the strategic direction for the organization (a top need identified in the culture improvement project) and led to the creation of a decision tool to guide future investment choices. 

Joe Mauthe

"I feel much more confident that we have a plan for the future and are heading in the right direction.  Every time I talked with Melissa, I came away energized, hopeful, and eager for the next step.

Melissa brought an insightful and disciplined process to our leadership team that helped us effectively discuss key issues, determine root cause issues, prioritize actions, and use appropriate change management tools to move forward.

Melissa is a great listener - really digging in to understand and contribute to our solutions. I like the fact that we talked through situations and determined what the best approach would be (as opposed to some people who have a favorite set of tools and techniques that they apply to every situation). Instead, we developed a customized approach based on our needs and strengths. I think this led to better insights and solutions."

- Joe Mauthe, Executive Director, Pillars

Brand Positioning & Innovation Plan

As the business leader responsible for the 3-year business plan for Kleenex brand facial tissues, our founder and lead strategist reinvented an iconic brand whose growth and meaning in the marketplace had stalled.  Even though Kleenex enjoys widespread awareness, being synonymous with a declining category presented several challenges to overcome.

  • Create ownable, differentiated, and meaningful brand positioning to overcome a “sea of sameness” in a commodity category
  • Build marketing and innovation plans for sustainable brand and category growth, to ensure continued distribution and retailer support

After a thorough and disciplined situation assessment, that uncovered drivers of a 20-year category decline, a new brand strategy, point of difference, and innovation plan was approved

This plan took a bold stance on the role the brand could play in customer’s lives and shifted the primary driver of growth versus the previous strategy.  The Vice President and General Manager of the Kimberly-Clark Walmart account team called this work "the breath of fresh air this brand has needed for a decade".

Innovation projects are underway across marketing, packaging, and product to deliver on a $400MM category growth opportunity over the next 10 years.

Marketing Plan

As a challenger brand in the feminine care category, U by Kotex must compete with much larger brands, that have significantly higher advertising and trade budgets. 

As the marketing director and P&L owner, our founder Melissa Jacobs used disciplined approaches to build and execute marketing plans that increased marketing ROI by 32%, increased equity by 2 pts with the target consumer group, and increased market share by 1 pt.


Summary of the approach:

Table summarizing 3 strategic changes (From To) for a Marketing Plan Example

See the advertising and marketing activations here:

  • New product launch for U by Kotex Fitness pads, liners, and tampons featuring yoga teacher and body-positive advocate Jessamyn Stanley. Check out the 0:30 launch ad and summary of the campaign 
  • The world’s first pop-up period shop on 5th avenue in NYC to combat stigma, engage consumers, shoot content for digital advertising, and gain media/PR impressions
  • The first nationwide period products drive to support consumers in need while partnering with customers to do good (and securing user-generated digital advertising content)

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