Today marks the 7th Anniversary of this blog. I guess it gives me permission to talk about us - for a change. And I thought I would share our strategy/ business model and the evolution we experienced. That is our gift to you - maybe you can get something from it. (Because it isn't really about us.)
We started out with a plan to replicate the business model we operated with when we had our own business - Quiver Enterprises. From the name you can deduce that we wanted to have many arrows in our quiver, and hence we offered a range of services to a very specific target market.
Initially this included: training, consulting, mystery shopping, publishing and marketing. We strengthened our training capabilities with the establishment of an RTO (Ganador Business Academy) and gradually dropped the marketing & publishing. (We produced text books that were adopted by several TAFEs and RTOs in case you were wondering how publishing fitted in with our other work.)
Our grand plan was to achieve two things over time:
1. We wanted to increase our online offer and be 'in play' with all things ecommerce. (I was co-founder of a startup (something like realestate.com.au) for the commercial property sector in 1997 - before most people even had email.
2. We wanted to reduce our reliance on project work and establish recurring revenue streams.
Over time things changed a bit as we became more familiar with the opportunities :
- we 'pivoted' our business away from sourcing SMEs as clients towards the big end of town
- we closed the RTO because of the onerous compliance regime required for no commercial benefit
- we broadened our market focus as we increasingly focussed on the whole of supply chain (from manufacturer/ importer all the way through to the retailer interacting with the consumer)
- we narrowed our offer to focus on the systems/skills/strategies that helped our clients acquire, retain and engage their own customers. Specifically we focus on 'customer education' as the cornerstone philosophy that underpins our activities.
In early 2013 the last few pieces of the puzzle fell into place as we finalised our last key alliance that allowed us to offer the BEST IN CLASS SOLUTIONS to support our innovative strategies.
Many casual readers might think that Ganador is (still) a retail consultancy or even a retail training company. Although we may engage in those activities, we are not that ‘type’ of business.
Our customers are often not retailers, but organisations that may have retailers as customers. That is our clients are also those Businesses who have other Businesses as customers. Organisations in need of B2B (management) solutions in the (retail) supply chain turn to us for strategies, skills and tools just as much as Retailers do.
The problem we solve is that of Customer Acquisition, Retention and Engagement (CARE) – and those customers can be retailers, consumers, members, franchisees and the like.
The reason our particular ‘solution’ can reach B2B and B2C ‘customers’ is because we are focused on one particular approach that hones in on one particular human attribute.
We are therefore a specialist agency and there are many tactical solutions that we do NOT deliver. We don’t create advertising or PR for instance - which achieves similar objectives.
The best strategy (and the one we specialise in) is the delivery of customer education – because it is a very attractive and relevant offer to most customers. (Business customers and consumers are all people and all have similar innate needs – and the need to be informed, the need to grow and develop and achieve success is universal and fundamental.)
We have arrived at this strategy because our philosophy is that people inherently want to learn and enjoy learning. Of course we are not talking about class rooms and text books. The current focus on CONTENT MARKETING is but one facet of customer education. Content can also be about entertainment for instance, but even entertainment (e.g. a good movie or a short YouTube clip) can also be educational.
Customers who are educated about your product and service are more loyal to your product because they have made an emotional investment in your brand.
This is one of the reasons why people become fans of products like Apple or keep buying a BMW every time they get a car. There is comfort, convenience, less risk and also productivity benefits from sticking to the same product and brand.
We help those businesses use their IP (Intellectual Property) as an effective Marketing Strategy. We call this Customer Education: from IP to IQ.
All organisations and brands have a tremendous amount of intellectual property contained within. Organisations do not realise this.
Consider the following simple facts:
- If you are a manufacturer of watches, you know a LOT about watches – much more than 99% of the employees of retail jewellers.
- You also know much more about your brand and why consumers may wish to engage with it.
- Retailers and their employees must know a little bit about many different watch brands, and in addition also about various types of jewellery and even gift lines, as well as of course the intricacies of retailing and its specific requirements.
- The watch manufacturer knows very little about the environment in which their watches are sold
- They know very little about how to best sell the watch and how consumers may compare and make decisions in store except through some (very limited) second-hand research
There is an obvious knowledge/experience gap.
BOTH PARTIES benefit from becoming more knowledgeable about each other and that is the service we provide.
What we do may sometimes look like training or consulting. Sometimes it may look like a user manual and sometimes it can be a sales script.
Whatever we do, it always has the same objective: to educate a customer/client/member about a product/brand/offer. Because when the very simple homespun truism is that, if your product is any good, that “to know me is to love me” comes to fruition. And what better outcome than clients that love you?
We conduct a series RetailRemedy Seminars on behalf of a client for selected customers.
The program is very much in the mould of ‘Burke’s Backyard Blitz’ – but instead of us rolling in our team of experts, we actually make it an interactive workshop tapping into the expertise of the attendees and get them to provide the solutions. We do a before and after workshop and at the ‘reveal’ workshop, the business owner shares the learnings and also the financial impact of those changes implemented.
The RetailRemedy workshop has direct financial benefits for our guinea pig newsagent, but all attendees learn and go back to their store and implement lessons learned. The client gains, their customer gains - everyone wins.
We may get called in by a landlord to assist with a 'critical tenant'. They are of course trying to do the right thing and the retailer is usually trying to do the right thing.
When I start the diagnostics process, the answer is usually quite obvious - and very often the centre manager has identified the issue and the retail tenant admits it readily. Ignorance is NOT the problem.
The most value we add is not only in identifying the problem and recommending a solution, but in repairing fractured relationships and educating both parties about the issues, challenges and realities the other party faces.
Working together towards the desired outcome is my aim. The strategy relies largely on educating both parties.
it may look like consulting on the surface, but at its heart it is 'customer education.'
I hope that explains what we do a bit better. The challenge we face is that both words (customer + education) are loaded words and each person reads and understands both of those elements differently.
(PS: I will be interested to see how this language suddenly start popping up in our competitor's websites and literature. It doesn't matter to us - we don't have many direct competitors, and besides, the knowledge and experience we have can't be too easy to replicate.)
You heard here first: Customer Education is the new Marketing.
We started doing this about 5 years ago and for the last two tears it has effectively been our platform, so we KNOW it works.
Your takeaway is this:
STOP SELLING AND START EDUCATING YOUR CUSTOMER
I will be talking more about this in future blogs, so if you are not subscriber or knows someone who is interested, send them this way.
Helping us gain more subscribers could be your little gift to us on our 7th birthday - please share....