This European arm of a prestigious US management education institute, had earned itself a name for unique and exciting executive development courses you couldn't get anywhere else.
But over the years, the company’s attractions had begun fade. With sales slowly declining, a change was necessary to avoid future problems.
This corporate training company had enjoyed a reputation for high quality executive workshops and seminars for decades. An edgy, product-led strategy had served it well from the 60s until the end of the 90s, and clients were willing to pay a premium for its innovative content and prestigious presenters. Though still in profit, it was becoming harder to stay at the cutting-edge. Increased competition had commoditized training and competitors were able to significantly undercut prices.
Dramatic change without drama
Thanks to its reliance on perceived expertise – and with an eye on academia – the training industry is a fairly orthodox environment. People have fixed expectations of how training should be delivered, by whom and what deliverables should look like. The new CEO called in Futurelab to help shake up these orthodoxies. He knew that when it comes to imagining and implementing big change, we were not shy. He felt a dramatic repositioning was necessary, possible and desirable, As such, we assisted to:
- Set a new direction: not to simply provide training, but to enable organizations to implement their strategy.
- Upgrade the entire product portfolio to differentiate and return to a premium pricing strategy.
- Develop a customer-centric approach that enabled the company to customize and develop training alongside customers.
Positioning means people
A new positioning always sounds nice, but unless your business can adopt a new language, culture and mind set to match, it won’t mean a thing. With support of the CEO and key management team members, we delivered a series of internal coaching programmes to bring each element of the strategy to life:
- Coached sales and marketing teams in the new language and thinking reflected by the positioning: how to meet clients’ strategic objectives not sell them a training course.
- Set up key pilot projects with clients to test new products and practices and to allow employee to rehearse their new customer-led approach
- Assisted sales and marketing to design and sell bespoke training, face-to-face, via the website and via direct mail.
Customer feedback indicated that our client’s approach to (non-bespoke) open enrolment workshops was out of date: leading academic experts delivering largely theoretical content and methodologies according to a fixed agenda. Customer research showed that executives wanted something quite different:
- More consultative, interactive, informal learning sessions
- Freedom to explore a subject within a framework rather than rigid linear agenda
- To hear from experienced practitioners rather than professorial lecturers.
We helped the client revamp the format of these workshops, develop looser but more compelling programmes and identify the right kind of people to facilitate them. Our associates also designed and delivered a number of innovative workshops in the areas of marketing, customer-centricity and change management. The company now had a unique and exciting portfolio.
Sales of both open enrolment workshops and in-company training grew during the period following the repositioning. We had helped the client put the business back on a growth track.