This post is the Forth and final in a Series titled The Most Effective Uses of E-Learning. Readers of this blog know that the focus is on e-learning with an emphasis on business and creating business result through e-learning applications. We develop e-learning applications for businesses not for academics. These use cases are presented based on the business result they achieved for our clients. This final installment of the Best uses of E-Learning series is directed at using e-learning as a supplemental product enhance your business revenues.
The ability to effectively engage and deliver educational material in a web based format has opened the doors for businesses to enhance their product and product offering through education. Education sells in a variety of formats, be it books, traditional classroom or online, education is a lucrative business you can tap into through e-learning solutions wrapped around your existing business model. Some transitions are more obvious than others, I have two examples to share with you.
The first is a fairly obvious leap to online learning but an interesting case study nonetheless. Back in 2009 I was introduced to a business owner in the sustainable building industry. The company’s primary business was LEED and sustainability consulting for commercial building projects. As respected professionals in the industry there was a market for their knowledge and expertise to be transferred to other professionals in the industry. As LEED Certification for Commercial Building was gaining momentum in 2010 there was a huge need for LEED Accredited Professionals in the industry. The company spun off an education arm of their business teaching the basics and more technical aspects of LEED and sustainability. Their business model was traditional classroom style training held in conference rooms and hotels around the country. Delivering the message and building revenue became limited by the number of days in a year. Additionally, the expense required to host a training seminar was starting to eat away at profits. Enter Resolutions. We partnered with them to transform their classroom training into a best in class online academy for sustainability professionals. With higher profit margins, less time dedicated to travel and coordination the business owners have used their intellectual capital to create a passive income stream through online education giving them time to focus on the consulting side of their business.
The second example is an interesting case, and a much less obvious application of e-learning as a product. A few years ago I worked with a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women in transition. The core business is run out of a facility in Arizona which offers women access to career counselors, financial advisers and mentors to help them through whatever transition they are faced with in their life. The goal was to expand the business by opening similar facilities and other markets. After the financial analysis was complete traditional brick and mortar expansion did not make sense. However, there was still a need and desire to expand their brand and help more women across the country. We worked with the foundation to create an online university boasting a one of a kind curriculum of courseware featuring numerous industry experts in the areas a finance, career and personal development. The online university opened the doors to a national audience and to another demographic of women in transition, which provided additional revenues and a solid position outside the Phoenix market.
E-Learning is a powerful tool. Education is big business and cam be presented in a number of formats. I challenge you to look at your business model and look for areas where you can provide value through education. Your intellectual capital could be the ticket to an untapped source of incremental revenue.
I have heard from business people on numerous occasions that Walmart does not make it easy to do business with them. They make the rules when it comes to selling your product through their stores. Why then do so many companies bend over backwards to cater to Walmart’s demands to sell their product? It’s simple, for a retail product Walmart is high on the food chain, they are about as far upstream as you can go in regard to a retail distribution channel.
We have made a concentrated effort at Resolutions to identify the best way to get as far upstream as possible when selling our e-learning solutions. It has made a dramatic impact on or business and how we approach different markets. When I say selling upstream I simply mean going as far up the food chain as possible to find one company who with the stroke of a pen will provide you with access to a large portion of your market.
I had an interesting call with a prospect last week that really brought this concept front and center for me. This prospect’s business happened to overlap two of our different industry vertical businesses, Mining and Insurance. The prospect is an officer at a large insurance company that caters specifically to the mining industry. As we talked through the potential of working together he asked my why I don’t just sell our Mine Training directly to the mines? My response was simple, we do, but working with you would provide us access to hundreds of mine operators and contractors by signing one deal.
It may seem like an insanely simple concept, but think about your business. How would it change your selling strategies, and possibly even your entire business strategy if you were able to focus on just a few key prospects far enough upstream that it opened up your entire market to you with the signing of a single contract? Take some time to evaluate your customers, find out what they have in common, how your business can add value to another that is higher on up in the food chain. It may take some time, thought, research and patience, but in the long run it could change your business.
What are your thoughts on selling upstream? Can you provide any good examples?
I read a press release today from the Cicerone Certification Program announcing the BeerSavvy E-learning Platform. If you have spent any time reading posts on this blog you know that I advocate finding your niche as a business, and your niche focus should bleed into training a marketing efforts of our company. You also know that this blog is written from the perspective of an e-learning company. Let me start by saying, I wish I would have landed this project! More importantly though is that this is a perfect example of a business finding a niche focusing their business on it exclusively and using e-learning as a business tool in order to expand their audience, increase revenue and create a virtual business model with less moving parts.
Cicerone Certification Program has not just focused their business on beer, but specifically craft beer. Their objective as a business is to help bars, restaurants, retailers and beer distributors capitalize on the growing interest in craft beer. They found a unique niche in a growing market and have built a platform to help educate the staff of these businesses in order to help them capitalize on the growing market. Genius! As is the case for many education based start-up they started with live, classroom based training. What most businesses in this space quickly find is that classroom training can be a grind. The logistics and expenses that go along with classroom delivery can be quite costly and can account for less than stellar profit margins. This is where a well executed e-learning platform can step in and provide a tool to virtualize and automate an education based business model.
We all dream of making money while we sleep. This is tough to do when your product is delivering classroom based training. I have nothing against classroom training, it has its place, but as a scalable business model it falls short for a number of reasons. Delivering your training or educational product online offers the ability to build a product ONCE and sell it over and over again. Growth is not dependent on more employees or the ability to secure locations. It is now squarely on your ability to sell! I will take that option anytime.
Does your business provide valuable education that could be turned into a online product? It is an interesting thought.
New MSHA Pattern of Violation law will have a huge financial impact on the mining industry. Citations handed out by MSHA can add up to a hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars for the larger mine operators. One of the mitigating circumstances MSHA looks at is the mine operators commitment to training. Do you think the mining industry can benefit from targeted e-learning to help avoid costly citations? Check out this video from Mining Expert Kim Redding, who provides some insight into the new Pattern of Violation Law.