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.
Every business has to find their niche, it is difficult to find success trying to be all things to all people. Last year I read the 4 Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferris, he had a quote in the book, “Go niche or go home.” The basic premise being that you will find much more success marketing and selling your product to a specific niche group rather than trying to market and sell to the masses. This is a theory that we have put into practice quite extensively at Resolutions, that quote was validation, and has pushed us even further in that direction.
The E-learning industry is a highly competitive and saturated marketplace. As with anything there have been industries that were early adapters to e-learning technology and there are those that are still new to the game. Our charge, as with any business, is to find our place in the mix. We decided early on that “Go niche or go home” is a good strategy for us, but how would we find our niche? As often happens in business you go where you find an opportunity, our first opportunity was in the aviation industry. The market had few competitors, plenty of available market share and most importantly we were able to partner with someone who is an industry expert in that market. 7 years later Safety and Security Instruction (SSi), a partnership between Resolutions ownership and AviaEd (aviation training company out of Tucson), is now an undisputed leader in the development of e-learning software and course ware solutions for general aviation airports both nationally and internationally.
Most importantly, that niche helped us find our way as an e-learning company. We realized quickly our software solutions and instructional design methodologies are not the right fit for everyone, but in our niche we are best in class and an industry leader. As a result our product has evolved and grown based on specific feedback and business use cases in that industry. It has also allowed us to build an internal formula which we can use to identify other vertical industry segments that fit our company. Now, as much as we look for new clients, we look for industry verticals that meet our criteria. Niche markets where we know we can have success utilizing the tools we have developed at our company.
What’s your niche? I look forward to some discussion on this topic.