Saturday, May 25, 2013

Telling Your Company Story - Kineo Case Study

At Kineo we have always been great believers in stories. Our very first elearning top tip was titled Learning Begins With A Story.

Stories are not only for learning, they can be a great way of marketing companies. Stories have many advantages for example:

  • They follow a narrative flow so they are easier to remember.
  • They are compelling. As Stephen Walsh puts it 'Two people walk into a bar. Behind the counter is a ...' Let's stop it there. Nobody's wondering what these two people are wearing, or what kind of counter it is. All you want to know is what happens next. It's the most basic and primal social conditions of us as people, that we want to know the next part of the story.
  • They connect you to the audience. They create an emotional connection as they follow the ups and downs, challenges and successes of the company.
Ann Handley of MarketingProfs suggests you should address 8 questions when telling your company story. You can see her slideshare here

I have had a go at addressing her questions to create the Kineo story, see what you think.

1. What is unique about your business?

We are a global learning technology services company. We don't offer other services. We focus on learning and offer global services provided by our local offices whether clients are in the US, China, UK or Australia.

We love to share. From day one we had a free resources section on our website where we shared everything we knew about elearning. This has grown to be one of the most respected resources in our industry. We also share our ideas in our LinkedIn eLearning Professionals group, which is now one of the top five elearning groups globally.

We are part of City & Guilds one of the largest vocational educational qualification awarding bodies. Last year nearly 2 million people qualified with City & Guilds. City & Guilds is also a charity (a not for profit company). Any profits we make as Kineo go to the charity.

All of these points make us unique.

2. What is interesting about how your company was founded?

We were keen to have a name that summed up what we were trying to do and our approach. Mark Harrison came across the word 'kineo' in a Greek dictionary. It means 'to stir things up' which we liked.

The three balls in the kineo logo started as red. We changed them to green to represent the fresh thinking approach we were promoting.

3. What problem are you trying to solve?

One of the major challenges facing companies today is recruiting, developing and retaining staff. The world is changing quickly whether it is new products, new services, new legislation or new processes. Everyone has to keep learning to maintain or improve performance.

At Kineo we leverage learning technology to provide cost effective learning solutions for our clients, solutions that can be delivered quickly and globally.

4. What inspired your business?

We believed that traditional elearning companies took an approach which was too expensive and too slow. We also felt they were too insular and too focused on single countries rather than drawing on global experience. We believed there was a better way.

5. What "AHA!" moments have you had?

There have been many over the seven years. They include:

  • Customer service is at the heart of everything
  • You have to keep moving or you get run down
  • Everybody can become obsolete, you have to keep learning
  • Give away everything you know
  • Stay up later than the competition
  • Be flexible, stuff happens
  • Recruit the very best staff you can 
6. How has you business evolved?

At the start of 2007 we were four people, last year we had revenues in excess of £10m or $15m. 

We have opened offices globally to support our growing list of corporate clients.

We launched an open source LMS, Totara, with our partners, which has become the leading open source learning management system.

At the end of 2012 we joined City & Guilds. This year as City & Guilds Kineo we will have revenues of over £18m and we aim to grow to over £20m next year.

Our evolution can be seen through our offices. In 2007 we  opened our first proper Kineo office in Brighton with space for 7 desks. This weekend we are moving into our new Brighton office with 142 desks. We also have offices in cities from London to Chicago to Shanghai to Melbourne.

view of brighton
View from Kineo's New Brighton Office

7. What's an unobvious way to tell your story?

Four people in Mark's back bedroom decided to change the world of elearning and grow a global learning technology company.
After many late nights and thousands of espressos we did it.

8. What do you consider normal that other people would think is cool?

Every day we get to work with the world's leading companies from PepsiCo to Mozilla to Nikon to Vodafone to Sony.