In 2014 Giardini started producing a brand new product: a leather edge paint.
Enrico who joined the family business in 2004, was ready to take care of it. It was a blind leap as the business was in chemical for leather, but focused on shoe producers according to the industrial district of Civitanova Marche.
The new product was intended to go outside the shoe makers’ market, providing a growing industry of producers of leather bags and accessories with the value of a better finishing of their products’ edge.
There was little experience in the company and a few clients active in the leather bag and accessories market at the time. A market already served by 5 big players, but Giardini Group decided to take the challenge, and prepared a market test. If you never try, you never fail.
The first website, simple and cost effective, was built by Enrico who has a background in electronics and served in the army as a navy lieutenant. The coup of luck Enrico has got is to find the best domain name that wasn’t not already taken. The challenge starts. First results are encouraging, SEO test shows a high ranking for the search engine word “leather edge paint”. Enrico decides to embrace a high positioning, high price for the best in class customer service. His preferred readings included “Steve Jobs, The exclusive Biography of Walter Isaacson”. Enrico embraces the stay foolish sense of purpose and accordingly commits himself to an addicted attention to customer centric strategy.
His first CRM is a magnetic board where names of prospects are coloured post-its, supported by magnets. Stages are vertical columns. The first year he managed to sell 100K euro of the brand new paint. The growth is mainly organic, later paired by some social campaigning. The presence to industry fair trades around the world is still one of the main public inbound media, and Enrico understands the importance of placing your face on it. He starts acting directly in the promotional video published on the web, clients who meet him at fair trades recognise him and some want to take a selfie with Enrico. He becomes a celebrity. While Enrico understands the importance of data mining and business intelligence, he also pushes to develop better communication: the challenge is to transfer the sense of the UX, what the client can expect by the whole purchasing experience.
Enrico has more luck while interviewing some candidates for the position of sales assistant. Enrico suddenly understands the great value of a young graduate while he already gave his word to another also very good one. Enrico takes the risk, he proposes to her: “If you are able to prepare the Hubspot certification within one day, the job position is yours.” Enrico knows how hard the achievement is, probably too hard to be achieved in 24 hours. But she made it, in the afternoon she called Enrico and got the job. Now Enrico found himself with two young, well educated girls both committed to the challenge. It is a bit of a risk to hire two people when you were planning for one. But entrepreneurs are that kind of people. First jump, then build the airplane.
One morning Enrico arrives at the office and finds 50 new orders from 50 brand new clients from South Korea. He has never been there and doesn’t even speak Korean. But someone in that country has posted in a local social media group a video talking about the Giardini Leather Paint just the day before. Enrico understands the power of video and invests resources on that channel with more commitment. Giardini videos explain how to do it, how to use the paint, what’s the secret for the best application, to whom aims for the best results, they are pure gold. Enrico is committed to finding the right register to talk to the audience, he is struggling to define who is the buyer persona and doing that he commits mistakes and goes out of the matter. But tests and trials are the best way to learn. Measuring, by data intelligence, is the key to learn and correct the direction.
The pricing has been another tough decision as the existing bigger players offer their products at half of the Giardini’s price. To be able to justify pricing twice the competitors, is often felt an unachievable challenge by entrepreneurs in any industry. Even more for existing markets with established competitors. Enrico didn’t start by the production cost, Enrico set the bar high in order to justify the whole customer service effort and the extreme attention to any detail. No matter what it requires but nothing can be left unplanned. Enrico didn’t play to lose, Enrico played to win. It must be told that the typical cost – revenue structure of a small artisan producing £20.000 per year of finished goods are £6.000 of raw leather and £50 of Giardini Paint.
CRM and Leads Generation
Enrico kept the magnetic board as long he learnt the method, a kanban visual rendering of the leads generation and sales process, then learning into Hubspot academy how to run the lead generation via the marketing automation, Enrico made the leap of fate investing in the business. He already had one year records that showed him the market opportunity and its trends so he decided to grasp it. In the Giardini business model, the leads generation matters for the greatest part of the business process on sales. Of course it also requires tracking conversations and stages when prospects are in the decision making time. The great benefit is that human interactions can be limited and client direct contact is not the most used activity of sales. In this case clients mainly get in touch with the mailing automation that has been set as a human touch messaging instead of a fancy template.
The process is not too complicated, engaging the client with the proper communication style clarifies if he or she fits the buyer persona, then a demo of the product which enables the client for a free of charge test. Once the test is over the client is ready to decide. Then nurture the contact can be a softer activity, no need to push for sale.
The great benefit of a reliable fully customisable marketing automation was to free up time out of repetitive tasks enabling Enrico and his team in focusing on the harder challenges.
Giardini in 2020 served 72 countries and clients as Google and Apple among thousands of small entrepreneurs producing leather goods on a small scale all around the world. Probably nobody in Giardini Group was aware of such a wide production of leather products around the world when Enrico started testing the market.
Turnover hit 300 K in the second year, then 450K, 550k, 600k and 800k last year, a steady growth that reveals the stable commitment of the company around the marketing project.
Among the reasons why it has been achievable the very first accomplishment should be attributed to Enrico’s entrepreneurial attitude and his clear vision that allowed the company to place resources in the right actions, facing the decision making being aware of the business mission.
Greatest challenges faced
Among the most important efforts Enrico lists:
- the challenge to define the buyer persona
- creating contents in a stable, methodic fashion to enable fresh new ideas on a regular basis
- Stay up to date with tech changes
- Develop a team
We wanted to exploit what has been meant to face those challenges.
- On the buyer persona definition Enrico affirms that it has been an ongoing journey, with errors and u-turns, never really ended, now the definition is pretty much automated, the hubspot forms the clients fill-in in the website contain a question that alone can give a highly accountable ranking of the profile of the buyer and it engages them in different conversational sequences all done by automated email messaging.
- On the Content Creation Enrico affirms that it has been the major effort all along the years: it was very hard to find everyday new ideas, test them as you do not know when they will fail or when they will be able to grasp attention. You might work for days around a video production and it doesn’t get audience, then you post a stupid post of something unexpected and it receives thousands of viewers.
Enrico is a positive, proud and happy man, this probably helped him to keep striving. He has no regrets about the effort done, he feels he would do it again if he would be asked to. He now serves in the local community as an elected member of the local administration. Some entrepreneurs have requested Enrico’s support during their business development project. Enrico can tell them what are the most common errors they can avoid.
On his personal achievement Enrico he has been invited to give a speech at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
He only regrets the many errors done,
“if it was not for the many errors I’ve done, I could live better, being less stressed and, maybe, achieving more.”
I couldn’t help myself asking: “Enrico, if you wouldn’t have made so many mistakes, would’ve you been able to achieve such awareness?”
First lesson is for everyone: considering that a small business has been able to achieve that, there are no more excuses on why any medium size companies can’t make it as well.
Second lesson: even with digital automation in place, the road of success has no shortcuts.
Third lesson: tools are just tools. We can work better with some of them, but if we do not start from the why we want to use them, they won’t add much value to our work.
Fourth lesson: they were right, in marketing there is only one P that matters: People.