CUT THE CORD AND CHASE WHAT YOUR CLIENT REALLY WANTS

Around this time every year, Q3 reports begin to trickle out of big companies in the public eye. It’s an interesting time, not just because it gives us a sense of who’s doing what, but it can tell us where entire industries are headed with the new year just a quarter away.

I’m not telling you anything you probably didn’t know already, but the most recent Q3 unveil last week told us traditional cable TV providers are struggling to deliver exactly what customers want. And the canyon between big box cable providers and consumers is getting deeper by the day.

Let this be a lesson to all of us, no matter what industry we call home; delivering the right product to the right people is a key concern in the 21st century economy. And traditional cable isn’t doing it right now.

The recently released Q3 reports out of Comcast weren’t good; they lost 134,000 subscribers in that quarter alone. Charter lost 104,000, Verizon shed 18,000, and giant AT&T dropped a massive 390,000. Comcast and AT&T are the two biggest cable companies in the U.S., and they lost a combined 524,000 subscribers in three months. That alone definitely won’t be enough to challenge their survival, but if the trend continues like this as it has? Something big is on the horizon.

What we’ve found at FPG through experiential learning with our clients is that you won’t get far without providing customers exactly what they’re asking for and nailing down their need in the process. We’re constantly adapting our programs to fit the circumstances at hand, whether that means specialty filming to connect with our clients affected by devastating hurricanes or creating entirely new programs to meet a hole in training expressed by our clients. We’re always on the lookout for ways to adapt and give our clients exactly what they need, and exactly when they need it.

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One of the keys to the FPG training model is always providing relevancy and intimacy to our clients. This is why we’re one of just 1% of private companies in the U.S. currently listed on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list. You can’t meet the needs of your customers unless you acknowledge what they are.

I can relate to the cord-cutting phenomenon, because I recently did it myself. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t even the price of the service that bothered me. It was the fact that it wasn’t giving me enough value for what I was paying.

When I cut my cable, I only did it because I have tons of options elsewhere. I currently subscribe to a number of entertainment services independent of one another: an HBO subscription here, a Hulu subscription there. I have Showtime because I love keeping up with Billions, one of my favorite shows, but I also have an Apple TV subscription because they just announced live sports are on the way. And with my Netflix subscription, I have just about any movie I want to watch at my fingertips. I just didn’t need cable anymore. It was redundant and clumsy by comparison.

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When you add up the cost for all those services combined, I’m actually paying more at the end of the month than I would for cable. And the fact that I’m billed separately is even another minor complication I wouldn’t have with cable. So why do I do it?

The answer to that question is the core answer to why cable is currently losing the cord-cutting war, however slowly – it isn’t providing me what I want. And I can get it elsewhere tailored directly to my wants and needs.

This was a powerful revelation for me. So often our focus is wrapped around the cost of cable, but I don’t think that’s the right hinge point for the conversation. We’ll pay for things that give us real or perceived value because they’re catering what they do directly to us. Whether you connect with this reality or not, we live in an a-la-carte world, and cable is stuck in a fixed menu mindset. Out of the hundreds of channels packaged in with my cable subscription, how many did I actually watch? 15? 20? Being able to choose my own subscription services eliminates that waste.

I wholeheartedly believe that one of our most important missions as a training company is to cut out the bloat at the bottom of the channel list. Every training company – and really any company that offers clients anything at all – should always take time to continually reevaluate its process and ask itself a simple but powerful question.

Am I offering not only what my client needs, but what they want?

The key then is having the corporate agility to do something about it at the end of the day. Big box cable companies have been so slow to respond to changing market demands because their bureaucracy is crippling them. Major decisions haven’t happened quickly enough, and companies like Netflix and Hulu are seriously cutting into their growth – to the point that it’s stopped completely and even reversed in some ways.

I always want FPG to be nimble enough and connected to our clients enough that we’ll forever be the customer-focused training company zeroing in on needs the Comcasts of the training world struggle to identify and react to.

Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about delivering the kind of service that’s always wired up directly to those needs in order to stay right on the leading edge with everything you do.

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