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The CoLab Podcast Ep. 3: Empathy & business growth with Elliot Begoun

Being empathetic in business means being there for your customers. By leveraging online training, Elliot and the team at TIG Brands were able to scale their growth without losing their identity. Find out how on Ep. 3 of The CoLab Podcast!

14 Dec 2020 by Rocco Brudno

G’day Mates!

Welcome to The CoLab podcast. My name is Ryan Macpherson, CEO and Co-Founder of Coassemble, the online training platform revolutionizing how teams train. For this episode, I’m joined by the founder and CEO of TIG Brands, Elliot Begoun. Today we’re going to talk about how Elliot and TIG Brands use empathy to guide their customers, drive business growth, and what role online training played in 2020 plans. Let’s dive in, shall we?

About the CoLab Podcast

The CoLab Podcast is the best business training advice from experts in the field on sharing knowledge and growing teams successfully at scale. In each episode, host Ryan Macpherson will chat with guests about entrepreneurship, strategy, management, leadership, and the value of elevating the employee experience. Ryan will also share his insights on proven methods & strategies that helped teams grow.

To listen to the full episode, click the link below to hear CoLab wherever you enjoy podcasts most.

What you’ll learn in today’s episode

Many teams are learning how to share knowledge and grow effectively at scale. Though the topics and guests will be different, we’ll always be looking through that lens to create a powerful employee experience. In today’s episode, we’ll dive into:

  • How empathy is a leading factor in consumer behavior
  • What it’s like being a CEO and founder in 2020
  • How business growth can be improved with empathy
  • How online training can be leveraged for business growth and
  • And more!

Strap in, it’s gonna be a great episode!

Elliot and his role at TIG Brands

As the CEO and founder of TIG Brands, Elliot has been a part of every facet of his company. Between recording his own podcast, meeting with entrepreneurs, and building training content, Elliot puts empathy at the center of his work. So why Empathy?

Well, from a few things. First of all, you know, brands, the way consumers interact with brands is emotional. We don’t buy things because it’s the rational thing to do. We buy things emotively. And at the center point of human-centered design is this concept of empathy, and the best marketers, the best brands are able to put themselves into the shoes of their consumers. They can look through the lens of those that they’re trying to serve and leverage that, leverage that understanding to build a sticky relationship with them.

Elliot Begoun

Hailing from the world of consumer packaged goods, Elliot left the corporate world to start TIG eight years ago. His goal was to work alongside aspiring entrepreneurs and guide them to find their own success while learning from his experience. Elliot intended to serve as a traditional consultant, operating externally from an entrepreneur’s business. But he soon realized that it was impossible for him to not get involved with the entrepreneurs he wanted to help grow.

After taking part in a retreat held at Stanford’s Design School, Elliot saw that empathy was a focus he could use in his business—he just had to see how. And by seeing the similarities between models in tech accelerators and the consumer packaged goods world, he formed an idea.

What if he could improve the flawed aspects of these models and apply them to the natural product space where his customers stemmed from? He applied empathy to his business model and developed a customized accelerator program that still allowed for 1-1 consulting. And seven years later, Elliot has found the program to be equal parts successful and humbling.

How does TIG Brands empower customers?

The biggest mistake anyone starting a business can make is thinking they know everything. By understanding there’s always more to learn and grow from, entrepreneurs can make the best decisions for their businesses. And Elliot wants every brand they work with to grow in that way because he’s seen the pitfalls of thinking you’ve plateaued.

So rather than going to customers and offering them “the” answer to what they should do, Elliot asks where they want to go? How do customers want to drive their business growth and move toward the future? By taking this approach, TIG Brand works together to chart the best path for every customer.

Elliot sees his role as both the teacher and the learner. His team and customers often give him new ideas on how to approach a solution. And he values being able to take that wisdom and pass it along to newer entrepreneurs so they can avoid common mistakes and make new ones.

How TIG Brand works with each customer can be broken down into a great example Elliot provides. This is a marketing function that he received from two separate companies he and TIG aren’t affiliated with, but he felt were starkly different.

The difference between apathy and empathy

Example 1: Right after the pandemic begins and lockdowns start taking place in different cities, Elliot receives a travel message from an airline. “Now’s the time to book your next getaway” read the subject and the body was full of vacation trip details. It was the last thing on Elliot’s mind and felt incredibly insincere and apathetic.

Example 2: Around the same time, another airline sent a message to Elliot. “Don’t worry about traveling, we’re with you now,” began the message. It assured Elliot that his travel status that normal is tied to the frequency with the airline would remain the same for 2 years. They added they would be there for him and were appreciative of his business. The message was contextually relevant and empathetic in relaying the company showed up for Elliot when he needed them.

What TIG Brands does for customers as well as encourages entrepreneurs to do in their own brands is show up. Brands being there for their customers builds a stronger customer experience, and that’s what sets TIG Brands apart.

What was the “aha” moment to look for online training?

Elliot really valued having an interactive component to his training. Whether it was in group workshops or 1-1 consultations, engaging both ways with a customer helps ensure his program’s success.

The problem with this was that Elliot and his team were limited by how many customers they could serve at a given time. To really take the next step in TIG’s evolution, Elliot recognized they needed a solution to scale their reach. He thought online training platforms would be it, but never had the time to dive into them.

The other moment Elliot realized he needed a solution was in March of 2020. One of the largest trade shows TIG Brands attended was canceled as his team walked up to the convention center. COVID-19 shut down many events, including some of the best SaaS conferences 2020 had lined up. So Elliot and his team had to reevaluate how they could still serve customers safely and effectively during 2020.

Elliot started to tinker around with an online training platform he had purchased through AppSumo. The platform in question? Coassemble.

How Elliot used online training for his business growth

Elliot saw the need to transition some of his offerings to an online format. He also recognized this moment was perfect to start truly scaling TIG Brands’ reach with customers. So Elliot began implementing online training the only way he knew how:

What I wound up doing was, in true entrepreneurial fashion, is jumping off the cliff and building an airplane on the way down.

Elliot Begoun

From his customer base, he created an application for ten brands to apply to his eLearning program. Though a few might have wondered what is eLearning, many were excitedly applying for the chance to take part in the pilot.

For the ten brands, Elliot wanted to have a solid cross-section of brands at different stages of operation and categories. This helped him get a holistic view of what content would work best for this program. Once selected, Elliot and the team developed an eight-course program over sixteen weeks.

How Elliot implemented online training

After creating the first course, Elliot would deliver the following process to revise and improve content for the following training:

  1. Create training that represented a specific lesson he pulled from TIG’s normal consulting program.
  2. Deliver the training to all ten pilot program brands and then follow it up with an interactive workshop.
  3. He’d then form a focus group of learners from the brands to go through all the content and provide honest feedback.
  4. Elliot would then revise both that training and apply the feedback towards how he created the next section of content.

In this way, Elliot started with something rough and continuously polished it until he had an effective online training program. What’s funny is that many of the steps Elliot took above are actually tied to concepts in our Learner First Model.

By leveraging a rapid content authoring tool in an online training platform, anyone can create, deliver, and revise content. And this cyclical process ensures your training is always contextually relevant and effective. By engaging with your learners to get feedback, you can learn what activates their curiosity and drive to learn. This, in turn, guarantees a training process that is evolving while still meeting your team and business growth goals.

How does TIG Brands build a better learning experience?

Ryan mentions that the main goal he and our other founder, Jude wanted to reach with building an online training platform was developing the learner experience. Rather than being a static piece of content learners go through, Coassemble was created to bridge the gap between learner and trainer. This enables a strong community to be built that fosters the sharing of knowledge.

With entrepreneurs working with TIG Brands, Elliot values this community aspect above all in his business model. Elliot mentions that learners learn best when they feel valued by the training and those delivering it. So TIG has:

  • A community manager that’s always checking in with brands.
  • Interactive workshops every week.
  • Daily virtual office hours for customers that have a question.

As a leader for other brands, TIG Brands wants to ensure that empathy and community are important for growing businesses. If brands start out with this mindset, they can really grow into their roots stronger. Elliot also mentions that the service industry lives on the exchange of knowledge—and having a tool that effectively enables that is the future to business growth.

Does Elliot see a future for TIG Brands with online training?

With online training content, Elliot sees the potential to create an evergreen process he can deliver in tandem with consulting. This enables TIG Brands to scale its growth and customer reach while staying true to its identity. Authenticity is something we value at Coassemble and what makes online training so powerful.

During his training pilot and during his tenure operating TIG Brands, Elliot worked with a business coach. They encouraged him to find another way to expand his business. Online training content enables Elliot and the team to build a knowledge resource customers can use constantly. Customers can return to the training when needed, and get more out of the training in this way.

The time spent creating it compounds, saving Elliot time to get back to what’s important—helping fellow entrepreneurs shape their business’ future. Elliot views all of his online training as a living, breathing entity that’s constantly changing. This keeps the program lively and relevant. It also allows him to personalize that training experience so it feels organic and welcoming.

Elliot sees online training platforms like Coassemble as a tool for business growth, especially for brands in the service industry. Because many entrepreneurs are still busy with their lives outside of their business, time is always short. So by offering a training method that’s unobtrusive, it makes Elliot’s program more approachable and accessible. He sees that online training will eclipse 50% of TIG Brand’s revenue over the next few years.

As Elliot says, being an entrepreneur, especially starting out for the first time, can be isolating. The business is your life 24/7, 365 and that can create crippling doubt and anxiety. Something Elliot really wants to instill in the entrepreneurs he works with is that they’re not alone though. It’s very normal to feel that way, but you can’t let it paralyze you. Rather, acknowledge those fears and doubts are real and use them to move the business forward.

Subscribe for more episodes

The CoLab Podcast is a twice-monthly series that will include guests as well as Ryan providing expert knowledge on sharing knowledge, employee experience, and growing teams successfully at scale. To stay up to date, click subscribe wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts to receive the latest episodes.

Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time.

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