First Ascent helps businesses maximise performance through leadership development and team building;clients range from large multi-nationals to small start-ups and represent a variety of sectors. The company, established in 1998, has always maintained their determined belief that ambition combined with confidence can achieve great results. Following an acquisition 6 years ago, the new First Ascent team have structured their offerings around a variety of solutions, from off-the-shelf one day programmes, to tailor-made multi-modular programmes spanning a number of years.
Simple to access
First Ascent had always focused on opportunities within the UK market. However, joining UKTI’s ‘Passport to Export’ programme opened their eyes to new possibilities. It was through this programme that they were introduced to the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS) which provides support and advice to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating the optimal strategy for launching in this market. Steve Bentley, a Director at First Ascent, was initially sceptical. “People tend to be wary of Government run schemes, thinking you have to jump through too many hoops.However, this just wasn’t the case: the Export Marketing Research Scheme was simple to access, and the people couldn’t have been more helpful and attentive”.
First Ascent had become interested in the Indian Market when a delegate on one of their UK courses highlighted the opportunities in this market. With a strong and passionate culture and a tried and trusted business model, they decided to use the EMRS to help them determine whether this market would be right for the business, and if so, what they would need to do to maximise their chances of success
A USP for India
Steve met with Alice Mamier, Research Advisor with the EMRS. She helped him structure the research programme to ensure First Ascent gathered the information they needed to make the key decisions for a successful launch. It became clear that they needed to decide which of their services would be most appropriate in this market and whether their style, content or delivery would need to change.They needed to work out how to present the First Ascent services in the market – what would be their Unique Selling Point and also who would be their ideal consumers (large corporates, public sector organisations, or smaller private businesses).
After conducting some initial desk research, Steve and his fellow Director made two week-long trips to India, the first to Mumbai and Bangalore, and the second to Delhi. For each trip, they had prepared a busy agenda encompassing a series of pre-booked interviews, 23 in total, and had written a discussion guide to help focus the interviews. The interviews encompassed prospective commercial clients, partner organisations, the British High Commission, and several potential programme venues.
Launch and strategy
The trips were a great success; the overall information obtained gave First Ascent the confidence to continue with their ambition to launch into the Indian Market, and the specific information has enabled them to develop an effective strategy. It was clear that they should focus on the tailored programmes and should use industry experienced facilitators, supported by the UK Director team. Businesses in both Delhi and Mumbai would be open to First Ascent’s unique offering, but any large scale experiential events would need to be held outside of the city. The information gleaned about pricing in the Indian market has enabled the company to set their cost structure and payment schedule. Finally, they were able to ensure that their product would stand out from its competitors by focusing on behavioural change, an unmet need identified through the interviews.
Since their initial interest in the Indian market almost two years ago, First Ascent have doubled the size of their export business. Excitingly, they have also recently won the business for a significant customer programme in India and have achieved the Indian award for ‘Best Training Provider’.
Steve was very glad that First Ascent used the Export Marketing Research Scheme, "I would definitely recommend the EMRS to other small businesses. Once we made up our minds, we wanted to move very quickly and the speed of response and pragmatic support of EMRS enabled us to take the key decisions to launch successfully into this huge and exciting market!"