Having been with the company for almost five years, Alex Knight has worked his way up from graduate to becoming Fitfactory's Marketing Director. We caught up with him to learn about his role and the launch of Fitfactory.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Alex Knight, Marketing Director for Fitfactory. I’ve been with the company for about 5 years now and my role is to link the customers with the senior leadership team and our products. That’s both ways, whether it’s getting feedback from customers and ensuring that the customer’s needs are reflected in what we do as a business and the products we create, and ensuring we communicate what we’re doing with our products and our company effectively back to our customers.
This involves overseeing all the communications channels and how we put out our messaging to the market and it’s exciting to see how that’s developed over the last year, especially with new people joining, it’s going really well.
What do you enjoy about working with Fitfactory?
The thing that I love about working with Fitfactory, is undoubtedly, the team. It’s great to see how everybody really wants to pull together and do the best for our customers and just constantly challenging themselves and looking for ways we can do things better.
In the last few months, we introduced a culture of ‘Aim for PERFECT’, which looks at how we can deliver the perfect implementation, the perfect marketing, develop the perfect product and that really helps focus everybody to ‘Aim for PERFECT’. Maybe sometimes you won’t quite hit perfect, but you’ll do a really good job at hitting excellent. That’s what we really want to do at Fitfactory, aim for perfect.
Tell us about how you launched Fitfactory
We launched Fitfactory last July, which was a really brave step for us because we were putting together two companies. Tricorn, which has over 25 years of experience, a really credible brand with over 300 customers in the UK, with Valuechain, which is also a really well-recognised brand and has an incredible suite of innovative products.
Since Valuechain acquired Tricorn in 2016, we’ve always thought there’s a great synergy between these 2 companies and we always had a feeling that we could have a ‘1+1= greater than 3’ scenario, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. However, it was always challenging to find the right time and we weren’t quite sure how to do it.
Obviously, the pandemic hit last March, and especially from a marketing and brand perspective, gave us the opportunity to step back. We could no longer do physical trade shows, we couldn’t do customer site visits in the same way, and our customers were really struggling.
So, we had a look at the market and saw what was available out there to help SMEs and we found there were a lot of solutions providers. Over the last 5-10 years, there has been a huge outburst in new technology, new solutions providers, and then there are consultancy firms that are helping to explain how to digitalise and how companies can adopt digital technology. We found that these were only geared towards the OEMs or larger companies. There’s a frightening lack of information for SMEs, which is beginning to get slightly better now.
What we wanted to do, was not focus on being a technology provider, but focus on the end goals and how we can help our customers achieve the benefits of digitalisation. When we thought about that, it’s all about being more efficient, leaner, more productive and basically making your business ‘fitter’. Which led to Fitfactory, which has been launched for over a year now and it’s going really well. It took a lot of adjusting to internally, our customers and the market, but we’re really happy with the direction that it’s going now and we’re starting to see that we definitely took the right approach with this.
The pandemic has affected the whole industry. How has it affected your marketing plans?
As mentioned previously, when the pandemic hit, it put a halt to most of our regular marketing activities, and it wasn’t just for us it was the same for everyone in the industry. Trade shows were a big part of how manufacturers do business.
Realistically, people don’t want a ‘business intelligence’ solution, they want to know how to improve their business, they want to be more efficient, leaner, they want to reduce costs and grow their order book. That’s what we’re seeing by producing these whitepapers, videos, articles and blogs, that we can bridge the gap between understanding what manufacturers and engineering companies need, with what technology can deliver.
There’s a big gap at the moment between people saying, ‘what is IoT?’. Understanding IoT, AI, Cloud Computing and all these things is great, but unless you understand how to apply it in your business and what tangible benefits they will deliver, it’s not of any use to you to understand how machine learning works.
So, that’s what we’re trying to do with our marketing and we’re seeing a great response in the market to this content we’re putting out.
Which is your favourite Fitfactory product?
With Fitfactory, we offer such a wide range of products, which is fantastic. One of the things I love the most about the company, is that we take such a customer-centric approach to understanding the goals of the companies we’re working with, understanding their goals and where they currently are on their digitalisation journey and then adapting a solution that’s right for you.
If I had to pick one that I love, I’d have to say our Paperless tool. Paperless helps to bridge the gap between disparate systems and fill gaps. There’s a big problem currently in the market where companies are focusing on digitalising one part, maybe that’s implementing an MRP system to streamline your production process or maybe it’s putting in a CRM system to streamline your sales process or an accounting package to make managing your finances easier. The thing that’s often missing between these systems is that once you’ve streamlined that process it’s much more efficient, but you get a lag between where that process meets another process.
For me, that’s where our Paperless system is effective. When you’re looking at quality management, are you doing that in the same digitalised way? If you are, is that really well connected to your MRP system? Because it’s only through the exchange of those two systems, for example, that you can get the most efficient process. Otherwise, you’re having an efficient process, then having to rely on a spreadsheet or paper-based system to go between these two, and that creates a further bottleneck. So for me, the fact that our Paperless system can resolve that issue and connect the whole business together is really powerful for me and it’s also really loved by our customers as well. The Innovation Centre,