Our area is Customer Education. We help clients plan Customer Education Programs, build online academies, courses, apps, and customer communities, help companies with client onboarding, etc. But eight years ago, things were different.
What does it look like today?
Playou has been around for 8 years. We are a team of about 30 creatives and consultants working in different places around the globe (you can find no more than 10 of us in our Prague office). We are focused on one thing- ensuring that companies surround themselves with the best clients. Our area is Customer Education. We help clients plan Customer Education Programs, build online academies, courses, apps, and customer communities, help companies with client onboarding, etc. We also write and publish a lot of content about this, and we’re doing early market research and innovation. We have accomplished 1000 projects for more than 200 customers. But eight years ago, things were different.
First Explainer Videos
In 2014, everything was really different. I was a marketing consultant, and my colleague Daniel (co-founder) worked on various IT projects. We had been looking for a direction together for a while. One of my clients needed to create an animated series for more scalable customer training and customer service. The vendor at the time wanted too much money, and we were tempted to take it on. We put together a small team (including my wife Veronica) and created a 5-part animated series. The series was illustrated by a very talented and successful illustrator, we kept the animation simple, and the voiceover was recorded by a well-known Czech actor. The piece was successful ( it’s 2022 now, and the client is still using the videos for onboarding! ). We got great feedback and a huge motivation to keep going. We launched a Google campaign, and things started happening…
A challenging but exciting start
This industry was new to us. Enquiries and orders started coming in, and we had to get up to speed quickly. I was used to providing a high level of service to clients from big projects, and my colleague promptly took this on board. So from the start, we were able to win most of the contracts and tenders. To be honest, there wasn’t much competition back then. But it was also hard to find new customers, and we needed more money for our work. Within the first 2 years, we won big global clients and many startups. We had at least 100 projects under our belt, exhibiting at trade shows in the US, UK, etc. and dealing with investors.
The never-ending hunt for new projects
We were looking for ways to grow, so we looked for new markets and new creative experts and did more and more projects. But we had a big problem. Our clients were ordering irregularly, and it wasn’t possible to plan the production with them for a more extended period. This had a very negative impact on the functioning of the whole company. The financial forecast was more or less just guessing, and we often had tight situations due to cash flow. We needed stability and predictability. The only way to keep the company running and growing was to look for new projects – campaigns, enquiries, orders – and keep bringing in new clients. It was very challenging. We picked up a lot of smaller projects and were overwhelmed. We didn’t know which way to go, but we believed we would find a way.
The crisis has brought innovation
In 2019, we decided to increase the ratio of international clients. We already had experience from England, and we knew it was possible to get more voluminous orders there than on the Czech market. The choice in 2019 was the UK and the Netherlands. We started to educate our customers. We mainly taught them how to do storytelling projects. It was a success. In 2020 Holland, over 10 large companies requested our workshop and invited us to their office. We were really, really excited. And then came the covid.
All presentations were cancelled, and the depression of the markets came. Covid-19 also brought new opportunities because everything started to move online in a big way. On the other hand, people were tired and sceptical, and projects kept getting cut. We closed the office in Amsterdam and waited to see what would happen next.
Partnerships and business model transformation
2020 was an absolutely crucial year as we kicked off a company-wide change. We worked all year on new strategies and began to transform from a studio to a company that is an expert in educating customers with digital content.
We started doing one workshop after another, leading to bigger projects. We brought partners into the company, and the investment allowed us to develop new services, recruit project managers, and bridge risks. In 2021, we started building our first online academies full of juicy content – one of our clients was EY. On each project, our role shifted more to consultant and strategy expert. The projects started to get bigger and longer term. We began to feel like we knew exactly where we belonged, and we definitely anchored our mission within Customer Education. We realized we had been the education expert all along. We just didn’t know it. After all, we had already produced 700 explainer videos on every possible topic.
Let’s build Customer Success solution!
Since 2014, we’ve honed our creative process and the quality of our products is really high. It’s subjective, of course, but the feedback from even the most demanding clients has been very positive indeed, and our clients are already working with us on an essentially regular basis, and we’re constantly working with most of them on a project for them. For the last 2 years, we are no longer just creating content for our clients. We are helping them with the whole strategy. How should they communicate with their customers? How to achieve a reduction in client churn rate through training courses? How to ensure that clients learn to use products and services better? We started deep into Customer Care or Customer Success and Customer Education. We started analyzing case studies of clients who could grow their customer base by thousands of per cent through Customer Education.
Innovation and improvement in 2022
With the 3 years of the company’s transformation from a simple service provider to a solution provider, we have started scaling and stabilizing the company. We plan to work with our clients with a view to several years ahead and finally become a key partner for the management of companies. Our sales are growing and our forecasts for the next year are improving. We have incorporated new technologies into our products – such as LMS systems for learning management, and we produce educational applications and micro-learning.
Playou in 2023
We are passionate about our theme and have decided to take the world of customer education to the next level. For 2023, we are planning hundreds of publications, dozens of courses, talks, podcasts, etc. All on the theme of Customer Education. We are also forming a European community of Customer Education, Customer Success and marketing experts who want to participate in content creation and support each other. Another task that lies ahead of us is research and analysis. We can’t do all this on our own, so involving other industry and community experts is crucial.
I thought we had found our true mission after too long. However, a friend of mine who is involved in startup development recently told me that it was very fortunate that we found our purpose and, more importantly, a workable business model.
I believe that Customer Education is an approach that helps change businesses for the better, improves the quality of the relationship between client and brand, helps build trust and makes things make sense.
We have proven through many case studies (ours and someone else’s) that Customer Education profoundly impacts financial results, company culture, and stability. Stability is worth its weight in gold today. That’s why it makes sense for us to fight for this issue. Thank you for reading our story. I hope it inspired you.
So what do you think? Does Playou’s story seem insightful to you?
If you have any questions about Playou and our work, please don’t hesitate to contact us.