Niche Retailer TrollAndToad.Com Makes Inc. 5000 Again

Clicks and mortar retailer TrollAndToad.com came in at #1063 in the Inc. 5000  fastest growing private companies in America for the second year with 285% revenue growth over the last three years. TrollAndToad.com is a the world’s largest retailer of collectible games. That is the very definition of niche.

So these guys are successful retailers. They are even more successful story tellers to attract customers, press buzz and decent management talent to the company.

Their website encourages sharing across the range of social media networks their customers may like. They have dedicated themselves to getting their story out.

I’m impressed because they get it. Sadly many companies do not. So the message is

  1. execute the business
  2. tell the world to attract customers, staff and media.

Successful businesses must do both, well.

TrollAndToad.Com’s also credit their growth and success to  acquiring the most talented people in the industry to oversee its growing divisions.  In an effort to rapidly expand its brick-and-mortar retail endeavors, the company has brought hobby retail store veteran Marcus King on board to chart and direct the course for this initiative.

King was a Board Member of the GAMA Retail Division (GRD) for many years. He also served as Vice President of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Board of Directors, helping to oversee all the activities of that body.  “I will be working with, and in, the newly opened Richmond, Kentucky store,” King explained, “and opening more Troll And Toad Retail and Tournament Centers — first in Kentucky, then across the nation.”

So they hired an expert. Some  companies try to do everything in-house especially when they are not good at it.

I knew a CEO who wanted to write every press release despite being a poor writer. I mean bad grammar, limited vocabulary and shocking spelling. He was smart, but had no talent with words. This industrial company boasted they put 20 press releases out in their best year. They needed to put 2000 releases out and engage with journalists in covering industries. Instead they worried about cost. What did it cost for the CEO to spend two hours on a press release? If he doesn’t add $400+ per hour in value, fire him.

Red Bull Mobile Network Australia

Red Bull Mobile AustraliaRed Bull has been busy extending their brand into the GSM mobile space globally. The next step on the path to world domination is Australia.

Technically they are mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) just like Virgin Mobile, which means they sell access to an existing network with their own branding and price structure.

Virgin Mobile would be the only other similar brand in that space in Australia. I think it’s a move worth making. The costs of becoming a MVNO are relatively low for a global brand but they get instant brand recognition in the new market. This is a great brand extension policy.

Red Bull have added to that by using social media to get the word out. I’ve got  a free SIM card from Red Bull Australia because I am an account at Klout. If you are quick and in Australia you can also get a free Red Bull Australia Mobile SIM.

The customer acquisition cost of this strategy has got to be ridiculously cheap. Compare what it would cost You&Me Inc to attract young brand aware consumers to a new mobile phone network.

If that link worked for you, and you got a free SIM, please comment below, and a like, +1 or other thanks would be appreciated.

Update 20 Aug 2011 @13:00:

A third party, Aggregato, will provide retail sales and distribution management and customer service support for Red Bull MOBILE.

Aggregato owns GRL Mobile who are rebranding as Red Bull MOBILE from 7 September according to this news announcement.

That reinforces my point about customer acquisition costs. GRLmobile’s total customer acquisition spend will rise under this deal, but their cost per customer acquisition will go down. Customers don’t have to overcome the “who are they?” question

Red Bull may only be taking a licensing fee for all I know, but given Red Bull Mobile’s international rollout,  it seems like they’ve put some resources behind establishing their brand in the mobile space.

Involved or Committed

Bacon & Eggs
photo by Anna Moderska, Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland

I like the following metaphor.

In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved while the pig is committed.

The normal mode in business is to look for people who are committed. Those that get the company logo tattooed on their bodies.

For senior executives, founders and entrepreneurs that is the spirit which drives a company forward.

However is it fair or reasonable to expect that from everyone in the organization?

At the senior executive or board level it is vital that there is someone who has not “drunk the kool-aid”. This person provides vital perspective and challenges the assumptions to avoid group-think.

At the front-line staff level having committed staff is certainly a competitive advantage. The main challenge then is to scale the business with a keen and engaged workforce. The second obstacle is managing attrition or top-grading when staff become disengaged.

Alternatively a business can design its systems to be executed by the average available hire. McDonald’s and American Express do this well. McDonald’s front-line staff are among the most committed in the fast food industry – compare staff at Burger King or KFC. But nobody is kidding them that this is a career. McDonalds managers and above are very committed and engaged. The whole business is executed by 15-19 year-olds.

American Express also chooses the best call center staff they can find. There is  still high employee turnover. But once people in the rest of the business make it past 3 years they are often there for life.