Insights

  • A 5-Step Roadmap for Your Web Development Project

    by Primus Poppiti | Jan 30, 2019

    a 5-step roadmap for your web development project

    So you’re about to start a project to build a new website. And by website I really mean any digital property, such as an ecommerce site, intranet, mobile app, etc. Where do you start? Everyone usually wants to jump in the water and start building right away. But, build what? And why? These are critical questions that will help you compile a roadmap for your project. Roadmaps begin with fundamental high-level business objectives and end with a clear path for development. Below are the five steps to use to build that roadmap for your web development project. 

    1. Document Your Business Objectives

    Treat your business objectives as your bible for the project. These should be high-level, project business objectives, i.e., the business reasons for the project, which should come from the primary sponsor of the project and the various stakeholders and can be distilled from interview sessions at the very start of the project. These objectives should be written in business vernacular, so that anyone in the organization can understand their meaning. Normally, you should have between three to seven objectives for any given project. Once the objectives are defined and approved by the sponsor and stakeholders, every aspect of the project should be tied back to the overall objectives. Each Functional Requirement (see step 2) should connect to one or more objectives. This is a good test of the requirements: if it doesn’t meet an objective, it should not be a Functional Requirement. The rest of the project will flow from them, from UX and creative through development and test cases. You should also be able to determine your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) from the objectives. These also should be directly tied to one or more objectives. Your KPI should be used to determine your measurements for success of each objective. Therefore your success is based on your objectives.

    2. Document All Your Functional Requirements

    The next step is to document all your high-level functional requirements—the “WHAT” your project needs to do. They usually are written with the opening phase of “The system shall” or “The website shall." Similar to writing the objectives, functional requirements should be high-level and in business vernacular, so that everyone working on the project understands their meaning. Requirements should be succinct—don’t make them about more than one thing.

    Requirements are not the “HOW” something will be implemented. Those details should be left to design and architecture discussions. But, sometimes for practical explanation, a note of “how” can accompany the requirements (but not be part of the requirements).

    As noted above, all functional requirements should support a business objective. Now, that’s a nice little bow around this project.

    3. Prioritize and Add Additional Data Elements

    Now that all the Functional Requirements are defined, it’s time to add more data to them. Since there can be hundreds of requirements, this is a good point in time to categorize them. For example, if you are building an ecommerce system, you might use categories like product display, product recommendations, cart functions, checkout process, etc.

    The next vital piece of information is the prioritization of the requirements, which should be set by the business team and approved by the project sponsor. Use simple priorities like high, medium, and low, where “High” is a must have. Use this scale: “High” requirements are critical to the business activities; “Medium” requirements are important but not a business critical function; and “Low” requirements are “nice to haves.” This is a tedious but necessary step that can cause a lot of discussion and dissent among the business team. Provide an outlet for rationale of these comments.

    Optionally, a good piece of information is a high-level of estimated effort. This is somewhat contradictory, since we haven’t determined “HOW” we will accomplish the requirement. But it’s good for the business stakeholders to get a sense of the complexity of the requirements. If you want to add this information, at this point, use a very general estimation scale such as T-shirt sizes (X-Small, Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large) or the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21).

    4. Determine the Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

    In this step, the work you have completed to date starts to come together in a roadmap, which will have multiple releases. The first release in the roadmap is the Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The MVP will usually consist of the “High” priority items identified in step 3. But, due to some of the complexities of requirements, some may be removed from the MVP. Contrarily, requirements of “Medium” or “Low” may be added to the MVP if they are less complex or easier effort (low hanging fruit) requirements. This provides some quick “win” within the MVP. This process of determining the MVP should be a team effort but approved by the project sponsor. The requirements that do not make it into the MVP will be placed into other releases of the roadmap.

    5. Build Releases in the Roadmap

    Now that you have determined the MVP, this will be the first release of the roadmap. Now review the remaining requirements. Naturally, “Medium” priority requirements should be in the next release(s). This release(s) should also include the “High” priority, more complex requirements that were removed from the MVP. You may add some “Low” priority requirements that have dependencies in these releases. The final release should include any remaining “Low” priority requirements.

    There you have it: a functional roadmap for your business project. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? If you’d like to discuss this in more detail and see how we can assist you, contact us at Trellist.

  • Artificial Intelligence: The Good and the Bad

    by Tim Reeder | Jan 15, 2019

    A yin and yang of artificial intelligence

    In July, we published an article on artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing called “The Future Is Now: AI-Driven Marketing.” AI is all around us these days; we give verbal commands to our automobiles, make verbal inquiries of our smartphones, voice-dictate text messages, verbally control the music we play, and much more.  

    Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other voice-controlled personal assistants will perform countless tasks for us – all we have to do is ask. Such convenience and power it gives us! It’s like magic. It’s cool and futuristic.

    But is it necessary?

    Just because we can…should we?

    And for all the convenience, what are the risks and drawbacks?

    I’m not going to attempt to answer all of those questions in one blog post, but I do have some relevant perspective to share.

    In the late-fall, my girlfriend and I were out walking our dog and we approached a party going on in a neighbor’s backyard. From a distance I could hear many people talking—some quite loudly—and it sounded like a good time. As we got closer, I could clearly hear virtually every word being spoken.

    “Alexa, play ‘Uptown Funk’!”

    Five seconds later, from another voice, “Wait, Alexa, play Lady Gaga, ‘Poker Face’!’” 

    Literally, seconds later from another guest, “No, I have a better one…”

    As we walked on by, I casually mentioned to my girlfriend, “That was interesting. They were quite fascinated with the voice-control of Alexa. They jumped through 3-4 different songs in the span of about 30-seconds!”

    Having walked about a 1-mile loop, we headed back home and found ourselves again upon this party and the voices of the guests, still making song requests.

    For at least 15-20 minutes, instead of engaging in some level of constructive social dialogue, all they were doing was trying to one-up each other in a contest to see who could play the best song—something they were never going to come to any consensus on—while never allowing a song to play for more than 15-20 seconds. I can only assume this must have been a brutally unpleasant auditory experience for some of the guests. It seemed like a social experiment gone annoyingly awry.

    Do you see the conundrum here? Not every technological advancement is necessarily going to improve the norms and rituals we’ve come to know, love, and hold sacred.

    The above observation, admittedly, is not a flattering look at AI. However, just as Paul McCartney often brought light and positivity to John Lennon’s darker view, I do see the other side. I’m actually excited about artificial intelligence in the bigger picture. AI is a powerful, emergent force that big tech companies are fawning over—and for good reason.

    One of the most appealing attributes of AI is the endless possibility for applications. Its foundations, based on heuristic algorithms and recently combined with more refined and structured architectures, can be employed to solve a wide variety of problems—and the limitations here are largely unknown. Major advances in AI are happening in voice recognition, image recognition, deep learning, data prediction, pharmaceuticals, machine autonomy, military, radiology, and design. My Alexa example (voice recognition + deep learning) is just a small fraction of the breadth AI encompasses today.

    Let’s examine one example where AI is positively impacting the banking industry. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has partnered with McAfee to evaluate just how much cyber-crime is costing the world. They estimate the global cost was somewhere around $600 billion in 2018, up from ~$400 billion back in 2014. This increase of ~50% over four years poses a huge risk and potential money loss for banks all over the world. Thus, banks are looking for smarter ways of detecting fraud, along with preventing users from experiencing a false-positive fraud alert while making legitimate purchases.

    Financial institutions are turning to AI to help with this problem. Along with better credit card technology, like EMV chip cards, banks are building integrated heuristic-based systems to monitor and report in real time on the transactions being made everywhere. This additional level of validation could potentially save billions worldwide (~$150 billion in the USA alone).

    These solutions, commonly known as machine learning or artificial intelligence applications, essentially learn purchasing behaviors of individuals, groups of people, and nations as a whole, then consolidate this information to perform a set of validation checks against transactions to determine if they meet the criteria of being considered fraudulent. These applications can also learn from their mistakes; as false-positives or missed fraudulent actions are reported, the algorithm can automatically adjust accordingly.

    These tactics are somewhat vulnerable to ‘new’ fraud strategies, but consumer feedback can quickly help to thwart new threats, as these artificial intelligence algorithms can adjust quickly based on a relatively small sample of consumer feedback.

    Such use cases are obviously contingent on our successful improvement and application of artificial intelligence, but we’re slowly getting there. Despite my negative anecdotal story regarding Alexa at a neighborhood party, emerging tech advances lead me to believe that AI might possibly be one of the most important and innovative technological advances in our lifetime. Really exciting!

    Have you had any interesting AI experiences recently? We’d love to hear from you—please share with us at info@trellist.com.

    1https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/assets/reports/restricted/rp-economic-impact-cybercrime.pdf

  • The Power of Employee Ambassadors and Micro-Influencers

    by Neil Dougherty | Nov 06, 2018

    The power of employee influencers in marketing

    It’s no secret that achieving marketing success in today’s digitally-transformed world requires looking beyond traditional communications and media channels. Regardless of your industry, simply pulling the same levers you always have in earned, owned, and paid media will only get you so far. Yes, you may have a standout website, top-notch marketing collateral, and growing social media presence. But so does everyone else in your space.

    To drive additional awareness and build trust in your mission and products, you should also be focusing on influencer marketing. It’s a buzzword that’s bandied about often – and for good reason.

    Seventy percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, according to a survey of 14,000 consumers by Collective Bias. In comparison, channels like digital ads (4.5 percent), print ads (4.7 percent) and TV ads (7.4 percent) have a declining influence. These millennials are taking this mindset into the workplace, where they rely on peers and trusted influencers to help them make purchasing decisions.

    Act Locally: Tapping into Employee Influencers

    One of the first places you should start to build your influencer marketing efforts is in-house with your employees. The advantage of starting here is that 1) it can be lower cost than building an influencer marketing program outside of your walls, and 2) you have control over the message. However, this doesn’t mean it’s particularly easy to be successful.

    At Trellist, we helped our global specialty chemicals client pioneer an employee influencer program to build awareness of the brand and its innovation stories among customers, investors, fellow employees, and the media. We achieved this by helping them build their Social Media Ambassador Program.

    The effort started with the vetting of existing employee social media profiles to recommend an initial class of ambassadors. This review was both quantitative and qualitative: Did they have a significant or growing number of followers? Were they engaged and sharing regularly? And was their activity aligned with the brand’s values?

    Trellist also developed strategic training and guidance, published content, monitored performance of the pilot program, and created a leaderboard to analyze program participation.

    As a result, the client experienced:

    • A 2X increase in monthly published content
    • A nearly 2.5X increase in total engagement with the content each month
    • A 3X increase in the reach of that content
    • Recognition as a Fortune 500 company by 2017 — and now has more than 34,000 followers on LinkedIn and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter

    Choose Your Influencers Wisely: Go Micro

    It’s tempting to go “all in” when building your influencer marketing program. After all, who wouldn’t want someone with a million followers talking about your brand? But the questions you should be asking are whether or not they’re the right million, and is the influencer you’re working with the right one?

    You will hear nightmare stories about brands who have tied themselves to the wrong influencer, only to have their brand reputation tarnished in the process. Keep in mind that a person doesn’t need millions or even tens of thousands of followers to be influential. In fact, the data on social media engagement bears out that micro-influencers may be higher value on a per-dollar, per-campaign basis than celebrities with millions of followers.

    This study found:

    • Instagram users with less than 1,000 followers received a like-rate of 8 percent, and accounts with 10 million+ followers only had a like-rate of 1.6 percent
    • Users with 1,000 to 4,000 followers received 4.5 percent engagement
    • Influencers in the 10k to 100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach

    We believe it’s a better move (especially for B2B brands) to adopt a micro-influencer strategy. Traffic may be smaller in absolute terms, but activity has the potential to be more engaged, more targeted, and less costly.

    If you’re considering your own employee advocacy or micro-influencer strategy, contact socialbusiness@trellist.com to get started.

  • Best Practices for Digital Asset Management

    by Victoria Silow | Aug 01, 2018

    Digital Asset Management

    “What platform should we use to manage our digital assets?”

    It’s a common question bandied about in many an executive meeting, and you may have heard it in your own organization. While there’s nothing wrong with this question itself, it has to be asked at the right time. So many organizations put the proverbial cart before the horse when it comes to managing their digital assets, looking for the right tech solution before they’re actually ready. It’s akin to charging ahead with marketing tactics without having your strategy set.

    Before answering that question, you need to stop and take a look around your organization to determine the best place to start.

    Take Control of Your Digital Assets First

    For many organizations, the optimal starting point is taking control of their digital assets. What does this mean? As organizations grow and corporate structures become more complex, a once-well-oiled and streamlined asset management process can quickly breakdown. Things spread quickly, version control grows out-of-control, and no one in the organization has a good idea of what exists, and where.

    Start with one simple question: Who in my organization needs access to these assets?

    While it’s true that the marketing team will need the company’s digital assets for projects like product catalogs and promotions, others in the organization may need access to the data as well. You may also have distributors or vendors outside of your office walls who need the latest information to accurately represent your product in the marketplace.

    Step one is to identify all of the potential stakeholders and gather requirements from them, in order to develop a true and accurate picture of the digital asset landscape.

    Coordinate Communications

    Coordinating how you communicate new digital assets to these stakeholders is an important consideration that will influence your path forward. Explore how you are currently providing information about updates to existing products, new product launches, and even changes to individual product features.

    It’s not simply about making sure the digital asset itself is communicated accurately, but that the stakeholder gets the appropriate education about this new information. A brand representative with incomplete knowledge about a product can be just as dangerous and damaging as one with no information at all.

    Supporting with Technology—Important Considerations

    Now that you have a better handle on these preliminary questions, you’re almost ready to choose a platform to help support your digital asset management. Consider these important issues when selecting that platform:

    • Implementation: Do you have the resources in-house to support implementing the platform, or will you need to hire a consultant to help get it running and support all of the touchpoints and stakeholders you’ve identified?
    • Integration with Existing Systems: What else is part of your infrastructure? You may have a CRM system, marketing automation tool, and a variety of other software and services that should be considered when choosing a platform,
    • Security: You don’t want to inadvertently open your organization to a potential security hole or flaw. While a well-implemented and maintained platform should not create any risks, it’s a question worth asking—especially given that a variety of users will be accessing the platform.
    • Usability: Speaking of users, usability should be a key consideration in your selection criteria. The best platform is the one that gets the most use. Sometimes an overly complex platform with all of the bells and whistles may seem like the best option, but it could overwhelm a typical user. You may want to bring a representative sample of stakeholders and users—not just your tech team—to the demos to get their impressions.
    • Cost and ROI: Every new technology is an investment. You’ll need to determine your break-even point to see if the ROI on the platform makes sense for how you’ll use it.
    At Trellist, we’ve helped organizations navigate the sometimes complex process of vetting a new digital asset management system.  If you have a hurdle you need to overcome as you explore your options, we’re happy to help—just contact us at digital@trellist.com.
  • The Future Is Now: AI-Driven Marketing

    by Jim Auer | Jul 19, 2018
    Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the effect on marketing

    We’re on the cusp of a radical shift in the way that marketers create, measure, and optimize the experiences we’re providing for our customers. Artificial intelligence and its applications in marketing are going beyond the proof-of-concept stage and emerging as a tool to drive real change within organizations.

    Companies are using AI today to make practical use of the customer data they gather. While businesses recognize the value of first-party data, they have not had the resources to quickly and efficiently analyze it and apply their conclusions to develop and test strategies. They are using AI to analyze the large volume of structured and unstructured data, at greater speed and efficiency than human resources are able to achieve. It helps them identify behavioral trends, determine the optimal set of variables for a campaign, test conclusions in the market, analyze the results, and optimize for improved performance. AI, for example, can determine the optimal bid for an impression and the message to deliver based on the prospect’s profile, the channel they are using, and the time of day. AI is lowering costs, increasing overall marketing efficiency, and shortening the path to conversion.

    The most visible applications of AI in marketing today are in media management and customer experience. Search engines and social media use AI to deliver the right message to the right audience, at the optimal price. Google’s automated bidding sets your bids based on your campaign objectives, resulting in more efficient final bid costs. Google will even apply this capability to enhance manual bidding for improved results.  

    AI is improving customer experience during routine interactions too. Chatbots, for example, can manage low and mid-level inquiries, reducing costs while increasing customer satisfaction. Marketers are now learning when to switch from a chatbot to a human interaction for inquiries where customers require a deeper response.

    And marketers are applying AI to content creation and curation, enabling them to produce and publish various types of content with greater efficiency and higher response. Recently, Alibaba released an AI-driven copywriting tool that it claims is capable of producing 20,000 lines of copy per second. AI can be used to guide writers in their efforts, identifying the types of headlines and themes that readers are more likely to respond to.

    If you’re not using AI now, you likely will be in the next few years. According to a recent study from PwC, 72% of business decision makers see AI as fundamental for future success and a significant business advantage. However, we’re not quite there yet. Only 15% of enterprises are currently using AI. Further, a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that 75% of executives say AI will be actively implemented in the next three years.

    Today, many larger enterprises are applying AI. While these early adapters have the resources to apply the capabilities, cloud-based services from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba and others are evolving to make AI practical for SMBs as well.

    In short, marketers are accepting that AI will have a key role in the future of marketing, and we’re working hard to figure out exactly what that means for our organizations. At Trellist, we believe AI will prove its value quickly, and the adoption rate will be fast among organizations of all sizes. 

    Learn more of how Trellist approaches new and evolving business problems by checking out the rest of our blogs here.

  • Is Your Marketing Any Good? 3 Simple Rules to Find Out

    by Renee Cohen | Jul 09, 2018
    Is your marketing any good? 3 tips to find out 

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well. It’s great advice…but how does one measure “well”? A quick Google search on the subject will deliver exhaustive lists of “The Top 18 KPIs” or “The 50 KPIs Your Company Should Be Measuring,” spelling out different metrics that range from revenue attribution to social likes. It’s enough to leave anyone disoriented and unsure of where to start.

    At Trellist, we know that metrics are crucial for understanding performance, success, and future planning. And while there are literally hundreds of ways to measure your campaign, and even more ways to interpret your findings, we base everything we do here on just three simple rules.

    Rule #1: If you’re not measuring what you’re doing, that’s just dumb

    Every move you make, every line of copy you write, every piece of creative you design, and every form of collateral you produce should have a quantifiable justification for its existence. Even if that justification is “This didn’t work, but now we know.” Tracking your campaigns is crucial for future success.

    You need to understand what resonated with your audience, and what didn’t. Even those campaigns that “flopped” can provide valuable insights for others down the road. It’s called optimization for a reason, and striving to do better should always be what drives your decisions, even if better isn’t always the final result. If you learn enough from what didn’t work, eventually you’ll have a pretty accurate recipe for what does.

    Rule #2: Don’t hold things to impossible standards

    In the world of marketing, there is always some new platform or tool that puts messages in front of audiences. But just because it’s lauded by experts as the next big thing in marketing, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be a game changer by launching your brand into the realm of Nike, or turning your company name into a verb like Google.

    Marketing should be a well-thought-out combination of messaging platforms that tell the story of your product/service to the audience you want to reach. The idea that one social media campaign, or one tradeshow, or even one commercial is going to launch your brand from obscurity into a household name is unrealistic. Coca-Cola wasn’t built in a day.

    Rule #3: Set yourself up for success by defining success BEFORE you start

    This is probably the most important, and yet the most overlooked, rule when beginning a new campaign. If you ask the general public what the purpose of marketing is, most people will respond with something along the lines of “to drive sales.” Which, at a high level, is 100% true. However, there are a plethora of other ways to define marketing success and just as many means of getting there.

    Having a clear picture of what would constitute a successful campaign before it begins ensures that the actions you take and the strategies you implement align with your goals. This also manages performance expectations and offers a more definitive meaning to the metrics measured.

    Three simple rules. Hundreds of ways to follow them. Infinite success. For more marketing insights, or to find out how Trellist can help with your marketing goals—whether reaching them or defining them—contact our team at brandingmarketing@trellist.com.

  • 6 Marketing Tactics We Want to See End Now

    by Jim McAvoy | Jul 03, 2018
    Marketing Tactics that we want to see end now

    Have you ever rolled your eyes at the implausibility of a bombastic radio commercial? Or thought, “Wow! That’s just awful,” while watching a TV spot or reading a piece of mail? You’re not alone.

    We marketing and advertising folks have opinions. A lot of them, in fact. And we’ve had it up to here with some marketing and advertising trends that have simply become overused tactics. Allow my colleagues and I to elaborate.

    1) Chris McEntee, Marketing Communications:

    “I was already unsure about the concept of a commercial to promote your commercial that some brands have started doing for their Super Bowl ads,” Chris says. “But the new trend of teaser trailer before a movie trailer takes it to the next level. When a big movie releases its first trailer, it’s now preceded by or starts with a five-second ‘preview of the preview’ just so you know exactly what it is before having to watch the full two-minute trailer. Every major franchise is doing it.”

    Chris laments this interference with the natural progression of such things. “I understand that you need to capture attention instantly in the social media age. But this is just a pointless exercise to me. It eliminates one of the greatest things about a trailer – the buildup. Let the story unfold and then pay it off at the end of the trailer, to leave me excited for the actual product – the movie.” 

    2) Wil Spillane, Social Media Management:

    Wil thinks a lot of businesses miss the bigger possibilities that social media offers when compared with traditional advertising. “Personally, I believe a ton of opportunity is left on the table when marketers look at social as a space for paid media only. They are leaving out the opportunity to build and nurture potential and current customers in a real community. Social paid media is clearly a big deal, but social media can touch nearly every part of the business, and shouldn’t be looked at simply as the one-way conversation that advertising is.” Wil makes another thought-provoking point: “What are you going to do when people begin to engage with your ads? How do you support your community beyond your initial response to their comment?”

    3) Neil Dougherty, Marketing Solutions:

    Neil is not a fan of the “contrition commercials” that have become ubiquitous lately in today’s advertising landscape. “Recently I saw a bank, a car service, and a social network all run TV ads within the same commercial break that were basically apology ads with the ‘but we’re past that now and we’re going to come out of this stronger’ angle,” he says. “It shows that business ethics should be considered at all times and well before it gets to that level.”

    4) Holly Lee, Marketing Communications:

    Pre-recorded message telemarketing bothers Holly the most: “For me, it’s the worst.” She also finds radio advertising that uses adults to portray children cloying and dislikes “when someone says ‘smart’ to describe something that’s supposed to encourage me, like ‘Smart Marketers’ or ‘Smart Investors.’” Holly finds this to be the opposite of smart.

    5) Joe Kearns, Project Management:

    Joe is all for celebrating — but thinks that maybe not everything should be a sales opportunity. “Holiday sale emails for every holiday get to me. ‘It’s a Flag Day flash sale!’”

    6) Jim McAvoy, Marketing Communications:

    For me, there’s one guy that takes the cake. If you’ve watched TV or listened to the radio since the mid-2000s, then chances are you’ve experienced the “Dumb Dad” phenomena. This perpetually befuddled stock character has appeared in scores of commercials for products such as charcoal, laundry detergent and many, many others. Simply type “Dumb Dad” into YouTube and watch as tens of thousands of results appear. You’ve seen him in sitcoms and films too. In fact, this representation has become so prevalent that a few years ago an advocacy group protested the portrayal of fathers in a Huggies Diapers TV commercial. Surprisingly, the commercial was then re-edited to become a more positive portrayal of fathers. Bottom line? It’s high time we retire this guy.

    These are just a few of the overused tactics that have gotten under the skin of some of the veteran marketers here at Trellist. But there are scores more that can render your marketing ineffective and unoriginal.

    Stand out from your competition with insightful marketing strategies and tailored campaigns. Contact the Trellist team at brandingmarketing@trellist.com.

  • Virtual Reality as a Live Event Marketing Tool

    by Primus Poppiti | Jun 13, 2018

    Virtual reality. The very phrase probably conjures up images of a futuristic, computer-driven landscape  you might see in your favorite sci-fi movie. It’s less likely that you’d associate the next-gen tech with a disconcertingly  up close, flea’s-eye view of carpet piles in your virtual living room. But that’s exactly what we built for a client who wanted to make an impact at an industry trade show The result? A booth packed all day with visitors itching for a chance to immerse themselves in the experience.

    Trade shows are a tough racket. So many factors can make or break your success. But for one leading animal health care company, creating a virtual reality experience was the differentiator they needed. Here’s how we did it.

    Trellist example of virtual reality as an event marketing toolThe VR “Wow” Factor That Packed the Booth

    When the client approached us with the idea of a VR experience at their upcoming trade show, the requirement seemed nearly impossible. They needed a deliverable that was high-tech and impressive, while also inexpensive to implement and reusable.

    The client manufactures and distributes products and services intended to treat pathologies common in “companion animals”—yes, that’s right, fleas. They needed to make an impression with veterinary professionals and suppliers at one of the biggest industry conferences for learning and networking. The stakes were big, and the competition was steep.

    To help them stand out, we built a VR experience that begins with the conference attendee donning a pair of Google Cardboard (googles) and headphones, which were hooked to a smartphones loaded with the VR app.  By clicking on the top of the Cardboard, the experience is underway.  The attendee finds themself standing in a virtual living room as gentle music plays.The furniture looks comfy enough to sit on and the fireplace crackles with the sounds of a roaring fire.  A barking sound behind them as causes an instinctive reaction of turning their heads to find a dog playing with a ball, trying to get their attention.  Suddenly, the music changes to sinister, as the attendee being to shrink and descend down into the carpet, à la Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

    The carpet is teeming with flea eggs and larvae from the homeowner’s favorite furry friend. It’s the gross-out factor that drives home just how damaging these pests can be, and helps the attendees understand the value of the client’s product. After all, who wants their family rolling around on at a carpet overflowing with flea larva?

    The experience ends with the viewer zooming back out of the carpet to see the client’s key branding messages.

    The tradeshow was so successful that the client took the VR experience on the road, bringing it directly to veterinary offices around the nation.   The Google Cardboard was branded with their logo, which made for a sweet swag. 

    Methodology and Process

    To create this VR experience that helped our client exceed their marketing goals at this tradeshow, our methodology included:

    • Storyboarding and Estimation: We defined the storyline of the virtual experience in order to finalize the cost estimate. This included concept development, storyboard development, requirements documentation, solution architecture, and pricing and timeline development.
    • UX and Design: We created the visual elements of the script including scenes, images, interaction, and sound in order to develop a working 360-degree virtual reality prototype. This step included direction and blocking; copy and script development; imagery, music and object selection; prototyping and shooting; and creation of a deployment plan.
    • Development and Implementation: We built the final app needed to deploy to the smartphone and to YouTube (which can play 360 and use Google Cardboard), so the user could download the VR app from the app stores or play on YouTube. This involved post-production and editing, mobile app development, quality assurance, user acceptance testing, storefront preparation, and deployment.

    VR is one way to stand out from the crowd at a trade show, but your goal should always remain at the forefront of your priorities-- not just the technology we use to help you reach it. If you’d like to explore an innovative approach to your next trade show, contact us at info@trellist.com.

  • 8 Web Recommendations for GDPR

    by Primus Poppiti | May 24, 2018
    8 Web Recommendations for GDPR

    For many organizations, the ticking of the countdown clock for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance is growing louder as the May 25th deadline approaches. While many of the world’s largest brands have made huge strides toward compliance, most businesses still have significant progress to make. In fact, a recent survey shows that up to 60 percent of companies will likely miss the deadline.

    Unfortunately, the consequences of this could be catastrophic: fines up to €20 million or 4 percent of a business’ global annual revenue, whichever is greater. 

    At Trellist, we’re recommending that organizations start their compliance efforts by creating a data privacy team lead by a data privacy officer (DPO) to oversee GDPR activities and raise awareness; if you do not already have this in place, do it fast. The DPO should review current security and privacy processes in place and, where applicable, revise contracts with third parties and customers to meet the requirements of the GDPR. They should also focus on these eight key areas of compliance that affects web properties. 

     

    The Eight Areas of GDPR Compliance for Your Website

    The first steps of a complex journey are sometimes the most difficult, and GDPR compliance is no different. Follow these guidelines to help your business fulfill all the requirements: 

    • Step 1: Active Consent. Provide a website overlay that ‘follows’ the user on every page of the website until accepted. Provide an active consent on the overlay and keep that consent for 45 days to 1 year; when the consent expires, the overlay should appear again.
    • Step 2: Clear Cookie Language. Provide a link to the cookie policy that has user friendly language. Develop a separate cookie policy page since the privacy policy could contain legalese. Explain the types of non-essential cookies that you use for ads and tracking, how you use that information, and if that information is shared with third parties.
    • Step 3: Refine Your Data Collection Process. Identify the Personally Identifiable Information (PII)/Personal Data that is being collected and analyze how this information is being processed, stored, retained, and deleted. You will also need to assess the processes with third-party vendors with whom you disclose data.
    • Step 4: Provide an Easy Way to Opt Out. The opt-out process should be simple for users. You can streamline their ability to opt out from non-essential cookies by categorizing types of cookies and providing an opt-in/opt-out mechanism for each.
    •  Step 5: Meet User Requests for Information and Changes. Establish procedures to respond to users when they exercise their rights to request information. Provide a clear way for users to contact you to request information collected, a mechanism for users to provide changes to their information, and have an internal process to correct their information in all locations.
    • Step 6: Communicate a Data Breach. Consider a Dark Site for crisis communication in the event of a data breach; you can make the Dark Site live if and when needed. If a breach/unauthorized access of personal data takes place that is likely to “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals,” the public must be notified within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.
    • Step 7: Communicate Changes. Consider proactive communication to customers to explain how your company is addressing privacy. This can be as simple as emailing customers to explain the new changes.
    • Step 8: Require Parental Consent for Children's Websites. Any website or industry that could cater to children under 16 years old will need to have child-friendly language and require parental consent.  If you do not cater to children, you may need to adjust your privacy policy to move your age of consent from 13 (as afforded under the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)) to 16 under GDPR.
     

    We’ve helped organizations large and small with their GDPR compliance roadmap. Let us help you figure out your next steps: enterprisetechnology@trellist.com.

    Disclaimer: Trellist does not legally represent our clients and we are not providing legal advice. The information conveyed through these recommendations is not intended to give legal advice, but instead communicate information to help you understand the basics of the topic.

  • Accessibility – Philosophy for Teams

    by Supraja John | May 16, 2018

    Accessibility is a philosophy that ensures a wide range of people are able to comprehend the content we create for businesses — even if they do not all access and experience the information in same way.

    This range of people include children, seniors, non-native speakers, and people with physical, cognitive, or sensory impairments.

    Nowadays, due to an increasing number of web accessibility lawsuits, there is more pressure to be accessible. In 2017, there was “an unprecedented number of website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal and state courts, and few courts [were] willing to grant early motions to dismiss.”*

    But creating accessible websites is not always easy.

    It seems easy to use available checklists of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and Section 508 standards, near end of projects to quickly try to pass QA. But implementing these changes at the end of a project — updating code, design, and content — wastes time and effort, and risks missed deadlines and budget overruns. And in the end, the results may not be helpful enough to improve the experience of the whole audience.

    This can cause businesses to conclude that accessible sites are hard to create, expensive, and even irrelevant to their targeted “normal” audience. But they should realize that there is no “normal” audience.

    Some may be situationally disabled. Imagine the plight of non-native speakers or new parents juggling a baby along with their already time-demanding lives trying to buy something from an ecommerce site. Or consider attendees at a crowded trade show trying to hear a speaker. They would undoubtedly prefer to have the information the speaker is giving on their phones to read at leisure, with the ability to follow up afterwards. And, consider the scenario of a person needing to perform financial transactions or dispute medical charges in a public environment — they would rather use online sites than speak with customer service on phone about their private information. 

    Some may be temporarily disabled. Imagine someone with an arm injury having to navigate sites with a single hand. Or temporary visual or auditory impairments that limit them from consuming videos or podcasts. Imagine suffering from a sore throat which makes them more willing to use online sites and tools to finish their errands rather than talking with someone on phone.

    While it’s tempting for businesses to think that the situationally and temporarily impaired users don’t need to be catered to, some users are permanently disabled. They may be deaf, mute, blind, or physically or mentally impaired. They still have needs and desires to buy a product online or consume information in blog posts, videos, podcasts and other avenues that should be made accessible to them. 


    More accessible experiences benefit people at several levels of disability.

    How does Trellist work with a philosophy of accessibility?

    Trellist shares this philosophy. Team members from various backgrounds such as project management, content, ux, creative, tech, and QA consider accessibility from start to end of a project.  

    To also ensure this philosophy is at the core of the team’s work, an accessibility-focused individual is placed in the team to guide, focus, and educate where needed from project scope till production. Focusing on users with various levels of temporary and permanent impairments helps us derive inclusive solutions that are beneficial to the situationally-impaired users as well. 

    At different stages of each project, we consider various representations of audience. We imagine them going through different disabilities — permanent, temporary, and situational. We try to empathize and evaluate whether any of the designed content could cause confusion to various types of audiences.

    Although there is much discussion among team members on different ways to present content, there is a shared goal which is clear to all team members. Thus, every decision is made in unity despite the diversity — quickly, effectively, and efficiently.

    We derive solutions that are best fit for the audience, project timeline, budget, and the business's goals and needs.

    For more information, please contact us at enterprisetechnology@trellist.com.

    *Vu, Minh N., and Susan Ryan. “2017 Website Accessibility Lawsuit Recap: A Tough Year for Businesses.” ADA Title III News & Insights, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 2 Jan. 2018, www.adatitleiii.com/2018/01/2017-website-accessibility-lawsuit-recap-a-tough-year-for-businesses.

  • 7 Tips to Optimize Your B2B Product Detail Page

    by Victoria silow | May 09, 2018

    Trellist_Blog_productpages_v2-01

    Think about how you, as a consumer, make an online purchase. You probably know what you want and may have a product category in mind that fits your need. However, there are likely many different products available. So you do a search or visit your favorite online mega-retailer’s website to check out the product options for a potential match. What you find will ultimately influence your decision and make or break the sale for that brand.

    Virtually the same dynamic exists in the B2B space between manufacturers and their end customers, and your marketing efforts should be focused on meeting customers’ needs in much the same way. There are many ways to nurture a potential buyer through the sales funnel, but swaying their decision to purchase your product over a multitude of other options may come down to the strength of your product detail page. Having details about your product gets you in the game as a potential provider, but the strength of those details and the way you present them is ultimately what drives the conversion. Getting these pages right should be among your top priorities as a product marketer.

    These seven tips and tricks will help you identify areas to focus on, with steps you can take to make each of these elements a little better.

    1. Consider search volume when naming products and product pages

      When you’re naming a product and the related product detail page, consider the search volume for the term you’re using. Tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner offer an easy (and free) way to identify closely related words and phrases that may be more popular among your customers based on search volume. Every term in your keyword planner will have a “more like this” button; click it to reveal even more potential keywords to use for your product name and product page title.

    2. Use the right keywords in product descriptions

      These same keywords should be fodder for your product descriptions. They’ll help your pages appear higher in search results and also spark recognition among customers who have those keywords in mind when searching for products like yours. However, always remember to write for a human audience, not a robotic one—even if SEO is an important part of your product marketing strategy. You’ll never out-game the search engine algorithms, so write descriptions that will engage the customers you’ve identified in your 1:1 marketing playbook.

    3. Include FAQs on the page to help users troubleshoot

      You’ve heard all the questions about your product before. Whether they’ve been fielded by your customer service team, discussed at a trade show booth, or expressed through an online contact form, you likely have a list of frequently asked questions at the ready. How does your product work? What comes in the box? What are the dimensions? All of these questions have been answered before, and providing them on the product detail page in the form of an FAQ section is another way to market all of the important aspects of the product. You should also provide an option for asking any questions that haven’t been answered, which is a great way to field additional market research about what’s important to your customers.

    4. Tell a story with videos and images

      Product detail pages are chock-full of information, but they don’t yet replace seeing and experiencing a product in person. The right images and videos can tell your product’s story in a way that helps bridge the gap between the real world and virtual one. These images and videos can focus on features that aren’t apparent in written descriptions, functionality that may not be obvious, or comparisons to existing methods that show how your offering is superior. People love a story, and this is your chance to tell a visual one about your product.

    5. Build the brand promise into the description

      Speaking of stories, the product detail page is also a place to tell your brand story and reiterate your brand promise. Since people may be deep-linking into your page from a search engine, they may not know much about your brand before they get there. The product description is your chance to talk about quality, guarantees, speed, and anything else that may set your product and your company apart from the competition.

    6. Maximize opportunities for conversion

      The product detail page is one of the last steps in the sales funnel, so you should do just that—SELL. Make sure it’s filled with call-to-action language and is clear about what the customer needs to do to purchase, including obvious buttons and streamlined order forms. You should also A/B test the varying colors, sizes, and call-to-action language to see how performance changes. Just be sure to change only one variable at a time to pinpoint what improves performance.

    7. Put away the cookie-cutter content

      Creating content for the product detail page is not the time to cut and paste; in fact, doing so will do more harm than good when all of your products start to run together in your customers’ minds. These pages should be unique and help differentiate the features and function of the product offering. Creating unique content can be challenging if you have a large number of products to define. If this is the case, focus on the top products first, and work your way to less popular products if and when resources allow.

    At Trellist, we help brands define their merchandising strategy and then implement it across a variety of channels, including product detail pages. We’re happy to share our best practices if you need help refining your approach.

    To start the conversation, contact us at digital@trellist.com.

  • What Marketing Automation Can’t Automate

    by Renee Cohen | Jan 17, 2018

    We’re about 10 years past marketing automation’s advent, so most business leaders are familiar with the ROI to be gained in automating top- and mid-funnel marketing touchpoints. But while 40-50% of companies have invested in an automation platform,1 a staggering 85% percent of B2B organizations report not using their platform to its full potential.2

    The propensity for underutilization starts even before purchasing an automation tool for your business. I recently met with an old colleague who confided that the B2B tech start-up he works for was trying to address their lead generation pipeline problem, and they had identified “marketing automation” as the solution. So I started to ask questions about their marketing maturity and process. Almost immediately red flags popped up, and it became clear that they weren’t ready to launch into the RFP process to select a marketing automation vendor.

    “Slow down” or “not yet” are often unpopular phrases in business, but sometimes slowing down and considering the business challenge more carefully is what is needed to avoid costly errors in selecting technology.  I know first-hand as a marketer how easy it is to geek-out on improved visibility and reduction in tedious tasks promised by marketing automation. I was a beta customer power user for Hubspot in their infancy. I trained our marketing programs team on Eloqua. I love the closed-loop insights and enhanced productivity the technology provides, but I’ve also experienced that the effort to stand up and direct a marketing automation platform is often underestimated.

    This is a cartoon image of a business leader presenting the simplicity of marketing automation.

    It is more complex than configuring a new system and pressing a button to start generating and nurturing leads. While that statement sounds patronizing, and most marketing leaders understand there’s more to it than that, almost every organization I’ve worked with has blind spots to areas of their marketing lifecycle that need further development. And a piece of new technology will not solve those gaps.

    Put simply: Strategy and planning cannot be automated.

    Before you make your marketing automation investment, consider what the technology will not solve for you:

    • Knowing in detail who your ideal buyer is. And in more complicated sales cycles, who the influencers are. This requires research and auditing both internally and externally.
    • Knowing what your audience responds to at various stages of decision making. Marketing automation can facilitate testing to understand this better, but the hypotheses of what tools/content to test require expertise and must be input into the system.
    • Building the communications roadmap. What are the mini actions you want your lead to take before they’re ready for human contact from a sales team? What is your sales team telling you about the objections and education challenges they hear when they first get someone on the phone?
    • Creating the content. Not just the emails and landing pages themselves, but the offers, tools, insights, demonstrations, validation, education, coaching, etc. that will build up to the ultimate action you want your audience to take. Additionally, you should plan to regularly reevaluate content to keep it fresh and relevant.
    • Developing the content and workflows in the system. This is taking the entire plan that you currently have in place “manually” and enhancing it, personalizing the right content and touchpoints for the right type of lead.

    Failure to document the insights and the rollout plan prior to investment means that all those amazing features you were pitched by the automation vendor cannot be realized for your organization. I’ve seen Fortune 1000-sized companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on their marketing automation tool to use it as a glorified email marketing system (and sometimes build WYSIWYG landing pages with forms).

    The most underutilized marketing automation features are lead scoring and targeting communications (both email triggered and dynamic web content) based on web tracking.3 Lead scoring fails if you have only a generic understanding of your buyer. This should go beyond the most obvious industry and job title questions that can be added to a lead gen form. Looking at your top customers, retroactively piece together all the touchpoints and activities – both marketing and sales team activities – that occurred prior to sale. By measuring content consumption and interest indicators, you can tailor communications for the lead not just based on what they filled out in the form or clicked on in an email, but also based on where they go on your website as a returning visitor 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks later. You can also be more judicious about when the lead is assigned to your sales team, which optimizes their time to be spent on leads that are more engaged and informed.

    But neither of these features can be implemented and optimized without the human insights to craft the communications criteria. And paramount to the success of this entire venture is the content itself. The need for a constant stream of relevant, interesting, and persuasive content is one of the biggest roadblocks to a program’s success, as companies are often willing to invest in the tools, but not in the creative manpower.

    The reality is that many organizations begin considering marketing automation when they feel their marketing team is overtaxed. Addressing these core considerations in-house requires even more time and headspace from an already overburdened marketing team. This is why 63% of companies outsource marketing automation strategy planning.4

    Trellist’s full service capabilities from Consulting to Marketing and Branding to Digital and Enterprise Technology allow our teams to work as an extension of our clients to ask the right questions that will set them up for success, build the tactical plan aligned to real data and insights, and create workflows and content that will improve the marketing and sales funnel. If you want to learn more about our experience in marketing automation and content marketing, please contact my colleague Neil Dougherty to begin the conversation.

    1 https://azslide.com/demand-generation-adoption-survey_59aac2441723dd8b061f4f1a.html

    2 https://www.siriusdecisions.com/blog/eight-is-not-enough-increasing-adoption-of-marketing-automation-platforms

    3 http://customerexperiencematrix.blogspot.com/2013/10/which-b2b-marketing-automation-features.html  

    4 http://ascend2.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Ascend2-Marketing-Technology-Trends-Survey-Summary-Report-161011.pdf

  • Looking Back: Our 2017 Social Business in Review

    by Andrew Kaiser | Jan 10, 2018

    While social media has forever changed how businesses and customers interact, social media marketing as a whole is constantly evolving. To ensure your brand’s content garners likes, comments, and shares, your strategy must shift with the industry’s latest trends.

    2017 was indeed a year of change, innovation, and, most importantly, growth for the Social Business pros at Trellist. Here’s what we were able to accomplish for our clients across healthcare, financial services, chemical manufacturing, and other industries:

    Social_Infographic_240x300-01 

    In addition to those highlighted metrics, we analyzed clicks, likes, comments, follows and more activity to understand what changed in 2017 and get a better feel for what’s coming in 2018. Here are a few of our key observations:

    • LinkedIn and Instagram grow faster than Facebook. Facebook continues to be the industry giant thanks to its massive user base and robust advertising platform, but other channels have begun to grow faster than Facebook, which could be approaching a saturation point.
      • LinkedIn was the fastest-growing channel for our clients in 2017. The professional social network has become a powerful tool for brand advocacy, talent acquisition, and eCommerce. In 2017 alone, we saw a 66% increase in engagement on LinkedIn. Across all social channels we manage and monitor, LinkedIn followers grew the most at 56% by year-end. In 2018, we expect to see continued growth in followership and engagement, aided by new tools and features for marketers as a result of Microsoft’s late-2016 acquisition.
      • Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012. While new features have been steadily announced and rolled out since the acquisition, 2017 was a pivotal year for Instagram.
      • While LinkedIn aligns itself with Business-to-Business strategies and Instagram with Business-to-Consumer, their growth signals significant shifts in the social media landscape.

    • The continued decrease of organic reach. While our clients’ organic reach held steady throughout 2017, Facebook continues to throttle how many users see brand posts for free. This underscores the need for a consistent paid social media strategy across all industries.

    • Content consumption becomes increasingly mobile. This year, mobile sessions surpassed desktop, increasing each month. Content and text should be optimized for mobile first, as we predict mobile will continue to surpass desktop browsers as the most popular place to consumer content.

    Social media continues to be a disruptor. While significant changes within the landscape are rare—such as a new channel launching—new features for customers and advertisers alike result in customers using platforms in new ways. As a result, evaluating annual trends and testing strategies based on expanded functionality and trending behaviors becomes critical to brand growth.

    Click here to see more of our work and contact us.

  • 8 Tips for Making the Most of Your Trade Show Investment

    by Victoria Silow | Dec 19, 2017

    Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to mingle with customers and prospects, soak in thought leadership, and bring home an avalanche of new leads and potentially win new business. If you’re planning to exhibit at an industry event, all of these benefits are possible. Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss out on most of these opportunities and watch helplessly as your ROI plummets if you don’t prepare properly.

    Exhibiting at a trade show is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. It starts with building a strategy that rolls up to your organizational goals, supported by tactics that some of your fellow exhibitors may not have considered.

    At Trellist, we’ve helped clients in the Fortune 1000 refine their approach to trade shows to make a bigger impact, from attracting new prospects at the top of the funnel to showcasing their thought leadership in front of industry decision makers.


    Making the Most of Your Trade Show Investment

    The following tips have been taken and distilled down from strategies that have worked for our clients:

    Tip 1: Have Clear Objectives in Mind

    As they say, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. In order to assess the success of your trade show experience, you must have clear objectives in mind before you ever leave the office. Do you want to position your CEO as a thought leader through a keynote appearance? Is your goal to drive lead-generation through your booth? Are you launching a new product or fielding market research? Regardless of what the goal is, you should have it clearly in mind along with a plan to capture and measure results.

    Tip 2: Market Before, During, and After the Show

    Your marketing efforts for the trade show should start well before the exhibit hall opens. You should be marketing your presence there through the appropriate digital channels—on your website, through email, social, and the other online watering holes where you’re likely to find your audience. If you’re a sponsor at the show, you’ll likely receive an opportunity to reach registered attendees before the show through a blast sent out by the show organizers, inclusion of your materials in attendee bags, and more. Don’t waste these opportunities.

    At the show, make sure you have a publicly posted list of activities and events happening at your booth. This will entice people to come back.

    After the show, the real work of engaging and nurturing the leads you captured begins. Continual outreach is important to help reinforce your company’s value proposition and awareness for your products and services. At Trellist, we’ve helped clients avoid much of the heavy lifting around these efforts by helping them build a nurturing strategy fueled by thought leadership content and executing through a CRM and marketing automation tool.

    Tip 3: Double Down and Cut Out What Doesn’t Work

    There’s no need to attend every industry trade show. We understand that this can be a scary thought for veteran exhibitors used to having a presence at every event, but the alternative is worse: instead of making a big splash at a key show, you’ll be doomed to a lackluster presence at many shows. Rather than spread your budget too thin across multiple shows, the better strategy is to double down on the most important one. Reallocate your budget and use it to capture additional opportunities at that key show that you may have otherwise missed out on.

    No one remembers the bit player who served as the supporting actor in hundreds of movies throughout his or her career, but you can be sure the audience remembers the breakout star in last year’s summer blockbuster. That’s the impact you’re trying to make at a trade show.

    Tip 4: Location, Location, Location

    If you follow the advice in Tip 3 and save your budget for one or two big shows, you’ll have more flexibility with your booth size and location. You don’t want the 10x10 at the back of the hall. Instead, you should target larger booth spaces at:

    • The entrance of the exhibit hall
    • Near show sponsors and other activities
    • Near or in the pathway to bathrooms and food vendors
    • Away from your competitors

    For shows in the United States, the back left corner of the show floor is a dead zone. Visitors are used to driving on the right side of the road and reading left-to-right, so traffic naturally flows in this direction on the exhibit floor.

    Tip 5: Create Energy in and Around the Booth

    It’s human nature that we’re attracted to novelty and things that stimulate our senses. You should keep this in mind when deciding how to build and stage your booth. Tactics like interesting lighting, music, giveaways, and demonstrations will get visitors to linger long enough for you to give your 30-second elevator pitch before they’re off to the next booth.

    A client ran with this idea by including a small oven in their booth and baked chocolate chip cookies during the entire show. The smell was so delicious, patrons couldn’t ignore it. (Of course, the requisite disclaimer is to always follow the exhibit hall rules for what you can and can’t do at the show).

    Tip 6: What Would You Say You Do Here?

    So many companies fall into the trap of making their value proposition indecipherable to casual visitors who wander by the booth. What you do should be clearly stated on your booth, so that it catches the attention of even the shyest visitor who may not want to make eye contact with your booth rep. People cruise around trade show floors with one or two “must visit” booths in mind, and simply pick up treats and tchotchkes at the rest. If you have a billboard-worthy slogan that clearly states “we do this for you,” you just may catch a new customer that would have otherwise walked on by. Make sure that statement clearly indicates how you can help them perform better or solve a common pain point in your industry.

    Tip 7: Get Your Best People Out Front

    You’re at the trade show for a purpose—to drive your business forward. To do that, you need your best company representatives in, and preferably around and in front of, your booth. They should be engaging with visitors as they walk by, breaking the ice with questions and offering insights. While the glitz and glam of the booth can help stop them, your representatives should have a high level of subject matter expertise to properly represent your brand.

    Naturally you’ll think of your top salespeople for this opportunity, which may be the right fit. However, don’t discount the idea of bringing a customer service representative, product designer, or an engineer. Your subject matter experts exist in every department and have something to offer customers. As an added bonus, attending a trade show helps these team members develop a broader perspective on the industry, your competitors, and what matters most to customers.

    Tip 8: Don’t Let Leads Linger

    Finally, make sure you follow up on leads shortly after the show, ideally in the first five business days after you return. This includes both leads that came through the booth and contacts you made with people on a more personal level during networking events and standing in line for coffee. If you wait much longer than a week, the memory of who you are and what you do will fade. Again, to reiterate our point on marketing after the show in Tip 2, your follow-up and nurturing efforts should include multiple touchpoints, since one “thank you for visiting the booth” may not be sticky enough. Customers and prospects need to see your message multiple times in order to remember it.

    Whether you’re a trade show veteran or coordinating your first show, Trellist is here to help turn these general tips into a customized strategy for your organization.

    To learn more about how Trellist can help you get the most out of your trade show investments, please contact Victoria Silow

  • How To Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Business Processes

    by Lori Palmer | Dec 13, 2017

    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your most significant pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? Let’s evaluate an enterprise B2B through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    How to deploy a corporate digital strategy

    For this article, we will explore Business Processes, specifically focusing upon a business’ primary objective of getting product to customers. This includes quoting for new business, order processing, production scheduling, inventory management, and shipping. For brevity, this article will not explore secondary processes such as onboarding new employees, regulatory reporting, and the like.

    Order fulfillment is comprised of four key processes: demand planning, inventory management, supply chain execution, and logistics. Integration of these workflows is critical. The sales order management software must connect with the ERP (financial) platform, which is integrated with inventory management. Packing and shipping details that flow into the logistics platform will be integrated into the system.

    Enterprise systems must be employee-centric where required data is reliable and easily accessed. The solution should also align with corporate goals and accelerate progress toward those goals. Establishing a single, integrated structure will enable your business to:

    • Increase tracking and visibility of orders
    • Automate the workflows between quote to order to ship
    • Tailor business approvals for complex orders
    • Improve margins by optimizing and streamlining the process
    • Calculate sales commissions
    • Deliver on time

    Trellist works with its clients to uncover disconnects between platforms, manual or paper-based processes, sub-optimal software utilization, and errors when completing orders. As part of our discovery process, we delve into the following topics to understand better where we can make significant improvements:

    • Is your information stored on multiple, disparate platforms?
    • Are you meeting your customers’ needs on time and in full?
    • Is your data timely and accurate?
    • Which processes are manual or distributed throughout the team?
    • What is the utilization rate of your CRM platform?
    • Are your reporting tools easy to use?
    • Can any manager self-serve to gather insights?
    • Is your business operating on one version of the truth?
    • Do you have on-the-go access to data via mobile devices?

    Trellist's technology leaders, skilled application developers, and experienced business analysts collaborate with clients from strategy through implementation of transformative technology solutions. Our capabilities span integration of large platforms, application-platform interface development, CRM optimization, data management, and business analytics. We work across a variety of software platforms and can make recommendations based upon an evaluation of your current systems, current and future needs, economics, in-house capabilities, and support strategies.

    The Trellist methodology incorporates a discovery phase to understand your unique business goals and challenges. Discovery is critical to success as it raises the awareness of areas for improvement. The joint project team would then agree priorities that, once solved, will deliver the most value to the business. Trellist can then work up an implementation plan with key milestones and the associated resources needed to achieve results. This approach to a solution provides continual improvement over time, which is less disruptive to daily operations.

    Using a consultative approach, we guide our clients on how best to scope your digital project’s requirements for maximum value. Once the project is underway, this consultation will keep the project on track and quickly address issues through robust internal communications and change management principles. If you see opportunities to improve your core processes, Trellist can deliver digital solutions that will bring value to your business—without turning it upside down.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • Why Migrating to the Cloud Improves Website Performance

    by Nick Cohen and Primus Poppiti | Nov 17, 2017

    For many organizations, the benefits of migrating all or part of their infrastructure to the cloud is no longer in doubt. The looming questions, however, center around how and when to do it, and exactly what should be moved to the cloud or remain on-premises. Done right, you’ll reap the performance enhancements and cost-cutting that the cloud promises; done wrong, and your migration will break key parts of your infrastructure and bring the business to a screeching halt.

    As a best practice, your migration strategy should include the following components:

    • A plan to assess your current performance and requirements, step-by-step details for the actual cloud migration, and a way to manage and optimize once you’re there.
    • A method for capturing the data for the apps you want to move before building your plan.
    • Deep analysis of that data to ensure that your performance meets requirements—which will make the migration seamless for your customers.

    At Trellist, we see many organizations consider a move to the cloud for their website or ecommerce site at two key points in their history:

    1. When it’s time for license renewals.
    2. During a brand refresh or brand rollout.

    Both milestones are good opportunities to reassess and consider migration. Since the cloud allows you to scale up and scale down your available resources to meet your performance needs in real-time, it’s a better option than incurring a fixed cost of a new license for systems you may not need—plus the maintenance and security issues of maintaining your site on-premises. If your brand is undergoing a refresh or rollout, it’s also a smart option since the cloud can help you provide a better customer experience and customer service.

    The Cloud Gives Marketers More Control

    The right solution can be transformative to your business. As both Microsoft—and—Sitefinity certified partners, the team at Trellist is helping marketers navigate the intersection of marketing and technology to find the right platforms for their brand, without being bogged down by the minutiae that often create a roadblock to successful migration.

    We’ve seen marketing teams use the cloud to unlock their workflow. There are new waves and versions of content management systems (CMS), empowered by the cloud, that essentially eradicate internal workflow processing bottlenecks—even for globally-distributed teams. By moving this workflow from an on-premises environment to the cloud, it reduces traffic internally. It can still be done with a single sign-on, so it looks like your environment and implements the same security protocols. This makes it easy for your team to use the CMS to do everything a marketer needs to do to support an ecommerce website—from managing content and tracking traffic to analyzing performance and shaping the customer journey.

    cloud migration optimizing performance and marketing for eCommerce

    Migrating to the Cloud in Action: Two Examples

    At Trellist, we help organizations move to the cloud to support a variety of business goals. The following two examples may help you envision your own cloud migration and how it can help you reach your objectives faster and more cost-efficiently:

    Trellist has been the prime developer for an international swimsuit company, increasing online revenue over the last 5 years by over 400%. As their online revenue grew, there was increased demand on their internal infrastructure, where they hosted both enterprise systems and the ecommerce website. We helped to stand up a new cloud environment and successfully migrated the ecommerce website and its processes to this scalable environment. We established a secure and seamless method of data transfer between the ecommerce website and the enterprise systems, which are still hosted on premise. Moving customer-facing applications, like their ecommerce system, provided a scalable model without additional need for internal IT resources while reducing infrastructure costs.

    Trellist is also the prime designer and developer for a new corporate website and ecommerce site for an international aerospace parts and chemical compounds distributor. The new websites will be hosted in a cloud environment to reduce costs and gain scalability as the websites grow. We helped to build a new cloud environment for the new websites, scalable to the business’ demands. We also set up and configured all Sitefinity website content management software and deployed the new website into this environment. Together both the cloud environment and Sitefinity provides a seamless experience for their internal, international marketing team to make updates to the website and market to their end customer.

    Is a Migration to the Cloud in Your Future?

    The most effective cloud migration will be the one that meets the specific needs of your organization. The beauty and promise of the cloud is its scalability, always-on availability, better security, and streamlined workflows for your team. If you’re at one of those key inflection points in your organizational history—either a license renewal or brand rollout—it may be time to consider migrating your websites or ecommerce sites to the cloud.

    The two use cases highlighted here are good examples of the benefits you can expect when working with Trellist for your cloud migration. Some of the benefits are inherent to the migration itself—such as better scalability and security, seamless content management for your team, and the reduced costs associated with no longer managing your resources on-premises. However, the real value will never be realized without the right migration strategy, implementation, and ongoing optimization.

    It’s like having a fast race car ready to tear around the track without someone who knows how to drive it. If you’re ready to move to the cloud, Trellist can help you realize its promise for better performance and an unparalleled customer experience at a lower total costs of ownership.

    To learn more about our approach, contact Nick and Primus

  • How to Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Customer Interface

    by Lori Palmer | Sep 27, 2017

    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your biggest pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? 

    Digital Strategy for a B2B Enterprise

    Let’s evaluate an enterprise B2B through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    In this second article of a four-part series, we will explore the Customer Interface. Within your business, this includes Sales, Marketing, Product Managers, Applications and Technical Support, Customer Service Representatives, and similar titles. When we interview our clients to discover their pain points, we find they are able to describe the companies they sell to and have sufficient data to analyze their own sales performance. They are also able to describe the market, competitors, and macro trends that impact their position. However, access to—and analysis of—unstructured data that provides insights into the customer buying process is often limited.

    Being able to analyze your customers’ purchasing behaviors and interactions can guide your touch points at every step in the sales process. Providing insights and value at each stage can not only set your offering apart from competitors but also lead to up-selling, cross-selling, increased loyalty, and stickiness for your brand. Medallia’s analysis quantifies the value of exemplary customer experience and shows how it can double your revenue when compared to a poor customer experience. See The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified August 1, 2014, HBR.org.

    Our goal is to help you realize an unsurpassed customer experience that delights and achieves loyalty through knowing, fulfilling, measuring, and continuously improving real-time service that creates customer value better than your competitors. Here are some topics we ask our clients to rank when we are considering how best to digitize their Customer Interface:

    • Focus on the customer first and prioritize customer experience in aligned marketing and sales strategies.
    • Real-time customer data is available to us.
    • Utilize personas and journey mapping to understand purchasing behavior, define the content, and determine in which channels to engage our targeted audiences with a value proposition that resonates.
    • Digital strategy includes the important value chain players & partners.
    • Content marketing is the cornerstone of our campaigns and varies based on customer/prospect activity, i.e. their position in the buying process.
    • Technical questions on product application, pre- and post-sale, are quickly addressed and captured for future analysis.

    Understanding the depth and utilization of the above capabilities provides a foundation upon which to build. A digitally enabled Customer Interface delivers accurate information in a timely manner, is easy to use, and provides your customers the opportunity to self-serve–all of which enhance their experience with your organization. If you see opportunities to improve your customer experience, Trellist can help you optimize the use of your tools and platforms, as well as ensure culture adoption through change management, business process development, and data analysis. Our recommendation is to start with a self-funding pilot project that tackles a critical internal need to ensure that quick wins can maintain momentum and adoption. Our next article will explore how to digitize Business Processes in order to deliver value.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • How to Deploy a Corporate Digital Strategy Without Turning Your Business Upside Down: Operations

    by Lori Palmer | Aug 24, 2017
    How does a manufacturing organization deploy a corporate digital strategy without turning its business upside down? Where is the best place to start? How long will this take and what’s the price tag? How much revenue lift can I expect? At Trellist, we are asked these questions on a frequent basis from our clients. The answer, as you probably expect, is “it depends.”

    Corporate digital strategy for a b2b enterprise

    Let’s first define a corporate digital strategy as a means to establishing a unified, connected information system that enables an organization to access one version of the truth. This system encompasses content on your products and services, customer buying insights, product availability, manufacturing capability, and new product development information. Unfortunately, there is no blueprint that works for every organization as the complexity of operations, internal skills, and market conditions vary greatly. However, there are best practices and methodologies that can be followed to ensure you get value from your investment. This series of articles will explore how to organize—and stay on task—for future success with your digital strategy.

    For large, enterprise organizations it makes sense to start with your biggest pain point. In other words, what part of the organization has the most opportunity to improve and impact your go-to-market efficiency? Let’s evaluate a manufacturing B2B enterprise through four distinct lenses: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access.

    In this article, we will explore Operations. Most of our clients agree that a digital strategy for their manufacturing operations will be critical to maintain competitiveness. Their senior leadership is also aligned to this viewpoint. What is missing? A cohesive vision and an executable strategy. Let’s get started on where your opportunities might be so you can build up a set of actions that will underpin your vision and ultimately deliver value to your company.

    At Trellist, we work across a wide variety of software platforms and are able to make recommendations based upon an evaluation of your current systems, future needs, economics, in-house capabilities, and support strategies. Here are some preliminary topics to explore:

    • What platforms are you currently using across the organization?
    • What is the existing level of connectivity and compatibility?
    • Can your platforms provide you the insights your managers need to make decisions?
    • What are your monthly, weekly, daily, and real-time data needs?
    • Is the system easy to use? Does it require your employees to become “power users”?
    • Does your manufacturing platform connect with marketing, sales, and new product launch platforms for seamless customer data integration?
    • Are your platforms expandable and adaptable for future needs?
    • Is there consistency among the data within your systems or are there multiple systems providing competing insights?

    Having smooth connectivity across processes can reduce costs during production as well as enhance your position as a supplier. Your customer experience can be significantly impacted by on-time delivery of a high quality product. Moving to cost leadership quickly via automation can also deliver value in a competitive market. However, even more compelling would be to analyze a product’s entire life cycle for hard evidence of profitability at every stage. This is where the magic happens. Analyzing this data will provide insights into design cost, scale-up cost, time to market for a new product, comparisons between “as designed” to “as made,” and value in use vs. earlier product versions. These moves will drive you toward better asset utilization and market responsiveness, i.e. performance factors that far outweigh variable cost improvements.

    If you believe Operations is the area where you can gain the most go-to-market efficiency, the first set of actions you take will depend upon your answers to the above questions. Our recommendation is to start with a self-funding pilot project and then tackle a critical need to ensure the quick wins can maintain momentum. Our next article will explore how to digitalize the Customer Interface to deliver value.

    Want to learn more? Read the rest of our Digital Strategy for Enterprise B2B series covering topics, such as: (1) Operations, (2) Customer Interface, (3) Business Processes, and (4) Data Access. If you have questions or would like to learn how Trellist can impact your business with a Digital Strategy, please contact Trellist Consulting.

  • Setting the Foundations: Why Discovery Matters

    by Kris Kuss & Marc Icasiano | Aug 03, 2017

    The case for a robust discovery process before beginning design/development projects.

    Imagine a house that’s beautiful from the outside but, once you cross the threshold, you find the floorplan is all wrong, the rooms are too small, and the windows are too high to reach.  

    It takes time and thought to develop the layout and “experience” of such an interior so that it meets the expectations and needs of the people who enter. No matter how spectacular the exterior is, if the internal experience doesn’t deliver, the whole thing is a failure. 

    It’s the same in our business. We’d be doing a disservice to our clients if we started design and development without defining the experience they want to provide. That’s why it’s important to undergo a robust discovery process that sets the stage for smarter design and development choices. 

    The objectives of this discovery process are to:

    • Understand the brand
    • Understand the business
    • Understand the audience

    Once we understand a client’s brand, business, and audience, everything from that point forward aligns with the client’s unique needs; there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

    The discovery process informs Business and User Requirements, the Customer Experience Strategy, and the Brand Platform. The benefit of this is that the different members of the team contributing to the final product remain aligned and grounded in consistent foundations. At each stage of the design and development process, we can refer back to these guidelines to ensure we are remaining true to what we set out to do.

    Understanding the brand, business and audience ensures that the project goals are fulfilled across all design aspects

    Having guidelines and constantly checking back with them produces a better end product. Clients directly benefit from this process of constant validation, since it ensures that:

    • Clients are making the most of their budgets and not paying for features they don’t need.
    • Everything in the final product has a purpose that fits their unique needs.
    • Goals and deliverables set at the beginning of the project are met at the end.
    • The final product fits into the client’s overall communications strategy; reinforcing a consistent customer experience across all channels.

    We have found that the last point is particularly valuable to our clients because the results of the discovery process can be used for reference in future endeavors. The customer experience strategy, in particular, can serve as a foundation for other cross-channel communications: email campaigns, landing pages, extranets, print pieces, and any other customer touchpoints.

    In addition to ensuring the success of a one-off engagement, the discovery process has far-reaching benefits that extend beyond any single initiative. It’s also an opportunity for clients to take a step back and see their business from the eyes of their customers. With this perspective, it is clear how the house’s floorplan should be laid out, how large the rooms should be, and how the windows should be placed.
  • Three Ways to Connect With a Millennial Customer Base

    by Claire Concowich | May 05, 2017
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    Millennials are a growing segment of consumers—making up more than a quarter of the US population—thus forcing marketers to change their game in order to stay ahead. They’ve completely reshaped the marketplace. Check out some of our best tips for keeping up with these 83.1 million consumers:

    1. Their smartphone is everything; information has to be readily accessible via mobile
      The quickest way to lose a Millennial audience is a bad mobile experience—poorly designed apps included. The 86 percent of American Millennials who own a smartphone spend an average of 18 hours on their device each week. Meaning, when they are struck with the notion of researching a product, the phone comes out and they start Googling, checking out social media, or texting trusted resources—friends, family, or that one trend-setter who always seems to be ahead of the curve.

      The key is to convey your message quickly and effectively, otherwise interest will be lost. Clean, responsive touchpoints accessible anywhere, anytime is the crux to locking them in after initial interest.

    2. Hell hath no fury like a Millennial scorned
      Social media and mobile technology have changed the communication landscape: not only are you able to lose a customer as a result of tone-deafness, but that loss now has a domino effect that simply did not exist before. For example, United Airlines stock dropped $1.4 billion in one day after the ‘passenger removal’ video took over social media. Pepsi had to pull its recent television ad, featuring Kendall Jenner giving a police officer a Pepsi.

      Large scale, viral disapproval isn’t the only thing brands need to be wary of. With popular social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Google, etc., Millennials are actively sharing their feedback and checking these sites for reviews from their peers when making decisions about travel, product purchases, and everything in between. It’s not enough for brands to say they have the best product or the lowest prices, now their customers have to say it for them.

    3. Millennials don’t want to be “sold” to
      Traditional ads are no longer resonating with the millennial audience. Millennials are cautious, educated, savvy, and motivated to learn more. In fact, their appetite to learn more is to your advantage. Engage them in the conversation. It takes effort to build trust, so don’t take it for granted if you have a loyal fan base.

    Once Millennials feel like a partner, they are eager to share and promote products and services of value. Brands such as Netflix, GoPro, Wendy’s, and Pampers have built entire communities using social media. They know the best way to resonate with Millennials is to engage with them—an engaged audience is an invested audience, after all.

    Millennials don’t have all the answers, but they do know how to find them. Making sure your brand/company/service is accessible, trusted and forthcoming is the secret to reaching success in this marketplace. Millennials don’t want to be openly sold to, they want to be informed and educated about their options. By continuously engaging Millennials with innovative and relevant information that adds true value, you gain their respect and their business.

    Sources: Phoenix Business Journal, Pew Research CenterFortune, Business Insider, MarketingCharts


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