Insights

  • How Trellist’s workhome benefits clients and employees

    by Zach Losco | Oct 17, 2018
    Illustrating Trellist's workhome

    At Trellist, we operate in a sociable, personal, and professional environment—what we call a workhome—where we strive to meet each other on common ground and that serves our clients and employees. 

    A workhome is a place where our employees feel safe and respected and where collaboration and free discussion are encouraged. It’s where they are unfettered by the trappings of a typical corporate hierarchy and can self-manage, because they exhibit strong judgment and work based on clearly communicated foundations. 

    This environment allows us to develop and maintain more sociable relationships than you may find in a standard politics-laden office environment and to compartmentalize between serious business and friendship mindsets so that work is always keenly prioritized. This, in turn, creates strong bonds. Our shared bonds not only make the environment more kind and enjoyable, but it also means that clients are working with people who are passionate about those they work with and are committed to doing right by them. 

    When it comes to creating a workhome, accountability, emotional intelligence, and social maturity are priorities. These are in addition to the high standard of expertise we seek when bringing potential employees through our doors for an interview.

    Trellist’s workhome environment encourages employees to be vocal and set their own boundaries with each other in an authentic, sociable manner. It also equips them to actively engage with each other according to their interests and personalities, in a way that transcends typical strict departmental architectures. This builds true relationships among our employees. And it also enables critical problem solving and an environment akin to a “teaching hospital,” where employees experience accelerated learning on any number of topics, supplementing their inherent talent and expertise. Every person becomes additive, enriching the collective whole. And because we realize this kind of environment isn’t for everyone, there are seldom hard feelings when something doesn’t work out long term.

    Our clients benefit from our workhome because we’re completely agile and can quickly pivot to complete projects much faster and, many times, at a lower cost than other companies. This leads to smoother communication, fewer project bottlenecks, and a greater degree of efficiency and efficacy for all concerned. We think like business people to clearly understand your objectives, and we personally invest in the work as an extension of your team. 

    Here at Trellist, we believe that a workhome positively impacts the experience of our clients and our employees. Connect with us today to learn how you might fit into the picture.
     
  • Career Pathing: Employee Growth Benefits Our (and Your) Business

    by Zach Losco | Jun 20, 2018

    One reality of our shifting workforce [see 3 Ways Millennials Redefine Marketing] is that younger people think about careers differently from the older generations. Careers don’t consist of a single position at a single company with incremental raises and promotions. Rather, they tend to focus on pursuing a skillset or particular expertise, bouncing from organization to organization to develop depth and – naturally – better pay and benefits. This makes hiring at traditional companies run by traditional leadership and management theories tough: how do you hire for longevity while reality demonstrates that your workforce is likely to cycle every two-to-five years? At Trellist, we accomplish this through a practice called Career Pathing, which is central to how we approach growth at the architectural, products/services/solutions, and, of course, individual levels. 

    Career Pathing: Benefiting You and Your Business

    I started at Trellist as a business administrator, hired to help organize the CEO’s thoughts, document policies and processes, and take some of the more mundane and tactical work off the shoulders of key leaders. At the time, I was regarded as someone with potential who lacked field experience, but who could also challenge the organization’s thinking by bringing in a new perspective from a different line industry altogether (in another life, I worked as a real estate paralegal, and as a phone salesman before that). Within 6 months, I found myself in an administrative human resources position, an expertise I never once had considered prior, but which suited my innate skillsets and served as a means for broadening my experience. In the intervening years, I’ve held positions in acquisitions, employee advocacy, contract review, change management, general administration, events coordination, and even served as a sort of internal spokesperson.

    Not all of those roles suited me, and few were in line with where, as a 25 year old, I saw my career heading. All the same, I can say with surety that each position has sharpened my skills, improved my critical thinking and business sense, and contributed to who I am and what I do today. Besides contributing to my growth, they’ve also helped the company by filling in key positions that were unoccupied, saved us the cost of hiring new headcount, and ensured sustainability by training someone with deep ties to the Trellist ethos.

    In short, I’m an excellent example of the benefits of Career Pathing.

    Trying to explain the “what” and “how” of Career Pathing would merit its own blog post, so I’ll stick to the very basics here. Trellist’s structure and culture require an ongoing conversation between our employees and the company-at-large. These conversations lead us to understand individual wants and needs over time. By understanding those wants and needs, we can make moves (be they planned, on-demand, or opportunistic) to ensure personal growth and scalable company evolution. Career Pathing encompasses having those conversations, and making those moves in a way that the employee’s wants and needs more frequently converge with the organization’s vision. We’re an all-for-one, one-for-all organization; while we may not be able to accommodate every ambition, that mindset and Career Pathing conversations mean that we should always be trying to succeed collectively.

    The “why” of Career Pathing involves a number of factors, both practical and philosophical, the most obvious of which is, of course, staying relevant and competitive as an employer and retaining key employees. Any company has to have at least an inkling of this concept if they have any hope of success.

    But Career Pathing has its roots in Trellist’s Charter: to build wealth for our clients and employees, to create a workhome environment, and to do interesting work and projects. Specifically, I’ll focus on the idea of doing interesting work. At Trellist, we often hire lifelong learners who want to not only be engaged in doing the work they have today, but the work they’ll be doing years from now. With a space as varied and evolutionary as professional services, that means escaping the confines of linear promotion and understanding that you have more than a single path forward. We charge our leaders to serve the employees, and we do that by insisting on cross-function conversation when it comes to our people. The more the employees are served in their career paths, the more excited they tend to be in thinking like owners and empowering the company-at-large. This in turn allows the company to serve everyone (clients included) to the best of its ability.

    When the employees who understand what Trellist is all about are empowered, the company is in turn able to serve, protect, and cultivate its core values for the further benefit of our employees and clients. So Career Pathing isn’t just about attracting and retaining talent, it’s about making sustainability endemic to who we are, and pushes our culture of openness, engagement, and sustainable growth to kick into high gear – and that’s an ethos we look for in every employee.

    If this work environment sounds right for you and your career goals, then send us your resume at careers@trellist.com. We also apply this philosophy to the people we hire for our clients, so if your business could benefit from our help, let us know at staffing@trellist.com.  

  • Recruiting Success in 2018

    by Tom Falgiano | May 30, 2018

    Portions of this blog were adapted from a previous Trellist article on recruiting by the author, titled “The Importance of the Kingmaker.”  

    Successful recruiting is one of the most important components of your organization’s health and wellbeing. Like proper nutrition for your body or premium fuel for your car, your people and your teams are what keep your organization moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t spend enough time on the recruiting process or fall into one of the common, and usually avoidable, pitfalls when vetting a new hire.

    When you get recruiting right, your team moves forward, gains a competitive edge, and moves closer to your goals. Get it wrong, however, and you can bring your organization to a halt, at least temporarily. After all, you’re making a huge investment of time and money to find, interview, train, and integrate a new hire into your organization.

    At Trellist, we place a premium on the recruiting process—for our clients as well as for our organization . It’s how we build teams that collectively create better solutions. Here are a few of the “secrets” to successful recruiting.


    Recruiting Success in 2018

    Look for Cultural Fit

    Hiring for skills is important, but unless the skill you need is highly specialized, there are likely many candidates who can perform them adequately. If you narrow your search to two candidates – one with slightly better skills vs. another who is a better cultural fit – you’re more likely to see better results by selecting the person who will integrate with the team more easily.

    Tip: Make sure candidates meet members of the team they’ll be joining. If it’s feasible, do this outside the office as a coffee meeting or lunch, since you’re more likely to get a feel for their personality than you would in an office environment.

    Don’t Always Stick to the Script

    You should have a set of standard questions to ask each of the candidates applying for the position. These questions should serve as your “control” so you can compare answers between candidates. At the same time, keep in mind that no interview is completely linear, and you’ll think of new questions as the meeting progresses. Don’t be afraid to vary from the script.

    Tip: Every good interview should be a conversation. Don’t interrupt the flow just to get your questions answered. You can always come back to your planned line of questioning later in the meeting.

    Identify Red Flags on a Resume

    Candidates have the added advantage of online resources to polish their resumes, so you’ll see a lot of sharp-looking CVs pass your desk. Sometimes, a well-designed resume can overshadow some of the red flags you should be looking for. Keep an eye out for candidates who miss the basics, including major gaps in work history, someone who bounces around from one job to the next, and the standard mistakes (grammar, spelling, etc.), especially if you’re filling a detail-oriented position.

    Tip: If a candidate looks great otherwise, don’t automatically rule them out based on a minor question about their job history. It’s worth hearing the explanation, at least during a phone screening. The way they answer the question about a gap can reveal their integrity and ability to think on their feet.

    Review Work Samples with a Critical Eye

    Samples of work are critical to many creative jobs, but they can be manipulated. You have no real idea what parts of someone’s portfolio actually represent their own work or the output of a creative team. Review these samples with a critical eye and ask questions about their role in creating them.

    Tip: When possible, have your candidates produce something during the interview process – a written test, design piece, or section of code – to get a more accurate view of their work.

    Make It a Collaborative Process

    In addition to meeting their team, the candidate should meet other people in the organization as well. At Trellist, every candidate meets with our variety of leaders so they can be vetted from different, valuable perspectives. Likewise, this gives candidates a holistic view of the organization instead of a static (and likely incomplete) look.

    Tip: Have candidates meet with employees at different levels in your organization. It’s acceptable to ask them to return for multiple visits if they are qualified and interested.

    Always Be Recruiting

    Just finding the right candidates for your business isn’t the only important practice for a recruiting-savvy business. Replacing a full-time employee can cost anywhere north of 150% of that employee’s salary, making the loss of even a $50,000.00 employee cost closer to $75,000.00. Considering the trend continues to see highly skilled employees job-hopping every 2-5 years in search of higher salaries and greater benefits, employers may be reeling as they try to avoid turnover costs. At Trellist, we engage in a living culture with our employees, having frank conversations when it comes to matters such as performance and pay expectations, in-office perks, benefits, and ideals that speak to our company’s identity and foundations—not unlike what you’d expect to take place during an interview. These conversations fuel continued engagement with employees across the company, and encourage them to take ownership of their employment.

    Tip: Just because the interview’s over doesn’t mean you can (or should) stop recruiting your candidates. Having frank, candid conversations and asking the hard questions throughout an employee’s lifecycle creates mutual investment: employees know they have a path to action and that they’re cared for, while you are able to better understand employee needs.

    Following a few of these “secrets” will help ensure you find the ideal employee when interviewing your next new hire.

    We can also help you find your perfect fit, as a candidate or a partner. To start the conversation, contact us at staffing@trellist.com.

  • 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


  • 3 Visual Design Techniques That Drive User Journeys

    by Marc Icasiano | Apr 26, 2017

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    A big mistake that people make when creating websites is that they separate the visual design efforts from the UX (User Experience) and content development. They see visual design as putting paint on a finished piece of pottery—something you do at the end to make it look pretty. This approach is missing the power that visual design has to engage users with a website’s narrative.

    1. Use white space to control the focus

      White space is the visual space between objects and blocks of text. Websites used to try to cram everything onto the homepage “above the fold.” This antiquated approach forces users to do the work of finding your story—like a puzzle that they needed to put together themselves. Instead, we use progressive disclosure. This technique presents fewer choices at the beginning of the user journey and opens up to more varied options once the user provides input and proceeds down the path. White space plays a large part in doing this effectively.

      By increasing white space and reducing visual distractions, we force the viewer to focus on one thing at a time. We can then control the order and pacing of information, avoiding choices that disrupt the flow of our narrative. When the user decides that they want more in depth information, we start reducing white space, creating more information dense pages, and providing a wider range of interactive options.

    2. Use visual hierarchy to keep the user on their path

      Visual hierarchy is the art of controlling what a user looks at first, second, third, etc. When done well, the user will intuitively and effortlessly progress through the path we have set for them.

      Users will generally look at the largest objects first. That said, there are many other ways to give text or objects prominence. For example:

      • Warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) attract attention—they tend to “jump off” the page—whereas cool colors (blues and greens) tend to “stay back.”
      • It’s human nature to focus on what’s different. If most of a webpage is text, even a small photo will draw our attention. If most of a webpage is black and grey, the one thing that is blue will get our attention.
      • Images of people—especially of faces—always draws our eye.
      • Shapes or patterns that point, even subtly, move our eye in that direction.

        By using all of these techniques and others, in combination, we give the user a natural flow of how they should be absorbing the information on the page—leading them to a well-defined choice of digging deeper into the story or taking a specific action.

    3. Use “surprise and delight” to keep users engaged

      From a UX perspective, consistency is king. Web designers generally provide a unified, predictable experience so that users don’t become frustrated or confused. However, as any good storyteller will tell you, throwing a few twists here and there will help keep your audience engaged. If the story goes exactly as they expect, users start to lose interest. So, as designers, we search for opportunities to inject “surprise and delight” into our narrative. For example, can an interactive element make the experience more customized or give the user a sense of control over the content? Will an infographic explain an important point better than words alone? Will a case study or testimonial add human interest? Will a video or animation tell a more dynamic story? When a user knows that the next click might bring something fun or unexpected, it creates more urgency in taking the next step.      

    The most effective websites are built with considerations for who the audience is and how to lead them towards specific actions. By using smart visual design techniques, you can create websites that are both beautiful and hard working.

  • LinkedIn Gets a Facelift

    by Elyse Altiere | Feb 17, 2017

    LinkedIn recently got a fresh new look. The social networking site says it’s the largest redesign since its inception. The company hopes users will find the new design more intuitive and easier to use. LinkedIn claims users were apparently “overwhelmed” by the old design.

    Here on the Trellist Insights Blog, we wanted to share what we’ve seen so far as it relates to the changes on both individual LinkedIn Profiles and LinkedIn Company Pages.

    Individual LinkedIn Profiles

    When it comes to individual LinkedIn Profiles, we’ve noticed an overall simplistic design to engage more members. Searching for people, jobs, companies, etc. is more streamlined. The toolbar puts greater emphasis on actions users can take. Messaging has been revamped and is a lot like Facebook Messenger and now includes a pop-up window.

    Banner images are displayed even more prominently and have changed in size. Insights are also displayed more prominently related to who has viewed your content. There’s more emphasis on enhancing your profile, including tips on how to make the most out of your profile. 

    LinkedIn Company Pages

    There are some fairly significant design changes for Company Pages. First, LinkedIn updates appear more prominently on the page. If you’re a page admin, LinkedIn showcases a quick look at analytics. Page visitors have the ability to select “Updates,” ”Overview” and “Jobs” via tabs.

    LinkedInFacelift_screenshot

    Page admins still have the option to display a background image to highlight their company/brand, however it’s smaller in size and appearance from the previous version. There’s also an option to update an image under the “Overview” tab that highlights the company’s “About us” section. Last, but not least, when sharing an update, targeting is more obvious in the dropdown menu. 

    LinkedInFacelift_TrellistLIScreenshot

    We’ll be tracking our personal profiles and the Company Pages we manage to see how these design changes will impact overall engagement. If you have anything to add, we’d love to hear from you.

    To learn more about our approach to managing social media, be sure to contact us at socialbusiness@trellist.com.

  • The Yin and Yang of Content Marketing: Which One Are You Missing?

    by Renee Cohen | Sep 28, 2012

    “Content marketing” has been part of the savvy marketer’s vocabulary for years.  It’s touted as the savior for any marketing plan – increase website traffic, improve conversion rates, become a market leader!  Yet, many who embark on the journey to launch their content marketing strategies fail to achieve these goals: Web traffic is flat (or, horrifyingly, lower); leads and sales aren’t converting; and market share is lost to the new kid on the block.

    Is it simply that content marketing is the snake oil solution to all that ails a languishing brand?  Not so…after all, someone’s getting those results promised on the label.  No, the more likely scenario is that many marketers are missing one of two secret ingredients:  either the Thought Leader or the Do Leader.

    A few months ago, I came across this excellent infographic (below), which defined the role of the “do leader” in contrast to the more well-known “thought leader.”  It was crafted by MindJet, a collaborative work management software company. I was struck with the thought that successful content marketing must also rely on these same two contrasting roles – seemingly at odds personalities, but each one side of the same coin.

    content_infographic1-1024x669

    Thought Leadership

    The thought leader is typically seen as the rock star.  This guru drives the creative process that is integral to any content marketing program…specifically, creating content.  And not just any content, but interesting content.

    The content you create has to be compelling to your future and existing customers.  It must be provoking, provide validation for them to share upstream, and foster kinship with your brand.  For some brands, this may seem like an easy task – particularly for B2C or trendy products. But when you sell something as dry as ERP software, or you’re educating consumers about retirement financing, the task requires considerable skill and dedication.

    Many companies fail to dedicate resources to their content marketing program.  “You mean I’m paying someone to sit around just to think about my industry, write about it and present on it?” a CMO might say.  Yes, that is precisely what I’m suggesting.  Or better yet, identify multiple thought leaders within your organization and allow them the time to generate and advance their ideas.  If you want to truly reap the benefits of your content marketing program, thought leadership must become a way of life in your organization.

    Do Leadership

    The “do” leaders are often overlooked.  These are the people in the background, creating opportunities for the thought leader to shine.

    The old philosophical conundrum comes to mind: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Your thought leaders can espouse the most cutting-edge corporate positioning and philosophies – but if no one hears, reads or sees what they have to say, it’s like silence in the forest.

    The do leader must effectively map out communications plans, keeping teams honest on timelines, meeting deadlines and budgets.  The do leader will identify outlets for content – blogs, videos, webinars, events, emails, social networks, editorials, infographics, reports and more.  While the do leader may not typically be in the spotlight, this role is critical to setting milestones, creating plans for execution, and measuring and refining success.

    If your content marketing program isn’t giving you the results you’d hoped, look at which of these two roles may be lacking.  Is your content actually compelling?  Do you have a plan for distribution of those captivating thoughts?  It’s time to regroup and ensure you’re working the program from both angles.

    If you’d like to talk about your content marketing efforts and how Trellist can help, feel free to drop us a line, info@trellist.com and follow us on Twitter @trellist to get daily insights.

  • The Importance of the Kingmaker

    by Tom Falgiano | Jun 22, 2011

    My father was one of the best story tellers I ever knew, legendary in some circles. When I was a child, he asked me, “Who has the most important job in the castle?” I answered, “the king.” “No,” he said. “The king dies and his son becomes king. The most important job is the kingmaker. It’s their job to select and train the best person to run the kingdom.” It was one of those ah-ha moments, when I realized that having the job of putting the right person in the right position is key to the success of any kingdom.

    The days of powerful kings are long gone, but the principles of the kingmaker still apply to today’s business world. Getting talented people in the right positions and retaining them for the long haul is critical for success, and one of the biggest investments a company makes. It is a process that requires successful human capital management as well as effective selection and retention strategies.

    The cost of losing an experienced, seasoned employee can be substantial. It’s a generally accepted figure in the HR industry that the cost to replace an exempt employee equals 150% of their annual salary. An average replacement cost for an employee earning $50,000 per year would be $75,000. With the national employee turnover rate at 14.4% annually, a company with 100 employees with average salaries of $50,000 would spend more than $1million on turnover costs, a substantial and often unnoticed hit on profitability from employee attrition.

    Finding the right candidate for a position is a complex assignment. Not only does the candidate need the necessary skills, they need the proper disposition and expectations that will enable them to become part of the organization. Only then can they be expected to remain with the firm for the long-term. Identifying these traits is the key to successful hiring. Trellist Resource Management has helped many enterprises find the right candidates for some of their most difficult to fill marketing, design, and technology resource needs. By applying 15 years of industry experience, a rigorous screening process including industrial psychological testing (as appropriate), and a thorough understanding of our clients, Trellist will continue to recruit and retain the right people; one of whom may someday become their “king”.

  • Project Managers Combine New Planning Methodology and Project Based Staffing

    by Tom Falgiano | Jan 28, 2011

    General George S. Patton once stated, “A reasonable plan executed quickly is better than a perfect plan hatched in a prison camp.”  In a dynamic businesses environment, a new type of planning methodology is being deployed, and is being branded “Emergent Planning.” The Emergent Planning approach challenges Project Managers (PMs) to consider the major phases, milestones, and deliverables at the outset of a project, and how they can evolve over the course of the project.

    The most common occurrence in a project lifecycle is that unforeseen events occur that require adjustments to the strategies.  The Emergent Strategy model enables the PM to adapt to these changes, and follows the evolution from the initial, intended strategy to the actual, realized strategy. Emergent Planning is a fundamental approach for managing in dynamic environments. These changes, however, have implications for budgeting, resource planning, and strategy.  While the overall plan is in place, the individual stages can often be revised to ensure the best possible outcome. Although planning normally attempts to remove risk, in a dynamic environment, the greatest risk may be losing your window of opportunity.  Emergent planning can help mitigate this risk.

    Emergent Planning is gaining favor with professional PMs in many industries.  In a recent article in the Project Management Journal, a survey of 31 PMs found that this approach was strongly supported, and attracted the greatest consensus among the study’s participants.

    An important characteristic of this approach is that the PMs have less time to implement the plan for the next phase.  The PM needs quick and reliable access to skilled resources.  The emergent planning process dictates that the right resources are available to the project team in a shorter timeframe.  As a result, the PM has less time to adjust and schedule work.  Emergent Planning requires a flexible and rapidly deployable partnership approach to resource management in order to properly realize the efficiencies of the core methodology.

    Trellist’s unique Project Based Staffing approach allows human capital management to be rapidly activated, deployed, and integrated into a client project within specific phases.   Whether from the existing professional services matrix, or our integrated client-side resource offerings, Trellist’s structured yet flexible Resource Management Division responds quickly to Emergent Planning’s agile behaviors to support the resource needs of a Client PM.   For more information on the finer points of this approach, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

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