• 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 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
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 4 Smart Tactics to Increase Email Opens & Engagement

    by Jim McAvoy | Apr 26, 2018

    Is your business taking full advantage of one of the simplest ways to get your customers’ attention? After all, every email has a subject line. But how you put it to work is up to you. Assuming you have clean customer lists and are sending relevant messages to a properly targeted audience, here are some effective ways to set your emails apart and encourage customers to engage with them.

    Keep it brief

    A good rule of thumb for winning subject lines is to keep them brief, bearing in mind that emails are increasingly viewed on phones and mobile devices, where text is likely to get cut off. Generally, 30-40 characters (including spaces) is optimal. Looking at it another way, marketing industry website Invespo reports that subject lines with a length of 6-10 words receive a 21% open rate, while those with five words and fewer score 16%. Anything beyond 10 words scored lower. Of course, bear in mind the industry you are working in and adjust accordingly.

    Personalize it

    A person’s interest in something is peaked when they see their own name attached to it, and of course that extends to email. When you address someone personally in a subject line, it implies a relationship and garners their attention. And that may mean they place more importance on what you’re sending. Personalized subject lines are 22% more likely to be opened than those that aren’t, according to Invespo. Other locations for personalization include the preheader, where more characters (typically a maximum of 80-90) are available, or in the email content itself.


    Inquiring minds want to know

    Take a look at the emails your inbox holds right now. Chances are, most have subject lines that are declarative statements like “Sale! 20% off today only” or “Sail away with 60,000 miles.” Try flipping the script with a question mark instead—it might help your email stand out. Marketing industry website reports that emails using a question rather than a statement as their subject line have an 11% higher overall open rate. But vet your choices thoroughly to avoid sounding “spammy” and ending up in the junk folder. For example, “free,” “credit,” “buy,” “cash,” and scores of other salesy terms have traditionally been known to trigger spam filters.

    Emote a little

    Like it or not, emojis are here to stay—they’ve even had their own movie (the less said about that, the better). But according to, brands using emojis in their subject lines have helped increase B2C open rates by as much as 31% (and 34% B2B). So, even if you’re not a big proponent of communicating with emojis, it may be time to take advantage of their ability to get people’s attention. 😇 According to an Econsultancy study, the top five emojis include a star, airplane, two kinds of hearts, and the good old smiley face. But employing lesser-used emojis may actually help your email stand out even more, so look for some different possibilities. Again, it’s a good idea to take into consideration the customers or industry you’re emailing for best results.

    There are many other ways to help your emails stand out. Want more information or other helpful marketing tips like these? Get in touch with us today.


    118 Critical Email Marketing Tips, volumes 1 & 2, (various reports)

  • Building Your 1:1 Marketing Playbook

    by Gavin Garrison | Feb 16, 2018

    One-to-one marketing, personalization, segmentation, hypertargeting, consumer-first marketing—whatever it’s called, the goals of nearly every marketing strategy are virtually the same: to understand customers as individuals, reach them on their terms, and communicate in a way that makes them feel like they are interacting one-to-one with your brand and its products and services.

    How is it done? As a consultant and a marketer, I’ve heard clients ask that same question over the last 24 years. It was an important one back in the 1990s and remains relevant in 2018.

    It Starts and Ends with Data

    Today, we have terabytes of data on customers and the tech stack to support it. This includes data management platforms (DMPs) to manage data and help with audience planning and segmentation; marketing automation to facilitate engagement, split testing platforms to optimize creative, and so much more.

    The challenge now isn’t “not enough,” but rather “too much.” How do you make sense of the data you have, use it effectively to improve the context and relevancy of your messages, and then collect more data in order to evaluate which are effective, and ultimately allow you to iterate on and advance your marketing efforts? All the while determining which platforms you really need?

    One-to-one marketing is a fairly advanced digital marketing technique, which is why doing it well is still elusive for enterprises small and large. The first step is to develop a roadmap and start to chip away at it to create a more detailed understanding of your customers. I advise thinking of customer data in buckets, which includes:

    • Demographics: the basics like age, gender, employment status, job role, and income
    • Location: where they live or work
    • Lifestyle: a summary view of their personal preferences and choices
    • Behavior: how they interact with your brand and why they choose to consume when they do

    Marketing Playbook Graphic

    The goal of your frontend segmentation is to be as detailed as possible within each bucket, and then combine your buckets to create detailed customer personas. Marketing to a new mom working in a major metropolitan area who values trendy fashion should be different than the 64-year-old retiree in Kansas who looks for discounts. Segmentation will get you there, and developing and deploying a personalized message platform will help you execute your strategy.

    Conversation Leads to Conversion

    Think about the last time you worked with a salesperson in real life. Maybe it was buying a car or a house, or shopping for a new snow blower at a home improvement store. Part of your buying decision was likely based on the expertise of the salesperson and his or her ability to make you feel confident that you were making the right choice. If they accosted you as you walked through the door and tried to force the product on you that they wanted to sell instead of the one that actually met your needs, you’d turn around and leave as quickly as you could.

    For most people, a better experience includes a conversation with that salesperson. If that interaction with the salesperson ended with you buying something, odds are that they asked what you needed and listened to your responses, thereby matching your preferences with the product that best fits your goals.

    This is why you segment your audience. Just because the interaction happens digitally instead of in-person doesn’t make the conversation any less important. In fact, that back-and-forth, aided by data and segmentation, is even more important in virtual environments where you don’t have the benefit of reading a customer’s reactions. It’s the conversation that ultimately moves your customers through the funnel and leads to the conversion, not just a campaign.

    Creating the Playbook

    Effective segmentation can be a challenge. You’ll need to work with data to create your customer personas, create a customer journey map that captures the details of each step in the customer lifecycle, build an effective marketing strategy and campaigns to reach them, choreograph all of the channels where you may reach them, and then capture the data again to redefine your customers even more. It’s how you answer the who, what, when, where, and why associated with your customers. And it’s how you go from obscurity to awareness and from cold lead to new customer.

    It’s worth noting that working with data and building an effective segmentation plan requires the expertise of data scientists and database marketers—it’s not an appropriate fit for the intern you decided to conveniently repurpose for your playbook.

    The clients I’ve worked with who have been the most effective at marketing segmentation all have a playbook in place. It’s not necessarily something you can find online; there is generally no template for it. It’s unique to your business and your customers. That playbook should be a living, breathing document that evolves with you, the people buying your products, and the ever-changing marketplace.

    As the outspoken Jason Kelce of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles recently said, “It’s the whole team, it’s the whole team!” I’d challenge you to think about your own marketing as a team approach. It’s an enterprise-wide effort with the playbook at the center; leading you on the road to victory.

    To learn more about building your 1:1 marketing playbook, please contact the Branding and Marketing Division to start the conversation.

  • 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.





  • 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,

    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

    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


    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.


    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. 


    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

  • 3 Ways Millennials Redefine Marketing

    by Claire Concowich | Jan 27, 2017
    3 Ways millennials shape marketing_Images_012517-01

    Millennials (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000) have become the largest generation of people in the U.S., surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers. They account for about a third of the adult population and just over a third of the U.S. workforce.

    Unlike Boomers or Gen Xers, Millennials are the first truly digital generation. Coming of age in an era of advanced technology and social media affects everything from the way they communicate, to how they consume information, to the way they shop and make purchasing decisions.

    For marketers, understanding the influence that technology and media has on the generation and how that influence impacts the future of marketing is crucial, because Millennials account for an estimated $200 billion annually in direct spending and a projected $1.4 trillion by the year 2020.

    Here are 3 ways that Millennials are redefining marketing:

    3 Ways millennials shape marketing_Images_012517-02

    How do Millennials shop?

    Shopping is broken down into a two-phased approach. In Phase one, it is not uncommon to find prospective buyers browsing selections online well before the intent to purchase kicks in. This researching phase happens in down time, such as watching TV at night, or when taking a break at lunch. It could be said that in lieu of traditional commercials, Millennials consume their marketing through product research.

    3 Ways millennials shape marketing_Images_012517-03

    Where do Millennials buy?
    Phase two of how Millennials shop can be called ‘pulling the trigger.’ When the research is complete, Millennials still want to see the product in the flesh when possible. This could be to try on clothing or to check the physical quality of something. Either way, they wanted the satisfaction of knowing that their money is well spent.

    3 Ways millennials shape marketing_Images_012517-04

    How do Millennials spend their money?

    In the above example, it becomes apparent that Millennials are not going to throw hard-earned money at a product simply because of a catchy ad. This generation is pragmatic, if not stingy, in a way that requires marketers to reach them on quality and practicality over other superfluous attributes. The kicker is that after the Millennial does the research and vets the product in the flesh, they return to the internet to find the best offer from a trusted distributor.

    So what does this mean? It means that to reach this emerging demographic, marketers have to think differently. Millennials expect quality products with information that is easily accessible, along with a link to buy it online later at the best value.

    Trellist’s combination of Marketing and Technology, along with our mix of seasoned Boomers, Xers and Millennials, makes us uniquely qualified to help clients respond to the new rules of marketing being created by Millennials. Find out what we can do for you.

    Sources: Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau Reports

  • Six Keys to Developing Customer Persona Profiles

    by John Miller | Apr 28, 2016


    Identifying customer personas, and cataloguing the insights associated with them, is essential for targeting marketing and sales efforts in the most efficient and productive way possible. It prepares the business to most appropriately appeal to its prospective customers.

    Here are the six essentials to successfully developing buyer personas for any business.

    1.The audience basics.

    It’s important to begin with basic audience demographics — age, gender, job title, and geographic information, as well as a clear understanding of the problem the audience is looking to solve.

    2. How they buy.

    What single factor influences potential customers the most as they decide whether to buy? Online research? Word-of-mouth from colleagues or friends? And how long will they take to make a decision? Or, is the audience prone to impulse decisions?

    3. Why they buy.

    What tips the audience into making a decision? Do they buy based upon price, or are they less price sensitive? What is the deciding factor for them? Is it utility? Is it design?

    4. Their values.

    Is the audience environmentally conscious? Do they place importance on social responsibility? When a company understands the prospective customers’ values, it can better align its offering with what the audience is trying to accomplish.

    5. Differentiators.

    It’s essential to understand the differences between prospects who take action and those who don’t. Making this distinction will prevent a business from spending too much time and energy chasing down potential customers or clients who were probably never serious in the first place.

    6. Their personalities.

    Finally, a business must evaluate the psychographics of the target audience. This has to do with the audience’s likes, attitudes, and opinions. Information like this will help create an understanding of the personality types and decision-making styles included in the audience.

    Keep in mind that customer personas might change as a business evolves. It’s important to stay in touch with the needs of the audience over time.

    If you’d like to learn more about customer personas, their development, and how they can help you better target communications to be more relevant to your customers and prospects, let us know.

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