Velocity Marketing Asset Management

Cisco’s Top 5 Business Imperatives for 2016— Something for HR

Author – Walt PazderskiWalt blog image

In the past I have expanded on ideas advanced by Cisco’s own Tom Filep (a very accomplished professional) who wrote about Five Strategic Insurance Business Imperatives for 2016.

If you look at this Top 5 Imperatives list, you will quickly see it is NOT just for the insurance business.  This list applies to ALL businesses with growth plans.

Tom’s Top 5 Imperatives:

1) Digital Strategy

2) Security

3) Collaboration

4) Talent Acquisition and Retention

5) Business Outcome Approach

Previously I talked about Collaboration.  Let’s look at another Imperative:  Talent Acquisition and Retention.  Tom reported that the surveyed business leaders indicated these are the important questions top of mind:

— How do we ensure diverse views are represented?

—Who are the business leaders of tomorrow?  Are they in-house?

—HOW do we attract and retain top talent?

—Do we have the capabilities and vision to capture the interest of tech-savvy millennials,  not just as a stepping stone to a better job elsewhere, but for a long-term career?

Clearly, HR is squarely in the middle of the conversations around these questions.

Attracting and retaining top talent is all about engagement.  People are engaged when they are receiving perceived value and/or when they are interested.   HR professionals know how to leverage salary discussions and monetize the value of a benefits package.  They know how to romance those special perks (Casual Friday, Pizza Tues, a Sun Spa on the roof…)

So what do you do when you have extended the very best package the organization can offer, played up all the perks, are almost at the point of agreement, but it does not seem quite enough to swing the candidate to your side?  If only there was a little more to offer…

One simple, inexpensive, yet powerful idea that will potentially provide more (a LOT more):   CAPTURE AND MANIFEST THE PASSION AND EXCITEMENT OF YOUR GROUP.

Great, but how does one do THAT?  Permit me, via personal experience,  to explain one way to accomplish this.

Early in my career I was looking for my next opportunity (the telecom bubble blew up in my face—company stock price went from $67.00 a share to $0.62 a share overnight).  I interviewed with a number of companies and narrowed the list to two.  One was “AT&T” (a role with strong compensation/benefits, a book of business waiting for me, and a realistic growth roadmap in place and operating smoothly).  The other opportunity was “bigdough”…

Exactly!  bigdough was a startup dot com that survived the implosion.  I would be employee #38 (there were only a handful of the previous 37 still remaining), have NO book of business waiting for me, and a roadmap that said I would have 60 days to prove my value or would be asked to relocate my desk….to anywhere else that was not bigdough.  Oh, to further excite me, the initial upfront money and total benefits package was inferior to the other opportunity.  And there was the issue of brand recognition.

However, the decision was more difficult than the above comparison might have you believe.  There was something about bigdough that greatly interested me.  Bill, the CEO was very passionate.  He was guiding a very diverse and talented group using a few key business principles and a fair amount of feeling his way along.  I saw the possibility of being part of something VERY exciting and rewarding….IF it worked.  Having just come out of one industry collapse, I was not inclined to risk that “IF”.

After 2 days, I was still considering, but was 99% sure that in 24 hours I would be accepting the better paying, better defined, better… almost everything position.

Then the Fed-Ex box arrived.  In the box was a hand written card from Bill saying something like (I now wish I kept it—-ahh…the folly of youth):

Walt—I know you will be a strong contributor wherever you go.  I hope you will join us and help build something great.  Bill

The contents of that box included a hat, a coffee mug, a mouse pad, and T shirt, and a sweat shirt—all with what many say (quite emotionally at times) is the GOOFIEST logo…EVER!!!  Nice try, Bill, but it will take more than $30 (delivered) worth of goofy chochkies.

There are those that will argue that was all it was, a box of goofy chochkies worth $30.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But they would be missing what was actually represented here.

This box represented a business leader excited by his vision, saw in me someone who was also excited by that vision, and could help him actualize that vision.  This box was Bill going out on a limb and communicating his passion directly to me.  This box was a direct way for Bill to connect with me to unashamedly say:  Walt, I LOVE the idea that bigdough is.  I am going to work like hell to make it great.  Come help me do that, what do you say?

What DO you say to an invitation like that?  Especially since I did see the possibilities….IF it worked.

The point is, as an HR professional you can set up programs that will take the passion of your senior leadership (and if they do not have that passion, or are reluctant to actually show it, you have a whole different set of problems) and communicate it in relatable ways to potential hires and established employees.

It is important to realize you can not settle on just one way to communicate, for obvious reasons. If your programs are organized and run properly, they can have a HUGE impact at relatively nominal cost.  The ROI is off the charts.

Effective, low cost ideas can include:

  • A well crafted Cross Media System—properly designed and run this will provide you with several forms of communication built into a single, integrated program!
  • A relevant, vibrant Recognition & Reward Program—it can be the element that sways those on-the-fence;  it can reward accomplishment in ways perceived very meaningful by the recipient.  It can be built into something worth mentioning next time you find yourself romancing those perks…
  • Clear and Understandable Communication of Available Benefits— be careful not to confuse what is clear in the mind of HR and senior management with what is clear in the mind of your “average employee”.  There are ways to design communication to insure you ARE clear…crystal.

Oh yes, I did join bigdough and Bill was right.  We built something great.  Now you know the rest of the story….

Online storefronts – inventory

There are many names associated with online solutions or storefronts. At Velocity we call our platform VELO™ because it covers so much more than a simple order site. I will publish a series of posts to cover some of the options that should be considered for any storefront to get the ultimate control.


In a previous report, I covered reporting and in many ways those reports and inventory go hand-in-hand. One thing that is very important is maintaining the correct inventory levels to purchase at the optimum quantity, but also minimize carrying outdated inventory. If the goal is to turn inventory every quarter, then the storefront data will provide average usage by quarter. You can also set automatic reorder points, decide to produce low usage items on-demand and keep inventory fluid.

Storefronts should also be able to display inventory in real-time and give you an exact count on each and every item. If you have many updates to products, it is also important that the inventory reflects the latest version of each product. I always recommend adding a version number to printed pieces to avoid the problem of outdated products being distributed.

Reduce Storage Costs with On-Demand Print

Reduce Storage Costs with On-Demand Print

Online storefronts – customized products

There are many names associated with online solutions or storefronts. At Velocity we call our platform VELO™ because it covers so much more than a simple order site. I will publish a series of posts to cover some of the options that should be considered for any storefront to get the ultimate control.

The ability to create custom branded items whether it is print, promotional items or other products provides impactful marketing materials to your clients. The control over the level of customization is provided by the client and of course your brand is always protected. The user can then choose a variety of customization methods and images and logos can even be stored in a shared library for easy retrieval. The other nice piece is that all customized products show an instant virtual proof for the user’s approval prior to submitting any order.

Prudential e-Solution

Prudential e-Solution

These orders can also be sent through additional approval levels prior to submission to provide you the ultimate control over your products and order quantities. Giving the ability to customize products to your users can be not only a huge time saver, but also give them the branded items they are looking for. This can be great for business cards, but also provide for customized brochures, apparel and more.

The screen capture shows a sample of a customized brochure that allows the user to enter a detailed description, add a photo and even append a mail list to create a customized mailer.

Online storefronts – reports

There are many names associated with online solutions or storefronts. At Velocity we call our platform VELO™ because it covers so much more than a simple order site. I will publish a series of posts to cover some of the options that should be considered for any storefront to get the ultimate control.

A storefront or online order site needs to be built with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is the login process, the middle is the products and how they will be ordered, and the end is perhaps the most important and also most underutilized part of most sites. The end is the gold, the reports that the site can generate.

inventory and usage report

The goal is to provide useful intelligence that can strengthen your site. We give you access to the reports, but we also provide our own analysis of the statistics. It is from this intelligence that you will discover average inventory turn-time, best order practices, reports of user activity and much more that will give you full control of the process and also let you maximize your budget.

total spent report

As a site matures, the statistics provide important information on trends, reorder points, peak times, top users and hot items. The analytics can often tie your marketing materials directly to your top sellers and also make sure that the latest materials are available in the field.

Online storefronts – the products

There are many names associated with online solutions or storefronts. At Velocity we call our platform VELO™ because it covers so much more than a simple order site. I will publish a series of posts to cover some of the options that should be considered for any storefront to get the ultimate control.

Allowing products to be ordered is only a small piece of the puzzle, controlling the entire process and gathering intelligence that can be used for better control over your marketing assets is powerful and can lead to major savings both in purchasing as well as time.

online storefront with products

The products are easy, right? You add all your marketing materials and voila, let the ordering begin. Not really, the options for the products can be much more in-depth.

First you must start with making the products easy to browse. If you have many different products, you need to make it easy for everyone to find the items they need. This is accomplished in multiple ways:

  1. Categories – maybe you have a category for printed items, promotional products and signage. The categories can provide a quick jump to the items you are looking for.
  2. Item #’s – If each product has a unique item identifier this can be searchable within the storefront and also make sure the latest version is being used.
  3. Products can be a mix of printed items, hard goods and also e-files. This is useful when someone needs a quick file to email or just one for reference.
  4. Customized or versioned products can be added to a storefront and also provide a unique way to protect your branding and also give flexibility. With real-time proofing and on-demand printing customized products can be very cost effective.

The great thing with a good storefront is that if you begin by building a good framework you can easily add products and categories as needed. A good provider should spend lots of time asking questions about how you will be using your site and guide you through the options that are available.

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