Fast Forward - Small Workplace Innovations


It’s the Little Things

Why small workplace innovations can make the biggest impact

Innovation is a surefire way to differentiate your business from the competition, but if you get bogged down by the belief that innovation must be big, you’ll miss the opportunities to create small innovations that can have just as noticeable an impact on your success.

Patrick Stroh, author of Advancing Innovation: Galvanizing, Enabling & Measuring for Innovation Value!, says innovations as simple as reimagined business processes, redesigned manufacturing applications or even tweaks to customer service are potential game-changers.

“Hardwiring your culture for small innovations is an organic way to keep everyone focused on creating customer value,” says Stroh. Small innovations are quick and easy to implement, he adds, so you aren’t taking time away from daily processes. They’re also great for companies with limited resources.

To ensure innovations have their desired effect, Stroh recommends following these steps:

1. Architect a plan.

2. Align it to your strategic intent.

3. Prepare the organization for success.

4. Implement multiple innovation channels to capture, evaluate and execute ideas.

5. Measure innovation value and optimize it based on what you’ve learned.

This process of orchestrating small innovations creates “systemic, continuous innovation that drives value,” he says. “These innovations lead to quick wins, which in turn build momentum and boost morale. When employees think up small innovations that are quickly implemented, they see results right away. Naturally, they are inspired to repeat the process—so they do. Success begets more success.”

Five Minutes With Jill Albers, vice president of business development, Boost Technologies LLC

Jill Albers webJill Albers, a 2015 PPB Rising Star, recently transitioned from director of global sales to vice president of business development at Boost Technologies, LLC, parent company of distributor Shumsky Promotional (UPIC: SHUMSKY) and Boost Rewards in Dayton, Ohio. In an interview with PPB, Albers discusses how her previous and current roles overlap, and the strategy behind Boost’s successful customer relationships.

PPB Previously you were director of global sales. What facilitated the transition to your new role, and what approaches to that job will you be able to carry over into your new position?

Albers This role has expanded. As director of global sales I also focused on existing client business throughout the organization. I will not consolidate my focus to exclusively growth; I will have carryover of my client base that I support.

PPB As vice president of business development, what would you like to accomplish on behalf of your company, and for yourself?

Albers I would love to continue to add Fortune 500 clients to our customer list. While in my existing capability, we have added seven Fortune 500 accounts with whom we do business of over $100,000 in sales a year. Our strength is enterprise accounts, consolidating rogue spend and managing brand compliance for them. These are large accounts that have multiple locations nationally and/or globally, and consolidate their spend to reduce costs across the organization.

PPB How might pursuing new client relationships on behalf of a company like Boost Technologies be different from prospecting as a sole proprietor, or as an employee at a smaller distributor?

Albers It’s a different, more strategic sell, with a very long sales cycle.

PPB What are current and prospective clients looking for in a business relationship with your company, and what are you doing to ensure those needs are met?

Albers We have a “spoil the customer” mentality that exceeds anything I have found in the industry. Our goal is to take the work off our client's plate and manage it with well-tenured staff. We have several proprietary solutions for our clients, including a patented online consolidated buying tool called “Sharelink.” It allows the administrator of the program to be able to control the brand, but different locations are able to “buy in.” We also have integrated online stores that allow for budgeting and co-op branding with partners.

PPB How have you seen strategies and habits relating to building new business change since you first entered the industry?

Albers Shotgun marketing is out. Warm leads and connections on social media are in. You now need to know what the client needs before they do.


Hey, Big Spender

Starbucks’s reward program changes burn frugal customers

When Starbucks first began its rewards program, it wasn’t about how much money you spent, but how often you spent it. But no more—the national coffee chain has changed its My Starbucks Rewards program to reward points based on the amount of money customers shell out for their pumpkin spice lattes rather than the number of times they come in for a fix.

Executives for the company say the change is in response to consumer demands that they receive more for their money—more stars, anyway. Under the old program, one visit earned one star—12 stars earned customers a free food or drink item. Now spending $1 earns two stars—but it also now takes 125 stars, or $62.50, to get that free coffee.

The negative backlash has already spurred Starbucks to make a modification to its new program, supplying additional incentives for “Gold” members such as the opportunity to earn double stars one day each month.

Whether they spend a little or a lot, the customers who participate in the program spend three times as much as nonmembers, according to the company. Starbucks boasted 11.1 million program members in the U.S. in January, up 23 percent from the previous year.


Tied To Your Cell Phone? Cut Loose With These Four Tips

Cell phones have become an appendage for the modern business professional. Innumerable tools and apps, along with the accessibility granted by wireless technology, make reaching for and using smartphones a reflex. Learning to spend less time on your device can be as simple as being more conscious of how, and why, you use it.

1. Reduce your notifications. Turn off all notifications except for those that require a response and those that indicate someone (a human, not an organization or app service) is trying to reach you. It’s okay not to know every time someone likes your photo on Instagram or that a radio app has launched a new lineup.

2. Wake yourself up the old-fashioned way. Use an alarm clock instead of your phone’s alarm feature, and you’re less likely to be scrolling through tweets as soon as the buzzer sounds. If you can get away with it, charge your phone in another room entirely.

3. Move eye-catching apps off your home screen. Just like candy in a jar, out of sight means out of mind—or at least less likely to trigger mindless snacking. In this case, you’re not prone to popping open Candy Crush when all you meant to do was check your calendar.

4. Open functional apps from the control center. Rather than unlocking your phone to use the camera, clock or calculator (which exposes you to those pesky non-functional apps like Pinterest), swipe up the control center. Not only will your phone switch back to the lock screen immediately after you close one of the apps, but accessing them from the control center is faster.


Are Your Apps Spying On You?

Admit it. Seeing Facebook ads for a product mere minutes after you searched for that very same item on Amazon is a little creepy. Digital ad framework SilverPush, based in India, increased the creep factor exponentially by collecting detailed data from users of certain mobile apps—and now the Federal Trade Commission is speaking up.

Like many other data collection programs, SilverPush helps its ad partners track what consumers are searching for online. Unlike most programs, though, SilverPush has employed unique audio beacons, or UABs, to signal any nearby devices, including TVs, when a consumer looks at a product its ad partners might sell—a process called cross-device tracking.

The trouble, the FTC and other critics found, is that the data collected from consumer devices goes far beyond shopping habits. Information such as device ID numbers, WiFi router addresses, and even phone numbers have been collected by SilverPush.

The FTC is now urging app developers who partner with SilverPush to tell their customers that the company collects and sells third-party data. SilverPush responded to the FTC announcement by issuing a statement that it has dropped the UAB technology and has no active partnerships with U.S.-based app developers.


Running On Empty

If the time seems right for a rebrand, take stock of the ‘why’ before tackling the ‘how’

Years of cost overruns, critical performance errors and global public ridicule have left the Defense Department’s F-35 fighter jet program struggling to gain altitude. To encourage partner governments, and its own military, to proceed with acquisitions, Defense officials are sending the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on a promotional tour, hoping to improve the program’s public image.

The move is reminiscent of a record label sending a troubled pop star on the road to promote a mediocre album, in the faint hope that the label might recoup some of its investment. And whether it will work—spurring greater faith and more purchases of the jet—remains to be seen.

Rebranding after a failure can be successful, if the right steps are taken. Successful rebranding doesn’t stop at a new name, a new logo or even new leadership. A rebrand must be bolstered by new goals, new messaging and a new company culture. Companies whose rebranding strategies brought them out of a slump include Harley-Davidson, Target, Old Spice and Apple.

Keep these thoughts in mind if you or a client are ready to rebrand your products or services.

Rebrand today, for tomorrow. Companies who are ready to rebrand need to think about what the brand will represent in the future, not just in the present. Incorporating a vision for the future ensures longevity for the rebrand.

Meet your audience on their turf. Take advantage of media channels frequented by your brand’s target audience. Are they Twitter users? Instagram junkies? Take your new brand to them by engaging with them everywhere you can, telling your story in the language of the audience.

Build momentum slowly. Start with small changes that bolster and reinforce the complete evolution. Each step in the rebrand should logically lead to the next, and all steps should work like puzzle pieces to create a seamless end product—think logo shapes, colors, fonts and taglines.

filed under may-2016 | ppb
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