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Trivera Tackles the Elephant in the Room

team-giftsLike most companies, Trivera Interactive has embraced the holiday spirit – adorning our office with festive decorations, twinkling lights and even a handcrafted Mountain Dew tree. For our gift exchange this year, we decided to tackle the White Elephant in the room. Many of our employees had not previously participated in a White Elephant gift exchange which made this event even more entertaining.

rock-emWe followed the conventional rules of drawing numbers and allowing people to choose whether to open a new gift or steal one from a co-worker. The first gift stolen was an antique-looking key which doubled as a bottle opener and tripled as a wine corkscrew. Fantastic! Another popular gift was a singing, dancing, pudgy man holding a beer mug.

Hilarity ensued as we opened gifts such as a programmer’s “survival kit" complete with the oldest software possible, a Joomla shirt and a 6-pack of beer. I’m sensing a theme here …

my-hankeyEveryone ended up with gifts to cherish. You cannot put a value on used firefighter boots and a book about surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. You just can’t. And, one co-worker got the last laugh as I opened the final, unwanted gift, after all of my gifts were stolen. Yes, Kenny G.’s “Duotones" CD is the gift which keeps on giving. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Best Buy gift card Tom had cleverly tucked inside the CD, however. So, all’s well that ends well.

fondueOur team had a lot of fun, countless laughs and we’ll be inviting the White Elephant back to our room next year.

Happy Holidays from Trivera!

Laurie Vogt
Search Goddess and Chief Fun Officer

Trivera's President to Speak at Milwaukee SEOmoz Event

SEOmoz is a Seattle-based Search Engine Optimization software development company that hosts the web's most vibrant SEO community. Part of their strategy includes traveling the globe to participate in marketing events and meetups. Their next meetup happens in Milwaukee on October 3rd, and they have chosen Trivera's President, Tom Snyder, as one of several local speakers featured on the program.

As part of their "2012 MozCation" the SEOmoz solicited nominations for locations. Milwaukee stepped up, nominated, tweeted, and participated in a successful effort that resulted in Milwaukee being selected as the kickoff city. The event takes place at the Harley-Davidson Museum from 5-9pm, and will feature networking, food and drinks, followed by two hours of presentations:

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz Topic: The Future of SEO

Brittan Bright, Director of Client Strategy at iAcquire Topic: From Mess to Success: A Case Study of Cross-Discipline Collaboration Done Right

Jamie Steven, Chief Marketing Officer at SEOmoz Topic: Technical Skills for Marketers: Gaining the skills you need to be indispensable

Luke Summerfield, Internet Marketing Specialist at Savvy Panda Topic: Mobile Search Skyrocketing? Let's Optimize and Capture!

Victor Drover, Owner at Anything Digital Topic: How to SEO Optimize a CMS

Tom Snyder, Owner at Trivera Interactive Topic: How Social Media Impacts Your SEO

Chiaryn Miranda, Helpster of Awesome (aka Customer Service Expert) at SEOmoz

The event is FREE, but registration is required

Trivera's Tom Snyder makes 3rd appearance on Fox6

Social Media continues to be the hot topic on Fox6 Milwaukee's Wakeup show. Anchor Shawn Patrick invited Trivera president Tom Snyder back, this time to talk about Foursquare.

Foursquare Logo

Trivera's Tom Snyder Featured on Fox6 News Theater Shooting Feature

Following the Theater shootings in Aurora Colorado, a Fox6 Milwaukee reporter contacted me to get a little insight on Social Media use during breaking news events like these. 30 minutes of videos was shot, the following feature included my remarks.

Trivera's Tom Snyder talks Social media on Fox6 Wakeup

Morning anchor Shawn Patrick invited Tom Snyder to appear on the Fox6 Wakeup news show to share some insight into how businesses use Social Media to boost sales. Here's the segment.

Tom Snyder on Fox6 WakeUp to discuss Social Media

Tom will return to the show to talk about Foursquare on Friday, July 27th at 8:15.

A Connected World Includes a Connected Workplace

By Trivera President, Tom Snyder

When a friend first showed me this new-fangled thing called the Internet back in 1994, I immediately knew it would change everything.  And as someone who shortly after that started a company that helped businesses and organizations leverage that power, I've been talking (and writing) about how it is changing the relationship between companies and anyone who does business with them, ever since. Of course, that change goes beyond just customers. It extends to include vendors, suppliers, partners, media and the community. We've also included employees in that group, but I don't ever recall writing a blog about how this technology changes that relationship.  So when TDS Metrocom invited me to Madison to show me how what they're doing in the area of connected workplaces is as big a game changer as anything else that has happened on the web since its beginning, I was fascinated enough to give up a day in my own office to see what the fuss was about.

In the interest of total disclosure, I've gotten to know a few local TDS salespeople from networking events, and a few years ago, even won a Vegas vacation from them when they drew my business card in a drawing at the local BizTimes BizTech Expo.  Shortly after that, I was invited to do a Social Media presentation to their team. But quite honestly, I never REALLY knew what it was they did.  I knew it had something to do with data, communications, and businesses. I also knew they had a data center where they hosted web servers.  But beyond that, I was clueless.

The day tagged as a "blogger event" began with discussions among several of the Midwest's respected and visionary bloggers, causing me to ask the most obvious question: "how did *I* get invited?"

The theme was "The Connected Workplace," and began with a discussion about how a growing number of companies are using Facetime, Google Hangouts and Skype to facilitate face to face communications and even staff meetings. One of the first sessions even used the technology to video conference in the speaker. As the technology becomes easier and more ubiquitous, it is possible for team members miles, states and even countries apart to stay and feel connected. Telephone and data systems that run on the web offer the appearance that everyone is together, regardless of how apart they really are, make it almost ridiculous to NOT use.

The host for the day's event,  Emmy award winning  film producer and screenwriter John Roach, offered his perspective...and investment advice...about a connected workplace:

"Short sell commercial Real Estate."

He talked about how big offices that congest freeways, cost hours of commute time and decrease the number of productive hours are going the way of the dinosaur. The trend to replace a workplace that everyone "goes to" with digital connections that allow the workplace to be wherever you are is the situation that he admitted he's been waiting for for 20 years. His thoughts resonated with me, as a digital experience that "comes to you with what you need when you need it" was my theme of a recent blog about mobile. It now extends to our jobs.

The concept is still a bit foreign to those of us who have a culture based on people working next to, looking at and eating lunch with each other in an open environment. But offices that are just rows and rows of beige cubicles will soon be realizing the tremendous cost savings from a workplace that minimizes expenses by maximizing a team of workers working in pajamas at a desk at home, but still connected

Early in the day, I realized that TDS Metrocom sells phone systems. The difference with their product is that instead of a bunch of hardware in a closet, the stuff that runs their phone systems is hosted at a remote...and pretty amazing...data center.  But as the day progressed, I realized that the even bigger difference is that they understand that they really are in the business of using Internet technology to connect people, build relationships and conduct business. Pretty much the same thing Trivera does. Unlike my space, where the devices have been computers and laptops, their devices have been office phones. But, in today's rapidly converging connected world, we're also both using mobile, online video, hosted applications and API's. My biggest takeaway was the fact that when my first exposure to the Internet convinced me that it would change everything, I didn't realize how big "everything" really was.

The growing challenge for companies large and small in this connected world is the total integration of all the internet has to offer into all aspects of their business: Sales, Marketing, Management, Human Resources, and Communication, and most importantly finding people with the technological expertise to perform that integration. Fortunately there are companies like TDS and Trivera who can take care of that.

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Photos of the TDS Blogger Event are posted on Pinterest.

Future Web: Skating to Where the Puck is Going

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky attributed his success to a simple philosophy: "Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is. It ain't where the puck is, it's where the puck will be."

What your company is doing with the web is a lot like a hockey game. If your only focus is a web site based on an assumption that all your visitors are sitting at their desks viewing your site on a 1024 x 768 resolution desktop monitor, you're skating to where the puck was. Even if you've begun to toy around with making your website more mobile friendly, you're still skating to where the puck is.

As an early adopter of the Internet as a powerful marketing tool, and founder of one of the Midwest's first Web development firms, I remember the days when 87% of all businesses polled said they would never have a need for a website. My challenge for over 16 years has been to be chasing after the future and dragging clients kicking and screaming behind me, hoping they'll keep up.

And it's about to get even harder.

Over the past few days, I've been spending time with the presentation Stephanie Rieger gave to the Breaking Development conference in Orlando, Florida. It's an eye opening look at how the web is evolving. Where it used to be something you'd go to the computer or your mobile device to "do," it's rapidly becoming something that's always on, connected to everything we use to provide us with any knowledge we need just as we need it. As Brad Frost aptly put it:, you need to get your content ready to go anywhere because it's going to go everywhere. Skating to where the puck is going means moving to a world where internet touch points go beyond browsers, smart phones and tablets to now include treadmills, refrigerators, cars, and a million other "smart things" that we haven't even begun to imagine. A world where search engine queries are replaced by contextual information fed to us based on our interests, needs, and location, the keyboard having been replaced by GPS's, our voice or even our retinas. The journey to where the web is headed has shifted into hyper drive, and in the process is shattering the paradigms. And it's about to leave many businesses, and even some self-professed "web development firms" in the dust.

That's why I'm so fortunate to have the team here at Trivera. While still understanding the need to provide superior, best practice web experiences for our clients (delivered on time, scope and budget), we take regular time out of the office every Friday to talk about, and plan for, the technologies, platforms, tools, ideas and directions that will help us embrace the future web.

As a result we've continued to push the envelope and come up with some pretty amazing stuff:

  • You have an e-commerce-enabled B2B website but still achieve your highest sales with your independent distributors? How about a fully integrated tablet-based tool for them to use in the field to coach them real-time to up-sell, cross-sell, check inventory, lead times and create and submit an order.
  • Your customers are voicing a common complaint that's not your fault, but due to their forgetfulness? How about a reminder with the appropriate information sent to their mobile device when it detects exactly when and WHERE they need it?
  • You have a brand with a huge community that needs Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Flickr functionality, but has huge archival resources you don't want to trust to those Social Media sites? How about an online community with full desktop, mobile and tablet compatibility with check-ins, photo uploads, topic threads, member chat and any other features the members say they need?
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I've always been totally flabbergasted by traditional ad agencies who say "Oh, yeah, we do web too." Many are still trying… and still failing…to embrace even 10 year old best practices, and thus skating to where the puck was. A few conceptually get it but don't have the breadth, depth and length of experience to hire, manage or direct a team with the necessary skillsets, and so also are still skating to where the puck is. In the minority are the brave, visionary few who not only are embracing concepts like responsive web, but even seeing that as an experience we'll one day look back on with the same quaint nostalgia that we have for stuff like Cue Cat, Flash, 56k dial up and AOL.

I guess there are parts of the marketing world where a business just needs a small desktop-sized brochure-ware website, and the agency that does their direct mail, yellow page ads, and print handouts can create a cute little site for them. And there are other parts where an agency is able to convince a business to pay megabucks for a pay-per-click-supported big honking Flash landing page.

You won't find Trivera or our customers there. We're all too busy skating to where the puck is going.

Dabble Debuts in Milwaukee, Featuring Trivera's Tom Snyder

After a successful launch in Chicago, Dabble, which gives people an opportunity to attend and/or teach inexpensive classes in a wide range of topics has brought an ambitious schedule to Milwaukee.  That schedule includes two Social Media classes taught by Trivera president and CEO Tom Snyder.

The concept is brilliant. It allows people to attend hour or two-long classes covering a wide range topics, from beer brewing to bicycle repair, from swing dancing to  ceramics. But the topics also include topics of interest to small businesses, including entrepreneurship and Wordpress, and Tom's 2 classes:  Foursquare for Business on February 15th and Twitter for Marketers on February 28th.  The cost for each class is $20 per student.

People with talents and skills and an ability teach can also sign up to do a class of their own, and keep half the registration cost themselves.

Initially, the classes will be held at Spreenkler in the Grand Avenue Mall downtown, but plans are to expand into other areas as participation grows. Plans are also to expand into virtually every city in the US.


For more information, and to sign up, check out the Dabble website.

Why Two New Trends in Web Design Aren't New At All

As we celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of our founding as a Milwaukee web design company, I thought about what I could write besides the typical "we look back on another year" stuff. A couple articles I stumbled upon teamed up to lob me a softball.

The first was from Inc. Magazine. The article praised the value of "the designer who codes" as a "new breed of tech experts." I had to re-read the piece several times to see if it actually said what I thought it did. The premise is that the best user experience comes from team members that understand what it takes to create both the intuitive design and the robust back end technology to make it happen. My beef isn't with the concept. That's dead on. It's the fact that somehow it's the coolest new thing to roll down the highway, when it's been at the core of what Trivera has been doing for 16 years.

From the very beginning everyone on our team has understood that results-producing web sites are about creating relationships that build trust and result in a transaction. A critical component is to make sure that the technology doesn't get in the way, but rather, transparently re-enforces the brand experience between the company and the customer. That kind of interactivity requires the "smart design" and "creative technology" that have actually been our tagline all along.

The other article trumpeted a "new" idea called a responsive web design, which it defined as an approach that proposes that a web site's design should respond to a user's environment and behavior, based on the platform, orientation and screen size.

New? Really?

For some reason, now that there are iPads and Smartphones, we suddenly must now pay unique and individual attention to what visitors should see and experience when they come to a site. And while Web developers are playing "stupid HTML tricks" now to make sure the design looks perfect in every device possible, again, they're missing a bigger point. Truly responsive web design is based on more than just the device being used to view the site.

Over 16 years, I've met with hundreds of prospects and clients to discuss what they need to do take meaningful advantage of the Web. As I talk about our approach, I recite the mantra that I've used from day 1:

Every single web-based contact point needs to be created with the following 5 considerations:

1.) Who is coming? 2.) How did they get there? 3.) What did they expect to find? 4.) What did they use to access it? 5.) What does it need to do to encourage and facilitate a transaction as quickly and easily as possible?

I've said it a million times. Even though it's at the heart of our unique selling proposition, it sometimes becomes just recitation. But the other day as I went through the list, a prospect stopped me. He grabbed a pen, took out a piece of paper and said: "Can you repeat those, please?"

It's not rocket science, so why does it seem so revolutionary? Because so much of the web over the past 16 years has been "about the art.' Pretty pictures. Built in Flash. Incompatible with many browsers and devices. Limited in functionality due to lack of technical expertise. It's been created by agencies who view index.html as a new canvas that can't wait to be the vehicle for their next wonderfully creative expression. Who needs concepts like usability, intuitive navigation, conversion funnels when it's really all about the art?

I'm not diminishing the power of great graphical presentation, but a tepid economy is forcing businesses to demand measurable results for their marketing. For too many years businesses have laughed at the axiom: "Half my marketing money is well spent, the other half is totally wasted, but I just can't figure which is which," and then went on to pay marketing firms and advertising agencies huge sums of money for campaigns that favored creativity over measurability, and art over ROI.

The fact that everything that happens on the web is measurable is causing marketing gurus finally to see the light. But those of us who have been shining that light for over a decade and a half are saying it's about time. Since that January day in 1996 when we opened our doors as one of Milwaukee's very first web development companies and introduced "web sites with vision," we have focused on delivering demonstrable, measurable, and improvable value for our clients. It is…and always has been…about knowing exactly what the client's goals and visitor expectations are, and making sure that the design and technology work together intelligently to meet them both.

From our first e-commerce-enabled web site in 1997 and our first mobile website in 1999, "responsive web" has been at the core of what we do. What's now being called responsive design isn't just the next shiny object. It's "Smart Design and Creative Technology" that has differentiated us from our competition these past sixteen years, and is what will keep us leading the pack for the next sixteen.

Trivera's Tom Snyder One of Several Authors in New Business E-Book

100-ways-to-build-your-business-in-2012

Milwaukee's Clear Verve Marketing has released “100 Ways to Build Your Business in 2012, "  a collaborative effort between Clear Verve,  and 20 Milwaukee area firms who all contributed ideas to the book.

Trivera Founder and President Tom Snyder's contribution to the book is "5 Procedures to Resuscitate your Website."  Other sections of the book deal with topics from marketing to management.

“I was honored to be considered one of the smart Milwaukee business people chosen to contribute to the project," said Snyder. "We've always been a fan and partner of Clear Verve founder and president Christina Steder. To be a part of this project with her and so many other local business heroes was a no brainer. "

The e-book is full of ideas for businesses to implement over the coming year, and the site where the e-book can be downloaded also provides readers with the opportunity to receive monthly emails with tips to help maintain their momentum.

The e-book is available for download for free at www.100Ways2012.com. Sign up for the email tips is also available by clicking on the Continued Success tab.