Green Apple Strategy’s Samantha Pyle developed an innovative work model to benefit clients, employees and contract talent. The team shares lessons learned as a hybrid agency.Continue reading
The Culture Index: Transforming How Marketing Teams Work Together
Effective marketing requires a combination of strategy, operations, and detailed execution. Because of this, most marketing teams are best equipped when people function in a variety of roles. As Seth Godin puts it, you need a scientist, an engineer, and an operations manager. The challenge, of course, stems from ensuring that your people are in the right role and know how to work together in order to achieve your goals. Workplace culture is created through the everyday interactions and experiences that team members have with each other.
Green Apple Strategy is a hybrid agency, so the culture we cultivate with our team is incredibly important. We’ve worked hard to build a structure where people are working out of their strengths and communicating effectively to serve our clients. The Culture Index has become one of the most helpful tools for achieving this goal. It’s something we discuss on a regular basis. We’ve also included it as part of our hiring process to ensure we find the right people for each new role.
In this article, we wanted to provide an overview of The Culture Index and highlight a few specific ways it has transformed the way we work together as a marketing team.
An Overview of The Culture Index
The Culture Index Survey is an assessment that evaluates how people communicate, solve problems, and use or alter their innate traits to adjust to their work roles. The Culture Index Survey can help you assess:
- Do you prefer to work alone or collaboratively when solving problems?
- Are you more likely to follow established processes or think outside the box to create a campaign?
- Do you work quickly or need time to methodically think through an idea?
The survey allows you to identify patterns for each team member based on these traits. From there, it allows you to analyze the findings in a peer-to-peer format and provides an action plan for how your team can improve processes. The ultimate goal is to transform the way you work and create a more productive and enjoyable environment.
How The Culture Index Can Transform Your Marketing Team
Here are a few specific ways the Culture Index has transformed the way our team works together:
1. You can recognize and understand personality differences.
Most communication breakdowns between team members stem from differences in personality, approach, and personal strengths. One of the greatest benefits of the Culture Index is that it helps you recognize how another person operates. This creates greater empathy and understanding among the team rather than staying in a constant loop of miscommunication and frustration.
2. You can maximize your team’s impact by allowing people to capitalize on their strengths.
The Culture Index Survey helps you get a full understanding of employee satisfaction and experience within your company. If a team member is frustrated by their day-to-day experiences, they may not mention that to leadership. The Culture Index is a low-pressure way to shine a light on where your team members fit and what type of role they might enjoy best. As Jim Collins famously explained, it’s important to get the right people on the bus. But getting them in the right seat is another important step to ensuring your employees are more engaged and happy at work.
3. Your team is equipped with resources to resolve conflict.
Any time you work with someone for a period of time, there’s bound to be conflict. It’s important to normalize this reality. When conflicts arise within your marketing team, it’s important to address them promptly. Your team can refer to the Culture Index Survey to better understand the root causes of the conflict and develop targeted strategies for resolving it.
4. You can enhance strategic planning for your long-term goals.
Every marketing team requires strategic planning. The Culture Index allows you to maximize your planning efforts by allowing people to focus on areas in which they’re naturally gifted. It also allows you to give plenty of time for those who rely on methodical thinking to discover ideas while allowing others to respond in real time.
We’re incredibly grateful for the way The Culture Index has shaped and supported our team. If you’re looking for insights on how to create a marketing team or are interested in joining our team at Green Apple, we’d love to connect. You can check out our current openings or learn how we can be a marketing partner for your business.
Connecting to our Community: Thistle Farms
Generosity and making an impact on our Nashville community are two values that shape our work at Green Apple Strategy. We don’t want to be an agency that’s simply known for our work. We want to be known for making a positive difference in our community. From the founding of our company we’ve offered pro bono services to nonprofits and organizations serving people across Tennessee. We’ve also encouraged our team to take time off to pursue volunteer opportunities. Our new partnership with Thistle Farms in Nashville combines both of those values into a relationship we’re excited to grow.
Thistle Farm’s Mission & Impact in Nashville (and Beyond)
Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, sex trafficking, and addiction. The organization was founded in 2001 to offer women sisterhood and a safe place to heal. Today, it supports hundreds of women across our community by providing a safe place to live, meaningful work, and other resources to gain financial independence. The organization has become a staple of our community in Nashville and is widely known for its remarkable self-care products and welcoming cafe.
The company also supports women around the world through its social enterprise efforts that span 21 countries and support 1,400 artisans through product sales and small business development.
Green Apple’s Desire to Help Them Grow
While there are dozens of incredible nonprofit organizations in our area, we were particularly inspired by the way Thistle Farms raises up women in our community. Their mission is to empower women who have been through extremely difficult times. Thistle Farms’ commitment to helping individuals get back on their feet resonated with our whole team.
Green Apple began volunteering with Thistle Farms in 2022. As our relationship has grown, we wanted to provide additional support. Currently, we’re collaborating with leadership to envision how we can deepen our commitment through quarterly team volunteer days and ways to serve their mission.
Thistle Farms has helped thousands of women flourish because its leadership recognizes that healing love is the strongest force for change in the world. It’s an honor to partner with such an incredible organization.
5 Best Practices for Marketing Project Management
Let’s be honest – managing all of your marketing efforts is tough. There are dozens of steps to move a single project from an idea to a completed deliverable and requires collaboration between multiple parties. While there can be a lot that can go wrong, the good news is that there’s a way to bring order to all the madness that marketing campaigns bring with them – marketing project management!
Project management is more than a way to make sure your team is staking on time and budget, it actually increases the ROI of your marketing efforts. Marketers who plan projects are four times more likely to be successful.
At Green Apple, we’ve learned quite a bit about the foundational principles and best practices for effective marketing project management. While some of the lessons we learned the hard way, others were discovered through the creative problem-solving of our team. Today, we’ve built a team of gifted client relations specialists whose primary focus is to execute an effective project management process.
For this article, we’ve asked one of our assistant client relations specialists, Kayla Reyes, to share a few insights she uses when it comes to “keeping all the plates spinning” for our clients.
5 Best Practices for Marketing Project Management
There are dozens of elements that go into managing your marketing projects effectively. From creating your overall structure and procedures to defining the communication processes, there’s a lot to consider. But how do you go about implementing these foundational principles for marketing project management? Here are a few best practices we’ve learned over the years:
1. Hire the right people.
Many of the tasks and responsibilities of a project manager require a certain mindset and skillset. Some people are big vision, whiteboard dreamers. They typically make better strategists that project managers.
At Green Apple, we use a couple of tools to assess a team member’s project management acumen. For example, we have several enneagram ones who embody the characteristics of being honest, detail-oriented professionals. We also use the Culture Index to evaluate the interpersonal skills that are required for project management.
2. Find tools to help.
Once you have the right people in your project management role, it’s important to equip them with tools that can help them be successful. In today’s digital-first world, this often means finding the right project management software for your team. As a hybrid marketing agency, we’ve found a lot of success in using tools like Basecamp and Asana for project management and collaboration with clients.
3. Build consistent processes and systems around your tools.
Investing in project management software is only helpful if your team knows how to use it. It requires intentional planning to discover how the match the features that are available in a project management tool with the internal processes and structure of your team. Training is another important factor to ensure everyone has what they need to fulfill their task and nothing slips through the cracks during a project.
4. Take a detail-oriented approach to execution.
Organizing and streamlining ideas and projects is essential to keep on track with deadlines. This is even more true in a fast-paced agency environment when you’re serving multiple clients at once.
While moving a project through the stages of development is one key, making sure it’s done well and nothing is overlooked is another. The people who are really great at what they do focus on executing – not just the big things but also on all the little details. A good project manager recognizes that even the tiniest details matter. They make sure everyone has what they need for their specific task and address any mistakes that are made along the way.
5. Periodically ask what’s working and what’s not.
Consistently asking, “is this working?” is just as important with your project management process as it is with other areas of marketing. At Green Apple, we make sure our project management approach integrates with our client’s internal processes. We’ve found it helpful to host quarterly meetings with our project managers and Orchard members to identify ways to improve our project management processes internally.
“As a project manager, I love getting into the weeds to help our clients launch a strategy or create a campaign that makes a tangible difference in the world,” Kayla described. “It’s always meaningful to look back and celebrate the hundreds of steps that are taken — and all the people who are involved – to execute all of the marketing efforts for our clients.”
You can learn more about Green Apple’s unique approach or connect with our team to discover how we can become your marketing partner.
Olivia Cooper Promoted to Client Relations Director
Providing Greater Overarching Strategy and Creative Problem SolvingIn her new role as Client Relations Director, Olivia will focus on providing oversight and strategic direction on all client accounts. This shift allows her to leverage her skills of problem-solving, opportunity analysis, and strategic plan development to impact more of the work we do for clients. “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the growth we’ve had with several clients over the last few years,” said Olivia. “Each day, we serve as a strategic partner and that means constantly bringing ideas and opportunities to them in hopes of growing their brand and, ultimately, their business.”
Mentoring and Developing OthersAnother important part of the Director’s role is helping to mentor and lead the Client Relations Team. As Director, Olivia will have dedicated time to invest in the client relations team to provide training and guidance to help them grow in their roles. “Green Apple is in a phase of growth, so I’m really excited to be a part of expanding the Client Relations team and fostering an environment for the team where we all continue to learn from each other and the relationships we have with our clients,” Olivia said. “ We have a group of insanely talented (and fun!) people on the Client Relations Team and I’m really motivated to continue to work with them to enhance the services we provide for our clients,” she added. “One of the things I love most about leading the team at Green Apple is watching people grow and develop as they discover their gifts and lean into their work with passion, commitment, and creativity,” said Samantha Pyle, Owner and Chief Strategist of Green Apple Strategy. “Since her very first day, I’ve watched Olivia bring the best version of herself to our clients. I am grateful for her partnership and excited about the greater impact she can make by stepping into the director role.”
Reflections & Celebrations as Green Apple Celebrates 10 Years
1. Creating an agency based on a long-term, strategic partnership approach.I worked in multiple marketing and PR agencies throughout my career — all of which had a specific niche for supporting clients. When I started Green Apple in 2012, I wanted to build something different. I wanted our agency to be a strategic partner for clients, not simply helping with their immediate needs. This approach has shaped everything we’ve done – from client onboarding to staffing — and has made a tremendous difference for both Green Apple and our clients.
2. Helping clients find their “story” and tell it effectively in the digital age.Storytelling has always been an important part of marketing and advertising. When Green Apple was founded in 2012, businesses were trying to navigate the new digital landscape. It was incredible to walk alongside our clients as they navigated how to tell their stories more effectively — creating dynamic websites, leveraging the power of social media, investing in content marketing as a way to draw potential customers into the brand.
3. Being able to constantly optimize our efforts and prove marketing’s impact on the bottom line.As marketing evolved, so did our ability to measure it. We were able to define key performance indicators that would make a tangible difference in our client’s bottom line and then make data-driven decisions. It is still an incredible feeling when we can sit down with a client and see the direct impact we had on their growth or work alongside them to evolve our strategy based on what we’re learning.
4. Developing and evolving our partnerships with clients.The longevity we’ve had with clients is one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of. Because of our partnership approach, we’ve adapted our services for clients as their businesses evolve. Because of this, we have several clients that started with Green Apple when we were a young company.
5. Working alongside a team of good people.It’s almost impossible to say what’s made the most difference between our approach and our team. From the beginning, I wanted to create a stable agency for our employees. I wanted to provide and give our team as much as we did to our employees. I’m incredibly grateful for all the team members, past and current, who partnered to help make Green Apple a great place to work for the past ten years. I always believed that hiring good people who want to help will make a tremendous difference. After ten years, I’m more convinced of that than ever before.
6. Starting the Green Apple Orchard.From the beginning, I wanted to create “the Orchard” as a team of freelance specialists that could serve our clients by doing what they do best. The Orchard has transformed our ability to work with top talent and provide clients with a team built just for them based on their needs and goals.
7. Partnering, learning, and growing from an incredible network.You don’t grow a business by yourself. As I reflect on the past ten years, I’m incredibly grateful for all of the valuable connections and meaningful connections I’ve had. Grabbing lunch with a potential client after being recommended by a mutual friend is still one of my favorite activities. But it’s more than referrals – it’s also milestones like contributing to the national Business Journal network and joining an entrepreneurial coaching group, which have helped me grow and learn.
8. Evolving our agency into a hybrid office model.Staying connected has always been an important value for our team. While we began testing a “hybrid” office model in 2019, COVID completely changed the game when everyone was asked to work remotely. It was a difficult decision at the moment, but shifting to a hybrid office has been one of the biggest game-changers for our agency. This has opened up our ability to hire really great talent from anywhere. Right now, we have full-time employees based in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.
9. Joining EO Nashville in 2019 & winning Best in Business in 2020.One of my personal goals was to achieve $1 million in revenue before our 10th anniversary. We were able to hit that milestone in 2019 — which has created an incredible opportunity to join EO Nashville. While Nashville has become an “it city” for big businesses, joining the EO has opened up an opportunity to connect and learn from other Nashville-based business owners who care about making a difference in our city. The following year we were honored as one of the best marketing agencies in Nashville. Both of these milestones are markers of many of the highlights from the rest of this list.
10. Navigating all of the challenges and complexities of the past two years.The pandemic has changed our lives — personally and professionally. Almost every business suffered somehow, and navigating the challenges with our clients was no easy task. While several clients had to pause their marketing efforts because of the pandemic, we’ve started working with them to regain their footing. While most agencies were forced to furlough or lay off staff, our team has actually grown. As I look back over the past two years, I’m incredibly grateful and proud of the way our team has navigated the challenges of the past two years. As I “study the rings” from Green Apple’s ten years in business, the overwhelming emotion is gratitude. I want to thank all of my team members, Orchard contractors, clients, networking connections, and friends who have worked with or simply mentioned Green Apple over the past ten years. You have all carved your initials in our tree.
How Green Apple Works to Build Your Perfect Marketing Team
When Green Apple was founded in 2012, we started with the commitment to always find the best way possible to serve our clients and support our staff. Rather than striving to become an agency with large office space, we wanted to stay nimble and find workspaces that were collaborative but not constraining. Instead of hiring dozens of full-time employees and trying to find ways to keep their plates full with projects our clients potentially didn’t need, we wanted to create a model that embraced the growing freelance economy to work with specialists who were building their businesses.
That’s where the concept of the Green Apple Orchard began to take root. The Orchard allows us to build the perfect marketing team for our clients by working with some of the industry’s top creative talent.
How the Green Apple Orchard Produces Even Greater Results for Our Clients
- We employ a team of freelance specialists to offer the best talent.
The Orchard is comprised of writers, print designers, web designers, web developers, photographers, and videographers who serve on our accounts as Green Apple team members. Many of the Orchard members have decades of experience in their areas of expertise. Some would be too expensive to hire on their own, but we have access to their services because they enjoy working alongside Green Apple’s clients in addition to their other commitments.
- We match you with team members with the experience or expertise you need.
The Green Apple Orchard becomes even more valuable as we begin to work with new clients. Each client that comes in at Green Apple undergoes a thorough onboarding period. During this process, we select Orchard members who will fit best with those accounts for the services they need (writing, photos, web design, web management, graphic design, etc.). We’re able to work with specialists from various backgrounds who often have direct experience related to our client’s industry.
- We can grow our team quickly as your needs expand.
Your marketing strategies and tactics should evolve as your company evolves and trends change. This is where hiring an internal marketing team can become tricky. For example, if you want to drastically shift your approach from an inbound content marketing approach to a more targeted account-based marketing strategy, your internal team might not have the experience or skills to deliver. Because of the Orchard, we’re able to adapt our teams and services with clients as the relationship grows or your needs expand.
4. We maximize our hybrid model to meet your needs from around the world.
For the past decade, we’ve worked with specialists and talent from around the southeast. At the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, Green Apple officially embraced a hybrid office model that allowed our entire team to work virtually but still have access to a central meeting space for meetings, brainstorming, team building, open-space working, and team collaboration.
As a hybrid agency, we’ve become incredibly skilled at working with Orchard members from across the country. This allows us to tap into resources from literally around the world to meet our clients’ needs.
Grow Your Business Through the Orchard
Are you looking for a strategic, full-service marketing firm that has the experience and adaptability to meet your needs? Contact Green Apple Strategy today to schedule a consultation. Our team is happy to sit down with you to discuss your goals and how we can help you achieve them.
Why Corporate Social Responsibility Should Be on Your Radar in 2022
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?Essentially, corporate social responsibility is a concept in which businesses value activities that benefit society on a local, national, or global scale. It’s an approach in which businesses are equally concerned about bettering society as much as they are profitability and other business functions. Approaching business with a socially responsible mindset has become an important priority for many of today’s consumers, investors, and employees. According to this Aflac survey, 70% of Americans believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place, while just 37% believe it’s most important for a company to make money for shareholders. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why every business owner and marketing manager could make the case for integrating corporate social responsibility.
Why is Social Responsibility Relevant for Marketing Your Business?Here are a few specific ways a corporate social responsibility platform can impact your marketing efforts:
- CSR can help you recruit and retain top talent.
- CSR can help attract investors.
- CSR shows consumers you care.
How to Create a Social Responsibility Platform that Works for Your BusinessBeing socially responsible can mean a lot of different things for various businesses. If you’re interested, here are a few ways you can adopt a social responsibility platform:
- Ethical Responsibility — This approach is committed to the ethical treatment of all stakeholders, including leadership, employees, investors, and suppliers. ABLE is a local business here in Nashville that is one of our favorite examples.
- Economic Responsibility — This approach isn’t about maximizing profits. Instead, it’s about positively impacting whoever is most important to your business.
- Philanthropic Responsibility — This is a corporate responsibility platform that is built on using profits or business functions to make the world a better place. TOMS shoes has been a long-time example of this type of social responsibility.
- Environmental Responsibility — This is a commitment to positively impacting the world by adopting an environmentally-friendly and sustainable approach to business. Blueland is one of our favorite eco-friendly brands making a difference in the world.
Having Trouble Hiring? Here’s How to Market to New Employees
Offer a Remote Work OptionTo stand out in a tight labor market, improving the benefits you offer to potential candidates is a surefire way to make your job listing more attractive to a potential candidate. In 2022, that means considering the possibility of offering fully remote or partially remote work, allowing for flexible work schedules or filling several part-time roles. Research shows the most talented and skilled candidates will opt for a remote position over a traditional position. Green Apple Strategy is a fully remote company. While our origins, heart, and investment are in Tennessee businesses, we’ve brought in talent from Colorado, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Alabama. Offering this flexibility to workers means that we received applications from qualified candidates all over the U.S.
Network ProactivelyWhile tools like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter have made finding qualified candidates easier, intentional networking (online or in-person) is hard to beat for connecting with vetted candidates you can trust. Interact with candidates on LinkedIn, follow leading HR firms, and connect with local colleges, universities, and trade schools in order to increase both the quantity and the quality of your hiring pool.
Create An Apprentice or Internship ProgramBringing in young, talented individuals is always a good idea, as they can provide a fresh perspective and are often eager to start their career with a bang. When you run an apprenticeship or internship program, you’re cultivating a qualified hiring pool and building relationships with potential new employees. Even if your program doesn’t end in a full-time hire, participants will receive experience and education and you will expand your talent network. It’s a win-win.
Improve Your Benefits PackageIn lieu of remote work, or to supplement that offering, consider making changes to your benefits package. In a crowded labor market, anWWi attractive benefits package can help your job listing stand out among other, similar roles. Changes to benefits don’t have to be huge but see if you can get creative in what you offer. Could you extend health care coverage to part-time employees? Increase the 401K match you offer by a percentage point or two? Offer a coworking space stipend to remote employees? Increase PTO by a week or move to an unlimited PTO option, as many tech companies do? Candidates weigh the pros and cons of each position they consider, and it can sway a candidate towards accepting a particular role.
Research Your Hiring CompetitorsIt’s tough to offer a competitive job listening if you’re unaware of what other roles your potential candidates are vying for. Make use of LinkedIn to research similar roles to the one you hope to fill. After all, your candidates will be viewing many of the same listings. And don’t forget to look outside your local hiring market. Candidates today have access to national and international job listings. Have a good sense of the salary, benefits, and responsibilities that the role you are hiring for entails. It will help you to craft a more informed and competitive job listing that’s likely to attract attention from candidates.
Start Attracting Qualified Candidates Through Targeted MarketingA strong presence on hiring sites like LinkedIn is one of the best ways to position your brand to attract new and skilled talent. Let Green Apple Strategy craft an innovative approach to your social media channels so that you can start targeting and attracting new team members. Reach out to us today for a consultation.
How to Create a More Customer-Centric Culture
It’s obvious when companies genuinely care about their customers, not just as purchasers but as people. As a customer, you want to feel valued and reassured that your purchase, experience, or service is satisfactory. Building consistent and reactive communication helps you develop long-term and loyal consumer relationships. So, how do you do this? You put the customer first. A customer-centric culture revolves around making the customer happy before, during, and after their purchase, ultimately earning established loyalty and higher growth. This strategy means listening to your customers and implementing what you learn from them. Not only does this practice make consumers satisfied, it helps you stand out from the competition for potential customers. While there are several methods of the approach, we’ve gathered a top five for you to review while you begin to design a customer-centric approach in your organization.
1. Invest In Your Team
Imagine you want to make a complaint about a bad experience. If you encounter a less-than-helpful person when expressing your concerns, you likely won’t return to that business. That’s why you want to hire employees who understand the value of customer relationships.
While these customer-facing individuals do drive revenue based on customer experience, that’s not their primary duty. More than anything, team members who work directly with customers ensure the customer is understood and satisfied with their experience. To avoid disconnection between customer service and other departments, strategically merge other divisions or schedule regular meetings. Customer service shouldn’t be only certain employees’ responsibility– it should be everyone’s. Though customer service isn’t the only factor in adopting customer-centric ways, hiring and collaborating with excellent people are guaranteed ways to make your customers feel more secure.
2. Have Empathy for Your Customers
Responding with empathy is essential when developing a successful customer-centric approach. These responses consist of implementing progressive thinking, understanding emotional needs, and genuinely caring about the individual’s concerns. Empathy is a learned and valuable skill for your team members to possess.
According to a PwC study, only 38% of U.S. consumers say the employees they interact with understand their needs. That is a monumental opportunity for your company to specialize in empathetic proficiencies and automatically outshine your competition.
3. Be One Step Ahead
When planning your customer-centric strategy, think of previous customer experiences, including:
- Clarity issues
- BONUS: “What If” scenarios
As a team, compile these trouble spots and either solve the hiccups or list the solutions on your website so your existing and potential customers can have their questions asked as soon as possible. You learn these areas of improvement by listening to your customers and are rewarded by their appreciation and extended business.
4. Prioritize Your Relationships First
Did you know that customers who have a good experience are 5X more likely to recommend your product or service than if they have a very poor experience? Relationships and customer satisfaction matter. Whether it’s fun communication through social media interaction or substantiating trust in B2B discussions, you want to know what your customers’ needs and priorities are before all else. Maybe it’s the way you respond or how you market toward products that create customer attraction to your brand. Research and listen to what your audience specifies; you’ll continue to build mutually beneficial relationships.
Ready to Build Your Customer-Centric Culture?
If you’re interested in learning more about how your business could thrive initiating a customer-centric business strategy, contact us today for a consultation! We’re excited to investigate the precise approach for you and your audience.