JUNE 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 45 INVESTING IN SOFTWARE for your seed business is like investing in any other type of physical equipment, be that a new warehouse, treating/bagging plant or upgraded color sorter. You expect some return on investment. With a new color sorter, you can easily measure the increase in volume or quality; the ROI is apparent and tangible. With software, it’s not as easy to measure, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot give the same return. With the right software, you could save 5 percent of people’s time across your business. A savings such as this would free up your staff to focus on servicing customers and being more productive, because there are less non- productive, mundane, repetitive adminis- trative tasks to perform and there is less wasted time in identifying and rectifying errors. They say, “time is money.” It’s really what you do with your time that matters. The return is an increase in “money gener- ating” time that adds to your bottom line. The right software could help to elimi- nate 3 percent of lost or misplaced seed inventory every year. You would have 3 percent more inventory available to ship and invoice, and you would have reduced the direct losses in producing and pro- cessing. Software exists that can accu- rately track seed inventory from raw seed production to finished product. It identi- fies where the inventory is located in the warehouse and exactly where the inven- tory came from and where it has gone by recording each and every transaction. This would give you the level of visibility that you need to ensure nothing “goes missing.” Software could help increase the number of shipments you can turn in a day by 10 percent. You can drive processes across your business in a consistent and effective way so that the decisions about which products to process and ship are streamlined. Tracking the various activi- ties needed between the operations is What is the Value of Having the Right Software? VINCENT VENEZIALE, CULTURA SEED SOLUTIONS PRODUCT MANAGER @Vince_Veneziale • vincent.veneziale@culturatech.com • culturatech.com automated. This gives you greater control over what needs to be ready, when and where. Tracking could effectively connect your business operations together so that you can do more with the same resources. Over time, it’s not uncommon for a busi- ness to be able to double the number of transactions it can execute without adding more people. With the latest software you could increase sales by 4 percent. Having accurate data can help you analyze sales demand and customer activity. Using the data can help you better predict and prepare for customer demand. This will enable you to have what the customers need, when they need it. This quicker, more immediate response helps to drive up sales and improve the level of service. Investing in software is really an invest- ment in your business’s future success. Make sure you spend the money wisely on a solution you know will help you grow your business. AH, SPRING! When I wrote this, planting was underway, and the harsh winter was in our rear-view mirrors. Yet, all I could con- centrate on was sheets of ice … and men with beards. Yep, it was NHL playoff time. Why am I talking hockey in a column about content marketing? Well both hockey and content marketing have tal- ented “creators,” plenty of available data or statistics and expert opinions. Yet, the outcome is uncertain. Winning is a calcu- lated gamble. One has to experiment and take risks to find when skill, strategy and a wee bit of luck align. Using the NHL playoffs as inspiration, consider a playoff bracket as a tool to guide your content marketing strategy. Here’s two ways to do this. One involves taking existing content and having your own team “bet” on which content was the most popular. Find content where you have some audience data. Data may be number of views, visits, print volumes or sign-ups. Select two to four pieces of the same con- tent type — newsletters, sell sheets, social media posts, webpages or videos. Have your internal team bet on which piece had the most traction or audience feedback. Look to the data to announce a winner of that bracket and move to the next bracket. What this approach does is two-fold; it gets your team thinking about content and how it’s used, and it gives you an idea of what content resonates since your team is an indirect target audience. The second approach to the bracket challenge aims to engage your custom- ers/audience. Set up a bracket where there’s an option between similar topics (Or products. Or anything that is relevant to your business). Have customers vote on their favorite. The “winner” of one bracket moves on to the next round, which could be different topics or just another layer within the same topic. Post the bracket challenge in your retail location or launch an online version. This approach is basically a fun, topical and unique way to survey your customers. Done right, this approach could give insight into your customers’ needs, wants or pain points. Finallly, be sure to tailor the bracket structure to your business. Obviously, the bracket doesn’t have to be as large as the NHL’s 16-team bracket. So, who do you have in the final? 2 Ways a Playoff Bracket Can Help Guide Your Marketing Strategy KELLY SAUNDERSON, ISSUES INK DIRECTOR OF CLIENT SERVICES @Issuesink • ksaunderson@issuesink.com • issuesink.com