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Among the Best Places to Work in Wichita

Five hundred people celebrated 40 area companies recently at the Wichita Business Journal’s 2017 Best Places to Work in Wichita competition. Greteman Group was a finalist. Winners were selected through employee survey responses. You can read about the event and view the video here.

Sonia Greteman walked to the stage to “Call Me,” by Blondie. The first 15 seconds are wicked disco chick rock, so it speaks to our wicked female-empowered agency. It’s cool, sophisticated and fun. And it has a call to action. Call me.

The WBJ’s tab ran a portion of a Q&A provided by each company. Here’s Greteman Group’s in full:

Besides normal pay and benefits what other types of rewards are used to recognize employees?
We reward our people with competitive pay, raises, opportunities to advance, and annual performance bonuses. We’ve tried many recognition tactics over our 28-year history. We give shout outs at our weekly all-agency swarm meetings and celebrate individual and team contributions on our extremely active social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram). Giving our team members speaking and community participation opportunities, such as free Tallgrass passes, and chances to work on meaningful pro bono projects are a few ways we shine the spotlight on our team. We abandoned any sort of employee-of-the-week institutional program long ago. Annual performance bonuses are the primary way we reward and recognize employees’ contributions. They have worked best by far and our team really appreciates them.

What is your company’s most popular perk?
Our wellness program consistently ranks number one in team member surveys. Lunchtime aerobics and after-hours yoga provide lotion through motion. Daily Meds offer 10-minute afternoon-break meditations. Try-It Fridays introduce us to new foods. Friday Dog Days connect us with our better four-legged selves. A lactation room supports young mothers. Garden parties, Day of the Dead shrines/luncheons, and holiday soirees celebrate the seasons. Mental health, work-life balance, opportunities for bonding and solicitation are as much a part of our wellness program as helping people lower their cholesterol or kick the smoking habit.

As a small business for 28 years, we’ve seen how careers and lives can be wrecked by chronic illness, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and more. This year, we celebrated 10 years of working with the Wichita YMCA’s corporate wellness team, and it’s making a difference. Our pocketbooks certainly feel more fit. Our health insurance premiums went down 15%, which is almost unheard of. That makes us want to kick up our heels.

Trainers come to our office at noon twice a week and lead us through muscle-building, heart-strengthening, stress-relieving exercises. And once a year, the Y’s wellness pros conduct comprehensive, individual onsite wellness assessments with anyone on our team who opts in. They say measure what matters. And what matters more than your health? Participation in our recent assessment came in at 65%, above the YMCA’s 60% corporate-wellness program average. An online portal lets team members compare their year-over-year changes and serves as a trusted resource for information and recommendations to reduce specific health risks.

Our team members appreciate the lower insurance premiums and feel good about seeing overall improvements in their health. Collectively, we ranked 78 out of a possible 100 points, which gets us a doing-well designation. Two more points and we’d be in the excellent category. You now know one of our goals for 2018.

When it comes to solutions, one size does not fit all. In addition to our noontime aerobics, we offer Wednesday-evening yoga classes and we have an exercise area with an elliptical machine, balance balls, small trampoline, small weights, even hula hoops.

We’ve offered monthly challenges to mix things up, even winning the YMCA’s Eight a Day Water Challenge some years back. It’s time to renew our efforts. To help our agency rise to that coveted excellent ranking, we’re launching some fun new initiatives.

  • Meditation Mondays 10-minute afternoon mindfulness break
  • Try-It Fridays twice a month showcasing different healthy foods and activities

We have a pocket park nearby and whenever possible, we’re encouraging team members to take their meetings outside and on the go. We think better when we’re moving. Walk and talk, baby. And breathe deep. It feels good.

We encourage team members to work reasonable hours and live a well-balanced life. We try to inspire healthy eating (no pop or junk food in our agency cupboard or Try-It Fridays foods), giving back to the community and working for good. When we’re contributing, we’re happier – and healthier.

We created a smoking cessation incentive and two (out of five) heavy smokers quit. We offer annual onsite flu clinics. We coordinate everything for the convenience of our staff. We try to make wellness hasslefree. The Y’s online portal lets team members compare their year-over-year changes.

What would others be surprised to know about your firm?
In the early ’90s, we designed one of the region’s first websites. It only had a few pages. There was little text. The navigation was so subtle finding your way around became a game. It had no SEO because Google didn’t exist. Nor did Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. You accessed the site through painfully-slow, dial-up modems. We persevered and evolved. Today, every project we touch is digital or has a digital component. We haven’t just changed with the times. We’ve been the change. That includes responsive design, search-engine optimization, data-driven marketing, email campaigns and social-media management. We dive into analytics to see how well everything’s performing – and adjust as needed. Those first years passed in a business-generating, round-the-clock, always-thinking blur. We set a fast pace. Dashing around the office (and world), obsessing over big ideas and small details. We’re calmer now – thanks to noontime aerobics and after-hours yoga – but the zeal remains.

What information do you share with employees? And how do you share it?
We share our prospect list verbally and in a presentation deck at weekly all-agency meetings. Our team knows what opportunities might be on our radar. Our new-business team reviews financials together at monthly meetings. We keep an eye on revenue and projections. At our annual retreat, we share company financials with the full team and discuss them – how they align with our goals and what our plans are moving forward. We work to create a sense of ownership in our results – how each team member plays a vital role.

What employee training opportunities does your company pay for or subsidize?
The agency offers on-the job, no-cost training through our monthly Creative Juice Bars, weekly all-agency swarms, quarterly Lunch and Learns (sometimes with outside professionals), regular post-project debriefs and more. We support team members by paying for agency-approved professional conferences and memberships – AIGA, AdFed, AMA, PRSA, WPC, Wichita Media, Bell Buckle, Bureau of Digital Design, etc. Team members are given worktime to contribute to community and professional boards and committee memberships. We learn by doing and from working alongside other leaders.

What health insurance coverage does your company provide?
We offer health and dental insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield, short- and long-term disability, and SAR/SEP employer-matching retirement contributions. We offer a cafeteria plan, which lets team members draw from a non-taxed health fund. Equally important, we offer a robust wellness program to help team members stay healthy. This includes onsite flu shots, onsite YMCA wellness assessments and more.

When employees talk about your company, what do they brag about?
They’re proud of the work we do, the clients we serve, the longstanding relationships we build, our reputation and our support of worthy causes and organizations. Giving makes us heart happy. Our philanthropic dedication is seen through donated and volunteer services to nonprofits that has included Tallgrass Film Festival’s DOX inaugural Spotlight sponsorship, ArtAID, Rainbows United’s Fashion Passion, Big Brothers & Sisters of Sedgwick County, Final Friday, Spay Neuter Kansas, Exploration Place, Kansas Humane Society’s Woofstock, Wichita Area Council of Girl Scouts, Communities in Schools, Wichita Grand Opera, Fisch Haus, Pals Animal Rescue, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots, Kansas Aviation Museum, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, Inter-Faith Ministries Operation Holiday, Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita Radio Reading Service, Roots & Shoots/Boys & Girls Club, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Angel Flight America, Voice for a Viable Future, Wichita Aviation Festival, Women’s Sexual Assault Center, Habitat for Humanity, Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas, Literary Resources, CityArts, Kansas Food Bank, Westar’s Project Deserve and more.

What are your best employee recruiting strategies?
Word-of-mouth and personal connections work best. Having team members reach out through face-to-face interactions or via phone, email or social media work better than any ad on or We also have success posting our positions through professional organizations such as AdFed, PRSA and AMA.

What makes your company the best place to work?
Our firm is true to who we are, which makes us the best place to work. We hire lifelong learners who find joy in their work. People with unique skills that, when combined, make us a powerhouse. When you hear, “I work at Greteman Group,” it packs a punch. Our values drive us and help us go home at the end of the day fulfilled and knowing we made a positive impact. (Listens loudly, Has your back, Takes no shortcuts, Shows grit and gusto, Imagines better ways, Gets results.)

How do you help employees reach a healthy work/life balance?
It starts at the top. President and Creative Director Sonia Greteman leads by example. She doesn’t work round the clock and doesn’t expect her team to either. Management encourages team members to lead rich, well-rounded lives – using their vacation time, tapping into PTO for a day of Tallgrass viewing (or whatever), taking advantage of flex time, valuing friend and family time, and more.

When it comes to hiring or retaining employees, what is the most important lesson you have learned?
The fit has to be right for both the agency and the team member. We’re a unique place and are not a good fit for people who just want to coast, goof off, or think good enough is good enough.

How do you promote diversity and inclusion within your company?
Our diversity – with Boomers, Millennials and Gen Xers all represented – adds to our firm’s energy, relevance and resourcefulness. Team members (and clients) can tap into the counsel of sage, seasoned veterans and the dynamism of up-and-coming 20-somethings making their mark. We welcome and respect differences in ethnicity, gender orientation, backgrounds and socioeconomic status.

How do you ensure that all employees are aligned with the company’s goals?
We develop goals together during our annual retreat and break them down to the individual level. Team member reviews include goal setting that is talked through with the supervisor. Each goal fits under the umbrella of a larger agency goal. Our five-member Traction team recently revised and updated our vision, mission and values. These were presented to the full agency verbally for input and buy in – and can be found on our recently launched website.

Aside from the BPTW competition, how do you measure employee engagement?
We issue a weekly Happiness Survey to all employees to monitor our team’s feelings about workload, support and more. We consistently receive high marks (4.65 out of 5). Supervisors are alerted if someone logs a low score, so the supervisor can address any issues quickly. Our management team reviews the results weekly. An even better reflection of team engagement and satisfaction would be our low turnover and staff longevity. People stay because they’re respected, enjoy the creative environment and beautiful workspaces, receive good compensation and benefits, and know they are heard.

Be the Light This Holiday

Tap into Your Power for Good

Turn on the TV, pick up a paper or check out your social news feed. And it can get you down. Between the national scandals, natural disasters and nonstop suffering, it’s easy to feel helpless. And hopeless.

This gloomy landscape inspired us to do something different for the holidays. Our newly launched Be the Light message encourages each of us to channel our better selves. To crank up the warmth. To be the good.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the power of one. Smile and people smile back. Lend a hand and start a good-deed chain reaction. I don’t just believe that. I’ve experienced it throughout my life, personally and professionally.

Do What You Can, Where You Can

Agency clients and friends will soon open mailboxes containing a Be the Light luminaria. But anyone can join the fun. The holidays offer a perfect opportunity to spread peace, love and joy. Do something big or small. Spend lots or not a dime.

For us, this year we donated services to Mark Arts, the former Wichita Center for the Arts. This hip, happening regional school opens its vibrant facility at the corner of 13th and Rock on New Year’s Eve. It appeals to a broad demographic: young and old, urban and rural, wealthy and those less fortunate, welcoming and uplifting all.

Make the Holidays Glow

You can dispel the darkness. Kindness is contagious. Look around. We each have our sphere of influence. How might you brighten your world? Let’s each Be the Light.

2018 Seven Marketing Musts

A new year approaches. Let’s resolve right now to build on the tried and true, while also incorporating new channels and tactics. By capitalizing on the many opportunities now at our disposal, we can make our marketing efforts smarter and more quantifiable. We can put information in the hands of the right people at the right time. We can build brand preference and loyalty. And we can improve the health of our company’s bottom line.

As I consider the strongest marketing trends for the coming year, here are the key ones I suggest you build into your 2018 marketing plan. These are in no particular order. You should do them all.

1. Boost Performance with Bots

Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) on everything you can. Increase your sales leads by targeting lookalikes, people resembling current customers. Geofence to send contextual, promotional messages to customers that enter a desired virtual perimeter.

Big data and machine learning can help broaden your net, finding and connecting with prospective customers. AI can do what a human never could: processing and managing millions of interactions and keywords, testing and modifying customized performance-boosting content variations based on personas and lifestyles, and more accurately predicting outcomes. Salesforce predicts AI usage will more than double over the next two years.

Integrate chatbots to improve the customer experience, speeding up transactions and offering anytime, anywhere support. In two years, chatbots will likely dominate 85 percent of online interactions.

Use social data to better understand and connect with people. AI can search visuals shared as well as text and voice. At Big Boulder this past summer, Netra CEO Richard Lee said our eyes used to be the window to our soul, but now it’s what we choose to photograph and share on social media. As a result, the camera’s replacing the keyboard for communication. Use this social data to refine and improve both strategy and tactics.

2. Stream Live Video

Seventy-five percent of all 2017 internet traffic came from video streaming. And viewers watched live streams three times longer than regular video content. Think about how you might build live streams into your tradeshow presence, new product launches, CEO announcements and more.

Feed quality and enhancements like interactive features just keep getting better and better. One of our favorite platforms is Vimeo Live. It broadcasts your content without ads, offers live audience chat and calls to action to engage viewers real-time.

You can customize the live player with your branded colors and logo on your website or elsewhere. And live and post-event analytics let you know just how well your strategy worked – and helps you make strategic adjustments next time.

3. Build for Mobile Video

The small screen delivers big impact. Smartphone and tablet video viewing deliver in-the-moment experiences and a broad reach. 2018 should see mobile video viewing jump 25 percent with viewers watching 36 minutes on a mobile device compared to only 19 minutes on a desktop or laptop computer. Not surprisingly, mobile ad buys should reach almost $18 billion, a 49 percent increase.

Short, to-the-point videos that explain your product or service are four times more likely to be read than text on the page. Aviation’s highly mobile target audience will spend time with your explainer videos on everything from a pilot upset-and-prevention tutorial to a step-by-step avionics installation.

4. Attract with SEO

Help the right people find you. The value of search engine optimization (SEO) continues to grow because we’re all conditioned to allow search engines to lead us to what we’re looking for. Marketing in 2018 will be more pull than push. Consumers’ increasing sophistication demands relevance, timeliness and speed. Don’t waste consumers’ time. Present real solutions to real challenges. And quickly show – through online tutorials, blog posts, case studies and more – why you’re the option they’re seeking. Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter vice president of global brand and creative strategy, said it best: “People used to hunt for content. Content is hunting us right now.”

5. Tell Your Story

Publish your own content through web blogs and social content. This doesn’t replace a strong, consistent media-relations strategy, but you cannot be solely reliant on others to tell your story. For one, no one knows it as well as you. For another, you have more motivation to get it right, to tell it completely and to see the news value. Another plus for aviation influencers, you have a loyal, ardent and trusting audience. Whereas only 33 percent of people have faith in ad content, 90 percent of consumers believe peer recommendations. So, tell your customer stories. Share company updates. Introduce new team members. Reveal upcoming plans. Build loyalty by helping your customers feel part of your brand.

6. Make Your Website Work Harder

I keep preaching this point: websites cannot simply be online brochures. It’s good if they’re beautiful, but they have to be more than a pretty face. 2018 sites need to deploy clean, simple designs that help people on the go quickly navigate to content and through transaction. Skinny down files that load sluggishly and frustrate users. Shed clutter. Prioritize content. Guide the visitor. Create white space. Let your site breathe.

Use movement and scroll-triggered animations to create interest and guide the user. As mentioned earlier, add more video for greater engagement. Expect to connect more with the Internet of Things (IoT). Website integration with smart devices will require more complex coding on the backend, but you can still present a simple-to-use visitor interface.

Tap into AI, chatbots and machine learning for more seamless interactions. These tools keep getting better and better and can take your online customer experience to an ever-higher level. You know how good it feels when you walk into a restaurant and the staff remembers your name. Your site can similarly respond to visitors, remembering past interactions and preferences. Give security priority. People will only engage if they trust the site. Ensure to update your security certificate before you close out the year.

7. Use Creative to Cut Through

Marshall McLuhan famously coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.” In 2018, experiential creative strategies offer new ways of creating brand connections. An example might be brand promotion that lets users take a virtual-reality tour through your new FBO. A simpler, but still powerful, example could be using head-turning visuals and humorous copy to cause a consumer to pause, absorb your messaging, then share it with their social circle. David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” I’ll buy that.

Marketing today is very much in flux. Everyone’s working to provide a strong value proposition for their products and services. To deliver faster responses and improved efficiencies. To show strong return on investment through clear, concise, indisputable analytics. To leverage technology to mimic human interaction while seamlessly communicating with other systems. In short, it’s never been a better time to be a marketer.

This column originally appeared in the December 7, 2017 issue of BlueSky News