Monthly Archives

June 2014

The Health Hazards of Sitting too Much and 5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Them

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Last week I got a stand-up desk. My new desk attachment allows me to raise my computer and keyboard and stand up while I am working. If I don’t want to stand, I can lower it back down and work from a normal seated position at my desk. Why, you ask, would I want this? After all, it is a little clunky, takes up space and requires adjustments throughout the day. Here’s why.

Most of us are aware that sitting all day long is not good for us. Back and neck pain and weight gain are what usually comes to mind. However, I was shocked to find out just how bad sitting for prolonged periods really is for us. Following is a list of health risks associated with sitting for eight hours a day: heart disease, over productive pancreas, colon cancer, muscle degeneration (weak abs and tight hips), foggy brain, strained neck, shoulder and back issues (inflexible spine and disk damage), obesity, leg disorders (poor circulation and soft bones) and increased risk of death from any cause.

Wow. As someone who works at a desk job and spends about an hour and a half in the car daily, I was concerned. I had heard of stand-up desks or treadmill desks, but didn’t know much about them. Then my husband had one installed in his office and loved it. That’s all it took, I knew I had to have one.

It has only been a week, but I am getting used to the new configuration. I find that I am definitely standing more than sitting and am happy overall with the arrangement. But what if you can’t have one of these installed in your workspace? Here are five simple things you can do to minimize your health risks:

  1. Take regular breaks. Stand up and walk every half hour.
  2. Sit on something that forces your core muscles to work. This could be an exercise ball or a backless stool.
  3. Alternate between sitting and standing. For example, stand up while talking on the phone, eating lunch or attending a meeting.
  4. Stretch your hip flexors daily for 3 minutes on each side
  5. Try yoga poses to improve extension and flexibility

If you are able to get a stand-up workstation – go for it. If not, follow the tips listed above to stay healthy.

sherylblog

 

 

Sources:
Mayoclinic.com, James A. Levine, M.D., Ph. D.
Washingtonpost.com, Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark, January 2014

Catherine’s Favorite Things

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As the newest addition to the d.trio team, I had planned to write my first blog about my observations as an outsider at a new agency. But then, Megan sent the following email around and it quickly changed my direction.

From Megan:

“Here’s how generations are characterized by a (self-professed?) generational marketing expert. Curious, do you agree/disagree?

Greatest Generation:  Strong work ethic with patriotic undertones.

Baby Boomers:  hard workers with rebellious streaks.

Generation Xers: Rebel consumers with minimal time for work.

Millennials:  Tech-obsessed, self-centered, but driven to succeed.”

 

I don’t agree, but in true millennial fashion, I decided instead to focus my blog on a little fact sheet surrounding my “favorite” subject: me. So enjoy the accompanying infographic and allow me to ironically introduce myself through some of my favorite things.

  1. Britney Spears – I don’t care how old I get I will always love the Princess of Pop.
  2. Chicken wings and beer – if I have to explain this, we might not be able to be friends.
  3. Veuve – or just champagne in general. But as a side note, Veuve is best served when someone else is buying.
  4. Puppies – I have a cockapoo. Her name is Olive. She is a sassy little rug rat.
  5. Running – I love to run the stress of the day away. I’m like a border collie, too much time locked inside and I go a little nuts.
  6. The Minnesota Twins – I love baseball, but I have a special affinity for the Twins. It works on multiple levels too because I am also an identical twin. I’m all about multi-purposing.
  7. The ballet – I love to dance but it’s really more of a hobby. I leave the exhibition of this art to the professionals.1
  8. Scary movies – I studied some film in college and my favorite classes focused on breaking down the psyche of horror films. Don’t get me started on that subject…
  9. Fashion – Coco Chanel is a personal hero of mine, but I love all fashion. Especially fashion on a budget. (I am at EXPERT level in online shopping).
  10. Mexico – this is my happy place. I take a trip every year with my family. It is my absolute favorite thing.
  11. Gummy Bears – See above comment regarding chicken wings and beer.
  12. Minneapolis – I hate the winter. HATE. I apologize in advance to my colleagues who will have to hear me complain January through April. But once May hits, this is hands-down one of the best cities to live in.
  13. Vietnamese Pho – while we are on the subject of Minneapolis, did you know we have one of the largest populations of Vietnamese immigrants? Guess what that means… Pho! If you haven’t tried this traditional noodle soup dish, you’re missing out. And if you need suggestions on where to go in MN, ask me. Shout out to Quang’s Restaurant off Eat Street in Minneapolis! (They know me by name)2I hope you enjoyed getting to know me, and I really look forward to getting to know all our d.trio clients as well! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be on the d.trio team, thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome.

 

 

Here’s a Novel Idea: Read for Inspiration

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Working in a creative environment, inspiration comes in many forms. It could be from the color of a notebook or the pattern of a tie. Perhaps from a commercial or a conversation. Have you ever found inspiration from a great novel?

I thought I’d share a list of 100 books to read before you die so you can find your own inspiration this summer. Could the Complete Works of Shakespeare be the spark for your next campaign? I’m not sure I’ll be diving into that one this summer, but perhaps Harry Potter’s inquisitive nature will remind me to dig deeper to find the answer. (I’m a sucker for young adult novel series.)

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1301199-100-books-you-must-read-before-you-die

THREE NOVEL QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

  1. How many of these books have you read?
  2. Which one are you putting at the top of your summer list?
  3. How many of these books have you picked up and never finished? (There are a few heavy ones on this list!)

 

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On the Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In French)
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Groupthink: What it is and how to avoid it.

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Groupthink is defined as: “the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.” It’s basically a pit where great ideas go to die before they even get a chance. Individuals may become stymied and might not pursue or bring up an idea because of this dangerous social phenomenon.

Think about how Groupthink can change the dynamic of a brainstorming session. In a room of eight people trying to create a new incentive program, add the pressure of deadlines from senior leadership, and pretty soon an idea will be thrown out. There may be a couple more ideas but if one strong personality is advocating for a specific idea during a brainstorm then others could start to hold their ideas back. Self-censorship is counter-productive during brainstorming and the group will take an illusion of unanimity. Now you have a possibly weak idea and quiet dissent stirring in a group.

Below is a list of ideas and practices that may help you deter Groupthink from happening:

  1. Cultivate a diverse company. When people have different backgrounds and experiences they can pull from that to present different viewpoints.
  2. Don’t stifle idea generation by shooting down ideas. Empower everyone to share their thoughts and concerns. It is especially important to allow everyone to voice his or her opinions/ideas. You don’t want to set up an environment where people are guarded about their ideas.
  3. Someone needs to be the devils advocate. This will challenge the group to think differently and generate more ideas.
  4. If your group agrees right away don’t act on it. Let the idea simmer and give some time to other thoughts.
  5. Invite people from outside of the group to gain new perspectives.

Hopefully this has helped you recognize Groupthink and will help you avoid it as well. For more information on Groupthink read:

http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/employee-development-problem-solving/11257-1.html

For an in-depth analysis of Groupthink: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/elj/vol4iss1/Rose_V4I1_pp37-57.pdf

 

 

5 marketing missteps to avoid

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After 9 years of judging the International ECHO Awards, things still surprise me. Maybe not the things you would expect. Of course I see a lot of wonderful ideas and great marketing, but my surprise boils down more to the missteps good marketers make. These missteps may keep a successful campaign from getting the recognition it deserves. With this in mind, here are 5 things to avoid when setting up and writing about a campaign, whether it’s for a case study or an awards program. Back to basics:

 

  1. Plan ahead. Start planning your testing and results with your strategy. What do you want to be able to measure? What does a successful campaign mean to you? Here’s a hint: results that don’t support your objectives aren’t that meaningful. It was obvious in some write-ups that the strategy was pointing in a different direction than the results. For example, the objective, new customers, the results, clicks or social media likes/follows. It’s not relevant.
  2. Tie the results explicitly back to your strategy. This is the flip side of number one. If you’re trying to increase sales by $xx, note how much sales increased, if you wanted additional customers, note the how many you won, if you were looking for likes and followers, say how many. I know this sounds very basic, but do the math. Example: “Our objective was to increase sales by 30%, this campaign exceeded the goal by 100%”. If your results are something other than sales, I hope you had that strategy laid out from the beginning.
  3. Tie your campaign into the business need. In judging, I’ve seen fun, expensive campaigns that made a big splash, but didn’t tie back into the business plan/need/objectives. After all, marketing is about improving your business in some way, not being popular. So, keep your business objective close to the promotion, or make prospects look at what you’re trying to promote (short video or landing page) before they get to do the unrelated fun stuff.
  4. Relate your channels to maximize the results. Make it easy for prospects to respond to your offer. If you want to drive online traffic, don’t forget the landing page to tie online and offline channels and use incentives to drive that traffic where you want it to go. Make sure your channels work together.
  5. Keep your write-up brief. This is a little selfish. Whether it’s an awards write up or a case study, nobody likes to sort through lots of embellishments to find content. Write it well, get to the point and make it easy to understand the meat of the subject quickly. You may think you have to sell your campaign in a write up, but the reality is it needs to stand on its own merits. Case studies are a great way to showcase your work. People are busy and tend to skim for information, so it helps to lay it out with headlines – such as Challenge, Strategy, Results – to help potential prospects get to the relevant facts quickly.

 

I hope these insights are helpful and will assist you the next time you create a campaign you’re proud of and need to present in the best light. The good news is that there is a lot of exciting multi-channel marketing going on globally and that’s good for all of us.

 

Color our world

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Since our word for this month is Color we decided to have a little fun with our client’s brand colors. Below is what happens when you take our client’s one or two primary brand colors and size them roughly (very roughly) according to how much work we do for them on average.

Here’s hoping all you clients know your Pantone numbers.

colormosaid

Management Perspective: Strategy

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A winning strategy…or predictable behavior?

Strategy is the core foundation of all marketing. Or at least it should be. A recent study made me wonder, how do we protect ourselves and our clients from becoming predictable in our strategy? The surprise here is that the study did not involve marketing at all. The study was about how predictable people are when playing Rock-Paper-Scissors.

There is actually a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament held yearly. Who knew. At this tournament, with probably the best RPS players in the world, a mathematician studied 72 players partaking in thousands of games. He discovered something interesting that could ensure you win the next game you play.

Apparently, when a player wins a round they are overwhelming more likely to use the same strategy in the next round. A rock won, most likely they will use a rock next. The loser will switch strategies. Not too surprising, except, they will likely switch to the next item in the sequence. Scissors lost so you can bet their next choice will be rock. It actually has a name, ‘persistent cyclic flows’ and is a result, according to the study, of a ‘conditional response’ as the RPS sequence is hard wired into our brains. So, in essence, these top rated RPS players were all pretty much using the same strategy. More surprising, they probably didn’t know.

So, aside from helping you win your next match, what could this mean to us? It means we have to be wary of predictability. It means that we occasionally invite a different person to our meetings, we take a second look at our strategy, we look for opportunities to try something unexpected, we test and we measure.

The last few years all marketers have been tasked with making sure every dollar counts and that’s understandable. But sometimes, being overly-accountable might seem to require being overly-safe, and that could mean lost opportunities. At d.trio, we hold to our promise of sound strategy and you can expect to also see at least one surprising option for consideration.

-Maureen

Agency News: 50th Annual Chippewa Herald Spring Art Show

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It may not be widely known that Megan spends as much of her free time as possible in her studio painting in oils. This year she had the good fortune of showing two of her paintings, alongside 98 other artists, at the 50th Annual Chippewa Herald Spring Art Show. Her subjects of interest are varied – intense light scenarios and landscapes (from cityscapes to the wild). She comes by painting naturally, as her mom (profiled in this link) has shown her paintings in this show for 40 years.

IMG_1913

IMG_1922

White Space. A design principle goes online.

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If you’ve worked in, on or around marketing for any length of time, and odds are if you’re reading this article you  have been, then you have encountered the design principle of white space. As a quick refresher, the only reason that this: 1a is more difficult to read and looks more unprofessional than this: 2b is white space. The space between elements on a page, the edge of the page (margins), between lines of copy (leading) and between paragraphs (paragraph space). Whitespace has been an important principal in print design since the beginning of the medium. Good use of whitespace quickly establishes professialism and legibility and helps guide the reader to the most important items on a page. With the massive transition from a paper dominated world to a world in which design for the screen is just as important, the old principal of whitespace is even more key to the user experience. From a design perspective white space is vital to establishing key hierarchies and promoting legibility on a page. For example, note the consistent and generous space in Amazon.com’s sidebar navigation and the whitespace surrounding separate elements on Google.com. 2Online, white space is especially important to promoting action. For example, which button below are you more likely to push? 6White space is also used by designers to signal content prioritization. With proper, consistent use of white space you don’t need to change fonts and colors just to signal that you are changing thoughts, allowing a design to be more legible and professional. This is especially true when you need to organize large amounts of information. CNN.com is a good example of how whitespace is used to signal changes in information type from navigation to advertising to content, and further, between featured content and subsidiary content. 3 The most obvious benefit of a consistent, thoughtful use of whitespace is the perception it creates in your audience. Good use of white space immediately creates the perception of professionalism, balance, and elegance. As examples, the three sites below (Apple.com, ColdwellBanker.com, and GE.com all make excellent use of white space (remember, white space doesn’t have to be white), and all three come across as well organized, elegant, and professional, in addition to promoting action by drawing the eye to the action items or buttons. 4White space can make your microsite, web site or landing page more readable, usable, and effective, so the next time the urge hits you to fill every available pixel with content, try to remember: white space is not wasted space. Content with no space in between comes across as busy and noisy and is more likely to result in a visitor leaving your page than it is to get your additional point across. White space is the space where your users have an opportunity to decide to take the action you are trying to encourage.

Placeholder text is from this page on wikipedia.

Featured Work: J.P. Morgan

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While working with J.P. Morgan Treasury Services, a business division of JPMorgan Chase, we’ve been asked to design a wide variety of pieces. We’ve created themes and graphics for internal meetings and events, newsletters, direct mail, collateral pieces in different languages, client rack brochures, product comparison sheets and trade show materials. The style of the pieces range from edgier, less brand-driven design, to highly branded, high-end design with an international focus. We also work with the JP Morgan’s Asset Management team to manage online hosting for the electronic delivery of their Journey magazine, brochures and other publications.

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