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business Archives - d.trio marketing group

Double black diamonds, anyone?

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Some people think I’m crazy because when I go on vacation, I don’t relax. I go. Hard. For instance, I like to go to the top of the mountain, feel the sun on my face, ski the double black diamonds and fall into bed exhausted at night (ok, maybe after a little wine too).

So what do double black diamonds have to do with business? A change of venue, change of pace and mindset in the great outdoors makes me more productive and creative in the long run. It releases the brain to think more broadly and makes me feel a sense of well-being. Here’s additional reading about the benefits of exercising outdoors.

My brain works hard at my job, but like most of you in business, I sit a lot. Not something I do well naturally, so when I feel a little burned out from thinking and sitting the best antidote to that is moving. And being in nature. Go to top of the mountain and your problems seem surmountable, or run or bike on the beach and look at the ocean – commune with nature, you’ll see.

It feels good to get outside and push yourself in different ways than you do in business, and test your limits. Even if you’re not that athletic, you can take a long walk or get on a bike and explore some new terrain. The fresh air and change will do you good, your ideas will flourish and you’ll sleep better than you ever have. I guarantee it.

Google Glass and Me

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I’m not someone who is normally considered an early adopter of new technology. Technology and I have a sort of mutual respect for each other, meaning we, (or more accurately, I) keep a respectable distance until new and technical becomes easy and less complicated,  mainstream with most of the bugs worked out. When Google Glass was announced, I took my typical “stay away from me” stance and could not imagine anything that I would ever want less in life than to walk around tethered to the internet day in and day out. Never. Ridiculous idea. Not to mention the obvious driving and zombielike walking issues. So, what happens when this tech-averse human finds herself unexpectedly at Google headquarters and some very excited, very nice Google Glass ambassador hands over a pair? WOW. To summarize my experience: it really is all that cool. It understands you and answers questions and commands in a manner that will make Siri pea green with envy. The itty bitty little screen up in the corner of your right eye is actually pretty easy to see and unless you lock onto it, or ‘glass-out’ in Google speak, it might not always impede your vision. moglasses My love affair was short lived as there were others waiting in line like school children eager to take their turn. Will I buy them? Not likely. But will I view them on others with the same disdain? Honestly, probably not as much. I can see now that they actually might have some purpose for some people, but the obvious human interaction problems will be hard to eliminate. Google has just put out a Google Glass Etiquette guide in an attempt to help users understand how to behave while wearing the Glass. It makes for some pretty hilarious reading with advice such as…’respect others who have questions about the Glass and don’t get snappy with them’ and ‘how to avoid being a glasshole.’ For more information, check out the Daily Beast.

New Business Development Tips

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by Victoria Hoshal – d.trio’s director of business development

Best practices for new business development hold true across multiple industries – whether you are a marketing agency selling your services or medical device company selling in the B2B space.

I found a good overview on today’s challenging new business environment: http://www.brainrider.com/better-b2b-marketing/business-development-best-practice/

Although focused on the agency world, another article with great thinking is:  http://migroup.com/news_&_media/mercer_newbiz.pdf

I liked the tactical and organized approach to organic growth via existing clients and customers, as well as the idea of going after the customers/accounts you really want.

Here are some additional tips, based on my experience selling marketing agency services and before that, starting and running a small business.

When you are thinking about your organization’s new business opportunities:

  • Balance holistic thinking with focused tactics.  For example, the ability to assess (holistically) your universe of potential sales is necessary to any new business development.  However, within that view, focus on your best targets.  Better to have 5 highly-vetted, “good fit” targets than 20 “maybes.”  As per the Mercer Group article, find and pursue the customers YOU REALLY WANT.
  • Sell to your strengths – the best way to win a new customer is to show them where you truly outshine your competitors in either expertise or product.
  • This is also a way to filter customers that may not fit with your services. If it seems too much of a stretch, it probably is.  Your time and reputation are important – don’t waste them.
  • Don’t ignore your current or past customers.  Current customers can be a great source of referrals. Plan on visiting with them at least once a year for a “catch-up.”   Thank them for their business and ask for more. Ask them for referrals to other divisions or colleagues and other companies.
  • Plan a similar meeting with former customers. Recapturing a lapsed customer is typically MUCH faster and more productive of your time than acquiring a new client.
  • Interview your sales team for consistency of key messages and pitch points.  It’s important for everyone to start with the same brand story, regardless of needed versioning.  You might be surprised at what you learn.

When pitching a prospective customer:

  • Say “thank you for your time” at the beginning of the meeting.  Manners are important AND appreciated.
  • Remember it’s all about the customer.  Consider their business, their needs, tailor your approach accordingly.  This means paying attention to how much you talk about your company/your team, etc…..You’ll need to balance your sales pitch accordingly.
  • Conduct your due diligence and research ahead of the meeting so that you can plan discovery questions and stay on track.
  • Be able to articulate your competitive advantages, clearly and concisely.  Be sure you’ve tailored your value proposition to be relevant to the prospect.
  • Say thank you again at the close of the meeting.  Make the last impression a positive one. A further follow-up with a hand-written thank you note creates a longer-lasting impression.

Happy Hunting!

Management Perspective

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Recently I watched a short creative morning talk by Seth Godin. Speaking about his marketing career, he said he wasn’t a strategic marketer until well into his career, maybe 10 years – it changed his world and the experience of his customers.

It’s an interesting take on what’s considered a young person’s game and made me reflect on the value of my own experience. Even with marketing changing at the speed of light, experience gives you context and a base from which to ask better and deeper questions, for superior problem solving and concept building.

Although I’ve always loved working with clients and creating great work, I realize I’m better at it now. As an inexperienced marketer I looked to the client to lead and was more of an order-taker. Experience has let me add value by asking questions to help my clients get to the deeper business goals of a project, to guide the marketing process toward those goals in messaging and design. The opportunity to really build a better marketing program – to collaborate on even the smallest collateral piece to make it more effective – is what’s really exciting. It’s not just about pleasing the client.

For sure, the new, young, fresh things that marketing focuses on are important. And some things come and go. But the characteristics of a good marketer– curiosity, a love of learning, interest in and understanding of people, behaviors and their motivations – don’t change over time, and improve with experience.

-Megan

Revisiting “Principles of Improv”

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About a year ago, I wrote a blog on the principles of improv and how they fit into my professional life. Revisiting this blog for our September “Improvise” month, it’s amazing how much these ideas still ring true.  So much of what makes a strong account manager is how well you can read others and adapt to the situation at hand. Some of the best improv I’ve seen wasn’t funny at all; it was just really believable and sucked me into the story. If you can do the same in a client presentation, you’re golden.

How do you think improvisation helps you in your work?

-Jordan

Fresh as the new driven snow.

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(Writer’s note: This was written last week but due to some complications not posted. Who knew it would still be appropriate today April 19th with yet another fresh round 4-12 inches of snow in Minnesota.)

It’s April 11th in Minnesota and we are in the grips of a very unfair Severe Winter Storm Warning. Most of the staff is unable to make it to the office and we are working from home looking out at some 5 or 6 inches of new fallen snow atop treacherous, ubiquitous ice.  Me, I’m trying hard to find what is good or fresh about all this.

So here goes. To our friends and colleagues who live outside of the snow belt…you may have beautiful 70 degree weather, even today. You may have sandy beaches, gentle waves and warm breezes.  You may be spared the wind chill warnings, the blizzards, the ice storms.  But you have not known the therapeutic value, the creative surge and pure joy that comes from the occasional Snow Day. It’s just like Christmas in April. Almost.

In preparation for the snow event, we took work home with us last night,  just in case we couldn’t make it in. The items we take usually consist of the things that we find hard to get to, the stuff at the bottom of our pile, the projects not driven by deadlines but those that require space and thought and time that can be elusive in the day-to-day office environment. In short, the things we put off.  It is at times like this that we are reminded that we are amongst the ‘non-essential’ workforce. We have no lives to save, no actual real fires to put out, no masses to feed, and no citizens to protect. We take our work very seriously and that’s a good thing, but it’s also good to remember that sometimes we may take things too seriously.

Tomorrow we will return to work refreshed. Working remotely we will have kept up with the essential details of all our projects and we will have also taken care of some nagging items on our to do list. We will have walked our dogs at lunchtime or finished our laundry or played in the snow with our kids. Some of us may have baked cookies and will bring them into the office to share. Just a thought.

 

-Maureen Dyvig is one of the founding partners of  d.trio marketing group

RED. Got your attention?

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We all know that red is one of the most attention grabbing colors in the spectrum, used for centuries (ok, decades) in eye catching bursts and to highlight text that has been designated as needing to POP! It is also the primary or main accent brand color for many companies, including 39 of the Forbes Top 100.

Red is commonly used to give warning (STOP), to incite emotion (Valentine’s Day anyone?) or to highlight important information (New! FREE!). While in darker shades red can be elegant rather than brash, it is the cherry, candy, fire-engine versions that get the most cultural love.

So why? Why does red stand out so much from the sea of available color options? It’s really simple biology. Red light has the longest wavelength in the visible spectrum, therefore it appears the farthest forward in any given scene where it is present. The long wavelength creates a stronger physiological arousal, physiological response triggers psychological response, psychological response must be interpreted as either attraction or repulsion, and viola, Red as the poster child for attention getting color boils down to the simplest of science.

One other note about red and why you may need to cut him some slack on the color of his stereotypical middle-age crisis red Corvette. Men don’t see shades of red like women do. The gene for seeing red sits on the X chromosome and women have two copies of this gene while men have only one. Women’s perception of the variety in the red-orange color spectrum is aided by the double team.

Source: http://channels.isp.netscape.com/whatsnew/package.jsp?name=fte/popularcolor/popularcolor

Marketing in a tech-driven world

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We’re all aware of how much marketing has changed in 5 years and as a marketing company, d.trio’s looked for ways to marry traditional, paper-based tools and channels with digital counterparts. We’ve started seeing the term “Marketing Technologist” used to describe the tech expert in a marketing company or department, but we believe that instead of having a separate position in a company, technology integration strategy should be a skill set of all marketing employees. Technology is no longer just a vehicle, it’s an integral part of marketing and user experience. Technology is driving many projects from internal business tools that help with sales and customer interaction, to apps and mobile Web for easy access/viewing on smartphones, to collateral and other content management online.

Being problem solvers at heart and having always embraced technology has helped us find great ways to help our clients migrate their collateral and publications to bridge the gap between paper and digital experiences. Technology helps clients take their paper documents to reader-friendly electronic delivery on computers, tablets and smartphones. As people become more mobile oriented, they expect companies to provide the content they need – wherever they are, whenever and how they need to access it. To this end, we provide the technology of content delivery in different ways to maximize the reader experience.

Page-turn technology is one of these tech tools. It helps deliver publications in a reader-friendly manner with realistic page-turning graphics. You can zoom in, embed video, use links from the contents page and also link back to information on your own website all within the PDF document. It’s a great way to present your magazines, white papers or brochures. Here’s an example (not our work).

Trust Your Gut

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In a world of “best practices” and striving to make decisions based on complete and perfect information one needs at times to step back and do a simple gut check on the issue or challenge at hand. We can all get caught up in the process and politics of the situation and lose site of what often is the simplest and most elegant solution.

We’ve got three partners at d.trio, and many people have asked us how you make a business work with three different perspectives on everything. We’ve found it to be an advantage. Not only does approaching decisions from multiple angles result in creative solutions, voting on issues is unanimous or 2-1. Either way, a decision is forced to be made. And doing something nearly always trumps doing nothing.

There is one caveat to the above. And that is if you are in the voting minority but have an extremely strong gut feeling on an issue, your minority vote may trump the others. This has only been invoked a handful of times in our 12+ year history, but has proven extremely beneficial in each case.

Gut feelings are a curious mix of experience, science, common sense and intuition. As such, they are difficult to explain and can seem contrary to what appears logical. They are, however, powerful and if used judiciously can steer a clear path through the storm.

5 Simple Communication Tips

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Simple communication advice I can share with you – these tips have helped me become a better communicator around the office, to my co-workers and my clients:

  1. Open your ears. So you have a great idea? Everyone else does too. Share your idea and open your ears. Your “great idea” could evolve and come to life. Someone could help make your next great idea become phenomenal.
  2. Just stop. Using the word “just,” that is. The word minimizes the amount of work involved with your request. Instead of asking my designer to “just change the color to something brighter,” I now skip the “just” and ask her to “change the color to something brighter.” She can decide how easy or difficult it is, and let me know.
  3. No more buts about it. Any sentence becomes more positive by replacing the word “but” with the word “and.” For example: “I like your idea, but…“ sounds like I’m about to slam the brakes on an idea. Instead, I say “I like your idea, and…” because it sounds like I am enhancing the idea. It’s a great way of disagreeing without being disagreeable!
  4. Compliment-a-day rule. A “great shirt” or “did you get a haircut?” can go a long way. It shows that you notice the little things, and in our business, little things can make a big impact. I’ve never heard a complaint about someone that is too complimentary.
  5. Clear as a bell. Whether I’m face-to-face, email, voicemail or text, I try to say what I mean, clearly…and quickly. Ever find yourself explaining a problem before you ask for something? Switch that around – I’ve found it’s best to ask for what I want first, then get into the details.