Monthly Archives

March 2013

How well do we pay attention?

By | General | One Comment

I recently discovered by taking an online assessment that my attention span might be a tad less than I had previously thought.

How can this be? I work in marketing. We all know that this business requires meticulous attention to detail and I pride myself on my ability to multitask and manage multiple projects like a symphony conductor. Give me any other attention measurement test and I will prove it to you. I will ace the test and impress you with my abilities. You cannot sneak a gorilla in on me. (If you don’t understand this reference, even though I’ve given away the punch line, you can still go to:

All these statements are true. I can focus, zone in, manage the details, juggle a multitude of projects…all of that.  But, what happens when presented a series of questions where I am asked to self-report my behavior? Do I glance at the TV while my husband is talking to me and miss his point? Ok, yes.  Do I sometimes read email while on the phone. Guilty. These weren’t actually questions on the test, but they represent the point. These type of behaviors illustrate that we do things that can deflate our attention.

The attention span measurement test I took was from Psychology Today. The site states that it contains 10 questions and it takes 5 minutes, but it really only takes about a minute, so even if you have a very short attention span you should be able to get through the test. You can check it out yourself at:  Personally, my less than desirable score really got my attention.

RED. Got your attention?

By | General | One Comment

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.


The Field

By | Food for thought | No Comments

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Magna Quis

By | Gaming | No Comments

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Working Words: Creating Compelling Copy for Today’s Consumers

By | Newsletter | No Comments

Nobody reads anymore. We both know it. Even now, you’re scanning ahead for the juicy bits.

The average attention span for readers is 2.6 seconds. Plus, today’s consumers have the power to choose where they spend that 2.6 seconds.

So what’s a copywriter to do? How do we get – and keep – people’s attention in an ever-more-complex media soup?

Here are a few guidelines. Some are new, but most have stood the test of time, trend and technology and are more important than ever for one reason: regardless of environment (digital or print) or medium (text or billboard) – they work.

Stop interrupting.
People have more control over the content they choose to view, so it’s harder to interrupt them. And using tricks or gimmicks to get people’s attention often just puts them off and makes them less likely to give you a second chance. Instead of trying to be the biggest or loudest, get their attention with content that means something to them.

Write for the medium.
A print ad  has a different structure (or architecture) than a catalog or editorial piece, and therefore requires a different copy approach. The same is true for a web site versus a text message and so on. Weigh the value of your words against the cost of the real estate and make sure they balance.

Get to it already.
What do you really want to say? What do you want them to remember from the 2.6 seconds they spent with you? Define your main message(s) – then be clear, consistent in your presentation, and concise.

Watch your language.
Know the demographics and psychographics and other details about what makes your audience tick. Apply the brand voice and write to that. But don’t let the language become so stylized that it distracts from the point(s) you’re trying to make.

Keep it real.
Even if you’re writing for a conservative, business-to-business audience, lose the corporate jargon and hyperbole and speak like you’re sitting next to a real live person, talking about whatever it is over a cup of coffee. Take every opportunity to make a human connection.

And stop talking about yourself.
Talk about them, their concerns, what they may need and how you can help.  It’s not about you, so don’t come out of the gate with what you do and how awesome you are. Ever have a date with someone like that? Bet there wasn’t a second date.

Work your close.
Don’t lose your steam on the way out. The call to action (or whatever the wrap-up) is where you have a chance to synopsize the story you’ve told, once again draw their attention to the very most important parts, and give them a reason to want more.

Kill the clutter.
Resist the urge to fill up a blank sheet of paper (virtual or otherwise) because you think you’re going to get better bang for your copy buck if you say as much as possible in the allotted space. Keep to your main messages. Give a reader too much all at once and they’ll just turn the page or click away.  White space is your friend.

Love your designer.
Magic happens when there is true collaboration between copy and design. Design can turn an otherwise unremarkable line into an eye-stopping graphic element, and give real weight to the last word.


What do you think? Did you find this piece helpful, or give you an idea for a future topic? Please tell us.

Proven Attention Getters – Management Perspective

By | Newsletter | No Comments

In spite of many reports to the contrary, marketing through traditional channels is still very much alive.  Clearly, newer channels (digital, web, social etc.) are being successfully employed throughout the marketing landscape, but proven methods of marketing communications continue to grab prospects’ attention and drive marketing results – often in conjunction with their more “shiny” brethren.

Companies continue to have tremendous opportunity to reap low hanging fruit using more traditional methods.  Newer tools now at our disposal are great in appropriate situations, but may not outshine campaigns based on sound strategy and execution of time-tested methods.

Whether you’re doing new customer acquisition, activation, cross selling, product launches or brand-building, utilizing traditional channels can often be your best bet for success.

And it doesn’t have to be a choice between old and new.  In our experience, integrating channels is a great way to engage your audience.

Many programs launch with direct mail and include a call to action to visit a website, campaign micro-site or landing page, scan a QR Code, click a video link or PURL or interact on a Facebook page.  Add online banner ads, display ads and coordinate with blog content and you’ve got a truly integrated program.  (For a great integrated campaign example, check out our case study for the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute –TLI at ).

So don’t automatically reject your old marketing friends in favor of the new kids on the block.  You’d be surprised how well they play on their own – and with others.


Attention is in short supply

By | Newsletter | No Comments

What do diamonds and attention have in common?

Advances in communication technology have allowed us to accomplish so much on the go with easily shared and chronicled collective knowledge. According to a recent 2012 Pew Internet study, 85% of all American adults own a cell phone and 67% of those individuals regularly find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls.1

But unfortunately, being connected can have its serious disadvantages. For example, 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.2 Being connected has also made us a bit paranoid; 39% of cell owners say that people they know have complained, because they don’t respond promptly to phone calls or text messages. 1

Enter Google Glass, Google’s new digitally enhanced eyewear that allows users to take pictures, record video, perform searches, video conference, and pull information all from a screen in their glasses. Touted as the possible “smartphone killer”3, Google Glass puts us two steps ahead in how we learn and interact with the world but also put us two steps back with managing our limited attention reserve. Now, we don’t even have to take the ten to thirty seconds to pull out our phones, we can almost instantaneously communicate with the world.

Google has potentially gobbled up the last of human’s scare attention reserve. Imagine driving with someone who’s trying to figure out directions via Google Glass or trying to have a serious conversation with your spouse as they look up sports scores via Google Glass.

As with any major technology advancement, we adapt and learn to incorporate the technology in our everyday lives. Time will tell how Google Glass, and other disruptive communication technologies, will affect the way we interact with each other.




Your attention please

By | General | No Comments

Welcome to March. Not the most popular month on the calendar but March at least does hold the promise, (or sometimes broken promise) of Spring. March also hosts the madness of thousands of basketball games, and if you live in Minnesota, the threat of at least one huge snow storm (or the tease of one more snow day, depends upon your point of view.)  This ever pending final storm is probably winter’s way of making sure we’re still paying attention.

So, at d.trio we have dubbed the word for this month: Attention. In fact, for this entire year we are experimenting with assigning each month a different word. This word of the month will be our point of focus for all, or at least most, of our social media efforts.

So what do we mean by Attention?


By focusing on the word Attention we will be discussing things such as; what gets our attention, what should we be be paying attention to, what we can do in marketing to attract attention and great attention getting campaigns. We may also explore the ever decreasing attention span of humans today and perhaps, what can happen while you’re not paying attention.

We hope you’ll enjoy. We have also selected words of focus for upcoming months such as Outrageous, Analyze, Fresh, Invent, Improvise, Expression, Celebrate and Surprise. But I wont tell you which words match up with each month here…you’ll just have to keep paying attention.

Big Buck Bunny

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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