Monthly Archives

October 2013

Surprisingly Successful Halloween Office Pranks

By | General | No Comments

Fred is one of d.trio’s founding partners. And our resident comedian.

I’ve been known to be somewhat of a prankster (no, really) and have a couple office pranks from my repertoire that were particularly effective.

The rubber bat.  I had a jumpy coworker that startled easily.  Someone had brought in a really gross, soft rubber bat (flying, not baseball) attached to a stretchy bungee cord.  I used push-pins to firmly attach the bungee to the inside of a sliding cabinet door in her cube.  The bat was then loosely attached to the back wall of the cabinet, so that when the door was opened the bat would release and fly straight out at the victim, snap back rapidly and then dangle on the bungee.

I waited patiently for a couple days. When the trap was finally sprung, the scream could be heard for three floors.  I was thrilled.  The victim was not.

The floating voice.  I had another coworker who was prone to getting creeped out.  I had a miniature voice recorder and recorded about 30 minutes of dead, silent air followed by a ghost-like voice repeating the victim’s name, waling in pain, pleading for help etc.  I waited until a few minutes before the victim returned from lunch and planted the recorder in a hidden spot in her cube.  After she was back from lunch for about 20 minutes the ghostlike voice began, quietly and slowly at first, then becoming gradually louder and more urgent.

Not seeing anyone nearby that could be making these sounds really freaked her out.  Much whimpering and hand wringing ensued.  Along with an anguished plea of, “can’t anybody else hear that”?  It was a thing of beauty.

The key to success with both pranks was setting them up so as not to have to be hanging around to witness the execution, which usually blows your cover.

Have a good office prank? Please share your story.


A few tips to improve your photographs.

By | General | No Comments

Tim is an Assistant Account Executive at d.trio.

It’s been said that the best camera is the one you have on you. That’s a very true statement, considering that you can’t take a photo unless you have a camera on you. There are a couple easy ways to make photos better and once you understand these you can start to pick better photos for your albums, or your marketing and advertising campaigns.

The rule of thirds is the most important rule to remember. Divide the photo you want to take into three parts, horizontally and vertically. If you have ever taken a photo with an iPhone it will show the grid automatically. Also put your subject off-center, it will make your shot more interesting. So when you’re scrolling through hundreds of potential photos for your next mailing – make sure your image as interesting as possible to draw in the target.

A second thing to remember is to make sure there is contrast. Whether that is color, size, or shape depends on your subject. Below is an example of contrast in size. You’ll see that the person on top of the cliff in the photo provides some perspective into how large the cliff actually is. If you apply this principle to your marketing pieces it can help give your target as much information as possible about what your ad is about with a quick glance.

These are just a couple of ways to improve your photography but the best way is to practice. Start taking photos and you’ll be better at picking out the perfect photo for your next campaign.



Real time marketing makes for a pleasant surprise.

By | General | No Comments

Patrick Bettenburg is currently working with d.trio as an Account Executive.

A radio commercial I heard recently is a great example of how marketing in the moment, done well, can be very memorable. I had just read the ADWEEK article Real-Time Rules that highlights several national successes of this marketing trend, and here I was listening to a fun example of it right here in Minnesota.

The radio campaign promotes the Ely tourism group. Now there’s really nothing new about fall travel in Minnesota; it’s the second largest season for tourism. But the ads break through the clutter and make a connection. They created a timely importance with a fake, breaking-news style that gave some urgency to the moment in a humorous way. An effective example of marketing in the moment, which many brands are still learning to do.

Real Time Marketing, or RTM, is about tying your message to the most current realities of your audience in a timely manner in order to create relevance. The closer your content relates to what’s on your audiences’ mind the easier it is for them to connect with your message. It’s that stuff that content creators dream of. Everyone remembers the Oreo ad about dippin’ in the dark that ran after the Superbowl blackout.

The ADWEEK article by Tim Nudd does a great job of reviewing several RTM examples, as well as laying out the risks of not getting it right. These days many brands are cranking out content just to get some attention and some are facing unintended negative consequences.

The successful RTM campaigns are skillfully done and surprisingly well planned. They seem to be born in the moment but are actually well crafted to connect with the brand and appear to be freshly created. To really ‘market in the moment’ today you need to have a well-stocked content creation tool chest of brand messages and creative ideas in order to be ready when the right moments come. That way you will be prepared to respond to the completely unexpected, such as the Superbowl blackout.

Is your brand ready for the next opportunity to market in the moment?

We’re Designed to Crave the Unexpected

By | General | No Comments

Patrick Bettenburg is currently working with d.trio as an Account Executive.

This month our word is Surprise and with Halloween around the corner, tricks, treats, and surprises are top of mind.  A recent blog reminded me of the value that the element of surprise is as a marketing strategy. Titled Why Surprise and Delight Marketing Really Works, it cites some serious research that proves the potential of this often overlooked marketing strategy.

Having always been fascinated by how the power of branding works in the human brain, this post affirmed to me that some of the best marketing is built on neuropsychology. This was proven in a study at Emory University and Baylor University that was published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Scientists studied the MRIs of subjects who were reacting to sequences of pleasurable stimuli. When the sequence was predictable, the level of enjoyment visible in the brain was less than when the sequence was unpredictable. The subjects whose stimulus was unpredictable registered the greatest pleasure in the brain, resulting in a stronger connection from the experience.

The HBR quoted Dr. Read Montague, professor of neuroscience at Baylor, stating that the results show that people are “designed to crave the unexpected”. People’s brains respond more when surprised, making it a very powerful tool for marketing. The surprise becomes a new stimulus that encourages learning and interest, and can make customers more receptive to new things, like upgrades and new products or services. And, that surprise can actually make a stronger connection in the brain with your brand.

For marketers this means that if we create campaigns that are not expected, but rather more of a pleasant surprise, we can build a stronger relationship with the customers. This is a golden ticket for loyalty marketing. Instead of ringing the same old chimes, try to create a connection that is unexpected.

We are seeing a lot of this trend in social media. Going viral is the new ‘word of mouth’ advertising, something that is surprising or unexpected gets repeated or retweeted. So surprise your customers in a delightful way and see how it might engage their brains or more importantly, their loyalty.

Brain strained? Improvise!

By | Newsletter | No Comments

“C’mon people, focus”!  Ever heard that statement when you’re trying to solve a gnarly problem or dream up a creative strategy?  In fact it’s most often the opposite of what you should do.

Cognitive effort is highly focused, logical thinking activity that draws a ton of energy.  It also makes time slow down.  That’s why many workdays (and most meetings) seem to last forever.  Unfortunately, it’s the very type of effort most business people employ everyday.  That very focus inevitably causes you to become unfocused.  You’ve got to give your brain a break to reenergize.

Non-cognitive effort on the other hand (like improvisation exercises) requires very little effort and leaves you more energized.  And it’s literally true, time flies when you’re having fun.  These exercises are very much like game playing with simple, minimal rules and most importantly, no defined outcome.  They allow the whole brain to operate randomly and freely, stimulating alpha waves that enhance creative output.

There are proven exercises employed in improv classes that are great, but there are simple things you can do every day to warm up your brain or to snap out of a cognitive funk.  Brush your teeth with your opposite hand.  Strike up a conversation with a total stranger.  Take a completely new route to work.   Go on a mid-workday walk.  And for your next brainstorming session, consider bringing in some toys or playing a game to help pump up the creativity.

Let your brain off-leash a bit everyday and open up some new pathways to creative thought.  Many business folks are now taking improv classes to really rev things up.  They’re fun, help you think fast on your feet and can also greatly improve your confidence for presentations and public speaking.

Acknowledgement:  Thanks to Stevie Ray, nationally syndicated columnist, corporate trainer and improv master for contributing thoughts and perspective for this article.

Sweet Ideas

By | Newsletter | No Comments

Fiserv has created a fun and memorable way to reach out to sales prospects in the financial services industry. The direct mail campaign began with a filled candy jar and a candy themed message about Fiserv’s capabilities.   Each quarter a candy refill package is mailed.  Each mailing series ties in a new candy theme that highlights a specific product or area of expertise. Not only has this encouraged engagement, but it has also provided a great opportunity for ongoing communications.  Now that is sweet!


Management Perspective

By | Newsletter | No Comments

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.