Monthly Archives

January 2014

Management Perspective

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Our word of the month for January is “Identify” and we chose it for a number of reasons: At the end of the year we like to identify things we’ve accomplished, and what needs to change. At the beginning of the year and it’s time to identify goals for the upcoming year to help guide our business to grow and improve. “Identify” is a positive word. As individuals, we identify with people and businesses we like and with whom we have an affinity. In marketing you identify your audience – as well as the opportunities, key strategies and tactics to produce a successful marketing campaign. So we felt it was apropos to lead the year thinking of this word and letting it guide us. It’s important to take stock at least once a year so you know where you’re going and have a clear idea what you want to get done. With that in mind, we hope you identify your key success strategies early in 2014 and have a great year!

2014 Global Design Trends

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As a creative agency, we like to keep pulse on design trends.  Shutterstock, a technology company providing photos, illustrations and videos to creative professionals worldwide, has identified the following trends for the 2014.

1) Authentic and candid photography. Photos will feature a filtered look and subjects in real-life settings.

2) Simplistic, clean patterns with bright pops of color. Design and imagery will be tailored to local trends and preferences.

3) Flat design elements will dominate on websites and mobile platforms.  Flat design is guided by the principles of simplicity and readability. It features flat shapes and icons and with the absence of other design elements like shadows, strokes and gradients.

4) Image searches continue to be driven by topical events. For example, international events like the Winter Olympics and the Football World Cup will provide opportunities for topical images in 2014. Popular searches from 2013 include the following key words: Gatsby, 3D Printing, Make-up Set, International Women’s Day, Responsive Design, Adorable, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and Appetizing.

5) Motion graphics will focus on environmental issues. The following video clip categories experienced explosive growth last year:  Education, Transportation, Cityscapes, and 3D Renderings.

6) Fonts that appear to be handwritten or sketched will be very popular. Rising style favorites include Geometric, Signage-Inspired, and Analog.

Overall, images shared on social media channels represent what is popular in the world of business and visual communication.  Here’s the infographic:

Infographic: Shutterstock’s Global Design Trends 2014

Tech Trends January 2014

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Every January the annual Consumer Electronics Show is held in Las Vegas, NV.  Here are the top technology trends identified for 2014:

1) Goodbye 3D televisions.  Hello Ultra High Definition televisions.  Whether due to timing, the economy, or market positioning, the 3D televisions never got momentum.  However, the new super high resolution TVs are already in the marketplace and will likely become the new standard in a few years.

2) Wearable technology continues to make progress.  Wearables include smart-watches, fitness bands, glasses and boots.  This category is expected to be a billion dollar market by the end of the year.  Watch for new ways businesses use these tools such as surgeons using Google Glass to assist in medical procedures.

3) Self-driving cars undergo further development.  Although Audi already introduced a car that can self-drive on highways, these cars will not be available for another 5-6 years.  Safety concerns, industry regulation and insurance considerations all need to be worked out before these cars hit the market.


d.trio’s 2014 New Years resolutions

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Mary: My New Years resolution is to drink more champagne

Victoria: I believe in intentions vs. resolutions…

Tina: PURGE the things from my life that I do not need or want. And sign up for automatic bill pay.

Patrick: This year I’m going to eat better, and attend more marketing association events.

Maureen: I’m planning a trip to Italy next year and my resolution for 2014 is to learn to speak Italian.  Thirty minutes a day, almost every day, in the car. Ciao.

Tim: I want to become a better Grill Master. Perfect my current techniques and learn new ones.

Fred: I am trying to settle on something new to learn this year.  Thinking perhaps guitar lessons.

Sheryl: Maximize my MN summer. Golfing, camping, fishing, exploring – let’s go!

Megan: made a resolution years ago not to make any more resolutions and my new years resolution is to keep that resolution and not make any more resolutions…

Beth: quit smoking. (mission accomplished already, mostly by accident)

Elise: My new years resolution for this year is to cultivate a better work life balance.

Identify your point of difference

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If you are looking to improve your brand for the New Year, one of the most important things a marketer should do is to identify their key point of difference. While it may sound like basic marketing advice, it sometimes gets lost in benefit-focused campaigns. However, it is critically important to your customers’ decision-making process.

Focusing on your point of difference requires you to review the marketplace and to see what your competitors are saying. First you will need to do a quick study of the competition. Spend some time on the Internet and see what your competitors are saying about themselves and your industry. While you may do a full-blown competitive analysis once every two years or so, reviewing competitive brands and their messages frequently will help your brand keep a competitive edge.

Pay attention to how or if they promote the same benefits you do and how their message is different from yours. What do they say about their brand? How do they prioritize their benefits in the message? Do they express a brand personality or story to identify with or are they coldly corporate?

Start a chart with all your competitors listed and incorporate your research findings. When you are done you will see where messages overlap and where gaps exist. Once you have a good understanding of how the competitors are positioning themselves, you can be more specific in creating your strategy to stand out from among the rest. This type of exercise will provide the necessary insights you need to craft your own unique and compelling point of difference.

Another important factor you must consider when identifying your point of difference is your target customer. After all, it is their need that will be satisfied with their purchase decision.  Understanding your customers’ point of reference, their product knowledge level, and which features and benefits are most relevant to them helps you to know why a customer would prefer to buy from you. This is why market research and asking your customers about their brand experience is so valuable and enlightening.

Arming yourself with this information will help you to more accurately identify your brands unique point of difference. By focusing on this one point, your marketing messages will more effectively express your brand and your creative will go in a sharper direction.

Want more on multiple points of difference? Check this out:


Manage your Greatest Asset

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No, we’re not talking about insurance. We’re talking about your customer data. Careful management of your customer data is one of the smartest things you can do for your business. Customer marketing should be at the core of your business development plans.

Whether you are a B2B or B2C business, you know that customer sales typically drive 70% or more of all revenue. When d.trio works with a client, one of our first conversations is about identifying their customer profile: “How many customers do you have? Who are they (demographics, industry, etc…)? What are they buying from you and how much?” If our clients can’t answer these questions, it’s fair to assume that they haven’t been managing their customer data effectively.

Identifying your best customers, and crafting a different marketing message and strategy for them, is key to retaining those relationships and growing their spend. Don’t forget your mid-level group as well – they may need extra attention and a compelling offer to step up to the next level.

A great tool for creating this customer segmentation model is an RFM Analysis and Scoring, which rates your customers based on Recency, Frequency and Monetary (RFM) measurements. The scores help identify core groups of customers to support tactics, messages and promotional strategies for each group. The scoring is organized by:

Recency: Your customers are ranked from the most recent visitors to the least recent. This knowledge is especially valuable because studies show that recent behavior is more likely to be repeated.

Frequency: Customers are ranked from the most frequent visitors to the least frequent. This information can be used to target those customers who need incentives to purchase more often.

Monetary: Customers are ranked from most dollars spent to fewest dollars spent. This knowledge can be used to target those customers who need greater incentives to increase their overall dollars spent.

Once complete, you can identify your most productive and valuable customer segments, and make the most profitable, informed marketing decisions based on actionable intelligence.

In addition to the RFM Analysis, use your customer data to identify their demographics and core traits, creating a profile. Your customer profile will become the benchmark for your prospecting and customer acquisition programs. In direct marketing we call it the “look-alike” model. But that’s another story for another newsletter.

Has Online Learning Changed Your School’s Recruitment Footprint?

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Expanded Market Areas Raise New Challenges for College Marketers

By Gary McVey

The growth of online learning programs, including hybrid, low-residency and other variations, has created new opportunities and challenges for many colleges and universities, as well as higher education marketers. The part-time adult student market is now one of the largest in higher education, and much of its growth in recent years has been fueled by the untethering of students to buildings, and more and better options for online learning. Of the 20 million people enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, nearly 8 million attend part time — the majority of them adult students.

Perhaps like you, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the early days and steady growth of online learning, to participate in college cabinet meetings where the futures of such programs were decided, and to experience how they continue to change higher education marketing.

Without a doubt, one of the most significant new challenges online learning programs create is that, virtually overnight, your geographic marketplace suddenly gets much BIGGER. For many colleges, a majority of enrolled students have traditionally come from within 100 miles of their campuses. Launching a fully online program, or adding an online component to an existing program that makes remote learning possible, greatly expands and alters your school’s recruitment footprint.

What does this new and larger recruitment marketplace mean for college marketers and admissions officers? Here are some of the most critical implications, along with corresponding recommendations:

1. Your competitive set changes. No longer will prospective students be comparing your institution and its academic offerings with an established peer group within 100 miles of campus. With online learning programs, your toughest competitor may now be 1,000 miles away. And, typically, the more specialized a program is, the larger geographic market pull it will have. You need to undertake a new competitive analysis of who your competitors are, what they offer, how they go to market, and how you can effectively differentiate your school and its offering.

2. Their computer or tablet screen is now your campus. For many online learners — even those in hybrid programs that blend face-to-face and online instruction — your beautiful campus landscape and stately buildings mean little, if anything. Their campus environment, and how they perceive your institution, is based on what they see in pixels. Your online learning platform — like all of your other marketing materials — needs to effectively communicate and accurately reflect your college’s mission, vision and values, as well as its brand promise and identity. And just like your physical campus, your cyber campus should reflect a strong sense of place, be easy to navigate, and offer a successful learning environment.

3. Your marketing plan needs an overhaul. Now that your recruitment footprint has changed, so should your marketing plan. Let’s say part of your marketing mix aimed at prospective adult students has included mass media advertising within 100 miles of campus. Chances are you’re not going to have the budget necessary to conduct similar campaigns in dozens of metro markets. Likewise, campus visits and information sessions that often helped seal the deal with local prospects, aren’t likely to be compelling to more distant targets. This is where the development of first-rate customer profiles (written about in previous d.trio blog posts) can really pay dividends. The profiles, including key demographic and psychographic details of various types of prospects, can be invaluable in guiding new marketing strategies and tactics. They’ll help you determine the types of prospects most likely to enroll in online programs, where and how they live their lives, what motivates them, and how to deliver the right message, in the right way, at the right time.

In next month’s blog post, we’ll focus on strategies and tactics for effectively marketing your online learning programs.

-Gary McVey is a guest blogger for d.trio. He is president of McVey Marketing Inc., a marketing, research and brand consulting firm based in the Minneapolis area. He has worked with more than a dozen colleges and universities, and previously served as chief marketing officer at Hamline University in St. Paul and for the Minnesota Private College Council, a 17-college consortium.

Additional Resources:

“The top five differences between traditional and online student recruitment.”

“Serving Adult Students: Five Key Areas That Can’t Be Ignored”