Monthly Archives

April 2014

Featured Work

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Thrivent Federal Credit Union
TFCU wanted to demystify the mortgage lending process through an online video. They hired d.trio to produce the video and explain and simplify the seemingly complex process of online mortgage lending to an audience of future homeowners. Watch the finished video.


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New section coming

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Starting next month this newsletter will get a new look, and with it, a new section. We haven’t settled on a name yet but “Link-a-Roo, More for You” has been excluded from the competition. This new section will be a collection of links and further reading on current issues in marketing that we think you’ll find interesting or helpful. As a preview, here are a few representative entries:
The ROI of Branding in Banking:

The EY Global Consumer Banking Survey (PDF):$FILE/EY-Global-Consumer-Banking-Survey-2014.pdf

24 Things to Consider When Designing/Developing a Website:

Management Perspective

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A hitchhiker’s guide to liking your job

Over the years, a number of young people have asked my advice on career matters, including which job to take that will fit them and make them happy. OK, so when do the hard questions come?

Actually, I have one piece of advice that I always give in this situation that has served me well. It’s a bit of an over-simplification, but the simplest solutions are often the most elegant, easiest to implement and produce the best results.

Early on, it’s much easier to know what you don’t like than what you do. You simply don’t know yourself well enough nor have significant life/work experience on which to draw. Today’s reality dictates you will have several jobs during your career. In each one, start keeping track of the things you really don’t like, and vow not to accept a new job with any of those distasteful features.

Sure, all jobs inherently have similar things we don’t like. It’s work, not play, after all. I’m talking about knocking out those factors that really bug you, ethically, culturally, environmentally etc. that eat at you and just don’t match your evolving sense of self.

You’ll certainly discover plenty of things you like as you move through your career and it’s important to pursue them. But if you also concentrate on eliminating the dark side, you’ll find a few jobs into it, you may really dig what you’re doing.


Landing Pages – When Do You Need Them? Why They’re Worth It!

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By Victoria Hoshal

In our last blog post we talked about the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as key elements of your front-line digital marketing program, especially for enrollment marketing.

This month we’re exploring the other end of that equation – the viewer or customer experience once they’re interested. When prospects reach your site you will need quality, relevant content to engage them, and an easy way to request their e-mail address, so you can begin permission-based marketing.

If a prospect clicks through to your home page, you risk creating a disconnect between the specific reason you’ve driven them there and the broader content on your website. It’s less likely a prospect will respond if they are forced to go searching through your website for the content that initially piqued their interest.  Also, if your home page needs updating, and isn’t immediately relevant, again – you’ll lose a potential lead.

The solution is a custom landing page that provides immediately relevant content and helps convert a prospect into a quantifiable lead. It is the vehicle of choice for marketers using response marketing tactics such as SEO, SEM, email or direct marketing.  Landing pages are designed and written to serve as a logical and seamless next step for the prospect or visitor. Remember, you’ve encouraged them to take action already, so focus on making the next interaction as easy for the user as possible.

In the world of higher education marketing, how do you decide when a landing page is needed vs. sending visitors to your home page? What are the benefits of an effective landing page? Here’s a quick overview to help you decide:.

When Do I Need A Landing Page?

  • Are you running Paid Search (PPC) programs?
  • Is enrollment marketing underway or being planned? Do you need to generate leads of prospective students?
  • Are you conducting email campaigns or other digital marketing?
  • Is there a program or degree launch that needs visibility and feedback?

If you’ve answered YES to any of the questions above – you need a landing page. 

What Are The Benefits?
Because a landing page is purpose driven and audience-centric, it provides response and cost metrics for online or print advertising as well as direct and other marketing campaigns. Landing pages use a specific call to action, such as an information session or campus tour, to create a sense of urgency and drive engagement. A well-designed, transactional landing page can:

  • Improve traffic and engagement – effective landing pages can increase lead capture and conversion by significant percentages.* Be sure to send any paid traffic to your targeted landing page(s).
  • Provide response data – landing pages allow you to measure specific, segmented results that go far beyond general traffic levels so you can evaluate which tactic is most successful.
  • Maximize your marketing investment and campaign performance – by establishing AND improving the return on investment (ROI), again via results data. Use an accepted landing page conversion formula.*
  • Bridge the gap between offline marketing and online marketing by providing an easy online link.
  • Give you flexibility in content management and updates – it’s a relatively quick process (or should be) to update your landing pages for purpose and audience. Best practice recommendations are to conduct regular A/B testing (creative, copy, calls to action) to refine your metrics.
  • Customize your message by audience and purpose – use your landing page to do what your website may not be able to, such as supplementing your current website with focused, incremental information about individual degrees or programs, including specialized videos.
  • Benefit your website as a whole – improve overall SEO by demonstrating relevant content for targeted topics.

Engagement and results can be measured by the different levels of responses – from email opt-ins and information requests to event registrations and of course, student enrollment.  Also keep in mind you want to set up your campaign tracking and tests up front, with dedicated campaign URLs to landing page versions, so you can analyze the success of each medium and tactic you employ. We encourage you to read the articles below for additional, very helpful information.

We’ll continue this conversation in next month’s blog. After you’ve decided you need a landing page, what are best practices for design and development? What are the best engagement tactics? Those topics and more will be covered in upcoming blog posts.

Victoria Hoshal is the Business Development Director at d.trio marketing group. She has over 15 years of non-profit advancement and marketing experience (much of it in higher education), prior to her agency background. At d.trio she provides digital and direct marketing strategies and list sourcing expertise for the agency’s higher education clients.

Additional Resources:
*Case Study:  How one Degree Program Increased Their Lead-Flow by 902%

Email Marketing and Landing Pages for College Student Recruitment

4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Landing Pages

The Coffee Stain Theory and Branding

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Your brand.  That treasured sense of self that your company strives to project and perpetuate every day is as fragile as it is critical to your success.  That’s why one should never discount the details when dealing with anything brand related.

Your brand is far more than your logo, website or tagline.  It’s how you and your employees dress, the condition of your building/offices/grounds, how your phones are answered (or not), the words you use to describe the company, even the quality of paper and printing on your letterhead and business cards.  All these things and many more tangibly effect the impression you make on the market.  So never compromise on what might seem to be a minor thing.

One of my favorite illustrations of this fact is The Coffee Stain Theory:

So you decide to take a trip and go to an airline’s web site.  The site is easy to navigate and you quickly find the flights you want at the time you want for a great price.  You go to the airport, sail through security and encounter courteous staff at the gate. The plane boards efficiently, you get a spot overhead for your carry-on and settle in.  The plane takes off smoothly and on time.  Your impression of this airline is fantastic.

Then you lower your tray table.  Right in the middle is a nasty, dirty coffee ring stain.  Yuck.  Bad enough that you’ve got to get someone to clean this up, but it calls into question the cleanliness of the rest of the plane, and even how well the engines are inspected and maintained!  Your impression of the airline so carefully cultivated to this point is dashed.  By something as seemingly innocuous as a coffee stain.

Over dramatic?  Maybe.  But, maybe not.  The point is that the devil is in the details and you need to treat everything that represents your business with care and respect – lest your customers and prospects begin to wonder how well your engines are maintained.

A rant against lazy marketing

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As marketers we have the luxury of knowing something about the people we market to. We have data dashboards, trends, purchase information, generational knowledge – and the list goes on.  There are ample opportunities to really make our messages relevant to the receiver. But it’s easy to fall in the trap of addressing only one aspect of those individuals. Even though someone might be a certain age, gender, income level, weight or whatever, they don’t want to be pelted with the same one-dimensional messages over and over again. That’s lazy marketing.

It’s important to really consider the whole individual as you develop your messaging. Regardless of whether you have big, deep data that allows you to “know” someone at a one-to-one level or demographic/psychographic data that gives you a snapshot of someone in a similar group, taking one attribute and pounding on it is tiresome and irksome.

Everyday I get marketing pieces, washed in pink, telling me I can be more assertive, manage my emotions and learn to handle “difficult conversations”. Apparently they think it’s ok to talk down to me because I’m a woman. I’m also told I can lose weight, look 10 years younger and manage my diabetes because I’m a certain age. Clearly they don’t know me. At all. Many of these companies have more data on me than I care to think about, but they don’t use it to market to me as the health-conscious, life-long athlete that I am.

I am so tired of seeing these messages that I’m considering opting out of many of the newsletters I’ve subscribed to for years because of their lazy, one-dimensional marketing.  With the importance of content marketing continuing to grow, it should give marketers pause that they may be alienating the very target market they are trying to attract. I believe the message is no longer just buyer beware. Now it’s marketer beware.

Get a better brain

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So, you’ve got goals, and one of them is to advance in your career. With so many paths available to enhance your abilities (online training, formal education, mentors), where do you start? Maybe it’s time to take a different perspective and start from the inside.

Here’s a little secret if you have a white-collar career: Your job is making you bad at your job. It’s true; the constant interruption of emails, texts and IMs changes your brain over time. Your attention span gets shorter and you’re more easily distracted from the subject you’re trying to focus on. This causes productivity issues in your day and ultimately can add time to your career timeline. People who can focus, problem-solve and shift gears without losing track of what they were trying to do, accomplish more. They rise to the top of the ranks faster and become leaders.

How do you counteract the clutter and get the best from your brain? If you are willing to make a conscious, consistent effort there are various tools that can help. Considering how important your brain is to the work that you do, why not spend some time improving it?

One of the tools that I’ve used myself is Lumosity. This is a brain-training program that trains five areas of brain function: memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving and (processing) speed by playing a specifically designed set of games online. Your progress is charted from the start and you can see not only your own improvement, but also how you compare to others in your age group. Brain training has helped me in several ways. My attention is more acute, I’m less distracted by shifts in work and more fluid in multi-tasking. I’m able to access words and ideas faster for problem solving, writing and speaking.

Set up your work environment to help you succeed, not help you to become distracted and overly brain-stressed. Turn off your alerts and only check emails periodically when you’re working on a project that requires more attention, like writing. You might even, as this article suggests, use journaling to jot down at least one purposeful thought every day. This will keep your goals and aspirations in mind help make your thought processes more proactive and less reactive. Let your mind wander and daydream a bit, then jot down your thoughts. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming, just deliberate. Brain training can be a game changer, so why not help your brain get you where you want to be?


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The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
An Ancient Chinese Proverb, simultaneously telling us it’s never too late and, “Wow, you’re really late.”

But isn’t this the truth about growth, or change. You’re always late until that moment when you actually do something different, then magically, you’re right on time.

It’s been a long cold winter here in Minneapolis and spring has many of us looking forward to some things growing and some things changing. We need to see some melting, some green showing through, more sun shine, less pot holes.

Spring is also a good time to think about ways to grow professionally. Take a class, learn something new, discover a new creative outlet. Or, take on a new client or project. Reach outside of your comfort zone. Something as simple as re-arranging your office make a difference. Change something just for the sake of changing something.

A simple photography class can get you to look at things just a bit differently and when you see the world differently, you might start to see different solutions to a challenge or a better way to accomplish a task.

In our profession, we are tasked with learning new things all the time and sometimes this can be overwhelming. But when we seek out and purposely learn something new, something different can happen. Sometimes it can be fun.

And remember, the second best time to do this is today.

Being in too many places

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Every day there is a new and exciting technology or social network. A lot of corporations tend to jump in thinking that it will be the next big success story and pretty soon they start to stretch their team too thin. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr and the list goes on and on.

If you have a small team of social media savants then it might make more sense to pick a few outlets where your company excels rather than risk looking mediocre in eight of them.  This is where you’ll need to start thinking strategically. Take into consideration where you get the most interaction, your brands personality and your expertise.

Now that the spaces have been chosen it’s time to get your hands around content. This can be laid out and planned for the entire year. The main focus is that your company will be found in a few key places and your team can laser-target content and work (hopefully) more efficiently.

Even though it’s better to be in a few key areas it’s still wise to take hold of handles and usernames if possible. Imagine how weird it would be if Starbucks Twitter Handle was @Starbucks1 instead of @Starbucks.

To divulge or not to divulge, that is the question…

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Should you divulge your project budget to your marketing agency?  Darn right you should.  And here’s why.

A very wise person once said to me, “Anything can be accomplished with enough time and money.”  Indeed, the possibilities are endless.  Unfortunately, time and money typically are limited commodities and must be dealt with as such.

Your aim should be to get the absolute most out of your available resources.  The question is not whether your agency will spend your budget, but what will you get for that spend.  It does both parties a disservice if this number is kept a secret.

Imagine telling a builder you’d like a new home, but give them few specifics (don’t want to curtail their creativity) and no idea of budget, hoping they hit the mark with their plan.   What are the chances they’ll give you something that can actually be built that you’ll like and can afford?

Giving out your budget is a matter of trust – which is key to any successful business relationship.  It’s not a license for larceny, but rather a realistic framework within which the agency can work to get you absolutely the most bang for your buck.  The best agencies do the most with the resources they’re allotted.  That’s a big part of the smarts and creativity you’re paying for.

You won’t be over-directive or hamstring the creative process by divulging your number.  Instead, you’ll be freeing your agency to focus on the most effective and creative solution to your marketing challenge within your limits of time and money.