Monthly Archives

May 2014

The ABC’s of Problem Solving

By | General | No Comments

When you really boil it all down, life (and business), is really just an endless stream of problem solving. Some problems are simple, but others are big, hairy, complex beasts that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. So, what to do?


That’s right. It has been said, and I agree, that tackling a big problem is like eating an elephant – it should be done one bite at a time. But, where to start?

I learned from a great manager many years ago that most problems can be broken down into manageable chunks of A, B, C, D, in descending order of importance. The trick is to focus your best energy on A and B and leave C and D alone. If you prioritize correctly and conquer A and B, you’ll usually find that C and D no longer matter or have taken care of themselves.

One of my favorite quotes is from writer/philosopher Elbert Hubbard, “The more one knows, the more one simplifies”. Truly a pragmatic mantra for life, business and the art of solving problems.

So, when encountering those nasty business problems, take a deep breath and simplify by remember your A, B, C’s.

The Landing Page Checklist

By | Higher Education | No Comments

Is your institution in need of a landing page overhaul?  We can help.  Last month we talked about why landing pages are needed and the tangible benefits they offer.  In this blog we’ll cover the key elements of effective landing page design.  By keeping these in mind throughout the design and development process, you’ll end up with efficient, attractive pages that reflect your brand and turn prospects into leads.  d.trio employs these standards in designing successful landing pages for our education clients; we know they’ll work for your institution as well.

Make the Call to Action Prominent
Make the call to action button or link easy to see and repeat the request if necessary. The point of your campaign is to generate responses to fill events or programs so make it easy for your audience to respond.

Continue the Conversation Seamlessly
Landing pages are designed to serve as a logical and seamless next step for traffic generated by paid search, SEO inquiries, email campaigns or other promotions.  To that end, make sure your landing page clearly continues and pays off the message and/or offer begun in the ad or email you deployed, to make the most of the opportunity.

Simplify Navigation
Whenever possible, minimize navigation that doesn’t take the user further along the path to conversion. For example, if you can remove your institution’s standard navigation header from your landing page, do so. Keep your logo on the page though – your brand is one of your most important assets.

It’s All About Audience
Speak to your target audience and make your messaging relevant.  Know the profile of your prospective visitor and make sure your program or degree’s benefits are communicated with clarity. Create an offer that is also relevant – and compelling – whether it is dinner on campus with a noted speaker or a digital view book.  We recommend having separate landing pages for different degree programs and/or information sessions (this also helps you assess response by program). Setting up a multi-step lead form* can also help you qualify candidates before they reach you (for instance if they must have a bachelor’s degree prior to applying for a program).

Create Engaging Creative
Minimize copy, keep it benefit oriented (see above), specific to the topic and make sure it highlights the call to action. Use images to engage the visitor, but keep them relevant. If your offer involves a free brochure or an event with a noted speaker – show them. Otherwise images of happy, attractive people often resonate best with viewers. Your institution’s branding should be clearly visible implemented correctly and the overall look and feel should be consistent with the original ad or email that got your visitor to your landing page in the first place.

Make it Easy to Opt-in
Once you’ve engaged a visitor and they’ve clicked through to your landing page, make it easy to sign up by including a form ON your email page if possible, vs. clicking through to another layer.

Make it Easy to Learn More
Use videos or links back to your website to handle more detailed program or degree information.  Landing pages with video can increase conversion significantly.*  Plus, timing is important.  You want to capture your visitor’s interest immediately.  Make it easy for them to find and view more information, whether or not they opt-in.

Reporting & Analytics
Thinking ahead about your results reporting will definitely pay off.  Combine your email-delivery tool’s front-end performance data (opens and clicks) with Google Analytics to measure patterns and response on the back end.  Use creative and messaging tests to help maximize results.  Use an industry-standard conversion formula (such as Marketing Sherpa)** to consistently analyze your results.

Lastly, be sure to optimize your landing page for SEO, using your Paid Search keywords and/or adjusting them slightly. You may need to update your keyword research and/or keyword map on your website.  SEO optimization of your landing page is another opportunity to maximize conversion.

Happy Landings!

 Additional Resources:

*4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Landing Pages
**Case Study: How One Degree Program Increased Their Lead-Flow by 902%
Best Practices in Landing Page Design
Email Marketing and Landing Pages for College Student Recruitment

10 Ways to Get Happy

By | General | One Comment

Ahhhh Pharell, you gave us a song to make us happy even as it’s driving us all a little bit crazy. We saw you on Oprah and you seem like a legitimate, caring person. We are even starting to appreciate your exceedingly homely hats. But, you did more than that, for me at least. You made me start questioning and looking at happiness. Not overall Zen-type happiness, but day-to-day, what am I doing, does this really make me happy, happiness. More importantly, I’ve started thinking…what changes can I make to increase happiness in my life?

So, as I go through my day I occasionally ask myself, does doing what I’m doing make me happy at this moment? I acknowledge not everything I do can possibly make me happy, but just asking this question serves two purposes. First, it helps me notice when something does indeed make me happy and secondly, it reminds me to try to figure out a way that I might be able to incorporate just a little bit of happiness into what I’m doing…even if it’s a not so happy task.

So, here are ten simple ways to put a little happiness into your day.

  1. Take a play break. Run up and down a flight or two of stairs or take a quick walk around the office or even better, the block. Send a silly email or leave a fun note on a co-worker’s desk. Figure out something to do that will make you (and maybe others) smile.
  2. If the sun is shining, let it shine on your face for a full minute, even if it’s only through a window.
  3. Search around the radio until you hit on a station playing music you would not normally listen to and give it a chance.
  4. Take the longer, less traveled, scenic road to work.
  5. Put something colorful or beautiful in your office that catches your eye each time you enter.
  6. Toss out some clutter.
  7. Learn something new.
  8. Smile. The action alone sends a message to your brain that your happy. (Apparently the brain is easily fooled.)
  9. Leave an outrageous tip for outrageously good service, or just because your server is having a hard day.
  10. Do a good deed, anonymously.

The hidden secrets of color

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Much as been said and or written about the way color shapes our world, our attitude and our thoughts. This, you may be happy to hear, will not be a blog about the psychology of color…fascinating as the subject is.

The original intent of this blog was to study and report on the use of color and Fung Shui. However, my research on this was a bit disappointing. Red=fire and passion, Yellow=happiness, Blue=tranquility and peace, Pink=softness and love. A bit too expected. I was not finding the usual tidbits of interest that a Fung Shui study usually reveals, except for one many of us already know:
“If you want to inspire prosperity in your life, paint your front door red. Subsequently, if you want everyone to know you want more money in life, paint your front door red.”

So, my quest for a color topic continued. I went on a Google rampage searching for something new and interesting about color to share with our readers. Color surrounds us in marketing and even as we are keenly aware of it and its impact at all times…I wanted to find something different and new.

Turns out I found something different, but not so new. Something pretty old. Early 1900’s old.

And I know, I promised this would not be about the psychology of color, and it isn’t, not exactly. This is a psychology test you can take…about color. Seems it was created by Dr. Max Luscher and has been widely used in Europe for screening job and college applicants for…oh, about 100 years. Dr. Luscher studied the responses of hundreds of thousands of subjects (that’s what they state) and compiled formulas that determine how people feel, based on their color preferences. It takes about 3 minutes to complete and, for me at least, the results were surprisingly interesting and pretty accurate. You can learn more about Dr. Lushcer, or take the test at


My Year at d.trio marketing group

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It’s hard to believe how fast time can go. Last year I was just starting at d.trio marketing group and on cloud 9 because I landed this opportunity. It’s been a whirlwind but below is a short sample of what I’ve learned so far.

  • Direct marketing is on the uptick because ad blockers and bots are disrupting digital banners.
  • Our vendors can do some really incredible things. Not only meet seemingly impossible deadlines but also help us create some truly unique pieces.
  • Since we are a small agency we are able to move a lot faster to meet our clients needs.
  • Taco Days are the best medicine for winter.
  • We’re incredibly lucky to be located in the North Loop.
  • There are two things that everyone in Minneapolis has in common, the terrible weather and potholes.
  • Managing a large mail campaign takes a lot of hard work and dedication from every party involved.

The list could go on and on but this is what’s at the top of mind right now. The past year has been fantastic and I can wait to learn more moving forward.

– ed note: Thanks, Tim, you’ve been a great addition to the team and we look forward to many more anniversaries! –


What fonts are we?

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We asked everybody at d.trio to complete the following sentence: If I were a font I would be ______.

As usual it was more complicated than we thought. Beth wanted to know if she could choose a typeface and not a font, a couple people got lost in the number of choices and Maureen chose hand lettering, probably just to be difficult. However, we did come up with some interesting choices. Fred chose Comic Sans for obvious reasons, and the art department changed it to Comic Neue because he can’t be expected to know better. Megan’s is probably surprising to a lot of people unless you’ve heard her skiing stories or realize the font is named RockInstead. Tina immediately changed her email font to her choice (American Typewriter) and has driven everyone crazy with it since. Maureen’s choice was actually the lettering from a logo for something called Imagine, so only those 7 letters exist. Here’s what they look like all together:



What font are you? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Growing smarter

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5 ways to parlay growth into success

Businesses come in all sizes, they deal in an endless array of products and services, with different strategic plans, employees, customers, objectives and aspirations. So trying to give one-size-fits-all advice and insights on “growing your business” can be tricky.

But here at d.trio our 14 years of experience has given us some insights that can be useful for anyone who manages growth – whether it’s for a hot line of business, a business division or corporation. After all, this is America. We’re all entrepreneurs at heart, right?

1. Hire the best people you can find.
With growth comes new employees. Choose them with care, make sure they’re the finest individuals available and that they fit, culturally. People with talent, energy, ingenuity and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude (plus expertise in your industry, of course) will help you maintain your upward trajectory.

2. Delegate wisely.
This is one of the many rewarding options you can derive from “hiring the best.” Building a business takes different skills and focus than those needed to launch one. You need people you can trust to help you pursue your dreams while they benefit by pursuing their own.

3. Deliver uncompromising customer service.
Frankly, this is an obsession at d.trio. It’s so important at every stage of any business.

Happy customers are loyal customers and have a huge impact on your growth. They 1) keep coming back for more, and 2) tell their friends and associates all about how great you are, which is an unbeatable brand of advertising.

Customer service is about sweating the small things that make people feel important, like being responsive, showing them where to find something rather than just telling them, and really listening to a concern and addressing it immediately.

Treat every single one of your customers like a VIP. Because they are.

4. Be careful with “gas pedal growth.”
Firms that grow like Starbucks are exceedingly rare. Since 1987, they’ve added an average of two new stores a day, and now they have over 20,800 coffeehouses in 64 countries.

A problem everyone wishes they had, right? Well, not so fast. Several things can happen when your business grows very quickly: You can handle it well because you have a plan for it, or you can really mess up because you don’t.

One of the big hurdles of growth is it increases a firm’s complexity and bureaucracy. As the number of employees, admins and managers grows, their training needs increase. It’s important to maintain the culture that made you successful and deliver products and services with the same passion and quality as when the company was smaller and its core mission was in sharp focus.

Understanding your brand evolution and communicating your brand vision in a consistent manner, both internally and externally, is crucial to this continuity.

5. Stay relevant. The processes, policies and marketing approaches that work when a business is smaller become outdated when the company grows significantly. This can take leaders by surprise. All these elements have to be monitored so they can evolve naturally with growth. In particular, outdated marketing materials can hurt your brand and leave the impression you don’t pay attention. If your content isn’t relevant to your customer, your brand is not relevant.

Growing in the Garden of Good and Evil
Growing a business the right way takes a lot of care, nurturing and wisdom. And while we’ve only scratched the surface on this topic, we hope these ideas inspire you to help the business you care about get bigger and better.