All Posts By

Tim Swenson

My first day – Tim – microblog

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In honor of d.trio’s 15th anniversary we’ve asked all of the current employees to write two microblogs. One about their very first day at d.trio, the other about where they were 15 years ago.


My first day at d.trio was April 22nd, 2013 and was filled with a couple meetings and reading as much as I could on our current projects.

Different Ways to Learn

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The learning process is complicated and choosing a program can be difficult when you’re not aware of the pros and cons of different types of programs. Whether you prefer in-person or, online courses, they each have their respective benefits and challenges.

Hands-On Courses


  • Face time with instructors
  • Collaboration with peers
  • Discussions are more impromptu
  • Follows a more structured routine
  • Retaining a message is easier when multiple senses are tapped
  • Typically smaller class sizes


  • Working around a schedule and outside responsibilities
  • Typically higher cost
  • Large amount of time to invest
  • Geographic limitations
  • Social anxiety for a portion of people

Online Courses


  • Convenient when there are responsibilities outside the class
  • Cost is typically lower (especially when transportation and room and board are taken into consideration)
  • Less anxiety for individuals when writing a comment in a forum
  • Some courses are free (see MOOC for details)


  • Since online courses are still relatively new – instructors are still working on an effective way to deliver curriculums
  • Perceived value is lower
  • Discerning important content in the course for tests is more difficult
  • Harder to get one-on-one time with the instructor

If you are interested in the subject it probably doesn’t matter what route you take. You will have fun learning about something you care about and come out of the course with a perspective or piece of knowledge that you didn’t have before. The best part about learning is that we can always keep learning.

Office Ambience and the Benefit of Noise

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As marketers, creative problem solving is something that we do on a daily basis. What helps us with that process is music and noise. To us, at times, it can be too quiet to think. Extensive research has been published regarding the topic of noise and brain cognition but recently there has been some insightful new information regarding the effect on creativity. There are even websites and apps now that will give you background noise to help your creative process.

The research article: Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition published by The University of Chicago Press has found that noise can negatively and positively affect the creative process. In the research they note that there have been a lot of studies that determine noise can ruin someone’s concentration but that creativity is more difficult to measure (and a very complicated process). It turns out that a low to moderate level of noise (think coffee shop) provides just enough stimulation to boost your creative power. It’s not just because the music is good or you’re getting ideas from the clientele. It’s because noise gets you out of your head and works your brain harder. This leads to more creative, out of the box thinking. Just be sure not to blast music or go somewhere too loud because that could negatively impact your creativity.

If you’re interested in getting a creative jump-start there are plenty of ways to do it at your desk while not taking time to go to a coffee shop or disturb your coworkers. Obviously you can listen to the radio or your music but it’s a lot more difficult to find the background chatter that a coffee shop can provide. I’d recommend trying to find that coffee shop sound and finding a good playlist on Spotify (I prefer Office Detox or Your Favorite Coffeehouse).

Hopefully this info has helped your creative process but if you’re still looking for a boost feel free to give d.trio marketing group a call!

Groupthink: What it is and how to avoid it.

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Groupthink is defined as: “the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.” It’s basically a pit where great ideas go to die before they even get a chance. Individuals may become stymied and might not pursue or bring up an idea because of this dangerous social phenomenon.

Think about how Groupthink can change the dynamic of a brainstorming session. In a room of eight people trying to create a new incentive program, add the pressure of deadlines from senior leadership, and pretty soon an idea will be thrown out. There may be a couple more ideas but if one strong personality is advocating for a specific idea during a brainstorm then others could start to hold their ideas back. Self-censorship is counter-productive during brainstorming and the group will take an illusion of unanimity. Now you have a possibly weak idea and quiet dissent stirring in a group.

Below is a list of ideas and practices that may help you deter Groupthink from happening:

  1. Cultivate a diverse company. When people have different backgrounds and experiences they can pull from that to present different viewpoints.
  2. Don’t stifle idea generation by shooting down ideas. Empower everyone to share their thoughts and concerns. It is especially important to allow everyone to voice his or her opinions/ideas. You don’t want to set up an environment where people are guarded about their ideas.
  3. Someone needs to be the devils advocate. This will challenge the group to think differently and generate more ideas.
  4. If your group agrees right away don’t act on it. Let the idea simmer and give some time to other thoughts.
  5. Invite people from outside of the group to gain new perspectives.

Hopefully this has helped you recognize Groupthink and will help you avoid it as well. For more information on Groupthink read:

For an in-depth analysis of Groupthink:



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! –


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.

A few tips to improve your photographs.

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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.



Fresh blog from our fresh face

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The following blog is written by Tim Swenson, the newest member of the d.trio team. Tim joined us mid-April as an Assistant Account Executive.

A lot of images come to mind when I hear the word “Fresh”. Most of these images are of food.

Personally, I don’t eat out a lot and try to avoid fast food restaurants when I can. A recent article on explains at length why this should worry many chain restaurants (including the heavyweight champion McDonalds). To the dismay of many restaurants it seems to be a trend with millennials. The article states that McDonalds “doesn’t even rank among the demographic’s top 10 restaurant chains.”

I’m one of the 59 million (give or take a few) millennials, and I have some advice for every restaurant. It’s not about whether you’re a chain or one of the best-kept secrets in the city. It’s about keeping it “fresh”.

The first thing we want to be fresh is our food. I recently went out to lunch with some colleagues, and we chose to eat at Chipotle. Once there we started talking about how Chipotle makes a strong effort to only sell the freshest ingredients possible while maintaining high ethical standards in regards to raising animals. We were ultimately happy with our decision, not only because it tasted great, but because it felt morally responsible.

We want another thing to be fresh and that’s the menu. More options will never be a bad thing. This will keep the menu from getting old and will keep us coming back for more. It would be a very demanding task for major companies like McDonalds and Burger King to change their menu but it’s worth looking into for the company’s future.

Don’t just give a more diverse menu though; give a customizable option for when we’re trying to eat a little healthier or when we want to build our own culinary masterpiece. A “Build-Your-Own” or “Á La Carte” option is something consumers crave for in almost everything in life, including meals.

Restaurants need to keep an eye on millennials. Remember that “fresh” can be more than a piece of copy in an ad. It can be a statement.


-Tim Swenson is an assistant account executive at d.trio marketing group