advice Archives - d.trio marketing group

Double black diamonds, anyone?

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Some people think I’m crazy because when I go on vacation, I don’t relax. I go. Hard. For instance, I like to go to the top of the mountain, feel the sun on my face, ski the double black diamonds and fall into bed exhausted at night (ok, maybe after a little wine too).

So what do double black diamonds have to do with business? A change of venue, change of pace and mindset in the great outdoors makes me more productive and creative in the long run. It releases the brain to think more broadly and makes me feel a sense of well-being. Here’s additional reading about the benefits of exercising outdoors.

My brain works hard at my job, but like most of you in business, I sit a lot. Not something I do well naturally, so when I feel a little burned out from thinking and sitting the best antidote to that is moving. And being in nature. Go to top of the mountain and your problems seem surmountable, or run or bike on the beach and look at the ocean – commune with nature, you’ll see.

It feels good to get outside and push yourself in different ways than you do in business, and test your limits. Even if you’re not that athletic, you can take a long walk or get on a bike and explore some new terrain. The fresh air and change will do you good, your ideas will flourish and you’ll sleep better than you ever have. I guarantee it.

About Us – It’s Not All About You

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Many companies desperately need “a cleanup on aisle 13” – and that aisle is the “About Us” section on their website.  It seems the majority of these sections I read are vague, confusing, trite, jargon-filled diatribes that do little to inform the audience, establish credibility or spark interest in moving deeper into the site.

Your “About Us” should be honest, clear, descriptive and (gasp) interesting.  It should convey confidence and give a sense of your company’s personality.  Visitors are often comparing you to the competition so it’s critical you address your unique selling proposition.  And speaking of visitors, this section is most often read by first-timers to your site, so remember you’ve only got one shot at a first impression.  This is essentially a speed-date, so don’t be boring and unremarkable!

As with any marketing copy development, it’s important to put yourself in your readers’ shoes.  Make it relevant and leave them with a feeling of wanting more.  This may be as far as they get on your site, so you may want to include a call to action (company phone number, email, video link etc.).

Enough talk about “exceeding expectations” (duh), “striving for excellence” (I should hope so), or “creating solutions” (unless you are a chemist, I guess).  Get real, to the point and add some flavor beyond salt and pepper.  You’re asking for someone to consider a relationship with you.  Act accordingly.

Lasers, Juice and a Briefcase of Money

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When I picked up the phone, my client almost burst out of it with excitement as they shared with me their new, brilliant idea! I was thrilled they had picked me to help and as my gears started grinding, I began to envision an implementation plan that looked sort of like this:


Then reality set in. As we started working through the implementation process of this great idea, the path to implementation looked more like this:


Sound familiar? This happens to the best ideas. Implementation buzz-kills, such as a budget, compliance and time can get in the way. The good news is, there is hope.  I have three ideas to support the implementation of your next great idea and they include: juice, lasers and a briefcase.  That’s right.

  1. Sharks with laser beams.  Every good idea can get even better, right? Maybe not. Identify your challenge and goal in the beginning and keep a laser-sharp focus on your plan. Each decision you make should support the goal.  Do not waiver. If the idea doesn’t support your original plan, set it aside. You may have just come up with another great idea!
  2. Soak up the creative juice. I know your idea is really awesome and you can’t wait to share it. Give it the time it deserves and let the awesomeness marinate. During that time, you can gain the internal support you need and think through issues that may arise as you move forward.
  3. Deal…or no deal briefcase.  Without the restraints of a budget, I’ve seen ideas transform from awesome to mind-blowing-ly amazing. It can also create a big buzz-kill when the reality of budget parameters stomp out the mind-blowing-ly amazing idea that now doesn’t fit into your budget, leaving clients deflated. I don’t like to see clients deflated. Make sure you know how much money is in the briefcase before you make your plan.

Before you run full speed ahead with your next great idea, make sure your idea is supported with lasers, juice and the right briefcase. Those three things, along with your new idea may be the ticket to your next promotion!

Real time marketing makes for a pleasant surprise.

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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?

Management Perspective

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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.


Invent some marketing, and boost your brand.

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Differentiating a brand is not for the weak of heart. Even established brands can find themselves struggling to create a blip on the sales meter. Too often, the competition is saying the same things you are, or somebody else is first, or says it louder, or – you get the idea. To create a little drama and stir things up, one of the most effective things you can do is invent your own marketing to advertise around. With the help of today’s social media outlets, this additional marketing push can be very compelling.

For example, some years ago, Radio Shack wanted to increase store traffic over the holidays, so they did a little research with women to learn their top ten most-wanted Christmas gifts. Then advertising was created to offer the list to any man who stopped by the store. Anyone who’s ever been desperate for gift ideas knows how tempting an offer like this can be.

To build some advertising buzz, The Toro Company decided to pull a stunt that had more to do with mowing down the competition than with cutting grass. They entered one of their riding lawn mowers in the Baja 500 off-road race in Mexico. In addition to the instant PR created by the spectacle of a lawn tractor rider suited up in full racing gear, the stunt generated a huge amount of additional free press and buzz around the brand. They didn’t win the race, but they sure won the competition for something to talk about in their advertising.

Even in the financial services category, where sameness can be a big hurdle, some invented marketing can overcome advertising inertia. One Australian Bank staged a series of “Honesty Experiments” to promote the honest nature of its credit card business. These included dropping wallets around for people to find, giving people incorrect change and letting money slip from actors’ pockets. Capturing the typically honest response from the Australian public gave the bank plenty of advertising material to work with in both traditional and social media.

Not to be mistaken with cause marketing, invented marketing can be small and episodic, and it can be created to support your chief brand strategy or a business initiative with a shorter life span. Either way, inventing something to talk about that’s uniquely yours can take you a long way toward being different in a branding landscape that’s often filled with too much similarity.

Read, Reflect and Relax

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Technology is amazing. It can help us make great presentations, keep us up-to-date on what is going on in the world and we can now be connected 24/7 and 365 days a year. Our phones are almost always within reach.

This brings me to the question: when do we give ourselves time to recharge? When do we wake up and smell the coffee (instead of pouring over emails)? There recently was an event held in Silicon Valley called “Digital Detox” – a no-technology summer camp for adults. There are real benefits to taking a break from tech. The summer is a great time to take that break.

A couple points:

    • Kansas State University found that taking a break from technology (and consequently work) helps you recover for the next day. So burning the midnight oil at both ends of the wick should be kept to a minimum.
    • Looking at a computer before sleeping can produce sleeping disorders. The backlit screens suppress the production of melatonin. A chemical that will help you fall asleep. The best thing to do is turn off (or ignore) all electronic devices at least one hour before you go to sleep.

What we need to look for is a healthy balance of technology, find a little time this summer to relax your brain.

Marketing in a tech-driven world

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We’re all aware of how much marketing has changed in 5 years and as a marketing company, d.trio’s looked for ways to marry traditional, paper-based tools and channels with digital counterparts. We’ve started seeing the term “Marketing Technologist” used to describe the tech expert in a marketing company or department, but we believe that instead of having a separate position in a company, technology integration strategy should be a skill set of all marketing employees. Technology is no longer just a vehicle, it’s an integral part of marketing and user experience. Technology is driving many projects from internal business tools that help with sales and customer interaction, to apps and mobile Web for easy access/viewing on smartphones, to collateral and other content management online.

Being problem solvers at heart and having always embraced technology has helped us find great ways to help our clients migrate their collateral and publications to bridge the gap between paper and digital experiences. Technology helps clients take their paper documents to reader-friendly electronic delivery on computers, tablets and smartphones. As people become more mobile oriented, they expect companies to provide the content they need – wherever they are, whenever and how they need to access it. To this end, we provide the technology of content delivery in different ways to maximize the reader experience.

Page-turn technology is one of these tech tools. It helps deliver publications in a reader-friendly manner with realistic page-turning graphics. You can zoom in, embed video, use links from the contents page and also link back to information on your own website all within the PDF document. It’s a great way to present your magazines, white papers or brochures. Here’s an example (not our work).

UX Design Principles

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Recently, d.trio has worked on a number of client projects with a strong user experience component. This work has acted as a reminder of how the laws of UX design tie into influencing customers’ brand preference. Here are a few principles of UX design that marketers should incorporate into their project planning and execution:

Consider the whole interaction a person has with a product, process, or service. UX design and strategy considers not only the end result but also the whole process to get to that result.

Warby Parker is a good example of a brand that considers the whole consumer interaction. Through a simple website, you can order frames to try on at home or you can try on virtually. Your postage is taken care of, you can get your Facebook friends advice on selected styles, and your finished glasses come to you in less than a week. The process is designed to be easy and valuable throughout.
UX Design Principles

You have to read between the lines. Consumers won’t always tell you why something seems difficult or undesirable. Marketers must glean insights from consumer interaction and synthesize that into noticeable process improvement.

Google has built their philosophy on understanding how to make things better for their users (without their users telling them to do so). They state in their last philosophic tenet “For example, when one of our engineers saw that search worked well for properly spelled words, he wondered about how it handled typos. That led him to create an intuitive and more helpful spell checker.”

Show. Don’t tell. To create the simplest user experience, it’s best to explain a desired consumer response through visuals and concepts your consumers are familiar with. This familiarity will help develop brand preference.

Infographics are helpful tools used to break down complex ideas and serve them up to viewers in terms they can easily process. A relevant example is this infographic talking about the specifics of the U.S. fiscal cliff (a topic many individuals don’t clearly understand).


Though these are just a few ideas that come from UX design, they’re important principles to remember when marketing to consumers.




5 Simple Tips for Business Travel

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Visiting out of town clients or pitching to a prospective client is extremely valuable in strengthening relationships and building new ones. Plus, it is fun to see people in person. Here are my personal tips to make your business travel as stress-free as possible:

1. Minimize clothes wrinkling and the need for ironing later by layering your clothes in plastic. The plastic that dry cleaners use works particularly well.

2. Carry a travel wallet. Swap out your regular wallet for an old one or purchase an inexpensive new one and include only the essentials. You will minimize your exposure if your wallet is lost or stolen. In addition, with a clean wallet, all your business receipts will be organized and easy to find later.

3. Use a backpack style computer bag or carry-on with padded shoulder straps. The dual straps will distribute the weight equally, help prevent back and neck strain and will keep your hands free while you trek through the airport and wait in lines.

4. Prepare for unexpected delays or downtime by including the following items in your carry-on bag:

• Books/magazines/cross words etc – a good old-fashioned hard copy eliminates the need for Internet access.
• Empty water bottle – your favorite reusable water bottle can go through security and get filled afterwards.
• Light snacks –packing a few snacks will tide you over until you can get a meal.
• Comfortable walking shoes – sneak in a little exercise or just provide relief after a long day in business footwear.

5. Arrive early as opposed to on time. Nothing adds more stress than getting caught in a traffic jam, a full parking ramp, or some other unexpected delay that puts you behind schedule. By planning to be early, not only will you will have a buffer, but also time to relax.