By Published On: December 1, 2020

Every year at this time d.trio takes stock of the passing year and looks forward to the next year. There’s always change – with clients, industries, marketing and business strategies, channels, and tactics. We think ahead about how the coming year will affect us and our clients’ businesses, to help understand how things might change ahead. But this year I think it’s important to focus on some things 2020 has taught us.

You might guess that the 2020 evaluation will be summed up in one phrase, like “dumpster fire”, but, not so fast. I think 2020 made marketing more competitive. We all had to raise our games. We had an opportunity to learn and grow and do great work – albeit not as much of it. Here are the highlights:

  1. Digital marketing stepped up. Digital marketing took the stage more than ever, and it got refined. Now there’s more data driven, targeted – smart – digital that works even better than previous digital advertising. If you aren’t refining your digital, there are great data resources and ways to look at data to make your marketing budgets work harder. Look for online resources and training to help you get up to speed.
  2. Marketing and Sales learned to play better together: When the pandemic hit, business people became harder for the sales team to reach – no longer in the office or at in-person events or meetings. The age old marketing-versus-sales walls are slowly coming down – and that’s a good thing for both sides. Marketing is learning to incorporate sales insights into marketing programs to make them better, and sales is starting to pay attention to the leads produced. Marketing can tweak programs to improve lead quality, with consistent feedback from sales.
  3. Learning never ends. Don’t underestimate what you know, but also keep learning and growing. There’s always a new perspective that will make you see things in a different light – we’ve gone through more training than ever this year. There is so much great online content – videos, ebooks and events. It’s not too late to take advantage of it and inspire new creativity.
  4. Look for the silver lining. Every recession or widespread issue like a pandemic opens up opportunities for businesses. Look for the things that are working and don’t get paralyzed by the things that are not working.

    1. We found an uptick in B2B marketing opportunities with unique products or services (e.g. cleaning/disinfecting products and ecommerce)
    2. Online education thrives when there’s a downturn – people have more time and incentive to learn something new
    3. Some sectors saw improved sales – not just the obvious ones like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant – mortgage refinancing was hot due to the low rate environment
    4. Commercial real estate is experiencing low occupancy, so for those of you who want to hang on to some offices, there are deals to be had
  5. Keep talking. Customers appreciate that you keep in touch, that you are paying attention and you are doing the right thing during a downturn. Businesses and consumers will start spending money again once they are comfortable with the risk level of spending that money. Think about what they need to hear and then focus on the benefits to them – true benefits and not just wishful thinking about what you would like to tell them about your product, services or business.

Another benefit of 2020 is, everyone has had more time to think. This is a great thing for innovation and ideation. Ideas thrive with a little air around them, to help them grow. So there you have it. 2020 can help you set the tone for 2021 with tighter marketing, smarter strategies and higher levels of creativity. Let’s go do this.

Creativity to the MAX

A few of us in the creative department sat in on the three-day Adobe MAX conference last month. In case you didn’t know, Adobe MAX is an annual conference hosted by Adobe, featuring hundreds of workshops and events related to software, design, and creativity. As a rare benefit of the pandemic, this year’s Adobe MAX was online and free—which made it accessible to those of us who couldn’t normally attend. And because it was remote, with sessions running all day (and night), we could dip in and out as we wanted to. All that’s to say that it was a fun three days of tips, inspiration, and ideas.

Most of the sessions with special guests—famous creatives like Wes Anderson, Shepard Fairey, and Awkwafina—had to be streamed live. But even so, hundreds of sessions are available for replay on Adobe’s website. So even if you missed the conference, you can still check out much of the great content. Want to know which sessions we thought were particularly valuable? Check out Sam’s helpful blog post.

The MarketingProfs B2B Conference Goes Virtual

Some of us attended the annual MarketingProfs B2B Conference in November. It was virtual this year, of course, but that didn’t make it any less fun. Well, maybe a little, because there were no happy hours. But there were plenty of marketing ideas, success stories, and up-and-coming trends, nicely balanced with a mix of motivational speakers and personal stories. In an effort to keep things interesting, many of the presenters weaved creativity into their sessions—some using the newest technologies (one guy used a bitmoji of himself for part of his talk) and some going totally old school (the host made dozens of hand drawn “slides,” including caricatures of the speakers she introduced).

Many of the presenters pre-recorded their sessions, but also appeared live for the introduction, monitored the chat room during their session, and reappeared live at the end to answer questions. There was even an occasional stretch break led by a very bubbly fitness instructor. The sessions themselves had some really great content that got us thinking about new ways to improve the work we do for our clients and ourselves. Things like: creating fans for brands, making videos to tell stories, using data insights to make marketing plans, quick and easy content idea generation, and how to position your brand in a new way. Read our blog for more information about these and other sessions we attended.


Saying goodbye to Tim

We’re sad to report our AE Tim Swenson’s last day at the agency was November 13. A key part of the d.trio family for over seven years, Tim grew from a fresh-faced industry newbie to a sharp, savvy account executive beloved by clients and co-workers alike. In between, he got married, had two boys, bought a house, and even got a cat.


To send Tim off, we hosted a bittersweet virtual happy hour in which everybody came dressed as the guest of honor. (Danette was particularly impressive with her super-detailed hand-painted beard and “I love food” T-shirt.) In true agency fashion, what had originally started as an hour of snacks, drinks, games, and laughs turned into two hours and then three. Finally, as much as nobody wanted to say farewell, it had to be done. We’ll all miss Tim’s energetic spirit, endearing quirks, wild stories, and maybe most of all, his pumpkin pancakes. Good luck, Tim!

You can read Tim’s reflections on his time at d.trio here.

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
Highlights from the 2020 MarketingProfs Conference
Doing some heavy-duty creative lifting