By Published On: December 4, 2020

I recently read a great article about the unintended consequences of decisions we make. In the article How To Use Second-Order Thinking To Solve Problems Smarter the author takes us through the thought process of thinking about what might happen if you pursue a certain solution to a problem – and the secondary effect(s) to consider. This way of thinking will help you consider whether you are solving the problem the right way, and if you are solving the right problem. It’s an important step.

d.trio has a funny story in our history that illustrates the unintended consequence of a decision we made. Two years ago d.trio turned 18 and we were feeling our oats. For once, it was a digital and social campaign for us, so we didn’t over-think it (the way we think through our client work). Our goal was to create more visibility and engagement for our agency and have some fun with it. So, we created a multichannel social media campaign, developed all kinds of content around “turning 18” and went about engaging people on the internet. We even re-wrote the words to Alice Cooper’s, “I’m Eighteen”, had it professionally recorded and created an animated video.

And of all the things we did, the song list we created and connected to YouTube of 18 songs about turning 18, had the most impact. We owned the top listing almost immediately and Google, back in the day, gave us a Snippet at the top of page 1 to highlight our, um, musical expertise. Two plus years later, even with Spotify vying for that position, we are still on top!

So, you might ask, what’s the downside of being on top for songs about being 18? Let me first tell you it’s the number-one driver of traffic to our website. How can that be bad? Well, it’s not terrible – we had a goal of getting noticed and driving traffic to our website, which we did. However, we didn’t go through second-order thinking to identify if it would attract the right audience, as we would with a serious campaign. Although it’s consistent web traffic, we are not in the music business, we are not a consumer-serving business and it turns out all of the traffic generated by this link is not helpful to our business. The good news is, it doesn’t hurt our business either, so we’ve got that going for us.

The point is, it’s important to have the right team of people who will help you go through second-order thinking in your important marketing decisions. We do this for client work all the time to anticipate issues, potential roadblocks and unintended consequences. Second-order thinking will help you look at all sides of your marketing campaign as well as prevent those harmful unintended consequences from happening and hurting your results.

Fortunately, we get a good chuckle about our situation every time we best Spotify at their game. Perhaps they should hire us and we can create some intended consequences, for them.

About the Author: Megan Devine

Megan Devine
Megan taps into her left-brain logic and right brain creativity—steering the business, bantering with her team, and strategizing on client work. She says it’s her dream job and we believe her. Using her passion and knack for understanding complex connections in business and marketing, she collaborates to create love between brands and customers. She possesses expertise and experience that only comes from persevering in the ever-changing marketing agency world. Megan co-founded d.trio marketing group, now cat&tonic, in January of 2000 and took sole ownership in 2019. Her vision, support, and sheer stubbornness got us through 9/11, the great recession, and a pandemic. She has judged the International ECHO Awards since 2005, has consulted for several organizations, and serves on several boards. Educated at Carleton College, she learned the importance of critical thinking for success. At home she learned the value of a good story.
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