Cooking with your PR and marketing - SHIFT Communications PR Agency - Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin

Cooking with your PR and marketing

Imagine standing in your kitchen and seeing crates of supplies being carted in. Bags of fresh produce, jars of aromatic spices, coolers filled with delicious meats, all being piled into cabinets, counters, and refrigerators. At the end of the process, your pantry is completely filled with wonderful resources to make a meal. Now imagine yourself making and eating only boxed macaroni and cheese, because that’s all you know how to cook.

BSF Holiday Party 2010

This is the exact situation that marketers and PR professionals find themselves facing on a daily basis, in companies large and small. We have no shortage of data. We have no shortage of tools. Look at all of the data you have access to. Web analytics. Salesforce automation data. CRM records. Marketing automation data. Media statistics. Customer service data. These are the raw ingredients that you have to whip up business success. We have no shortage of anything except the knowledge of how to take everything we have, this magnificent bounty, and turn it into something useful, something worth consuming, and so we continue to make unhealthy choices because we don’t know how to make better choices.

Consider what most of the tools and vendors in the marketplace give you. Most will give you more data, which is wonderful if you need more data, but unhelpful if you already have lots of data. A few tools do a reasonable job of rounding up the data and categorizing it, which is like having a nice, organized pantry. If your data is messy and all over the place, this is very helpful, much in the same way that cooking is easier when you know where your ingredients are. However, an organized pantry still isn’t a cooked meal.

The reason that no tool, no vendor, no system is doing anything more insightful with the data we all have is the same reason that no device exists that can cook us meals in our kitchens. As advanced as robotics are, as advanced as food preparation devices are, someone still has to cook the meals today if you want healthy, freshly-cooked meals. There is no system that can reproduce what a master chef can do. Likewise, as advanced as all of our advertising, PR, marketing, and sales tools are, someone still has to take the data and turn it into something actionable and useful. There is no substitute for having a knowledgeable human being interpreting the data, learning what it means, and deriving insights from it.

Here’s an example. Everyone who has Google Analytics properly configured should have access to multi-channel funnels, the system that allows you to see what marketing and PR channels are the last touch that results in conversion vs. what assists in a conversion but isn’t the last touch. Look at this chart of 10 different assisted conversion values. What does it say to you?

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

If you’re a professional marketing “chef”, this tells you that channels 4-7 convert better as assisted conversion channels than as last touches – that is, they are better at helping along a sale than they are at being the last thing a future customer does. What action can you conclude from this set of data? What recipes should you cook based on these ingredients?

In this case, our theory is that these 4 channels work better in assisting a sale rather than closing the deal. Our next logical step is to look at where they currently are in our marketing processes. Take the highest assisted/last touch ratio channel, #5, and move it earlier in the sales and marketing process. Let’s say it’s Twitter, for example’s sake. What should you do? Not just tweet more – look at the tweets that get people to your site vs. the hard sells, and increase the volume of attraction tweets (hey, check out our new blog post!) by 10% while decreasing the hard sells (register for our webinar!) by 10%. Now watch and see if the assisted/last touch ratio changes proportionally AND if the overall number of conversions increases, on the premise that the earlier you can get someone engaged, the greater a positive effect it will have on conversion.

This kind of insight is very difficult to build into tools, which is why you need great “chefs” in your marketing and PR “kitchen” to make the most of the data you already have.

<shameless plug> If you don’t currently have marketing and PR great chefs on staff, borrow ours by engaging SHIFT Communications. </shameless plug>

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on February 5, 2013 in Marketing, Public Relations, Strategy

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and again in 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing; Marketo Corporation named him a Marketing Illuminator, and PR News nominated him as Social Media Person of the Year. Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is an adjunct professor of Internet marketing and the lead subject matter expert and professor of Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco. He’s the author of the best-selling book Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer.

This is a great info about what  for a vast concern to PR professional are facing today. We've well-read that just having the content on social media & marketing and having the analogous data isn't enough to create a strong strategy. What we haven't been communicated is how to read the lines between them into something worthwhile. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Caroline Murray
Caroline Murray

This is a great analogy for a big issue professional communicators are facing today. We've learned that just having the content on social media and having the corresponding data isn't enough to create a strong strategy. Like you said, no one is interested in just flour or just sugar; they are interested in the cupcake. I'm still in school, and we have been taught what analytics are, where to find them and why they are important. What we haven't been taught is how to interpret them into something useful. I think PR programs will soon wake up to the fact that the people who can figure out how to do this are the ones who will create successful strategies. I think we will soon start seeing more data interpretation courses for marketing and PR professionals and students. 


Caroline Murray

Contributing Writer and Editor, Platform Magazine

 @carolineemurray  | @platformmag 


This is good stuff, but it still seems historically-minded. in other words, the success of those channels may have been the result of something else occurring in the market at that particular time.  How do you know that  simply repeating "the recipe", i.e., what worked in the past, will continue to work in the future?


"An organized pantry still isn't a cooked meal!" GET SERVED!

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