“My, what big analytics you have!”

One of the boons to marketers in today’s technological rampage is the ability to measure just about anything. Which customers responded to which tweet what time of day wearing what color shirt? Did the Facebook post reach the right demographic in the right ZIP Code before the target had Mexican food for lunch? We exaggerate, of course:analytics there’s no way to definitively know which color shirt. Yet.

Back in the olden PK days (pre-Keurig,) we could do a fair amount of targeting with traditional media, but the difference between then and today (to quote Mark Twain,) is the “difference between lightning bug and lightning.”

We are awash in information. Social media is really great because you can measure just about anything. But that’s the problem, too. Perfectly nice people get caught up in the analytics, and the numbers end up taking on a life of their own. What happens is that people lose sight of why we have analytics in the first place. Numbers for numbers sake doesn’t make sense.

Do you find that you are too busy doing the analytics to focus on the business of marketing? We’re certainly not suggesting that you shouldn’t take advantage of the numbers in all their glory. And knowing how to properly use those shiny numbers can be a clear strategic advantage. Yes, analytics are a wealth of useful information, but make sure you don’t squander that wealth. It’s easy to get caught up in the how many and how often trap and lose sight of the who.

For example, you can tell if your message is reaching a large audience, but have you looked to see if it is reaching the right audience? Are your numbers matching up with the customer profile you’ve developed? (You do have a customer profile written down, right? No, the customer is not defined as “anybody who might buy our product.”)

You can spend days with all those analytics and know just about everything about the people who saw your message. However, if that’s all you’re doing, you’re just playing with numbers.

The whole purpose of analytics is to get hard data that that you can use to help your business grow. You must look for the message behind the numbers, not just at the pretty pie charts and bar graphs.

Use your analytics to measure if your message reached the right people. There may be strength in numbers, but not using analytics to benefit the growth of your business doesn’t add up.


This is not a joke. It is, instead, the best single piece of advertising either of us ever saw.

It was prominently displayed by a highway in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Why is it so effective? First, it is mercifully short. Five words. The writer was a master at communicating a world of information in as few words as possible. We immediately knew there was a place to stop up ahead. In addition, we knew that we would be able to get something to eat. And, that, if we needed to entertain our daughter, she could go look at the snake.

Did we learn what kind of food they served, the quality of the restrooms or the exact make and model of the snake? No, there was no time. The human mind can only absorb so much information at 60 miles per hour. If the advertiser had added extraneous information – like “juicy hamburgers” images-snakeor “20 foot Burmese python,” we would have missed the whole thing.

Instead, the advertiser gave us the essence of the message. It was just the right amount of information to help us make a buying decision. We’ll also point out that the message did a masterful job of prequalifying buyers. It immediately eliminated people who didn’t need to stop, weren’t hungry, or weren’t big fans of snakes, large or small.

Many advertisers fall into the trap telling the consumer more than they need to know to make a buying decision. Or, sometimes worse, they load up the communications with too much stuff. We don’t need to know when you were founded, your hours on Christmas Day, your association memberships or see a picture of your dog. Just give us a compelling reason to begin making a buying decision. You might tell us, for example, what you’re selling and how your product or service might relate to us. Once we know that we’ll find you.

And you can keep the snake.


Consultant or resource: which is which?

Elzy Wright is famous for saying that “a Consultant (or expert) is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.”

Funny. And sometimes true. We’ve certainly serve as consultants to some of our clients; and, yes, some of those clients are more than 50 miles from Atlanta. And to be perfectly honest, we both own briefcases, although one looks amazingly like a backpack.

We have nothing but respect for consultants, no matter their field of expertise. People who know what they’re talking about can be an invaluable part of a company’s growth.

But there is another category of expert, and knowing the difference between the two can be a big step toward company growth and your profitability. We’re talking about the “resource.” Put bluntly, sometimes you don’t need to be told what to do; you already know that. What you need is somebody to do it, somebody to execute programs to meet specific goals. That’s what a resource is for.

A client of ours didn’t need to be told he needed a company-wide meeting for all employees. What he needed was for someone to plan and execute the event.

A client with a full range of marketing skills on hand needed a presentation to an important constituency. What should she say? Who would write it? Enter the marketing resource.

A highly experienced marketing resource (yes, like a highly experienced consultant,) can end up saving money, loads of time, and you’ll end up with a better product. The best way to pick a resource is to look for someone who has boots-on-the-ground experience in the area where you need help.

Don’t be put off by the “but these people worked only for big companies” prejudice. That means they have the experience and the knowledge.

Sometimes you’ll need the wise counsel of consultants; sometimes you’ll need the hands-on skills of a marketing resource. And you’ll benefit from knowing the difference.