Shift happens

Shift happens

Shift happens.

After 3 years in the email marketing industry, I’m departing WhatCounts as Director of Inbound Marketing and moving over to SHIFT Communications as Vice President, Marketing Technology.

Why the change? For almost a decade, I have been focused on the bottom half of the sales and marketing funnel. From the moment someone comes into the audience – via search, newsletter subscription, PPC, etc. – I’ve developed ways of converting them into prospects, leads, customers, and evangelists. I’ve got a fairly good handle on the process and have now replicated it for 3 different companies with good results.

The question that has been nagging me in the past few years, however, is this: how do people figure out you exist in the first place? In the past, I’ve viewed things like awareness, brand building, and PR as unquantifiable wastes of time, but I now view that as ignorance on my part, rather than being inherently flawed marketing mechanisms. How do people find out about you? Sure, you can buy lists and spam the daylights out of folks, but that has relatively little ROI. I realized that for all of the bad pitches I’ve received (and there have been so, so many) there must still be some value to brand building, PR, and awareness or that entire industry would have ceased to exist a long time ago.

My mission, my quest if you will, is to figure out the top half of the marketing funnel. What effect does brand advertising have? What effect does PR have? What effect does brand building have? Most important how do you quantify it? How do you assess it objectively, intelligently, and efficiently so that you can pick the mechanisms that will work best for your company and grow the audience so that you can then use lead generation, demand generation, conversion, and all of the marketing tools that I’m comfortable with.

To the PR world, I’ll be helping SHIFT offer my services to existing and future clients. If you’ve ever wanted to have me look at your marketing funnel or your marketing strategy, audit it, and give you a plan of action to fix things up, I’ll be offering that through SHIFT now. If you’ve ever wondered if your analytics are telling you the right information and delivering real value to you, I’ll be offering that through SHIFT now, too. Ever wanted a social media marketing agency? SHIFT can do that and you get me as a bonus. Everything you’ve come to know me for isn’t going away – rather, it’s being connected with the top half of the funnel as I learn and become proficient in it, in my quest to learn the totality of the marketing profession.

I invite you to join me as the quest continues! Want to work with me at SHIFT? Click here to let me know!

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  • Chel Wolverton

    YAY! Congratulations, ninja!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thank you muchly!

  • DJ Waldow


    • Christopher S. Penn

      The dynamite has gone off.

  • gradontripp

    This is great news, Christopher! Knowing how many great minds have worked at Shift at one point or another, I’m sure you’re joining a top notch team, and your unique knowledge of technology and marketing will bring a new angle for Shift’s clients to find success. Congratulations!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks sir – much appreciated!

  • Courtney Engle Robertson

    Enjoy! It’s a good time of the year for new fresh things :)

    • Christopher S. Penn


  • Sean McGinnis

    Congratulations Chris! Best of luck in the new role.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thank you!

  • hugeheadca

    Congratulations Chris! You’ve earned it!


    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Jim!

  • scottmonty

    Gasp! PR! Next thing you know you’ll be shepherding a herd of unicorns. ;-)

    Seriously, this is a great move for you and the fine folks at SHIFT. I love seeing smart people come together. Best wishes on the new gig!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Scott!

  • geechee_girl

    CONGRATS!!!! That’s fantastic news!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Leslie!

  • Matches Malone

    Good luck on your new endeavor. I think you implicitly have a handle on what you’re doing, and your new job requirements, based on all that I’ve read here. I just hope that your content won’t suffer as a result of learning something new.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Hopefully the opposite!

  • Jason Konopinski

    Huge congratulations to you, Chris! This is fantastic news.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Jason.

  • Dayngr

    Congrats to you! Looking forward to hearing about all the wonderful things you’ll learn along the way.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Me too – thanks!

  • Dave Delaney

    Congratulations, Chris. They are lucky to have you.
    I am so excited to tune in to MOC to hear more about the news. I expect even better things from you in 2013, which is hard to imagine.

    Way to go!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Dave.

  • timbursch

    Wow, congrats Chris!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Tim!

  • Jeff Rutherford

    Admittedly I’m a little sensitive to it, because I have worked in PR for 15+ years, but I’ve certainly detected a little disdain for PR with you and John on the podcast (and I say that respectfully not to start a pissing match).

    So, my question, what happens the next time a SHIFT colleague inadvertently sends a pitch to the Marketing Over Coffee podcast asking you to interview startup X or Y about their digital ad technology product :)

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Jeff – part of that was my own ignorance. That’s one of the reasons I’m here – to see what’s real and what works and measure it.

      And if a SHIFT colleague does that, they get a visit from me.

  • Ian Gordon

    Congratulations Chris! And I look forward to hearing about the quantification of the top side of the funnel.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Me too :) Thanks, sir.

  • Frank Brill

    Good to hear that Chris has landed another good daytime job. Hopefully, it means he’ll continue meeting John Wall at the doughnut shop to share their combined wit and wisdom with all of us moochers who are addicted to their podcast ‘Marketing over Coffee’ and, of course, to the caffeine.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      We shall endeavor to continue serving up the coffee!

  • ll lltooljay

    Congratulations, and best wishes, Mr. Penn!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thank you!

  • jaybaer

    Delighted for you, and really excited to have your big brain on top of the funnel stuff.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thank you sir. I look forward to seeing what we can cook up!

  • Stacey Acevero

    Congrats on the shift! Excited to observe your work with them.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Stacey!

  • Slavik Volinsky

    Congratulations! Best of luck.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Slavik. I know who to call for promos too :)

  • swbuehler

    Congrats on the new role; I think you’ll have fun digging into the ‘other side’ of the ‘force’. Just don’t hurt ‘em too badly with the Ninjitsu, okay? ;-)

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thank you!

  • Eric Boggs

    Congrats, Chris. Great get for Shift Communications.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks sir. Hope all’s well your way too.

  • Phillip Zannini

    Congratulations Chris! Well done.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Phillip!

  • Howard Greenstein

    I’m going to say congrats to @TDefern, because he landed a prize, as well as congrats to you Chris!

    • Jason Keath

      Well played.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, Howard!

  • John Federico

    Congrats, Chris!

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, sir.

  • Jason Keath

    Couldn’t imagine a better fit. Congrats @cspenn:disqus . And congrats to SHIFT.

    • Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks, sir. Hopefully I will have fancy new slides to show off at Social Fresh :)

    • Corey Creed

      It seems I’m a few days late to hear about this. But I second Jason’s comment. Very happy for you and SHIFT. Keep learning. We always enjoy learning from you, especially at Social Fresh. :)

  • Donna Papacosta

    Congratulations, Chris! Wishing you all the best.