End of Q3 Economic Check-In for Marketers

Once upon a time, when I worked in financial services, I checked charts and quotes daily. I watched the world’s markets like a hawk, because macroeconomic issues that could impact my work often had leading indicators days, weeks, or months in advance.

Even today, I still check in, though not nearly as frequently because my day to day work doesn’t depend on it. It’s still important to have a general sense of what’s going on in the marketplace – and even better if you know why.

Let’s see where things are, now that we’re at the end of the third quarter of the year. The economic indicators I pay attention to are listed out here.

So how are things? First, let’s look at the broad exchanges, the DJIA…


and S&P:


Broadly, the markets had mostly a good year until recently, with the dislocations in China spreading. If you’ve got overseas exposure to China, you’ll continue to feel it.

We see this in the CBOE VIX:


Any time the VIX goes above 30, it means that confidence is uncertain, things are less stable than markets would like. For the majority of this year, things were predictable. The China shock is what caused the large spike in September. The VIX is what you keep your eye on if you want to gauge market sentiment.

On the lending front, interbank rates are still quite low thanks to the Federal Reserve keeping effective interest rates at zero. We see the 30 day chart:


and the 90 day chart:


We see that these two lending rates are marching in virtually lockstep pacing, and the spread between them is healthy. While there may be unease in the stock markets, the impact to banking and lending has been a flight to quality. It also hasn’t impacted mortgage rates domestically:


Overseas, no surprises here as emerging markets have taken some punishment:


Again, if you have overseas exposure in your business, in your marketing, you’ll want to carefully watch indices like the MSCI Emerging Market index to see how exposed you are. Weakness in the market tends to spread to B2C in a quarter and B2B in two quarters, historically.

We haven’t seen the China shock show up yet in shipping:


As you may recall, BDI, the Baltic Dry Index, is the price to ship a container overseas. It’s expensive to do so; companies don’t speculatively purchase space.

We also haven’t seen China show up in gold prices, which typically spike vigorously when investors are truly spooked:

1 year gold.png

Instead, gold is still relatively cheap at the moment, less than half of what it was during the Great Recession.

Geopolitics are also playing a role in commodities. WTI Crude Oil still remains low:


The reasons why oil is cheap are varied and complex. Some believe that Saudi Arabia is flooding the market to deprive the Islamic State of needed revenue (which comes from oil fields they hold). Some believe that it’s an indirect economic sanction on Russia. Some believe that renewable energy is finally beginning to make a dent in carbon fuel usage. Whatever the reason is, the net effect is cheaper gas at the pump and lower heating costs. If you’re a B2C marketer, this is welcome news because the consumer should have more disposable income not being consumed by energy.

Finally, in looking at corn, wheat, and rice commodities, only the latter is under some pressure:


Which should be no surprise – when one of the largest economies (China) is feeling disruption, its principal commodity should show that as well.

What does it all mean?

So what does all of this mean for us, as marketers and business people? Right now the world is in fairly unsteady shape, except for America. Between conflicts and refugee crises in Europe and Asian contagion, the flight to quality is coming to America – and that isn’t a good thing in the long term.

In the short term, marketers will find more dollars in America, but no country is an island. In rougher times in other markets, use the opportunity to build and grow your audiences. Ad dollars will stretch further and you may be able to negotiate better deals outside America, especially if your business is being bolstered by American profits. Strategically, make the money in America and invest it in weak markets to seize marketing advantage while you can.

Take advantage of relatively good conditions for the American consumer, with lower energy and food prices. The upcoming holiday season has the potential to be a good one. Consumers tend to spend what they have without a ton of foresight or planning, so if they have more money in their pockets on the days they go to the mall, they’ll spend more of it. Leverage hyperlocal advertising in real-time to make the most of this trend!

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Are you on the MAP? (Marketing Affiliate Program)

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I’m grateful that many of you have enjoyed my books and publications over the years, from Marketing White Belt to the most recent Marketing Blue Belt. Today, I want to unveil a new way for you to be a greater part of these books: join the Marketing Affiliate Program!

What’s in it for you?

By becoming a marketing affiliate, you’ll earn a commission on each book or webinar you sell to your audience. The more you sell, the more you earn.

How much will you earn?

Here’s the good part. If you’ve already been reselling my books using an Amazon affiliate link, you know that Amazon pays a paltry 4% to affiliates. For every $9.99 book you sell, at Amazon you only earn 40 cents, and you can’t even buy webinars on Amazon.

In my Marketing Affiliate Program, you’ll earn a 25% commission on anything sold.

So for my books, you’ll earn $2.50 per book. For webinars, you’ll earn $7.50 per webinar.

How do you get started?

This is an easy two-step process. First, you must register for a free account on Gumroad.com. This is mandatory – I can’t set you up as an affiliate until you’re in their system.


Once you’re done, and only after you’re done setting up your free account, just fill out this form. I’ll get you customized URLs for the products you want to resell, normally within 3-5 business days.

Join the Marketing Affiliate Program (MAP)

Register to become an affiliate for my marketing books and webinars. YOU MUST ALREADY HAVE A FREE ACCOUNT ON GUMROAD.COM BEFORE STARTING! New affiliate registrations will be processed in 3-5 business days or less.
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    Choose any of the above.
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I look forward to having you in the program! Oh, and a reminder that if you do participate, be sure to read FTC guidelines on disclosing that you are an affiliate.

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The missing investment ingredients in marketing ROI

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Do your marketing ROI calculations sync up with the reality of your company’s bottom line? Or have you put together an ROI calculation and found your net revenue projections falling short? Chances are, you’re missing some key ingredients in the calculation of ROI, especially on the I part, investment.

Recall that ROI is a simple math equation: (Earned – Spent) / Spent. Your revenue is offset by your investment.

What do you spend money on that fuels your marketing? For most marketers, we think of only campaign spends, like ad budgets or the price of a marketing agency. However, if you wanted to build a complete, thorough picture of ROI, you’ll need to detail three kinds of money: system, hard, and soft.

Let’s look at these three kinds of money through the lens of a Google AdWords campaign.

Hard Dollars

Hard dollars are actual money paid out. If you run an AdWords campaign, hard dollars would be the money you pay to Google to make the ads appear. This is the most common ingredient in ROI calculations.

Soft Dollars

How long did it take you to write your AdWords ads? How long did it take your creative team to put together some display images? How long did it take you to load the ads into the system and hit go?

Time is the greatest source of soft dollars. You account for it by what your effective hourly rate is, and add that to investment. For example, suppose your salary is $50,000 per year. Your hourly equivalent rate is $24.04 per hour. Thus, every hour you spend on AdWords adds an additional $24.04 to the cost of your campaigns.

System Dollars

You don’t just imagine an AdWords ad and it appears. You created that ad on a computer, using electricity, with an Internet connection, possibly at a desk inside a building that you pay rent on. If you work at a company, all the benefits like insurance, office perks, etc. add up to your total cost as an employee. If you’re self-employed, the money you spend on yourself in a work context adds up to your business expenses.

Those system dollars create the environment needed for you to do your work. What do they cost? The easiest way to calculate system dollars is to simply divide the operating expenses of employees (less salary and cash benefits) by the number of employees at a business level, and then add that to the effective hourly rate.

For example, if your business spends $10,000 a year in system dollars to maintain the desk, computer, etc. and your salary costs the business $50,000 per year, that puts your effective cost at $60,000 per year, or $28.85 per hour. Every hour you spend on AdWords should add $28.85 into the campaign cost.

Add The Dollars Up

While this one example may seem like overkill to compute the ROI of an AdWords campaign, you must apply this methodology to all your marketing ROI calculations. Once you’ve accounted for hard and soft dollars, ensure that you’ve accounted for system dollars and you’ll have much more accurate ROI calculations.

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