2020 Rewind: Marketing Strategies in a Pandemic

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2020 Rewind: Marketing Strategies in a Pandemic

Welcome to 2020 Rewind! In this series, we’re taking a look at the year that was and the wonderful shows and podcasts that had me on as a guest this past year. A fair amount of the time, I’d rather read than listen, but podcasts, live streams, webinars, and videos were how we made media this year. So let’s get the best of both worlds; 2020 Rewind will share the original episode and show it aired on, and provide you with a machine-generated transcript from the episode.

2020 Rewind: Marketing Strategies in a Pandemic with Jon-Mikal Bailey and the Wellspring Digital Podcast

Summary: Marketing in a pandemic is all about paying attention to the data and being as agile as possible. Any kind of recession or depression requires tightening the belt, focusing on customers, and working the bottom of the funnel.

Find the original episode here.

Wellspring Digital Chats: Christopher S. Penn, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist of Trust Insights

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Jon-Mikal Bailey 0:14
Thank you for joining us. This is the wellspring digital chat. And today our first guest is Christopher Penn, who is a marketer extraordinare. I’m a huge fan of his. If you do not get his newsletter, you need to subscribe to it right now. Go to awaken your superhero calm or any of just just google Christopher Penn, you’ll find it. But I’m going to do a very small amount of talking so that you can get all the goodness from Chris. So first, I want to see I want to get Chris to introduce himself. So Chris, welcome. And if you can just give us your bio. Give us a little bit about you.

Christopher Penn 0:57
Sure. I am the chief data scientist and co founder of Trust insights.ai. We are an analytics consulting firm. I’ve been doing marketing for more than two decades, I have been doing analytics for almost two decades and spent a lot of time now in data science, machine learning AI, all the fancy stuff with numbers and things. And yeah, that’s about it.

Unknown Speaker 1:23
Cool. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. No, these are crazy times. And we’ll talk about that in a little bit. But I want to do a quickly take a trip down memory lane. So I’ve known you since the blue sky factory days. Greg Calendly. OC, in Baltimore. I think I met you at a Frederick County Chamber of Commerce something or other. It seems like 1000 years ago, and I wanted to just, you know, briefly get a sense from you of what you’ve seen in the evolution of marketing since since your days at Blue Sky factory, which was how many years ago

Christopher Penn 2:04
that we’re now exactly a decade ago, it was a decade?

Unknown Speaker 2:08

Christopher Penn 2:09
So obviously, the time flies. No, the biggest thing has changed by far in the last decade is the fact that these little devices, these smartphones, iPhone came out in 2007, iPad came out in 2009. And the world has not been the same since we live on these devices. 24 seven, and all digital marketing really is, if you’re not already a mobile first marketing company, you’ve missed that boat by about five years, but better late than never. And what’s been interesting to see is how much these portable small devices make the non digital world also digital from, you know, people googling for, or searching amazon for product while they’re standing in someone else’s physical store to search inquiries and people talking, you know, now with smart assistants, people are just shouting to the air. Oh, you know, what’s the price on this thing and you’re like, I remember when Bluetooth headsets first came out. And you’re like, seeing somebody talking to the air like crazy person, a bluetooth headset. Now it’s a

Unknown Speaker 3:15
headset, everybody’s a crazy person. Exactly.

Christopher Penn 3:20
And so that, you know, that’s really has been the biggest macro change in the last 10 years. It’s just, you were walking around with a supercomputer and you know, connected to the the sum total of human knowledge in your pocket every single day. Even the lowest budget smartphone still has capabilities that you know, 10 years ago would have been bewildering. So when marketers are thinking about what’s happened to marketing, that that’s where it’s been. And what’s likely to come next are variations on this because this is just about the right form factor. People have been trying with your smart rings, smart jewelry, smartwatches and stuff. And those are contextually useful, but they’re not a substitute for having a device that is large enough to be able to read what’s on screen and be able to interact with it and our, our AI capabilities for you know, screenless interfaces are good, but not at a point where they’re great. screenless voice interfaces definitely are something you should be paying attention to now, and building apps for now. But it’s not at a point yet where people feel comfortable. You know, it’s we’re not in Star Trek yet where you can just yell out to the computer and understand exactly what you mean. You know, in context, we still have to be very specific.

Unknown Speaker 4:33
Right, right. Yeah, it’s I’m, I’m curious to see what the next smart whatever is going to be smart shoes, although I think those already exist. So one of my favorite books is they asked you answered by Marcus Sheridan. You’ve really embraced this philosophy with your us you answer you ask I answer blog series, which I think is great. I think it’s fantastic way to stay on top of, you know, regular daily issues that people are having with a blog series. But you do a ton of them. You even did one for me. I wasn’t even expecting it. It was fantastic. Can you talk about the process of that? And you know, how it’s been going? And you know how well, you think it’s working for you? Sure. So

Christopher Penn 5:25
let’s talk about how well it’s working. It is the dominant form of content on my personal website. Right now, it is also cross posted to company properties as well. I have seen it make up for the loss of social media traffic, thanks to YouTube and its distribution channel. The important thing about the process is not that it’s a blog series, or it’s a video series, but it is taking content and repurposing it as quickly as possible. So the way it works is, every day I take a question and I went with Marcus’s philosophy, because it means I don’t have to create new ideas, right? Customers are creating the ideas for me, I just have to provide what information I have available that will answer the question, the processes that record the video every day, 10 minutes or less, because LinkedIn has a hard limit of 10 minutes for upload videos, answer a question, I produce the I get the mp4 file, I use a piece of software a piece of open source software called FFmpeg. To convert it to an mp3 file. Now, I’ve got I have a video, I have a podcast episode, I take the mp3 file, I load that to a company called otter.ai. Their transcription company or AI powered phenomenal company loved them. That gets me an SRT file, which is the closed captions. And it gets me a text file, that txt file that becomes the blog post, contract a transcript. So now I have video, I have video with subtitles, I have audio, and I have text. All of that gets turned into a blog post videos get loaded to LinkedIn, the videos get loaded to YouTube. And the SRT files go up to LinkedIn and YouTube as well because I can’t remember the exact status. But an astonishing number of people watch video, if it has subtitles without the audio on so like they can. I see this with business folks a lot in the restroom, they will watch a video without the audio on if it has subtitles, they’ll stick around and watch if it doesn’t have subtitles, they don’t want to turn the audio on to the restroom stall. And so they’ll skip past the next thing. And so that’s interesting. Yeah, it’s it’s Yeah, it’s just people being people. And so. But the process there is you create all this stuff, and you have you know, all of its templated things so that there’s a minimum amount of time spent processing the thing. And so from beginning to end, I start the video at approximately 7:10am each day. And by 745, I’m wrapped up and everything is out distributed, got the social posts from it, in Agorapulse. Got the video on YouTube, three videos on LinkedIn GABA sharing across networks. So it’s a lot a way to create a lot of content quickly, efficiently. And it’s a one person show. I know there are a lot of folks, you know, my fellow high school classmate, Gary Vaynerchuk is, you know, famous for saying like you need to create, you know, 100 pieces of content today. Well, that’s great, because he has literally a staff of 27 people doing that for him. The process, I use a one man show, it’s just a one person show to do all of it. But it works really well. And so again, the traffic I get, I get great search traffic from it because the transcripts 10 minutes of talking equates to a 1500. Yes, if you crank 200 word blog post each day, you’re doing well. I get the podcast exposure because it is available as a podcast. So I get those those numbers, I get YouTube exposure links, and then I get, you know, LinkedIn traffic and stuff. And so it’s a comprehensive way to do a lot of content quickly.

Unknown Speaker 9:02
One thing I wanted to ask real quick, you went to high school with Gary Vaynerchuk. Yep. Wow. Yep. He was like in high school. Very

Christopher Penn 9:11
quiet and withdrawn. He was by his own. He was by by his own admission, a terrible student. English is not his first language Russian is so and so. You know, he he basically said he spent most of it when he talks it when you listen to him talk about his, you know, childhood growing up, you’re working his dad’s wine store is 100% true. You know, he went to school did badly they went home and worked in his dad’s wine store for the rest of his time and did not do much. You know, socializing if you will right now. Not that I did either. So

Unknown Speaker 9:45
yeah, I’m kind of ready. Alright, so everybody’s talking about data and AI. I see some some posts about it that are good. I see some posts about it that are bad. A lot of people glaze over at the mention of big data or AI. I think a lot of people really just misunderstand, generally what AI actually is. Can you talk a bit about the impact of AI for marketers in terms of their day to day and how they might already be using it and not even realize it and other ways that they can be using it?

Christopher Penn 10:23
Sure. So let’s start with what it is. It is a blanket term, that means we’re trying to create capabilities and computers to replicate human intelligence tasks. So if you can hear the sound of my voice, and it means something, you are doing what’s called language processing, and your brain, right, which we can try and teach computers to do that, if you are watching this video, and it makes sense to you, you’re using what’s called vision. Those are the analog of computer vision. So AI encompasses all the different ways to try and get computers to replicate human intelligence tasks. What is most applicable, applicable to marketers is what’s called machine learning a subset of AI, in which you give an enormous amount of data to a machine, and you teach it to learn from that and then predict or classify based on what it is. So, for example, if you fed all of your Twitter, Twitter data to machine learning algorithm, and then you said predict, for me whether my next post will get more or less likes than previous posts, that would be an example of machine learning. marketers are already using AI, whether they know it or not, if you use Google Analytics, you have little Google Analytics app on your phone. And you notice there’s a little you know, notifications. And it says, Hey, you got more traffic, you know, yesterday than these last seven days, or Hey, I noticed though this page seems to be doing well. Those are that’s anomaly detection, essentially. And Google Analytics is doing that on your behalf. This is why we can ask Google questions again, that’s language processing and insights. So marketers are already have access to some of these capabilities. Where there’s a tremendous amount of value for marketing going forward, is in more customized uses of this. So a simple example is we do something called Digital customer journey modeling. inside Google Analytics. There’s a tremendous amount of valuable data like, in what order? Did somebody use different channels, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc, on the path to conversion. And then you can take that apart with custom software that we built, and understand how important is any one channel to the conversion? The analogy I like to use is, if you watch basketball, unless you take talking Golden State Warriors, in which case, Steph Curry is pretty much the only person on the court. But it also uses, the person who assists is just as valuable as the person who shoots at school. Sure, right. That’s modern attribution analysis, all these digital channels we have interact with each other, you know that you and I know this from our customer journey, our own customer journeys, when we’re researching a product, we just don’t go to follow a linear order, we ask friends, we read reviews, we do all these things, that eventually leads us to buy something. So when marketers are doing customer journey mapping, if you use the data you already have, you can put together at least on the digital side of very comprehensive models of here’s how people interact this, here’s what channels assist the most right? And therefore we should not cut their funding, even if they’re not the last thing somebody did. and in what order, do they do it so that we can tune our messaging. So for example, if Facebook is at the beginning of your customer journey, and all your Facebook messaging is by now by now, by now, it’s like, yeah, you go on that first date, like marry me like, Oh,

Unknown Speaker 13:47
right, right. So, with with all of that data, you know, with all of the platforms and dashboards that are available to people, do you have any tips on for marketers on how to stay focused, you know, when so much is coming at them at all times. The

Christopher Penn 14:09
there’s two ways to handle this. The data science and machine learning ways to take all the data you have essentially put in a really big table. And then you have an outcome you care about leads, sales, revenue, whatever. And you run a mathematical technique called multiple regression subset analysis that mixes and matches every possible combination of all those fields. And then spits out here are the ones that have a mathematical relationship correlation to the outcome you care about. Then you test that correlation with the scientific method, and you establish these four or five numbers are really the most important. The non mathematical way that people do that is called KPI mapping. We say okay, we have revenue. Okay, well, what things do we know drive revenue, like number of sales deals, one great number sales deals, one what things drive that will open deals, okay, well, what drives that and you keep chasing Chain of evidence and creating sort of like almost like a tree. And then you figure out, Okay, what things do I have control over, that have a connection to that outcome we care about? And that, okay, a more practical, but less accurate way of doing that kind of KPI analysis, because at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves as marketers, what number Am I going to get a bonus for? What number Am I going to get fired before? Right? That’s your KPIs. If you know that, you’re kind of hosed. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 15:35
That’s a good point. You got to follow the money.

Unknown Speaker 15:39

Unknown Speaker 15:40
Yeah, yeah. So last question, I wanted to ask you, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our buddy, COVID-19. I just wanted to see if you had any advice for marketers and small businesses out there on, you know, how how to just exist in a professional way and navigate these strange and very scary times?

Unknown Speaker 16:08

Christopher Penn 16:09
this is a big question. I know. There’s a lot of different answers and different aspects to this question. The first is that you need to stay informed through reliable authorities, Johns Hopkins University, the CDC World Health Organization, the state and local authorities in your area, if you’re outside the United States, you know, whatever your provincial government says. So you know, you need to know what’s going on. Second, right, you be paying attention to economic indicators, economic indicators are going to be what’s going to impact your business the most, because if you see, for example, a drop in consumer spending and your b2c company, guess what, the people are going to be spending less money with you. If you’re a b2b company, you need to be looking at things like producer price indices, business confidence indices, to again, understand what is the appetite somebody has for making a purchase of products or services. And we know with almost perfect certainty that a recession started actually about a two months ago, but it was just the first hints of it. This obviously is a it’s not a typical, it’s a giant shove. Yeah. And so according to Johns Hopkins, Center for Health Security, in a situation like this, your your planetary GDP is likely to be down, you know, minus 11%, first year minus 25%. Second year, that’s a huge number. So for marketers and businesses, one of the things to be paying attention to is okay, what, how do you pivot your product offerings, so you’ve pricing to reflect the new reality, people are going to be extremely risk averse. We’re gonna be focused on ROI. They’re gonna be focused on generating revenue, the focus on cutting costs, how do you change your service offerings and things to reflect that? So, for example, with Trust Insights, you know, we’ve made sure that we have many tiers of pricing and MAE different products that are available for where people are, and understand that your sales cycles are going to be lengthened dramatically, because your people are risk averse. The disease itself, even in the worst case, scenario, I mean, any any loss of life is sad. But it’s not the big problem. The big problem are the healthcare system impacts. Yeah, can you 20% hospitalization rate and the macro economic impacts, which will be arguably be the biggest problem because if you have a whole group of people who have no income anymore, have no jobs, things that significantly dampens things like consumer spending, and the consumer goes first, the business comes second. So right, B2C gets hit hardest first, and then because B2C dries up B2B then runs into trouble. So by projections from the University of basil, the first wave of the pandemic is likely the over by August or September, but just because we’ll run out of people to infect other you know, that’s what the biggest and it will peak in sometime in June, then you’re going to have if you model it basically after 2008 2009, you’re talking about a three year recession three to five years depending on how bad it gets. supply chain so far more or less holding up, but you know, that’s that going to depend heavily on what happens. So for if you’re a small business owner, and we just did this ourselves, get yourself a business line of credit Now, while credit markets are still available, so that you have that rash, backstop for financial services, this is the time to look at your own spending. remove anything non essential, I mean, you don’t have to like cut to the bone and just, you know, stop doing everything. But if there’s a software that subscription To know that service like, yeah, you know, we’ve never actually used that thing. This would be the time to turn those dials off, it won’t save you a ton of money, but every little bit will help. Sure. as a marketer, this is the time to build in your audience, your audience is going to be what you live or die on. So grow your mailing list, grow your text messaging list, making sure and make sure it’s an old audience, not something that Facebook girls own that audience and grow it as fast as you can, by providing great value. be in a position where as long as it’s not materially harmful to your business, give as much as you can. Because in times of stress, people appreciate not you not taking advantage of them. Right. Yeah, exactly. And ultimately, you want, it’s going to take according to the Journal of

Christopher Penn 20:52
can’t read the European Journal of social psychology, new habits, take about a median of 66 days to set in when a habit becomes automatic. So as we do, how is it how all these major changes happening, you know, right now, it’s too soon, don’t try to, you know, change consumer behavior, just monitor it, keep an eye on it. And then as new habits start to form, you’ll you know, in a couple months, you’ll be able to get a sense of here’s where we need to go in the marketplace, based on what people are doing, what they’re buying, what they’re selling, and so on and so forth. So that’s at that point, you could start to make, you know, more longer term strategic decisions, because you’ll be well into the recession by then the pandemic will have become business as usual. Right, and the new normal, which is the phrase everyone loves to use. And from there, you can begin really planning. So right now cut your costs, keep your expenses contained, as best as you can. If you have not already been doing so stockpile some cash, it’s good thing to do, from a business perspective, get that line of credit, and then do a lot of these planning exercises, you know, what’s the worst case scenario? What’s the best case scenario? what’s likely? What are second, third, fourth order consequences if business spending goes down? What happens next? What happens next? What happens next? And that way you can scenario plan?

Unknown Speaker 22:17
Okay. And speaking of building your list, you want to take a moment and let people know where they can find you and sign up for that. That does both those amazing newsletters that’s tried to that I love.

Christopher Penn 22:32
Sure you can go to Trust insights.ai for our company newsletter, we have fresh data every week. This week. Actually, we just just went out the business mentions of COVID-19 and the impact on Facebook engagement rates. And my personal newsletter, you can find a Christopher s pen.com.

Unknown Speaker 22:51
Which is a great one of my favorite newsletters. Definitely. So well. I wanted to thank you again for doing this. And again, amazing stuff here that you’ve given us. And so I really appreciate it and that’s it. We’re done.

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