Almost Timely News, December 4, 2022: It Works If You Use It Correctly

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Almost Timely News

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Almost Timely News: It Works If You Use It Correctly (2022-12-04)

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What’s On My Mind: It Works If You Use It Correctly

Even before the management change, there were a bounty of people on Twitter making bold, mostly false claims that masks don’t work to stop disease like COVID. They’d cite all kinds of reasons and explanations (almost all of which were totally unfounded in basic science) about why filtering the air you breathe was ineffective at stopping disease and why we shouldn’t bother.

Now, lest you think this is a mistaken copy-paste from my pandemic newsletter, it’s not. Bear with me for a minute.

Last week, when I was taking care of my COVID-positive parents, I was resolute in my belief that wearing a heavy-duty respirator in a hostile environment was scientifically sound, and I’m pleased to say that I was completely correct. I have been testing myself since I came back and have tested negative every time. What I did to stay safe worked.

The thing is, the bad science crowd isn’t ENTIRELY wrong. There are conditions in which masks don’t work.

When you wear a mask, if it does not form a good seal over your nose and mouth, it doesn’t work as well. It’s like having a screen door on your porch that you leave partway open and then wonder why there are mosquitos in your house. There’s nothing wrong with the screen door itself, but your implementation of it was less than effective.

When you buckle a seatbelt so that it’s entirely underneath you and not over your body, and then crash your car and get flung through the windshield, the seatbelt didn’t work, right? Well, it didn’t stop you from going face first through the glass, but that’s because you used it entirely incorrectly.

The crowd of folks who boldly claim that masks don’t work – how well do you suppose they use them? Do you suppose they use the best mask available to them and ensure each time they put it on that it’s sealed correctly, or do you suppose they wear it haphazardly, perhaps not even covering their nose or mouth? I’d wager large sums of money it’s mostly the latter.

Okay, so what does this have to do with marketing and business? Substitute masks for the marketing strategy, tactic, or channel of your choice. Does the statement sound familiar?

  • “Email is dead.”
  • “Social media doesn’t work.”
  • “SEO is a waste of time.”
  • “Direct mail is a waste of money.”

I’ll take a moment to snark that anyone who claims something is dead is usually trying to sell us something, and the moment we detect a conflict of interest, it’s safe to almost completely ignore the person.

These statements should absolutely sound familiar. People have been making bold claims about every possible marketing method, that nothing works, that everything is dead. And yet the global economy seems to be chugging along and businesses are still making record profits, so something’s got to be working.

Here’s the reality: like masks, marketing strategies and tactics don’t work if you use them incorrectly. Like masks, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re better off asking for help than simply giving up, especially if something important – like your job or your bonus – is on the line.

But was it the case that the tool failed? Or did we fail to use it properly? Let’s take the example of saying that SEO is a waste of time. Is that actually true? It is true that Google keeps more clicks for itself than it ever has before, a trend spotted by Rand Fishkin as early as 2018. And yet when I look at the client reports I process every month, on an unpaid basis Google is almost always the single largest unpaid traffic driver.

What about social media? Gary Vaynerchuk frequently and correctly says that you cannot claim social media is undermining democracy in one sentence and then say you can’t sell widgets in the next. If a tool isn’t working for us, chances are we’re not using it correctly.

Sometimes it’s because we don’t know how to use the tool properly. Other times, even if we know how to operate the tool well, it’s the wrong tool for the job. A frying pan is an effective tool, but not for making soup. A blender is an effective tool, but not for making steak.

This is the time of year when we start to look back at the year that was, start to examine what we’ve done, and make our best attempt to look at the year ahead for planning. The temptation will be strong to declare that certain strategies, tactics, and methods did or did not work – so a critical part of that declaration is determining whether or not something didn’t work because we failed to use it correctly.

Here’s the critical part: once you’re free to admit that perhaps you didn’t use a tool correctly, that opens the door to learning how to use it better. It frees us to say, “okay, we still have a lot to learn, so let’s dig in” – rather than defending something that didn’t work.

Got a Question? Hit Reply

I do actually read the replies.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend the piece on forecasts. It’ll give you something to think about.

The 12 Days of Data

Every year, I put together the 12 Days of Data, a look back at the year that was. We’re underway now, so keep checking in each day in December for what’s new!

Skill Up With Classes

These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.



Get Back to Work!

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these five most recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

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What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Google Analytics 4 for Marketers

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What makes this different than other training courses?

  • You’ll learn how Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio form the essential companion pieces to Google Analytics 4, and how to use them all together
  • You’ll learn how marketers specifically should use Google Analytics 4, including the new Explore Hub with real world applications and use cases
  • You’ll learn how to determine if a migration was done correctly, and especially what things are likely to go wrong
  • You’ll even learn how to hire (or be hired) for Google Analytics 4 talent specifically, not just general Google Analytics
  • And finally, you’ll learn how to rearrange Google Analytics 4’s menus to be a lot more sensible because that bothers everyone

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff

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How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn

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