Filling the Customer Funnel – Why Data Scientists Need You!


customer funnel 1 customer funnel 2 customer funnel 3 customer funnel 4





It’s called the customer funnel and PR and Marketing professionals work with sales to fill it– just one more valuable role you represent.

The economy is pivoting from being “all about the numbers” to what’s behind the numbers. It’s not about how full the funnel is as much as it is about the quality of the customers filling that funnel!

Does it matter if you have a zillion Facebook followers if none of them buy from you or ever will? And as those of us who manage social media well know – those followers demand our attention and time. If you give out samples of your new product and just a few of them return the coupon at their local store does it matter if there was a line for your freebie? What if you had an event and though you filled the venue the local sales figures never budged?

Now imagine in the scenarios above that you had half a zillion Facebook followers, but they all responded to your posts and purchased your product or service within 24 hours. Hmmm! Or your samples went to the ‘right’ customers who on their next visit to the drug or grocery store redeemed the coupon you gave them with the sample? And lastly if your event converted people from trial to buy – you would find yourself in high demand to do more events.

Here are two examples of how data is having a big time impact on sales and marketing:

A major real estate brokerage in New York is 80% tech and 20% sales and support. One real estate broker is in the field with a buyer – he no longer says “let me go back to the office and look for that” nor does he say “I’ll have more to look at tomorrow” – oh no. This guy is on a headset telling his tech team “she just added a balcony to what she wants” and before the potential buyer has finished looking at the kitchen the broker has two more nearby listings, with balconies, for her to see. The goal is to find this customer what she wants – today.

The Financial Times – Europe’s 127 year old powerhouse newspaper is bringing data scientists into its newsroom. This is about more than the news, it’s about full fledge engagement – and that includes the success of its advertisers and the special events and products that are becoming secondary sources of income for media organizations. FYI – engagement is someone who not only subscribes but visits the website 2 or more times a week and stays awhile.

So where do you come in? You are the person who asks the questions. Whether this is through hiring a research organization or informally asking specific questions through your mobile app, on social media, through your call in center or the people on the front lines – all of those questions and answers are data and they are the engines that make your sales and marketing run.

Reading sources of data about your customer types is beneficial too. Advertising departments at magazine do an excellent job of profiling their readers, this is often a great place to start and will lead you to the next resource. Consider starting a folder on your computer where you save this sort of information – open it quarterly and you’ll see the pieces come together.

Try this:  go to a smart blog like:  and see what the end result should look like – I call this the “Z” of marketing.  Then work backward through your situation and you’ll tap into where you should begin.

It’s time for all of us to pivot – add ‘data scientist” to your thought process and plan and become the source for meaningful customer information. Nothing is more valuable to a boss, an owner or a client than having a person on their team who really knows the customer.



Birthdays are a time to say “you are special and we know it”. Since it is almost my husband’s birthday, let’s seize the birth-day and remember this opportunity not only repeats annually but is one of the lowest cost marketing tools ever.

Birthday candles

Warning: this takes finesse and a balance between sincerity and selling. The sincerity needs to be real and the selling must be soft.

Let’s take a quick look at how others reach out to customers on their birthdays and how you can turn this annual event into a day you can utilize to connect with your customers, for life.

Some of the examples below are via email, text or through the post office and include real offers of discounts or special treatment. Then there are the few that are truly engaging experiences.

Read on…

BIRTHDAY button from DisneyA FAVORITE: Disney has a simple yet very effective tool – It’s your birthday? Here is a big button with your name on it so everyone in the park (including the cast members) can also wish you a Happy Birthday! They also have buttons for your anniversary, wedding, engagement and more – once a team is trained to tune into customer comments about celebrations – the buttons are the pathway to making this customer the center of attention all day long. Just one more way to continue their brand promise of being “The Happiest Place On Earth”, where “Dreams Come True”.

Travel companies know how to maximize birthdays – because so many wishes include travel.

Restaurants, ice cream parlors etc. know few people dine alone so offering an “eat free on your birthday” means at least one other diner will be in attendance too.
Use their visit to take their picture and put it on your restaurant Facebook page – just one more way you can let others know your restaurant is great for celebrations! You might want to mention any special desserts you have or private meeting rooms too!

Retailers, like Macy’s do a great job of making their offer meaningful – any time I get a certificate with $10 or more I believe the retailer is sincere. It is an annual pilgrimage for the birthday person in my family to head to the mall with their best wishes from Macy’s.

Real estate companies use this as a tool for keeping in touch with former home buyers and to keep the agent top of mind. Very often “next step” decisions are made around birthdays and a simple postcard might get a new listing.

GREAT RESOURCE FOR MORE IDEAS: The Retail Industry section of –

So the big question is – how do you capture these birthdays?

– Ask the customer at time of purchase, or registration – either in person or online

– Include this question on all credit applications (no year needed)

– Put a button on your website that says you’d like to remember their birthday with a quick form that asks for their name, email, birth month and day – and maybe even a place for a comment.

– When you send an email birthday wish … ask the customer to also give the names, email address and birth month and day of their friends and family. Your list will grow fast.

BIRTHDAY promotion in San AntonioWhile you are celebrating birthdays – be sure to celebrate your company’s too.

We all need even brief moments of happiness – so seize the birthday opportunity!



Happy Birthday Ricky!

5 Reasons You Should Say NO to 96% of All Sponsorship Requests

5 Reasons You Should Say NO to 96% of All Sponsorship Requests


logosWith events making a comeback and sponsorships being a big part of events… it only stands to reason you will be asked to sponsor something, sometime.

Being a sponsor can be a huge waste of time and money, or a great investment.

Here are the 5 ways you can tell the difference:

#1 – The audience is not your audience – Just ask one question – who is coming to this event?  If the answer is not your audience, say NO.  (Good example:  you are being asked to sponsor an event for children but you only sell a product or service for adults.  Though the adults might be there, your logo will not be what they are focused on.)

NASCAR w logos#2 – Your money buys you a logo placement – This is the biggie “for a gold sponsor your name will be on the stage signage” – oh my! A logo does zip for your company and being one of many means you will have zero impact.  Kind of like a NASCAR race – lots of logos and no messages!

#3 – You will not have an active role in the event itself – If you cannot participate in the event, either at your location, through your customers or on the event day – say NO.

#4 – The location is at a competitor’s location – Charity walks or runs are a great example of you being asked to sponsor something that may start, end or go past everywhere but your place.

#5 – There is no way you can use this across social media and other marketing platforms – are there images, will you get video?  If you can’t spread your company message across lots of social media platforms, in-house, at the event, and far more than just your logo – say NO>
It is rare that I tell a client to spend their money on sponsorships – far better to create your own event and then tie in with lots of others who will make your event a success for your company.

Or say no to the next 10 sponsorship requests and save your money to buy a big presence, at a big event, that reaches your audience, at a location you will benefit from, where you will have an interactive role, an event with lots of visual tools and you can promote your involvement across multiple platforms before, during and after.

Be creative – (hint:  Google ‘sponsorship levels” and adopt every single good idea you can find) — groups putting on events need your sponsorship and if one comes your way that can maximize your sales – then ask for much more than the gold, silver or platinum levels – and don’t be surprised if you get enough benefits to maybe, just maybe, say YES!

Just like Goldilocks, we all want to get this ‘just right’

Just like Goldilocks, we all want to get this ‘just right’

Goldilocks in bed with bears 2015Our job is to communicate. Yet with all the communication platforms, sometimes we really are not sure how often to communicate. How Often Is Enough? How Often is Too Much?

Let me offer this guide as to how often is just right – and how to plan for topics that are just right too.

The best way to assure you are maximizing your time is to set up your own editorial calendar. Establish no less than 25 topics that you should be communicating over the next 12 months – leave room for new ideas too. You might end a year with 50 content topics – as long as the message matches the audiences. It’s not about the numbers it’s about connecting.

Here is a content sequence that works for my agency and our clientsGoldilocks used Jan 2015

Every week or two – we follow the top editorial topic from the editorial calendar and write a news release. Anytime a new topic is added we write a news release about that too. Add photos, testimonials, video and graphics every time. This visual and written content ties with other efforts like sales, advertising, the time of year, the CEO’s focus and much more. It is written, reviewed and approved.

Now your messages have wings and are ready to be sliced, diced and maximized for social media.

In the morning and in the afternoon… maybe evening too. – Tweet and repeat – use your Facebook message in a tweet, a couple of times each day as long as it is fresh.

Google Plus is your best platform – post every day without fail, you might post on weekends and holidays too – Google + matters and the more committed you are to it, the more pluses you will have.

Show up on Facebook every day – once is enough, possibly two posts if you have really great things to say or updates. Make it about the ‘friends’ and not a sales pitch.

Blog Twice a month – Use all or parts of the news release on your blog or blogs – new content should be posted at least twice a month.

Tie that blog to LinkedIn and add relevant comments – once or twice a week might be ‘just right’.

Add video to your blog, and post it on YouTube – if you can post two new videos a month you are amazing.

Got Photos? Add to all of the above and post on Instagram and pin on Pinterest too.

Bring it all together on your website. Do this first before you repurpose your news or send to anyone outside your organization. Make sure there is a link back to your website in all of the above.

Track what worked – give it a score and post that score back to your editorial calendar – pretty soon you will know what topics your audiences are responding too and your effectiveness will grow and grow, and it might even be the tool you need to justify a raise or promotion! Goldilocks would be proud!

Be a responder – Add comments to other bloggers, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and others who follow you and/or you follow.

It’s all about being a resource, being interesting and establishing two-way dialogue.

Not too hot, not too cold, but just right!

Has This Happened To You?

Has This Happened To You?

Did that headline reach out and ask you to come into this conversation? I hope so – because in 2015 it’s not going to be about the numbers; it’s about the conversation.15 cue ball

I sometimes hear clients say “We have a million Twitter followers, a zillion Facebook friends and we are beating our competition in all cross channel platforms …”

And what I say in response is: “How many of them have you engaged with? Do you know what they need? Do you respond to their posts, thank them for their Tweets, invite them in?”

15 visual w womanVery often, this is where clients need help.

The social media communication pathways are there and we are all familiar with how to post, tweet, click and share – but we’re only having a one-way conversation.

To kick off 2015 – here are 15 questions you might use at the beginning or end of your social media content to start a two-way dialogue.

15 Audience – Engaging Questions15 visual

1. Has this happened to you?
2. Don’t you hate this?
3. Isn’t this awesome/awful?
4. Is this you?
5. What do you think?
6. Does this sound familiar?
7. Have you heard of this?
8. What do you think?
9. Tell me about it!
10. Vote for your favorite!
11. What’s your pick?
12. What would you do?
13. How weird/cool is this?
14. Which do you like best? Worst?
15. Tell us! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

To learn more, there is an awesome free resource from Sophie Bujold, at that will give you what you need to know. Sophie is a genius at not only getting the conversation going, but giving tools on what, when and how…. Her guide is free and her advice is stellar. Thank you Sophie for letting your guide happen to me and my readers too!

It’s 2015 … Now Hear This …

It’s 2015 … Now Hear This …

newspaper delivery for blog 2015Performance marketing – just one trend to watch in 2015.

Now hear this … newspapers will be watching us; some already are. Some of the most powerful print newspapers with online editions are right now charging advertisers based on the time readers actually spend reading their ad!

Finally, an answer to the age-old question: Did anyone see my ad?

That means the old standby measurement of “impressions” will soon be history. Just because a zillion people look at a website everyday or read a newspaper, that does not mean even one person cared about an ad!

Why would anyone create an ad and buy space if no one saw that ad, much less if that ad impacted sales?

Why would a publisher want to measure time spent vs potential number of eyeballs?

Money and reputation. (Hello marketing people – this is why we exist!)

“It’s a crisis in confidence”, one report said – Bottom line: just because the entire newspaper has been delivered either via print or electronically to a certain number of readers – the question remains, did consumers see the ad? Did they spend any time reading or interacting with the ad? With the cost of advertising rapidly rising, these questions from advertisers are starting to be heard.

Appropriately, this trend started with the biggest financial mediums; the Financial Times and The Economist. Look for it soon in every newspaper, every magazine, every eblast, essentially every online medium. Even off- line mediums will be steering readers to head to their nearest internet device and click in.newspaper blog 2015

This is a huge trend – one that will forever change the marketing and advertising world as we know it. No exaggeration here. This will be a huge boon to people who communicate and know their audiences. In other words – you!

It’s being called “performance marketing” – and it will be your future.

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This trend is a logical result of the merger of the availability of big data, the growing importance of brand management, the epic change in the delivery of messages and the always-important need to sell, sell, sell.

So let’s review this for a minute. If advertising will be measuring data like time spent reading an ad, then they will have to give readers a reason to spend time on the ad right?

Look for these changes:
– Advertisers will need pros who can communicate, understand two-way conversations and know how to compel a reader to action of some sort
– Advertising will become far more interactive
– There will have to be something valuable at the other end of the interaction
– Teams will have to be on the other end responding to consumers
– Events might be the “why” you click through
– Samples or opinion surveys might be the “why” you click through
– Special VIP treatment will be a reason “why” anyone would click through
– You can think of dozens more ways – start writing them down because this is the future and the bright ideas and instincts of publicists and marketers is about to be even more valuable.

Prediction: The reward for this change will go to publishers who tie quality content to paid advertising and to advertisers who will finally be able to say they know consumers spent time viewing/interacting with their ads (or not).

The most important piece in all this will be the team that knows its customer, understands what consumers are looking for and brings it all together in a one dimensional image on a computer/laptop/tablet/cell phone or TV screen.

Yes indeed – tomorrow is going to look a whole lot different than today and once again PR and marketing minds will be pivotal to the success.

Consumers Are Not Captives – Take Nothing For Granted


red door with mail slot blogTwenty years ago, brands treated consumers like a captive audience. A dinner interrupted by cold calls, morning radio playing more ads than music, and piles of unsolicited mail finding its way into the mailbox are pretty familiar memories for Boomers. Back then, the rules of marketing were that there were no rules; advertisers have put profit before people since the Madison Avenue days. Until recently, when brands realized that if they wanted to stick around, they’d need to ditch the old playbook.

Humans have dramatically changed the way they shop and buy since the Boomer generation was the apple of every advertiser’s eye. Consumers today have grown up with digital tools at their fingertips that give them the power to mute interruptive marketing for good. Not surprisingly, marketing is finally starting to take a different form. Now, blogs and websites have replaced brochures and storefronts, and social media is key in connecting with your buyers. We call this new way of reaching your audience inbound marketing. At its core, inbound is about pulling people in with valuable online content and creating a personalized, helpful brand experience throughout the buying process.

But there’s a problem. Some brands are quick to assume that Boomers are immune to inbound marketing because they’re not digital natives. The reality is, this generation is becoming more and more present online; according to Google, 83% of Boomers use the internet to find information before any other medium. Sounds pretty savvy to me. With people over the age of 50 controlling 70% of disposable income in the United States, marketers should be thinking about how they can deliver a meaningful experience to Boomer buyers online.

    Here are a few things for marketers to think about:

Mobile Matters
People joke that older generations hardly know how to text, let alone use a smartphone. Turns out, the joke’s on them; Boomers aren’t just connecting with their family and friends on mobile, but with brands. Forty-nine percent of people over the age of 45 have made a purchase on their smartphone and even more use mobile devices to gather information about a product or company. Marketers today need to prioritize optimizing their site for mobile in order to leave a valuable impression.

Get Social
Social platforms may be flooded with memes, viral videos, and Jennifer Lawrence, but that doesn’t mean Millennials are the only people online. In the past four years, the number of Boomers using social media has tripled to 43%, according to Pew Research Center. The great thing about social media marketing is that you can segment your efforts; for example, Boomers spend most of their time on Facebook compared to other networks. Focus on customizing your social media content based on where Boomers are spending time.

Don’t Forget Video
Video content is an effective inbound marketing tool today. Especially when it comes to reaching the Boomer generation. Over 50% of Boomers view and share videos online, with YouTube being the most popular platform. Posting video clips about your products, company, or just for fun is an engaging way to start a dialogue and share information. Whether you use an iPhone or a professional videographer, make sure you’re creating videos that are relevant and interesting to your 50 and over audience.

All too often marketers overlook the Boomer generation and set their sights on younger, digitally fluent buyers. This not only neglects a valuable audience, but the growth of your business. Instead, develop an inbound marketing strategy that keeps Boomers’ tech savvy in mind to connect with this generation in a meaningful way.

This wonderful article was used here with thanks to MediaPost Communications and Mike Volpe who wrote this for the Engage: Boomers blog. I highly recommend MediaPost to my readers as it is a source of good journalism and inspiration.