{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: 2019 Marketing Planning

In this episode of In-Ear Insights, learn how to approach your 2019 marketing planning from a data-driven approach. Instead of guessing or just adding 10% to last year’s metrics and KPIs, what could you do to more accurately forecast, plan, and budget for the coming year? Join founders Katie Robbert and Christopher Penn for a whirlwind tour of how to plan for 2019.

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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.

Christopher Penn
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast,

in this episode of In-Ear Insights, we are talking about 2019 planning, because the year is rapidly drawing to a close, and a lot of folks at larger companies, they are being forced to think ahead of what is in the future. But let’s talk about sort of the fundamentals of the foundations, what are the the analytics foundations that you need in order to do 2019 planning? So Katie, you’ve been working on our own planning and stuff. And we were just talking in a in a staff meeting about where it where we wish we had some data that we don’t currently, what do you see as the fundamentals that you need as an executive to make good decisions planning ahead for the future.

Katie Robbert
So the the data sets that I’m looking at right now are around our financial data, they are around our marketing infrastructure data, such as our digital properties, Google Analytics, our CRM,

our email, marketing automation, so I’m looking at all of those things. Because what I want to know, and what I want to be able to look ahead to is what have we done historically, and so that’s, you know, the bottom rung of that, you know, data analytics ladder, that infrastructure, and I want to know, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked? And so what if we spent money on our any content that we’ve created any campaigns that we’ve run anything paid? And I want to know, did it drive people to our website? Did they stay on the website? And then did they convert to be someone who raised their hand and said, I want to buy something from you, and then became

a paying customer. So basically, I’m looking at customer journey data, I’m looking at all of the different steps through the customer journey to say, what worked, what did we do for each one of these phases.

Christopher Penn
So what I ask is, so one of the tenets of predictive analytics and forecasting is you going to use a baseline data to sort of project forward when you have something new, like in our case, and entirely new company in other people’s cases, maybe as a change in environment, a lot of people are going to be forecasting off of marketing data, and they had this big giant massive change, as of May 25, call GDPR that totally screwed up their their their data, how do you accommodate for that, while still being able to forecast for because I imagine there’s some folks like

bug or at all, we’re just going to throw it all out and just kind of guests and add 10%, the last year’s results

Katie Robbert
been there

Christopher Penn

Katie Robbert
well. So if you use us for an example, we’re still a relatively new company, I don’t think that we have enough historical data to do predictive forecasts on I think that they would be very short sighted forecasts, and not very accurate because this is our first year in business. So there’s going to be a lot of inconsistency. So in that sense, what I would do, and what we’re going to do is, I would start to look at some publicly available data sources, such as

perhaps, or we’re going to rely heavily on Google Trends. Because what we want to know is when people are looking for

either specific services that we offer, or topics that we cover, or we want to know when people are going to be at different events, so that we can, you know, be a part of those conversations, we’re going to look at social media data, such as crowd tangle, or talk Walker data that helps us understand what’s going on. So we’re going to be looking at third party sources in addition to our own proprietary data.

Christopher Penn
And what do you see right now on the horizon for, for 2019, for the marketing data, marketing analytic space, in terms of where things are broadly going,

Katie Robbert
I think there’s gonna be more of an emphasis on automation. And I think that there’s, there’s a lot of conversation about digital transformation, there has been, you know, for the past 12 to 18 months or so. But I think that what’s really going to happen is that large concept is going to be broken down into smaller pieces. And those smaller pieces are really going to be around making sure that your infrastructure is tightened up, making sure that you’re automating things that are repetitive, making sure that you have the right people in the right seats, so that you’re running as efficiently as possible. So it’s all the same conversation, but it’s smaller chunks that are more manageable. Okay,

Christopher Penn
I think we need to, at some point, tackle that that lovely, wonderful buzzword and unpack it a little because it is still it’s still in squarely in the buzzword of the year category.

Katie Robbert
Oh, yeah. Well, and when you ask sort of what what’s the trend coming up, it’s always going to be some kind of a buzzword, even automation, marketing automation, or machine learning or artificial intelligence, those are buzzwords, it’s when you really dig into the components that go into building that concept that you can really start to do something actionable.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, I’m seeing that, particularly companies, you know, our work with companies like IBM, where they’re using the buzzwords intelligently as a way to sell in at the, the prerequisites. So a big push right now, at least for IBM Analytics is get ready for AI. And it’s a it’s an interesting approach, because I like it from the sense of, instead of telling people, hey, you kind of screwed up and, you know, you should really be fired, which is not, what do you want to tell you, your day to day contacted the company? It’s no, no, no, you’re getting ready for AI.

Katie Robbert
It’s true. No. And I think that that something that, you know, there’s we’re going to keep running into these buzzwords,

month over month, year, over a year. And so it’s our jobs and to break them down into things that are understandable and, and things that you can actually execute on. So the question I have for you, then, as our chief innovator and are basically head of anything data related. So we have a lot of really good descriptive analytics, what we don’t have our diagnostic analytics. So how do you think that we should, or other companies should handle

other missing data set? So you have your descriptive, which is what happened that’s, you know, a lot of your website analytics, your traffic, your financial analytics, but let’s talk a little bit about those diagnostic and more of that qualitative data.

Christopher Penn
The answer to that question is a deeply unsatisfying. One is how much money do you have to spend

on on the free and with limitations? There are things like the aforementioned social data pulling in general media data, what’s the overall landscape? What are people talking about, there is the equally free and actually extremely good idea where the the chief executive just calls customers and spends an hour on the phone with every customer once a quarter or even more frequently depending and say, so you know, what’s on your mind what what do we do right this year, but week what’s got your hair on fire kind of thing? And that’s, that’s a again, that’s a free service is certainly doesn’t cost the company any money to be able to do that. And then after that, you start getting into things like should we be doing focus groups depending on on the need? Yes? Should you be doing surveys depending on the need? Yes? Should you be commissioning a research firm to do stuff depending on the need and your budget? Yes, because some of these research projects will cost you in six figures, just to get a a properly designed

research survey. So

qualitative is all about answering the question of why Why Did something happen? And

depending on what the question is, depends on what tools and tactics you’re going to need. For the average marketer, though, you can get 60 to 70% of the way there with social with mining your own CRM data, and with, frankly, talking to people. I mean, it’s, as someone who is more of a technophile than a than someone who likes human beings, I find that slightly distressing. But it is the absolute truth there. Sometimes there’s no substitute for picking up the phones, are you going to get going coffee with somebody and saying, Hey, what’s going on?

Katie Robbert
You heard it here. First, folks, this will talk to people,

he will come up from behind his computer for the greater good,

Christopher Penn
exactly, but know that and the other thing is that I think it’s important that you with permission with permission that you be recording those times, conversations interactions, because that data is stuff that you can go back and analyze. If you were CEO has 10 interviews every quarter with your top 10 customers, and you record those conversations haven’t transcribed, you can then feed that into even just a simple word cloud generator, say, what’s the top five words that our customers have all said, that is, you know, that this is the problem like, oh, everyone keeps talking about innovation. But what they really have a problem with is, is data hygiene. Uh huh.

Katie Robbert
What do you think? And I know my opinions on this, but I’m interested to get yours. What do you think is

one or two things that people get wrong about planning. So take 2019 planning, for example, what are people going to get wrong about it

not doing it. One

Christopher Penn
Two is the standardized version we alluded to earlier, which is just take last year’s goals and add 10% because it’s ignorant of marketing or market realities. And number three, by far is not doing your research, not doing your homework and not having

not researching what goals goes into your goals. So this is exercise that I teach in some of the courses that I teach called outcome mapping. And it’s stupid, simply take a sheet of paper, you put your goal, whatever your goal is, at the right side of the paper, and you start drawing little arrows and boxes back for, okay, what metric feeds that goal, then what metric feeds that metric? What metric feeds that metric? So in our case, for example, what where does a new customer come from a new customer comes from a legitimate sales opportunity, we post we presented and the customer signed off on right, so that way, okay, so where those opportunities come from, those opportunities come from sales, qualified leads were to sales, qualified leads come from, they come from marketing, qualified leads, and so on, and so forth. And when if you don’t, if you haven’t done that work up front, then you can’t really do effective planning, because you have no idea what drives the success of what it is you’re doing, you’re just kind of guessing, or you’re relying on hearsay, or you’re just like adding 10%, the last year’s numbers, all of which are not going to keep you in tune with the market realities. You know, we’re looking at a macro economic situation right now, that is extremely precarious. We are all the tipping point of

not great economic times. So in your work as as an executive planning to help other executives succeed, if people aren’t aware of those, those bigger picture data items, and how they influence their metrics, they’re going to make terrible plans. You said you had your opinions? So what are your opinions for what causes planning to to blow up on people?

Katie Robbert
Well, I I agree with your initial response, which is not doing it, I think that it’s taking a narrow focus focusing only on one data set from your repository of data. I think it’s, you know, a lot of people focus only on their Google Analytics data, or only on their financial data, or only on their CRM data, and not really build out that bigger picture of what’s going on within their own ecosystem.

But I also think, too, it’s the thing people get wrong about planning is not doing it frequently enough. So obviously, we’re talking about 2019 planning. But a lot of people wait until q4 of the prior year to start planning when really this is something you should be doing on a regular basis and doing more iterative planning, more frequent adjusting. And I think that that’s something that people really get wrong as they wait until that one big time of year to say, here’s our plan for the next year. And we’re just going to execute against that and nothing’s going to change and we’re going to be super successful. But then why did why did we come in under all of our goals,

you know, for the year. So I think that that’s something that people really get wrong. And it’s the way in which you setup yourself for success to do that planning on a more regular basis. You know, it doesn’t have to be this massive undertaking that takes, you know, months to do to gather all of the information to put the plan together to run it up the flagpole to the executive team to get the buy in. And I think that it’s the way in which people approach planning that sets them up for failure versus up for success. So let me ask you this question. I think one of the reasons a lot of people wait to plan is that they’re waiting for that top down response of what are our goals? How do people like, let’s just say that they’re on a marketing team? And, you know, a company a super siloed? How do they get around that? What can they do in the interim?

Christopher Penn
Well, before you go, before we go there about getting to those goals, I want to go back to something you said is really important. And that is the myth of the the one outcome, most companies have multiple outcomes thereafter. Like, for example, we have as an outcome, yes, we want more new customers. And, and that’s a logical thing. But we have, we have other outcomes, we also want to retain the customers we have, right. And we also want to do great work. And we also want to contribute to things like social good, and, and make the world a better place.

And if, as a company, you do not have the capacity in your, in your analytics practice to do what’s called trade off analytics. And what will happen is, you will over optimize for one outcome at the expense of the others. So I think every market has been in this situation where you’re told how we, you know, sales needs more leads, get us more leads. Cool. And you shovel a whole bunch of leads, and, and the quality of the leads isn’t great. And that sells like leads suck, get us better leads? And you’re like, Well, okay, well, which do you want more or better, because you can’t necessarily have both, and then find that says, and stop paying so much for leads, right. So now you have three outcomes.

If you don’t have trade off analytics capabilities, you will end up

and as is the case of most organizations, you’ll favor whoever the loudest voices, or whoever the voices that signs your paycheck at the expense of the others. And so that’s an important area that everybody needs to have some level of awareness of, and build practices to accommodate that to say, like, yes, you know, there’s there’s software to do, it’s extremely expensive, complex software. But even for the for the basics, you could have guardrails, like this is from finest, this is the lower and upper bound that were willing to pay for a lead. And from sales. This is the lower and upper bound of the lead score that we want. These are the lower upper and bounds of the number of leads that need that helps you figure out okay, what can we do within those guardrails to get an outcome that is acceptable to each of the parties

or gives you the ability to say, okay, sales, you said, you want 3000 leads this quarter, we have a bunch of 4000, you need to talk to finance and get us budget for another 2000 leads. There’s no way we can do it with what we have, please talk to the CFO and let them sort of duke it out.

That’s really important. And it’s something that people don’t do, because they go for just this one magical answer.

I know he answers.

Katie Robbert
But I think that that’s, you know, it’s interesting, because I think that’s also another one of the myths of planning is that you’re going to magically get the answers of here’s what we need to do to be successful. Now, you might get some of that. But I think that that goes back to the constant iterative planning and adjusting because if you just set the plan once and try to execute against that, and not factor in the fact that things change on a regular basis, you’re not going to get to those 3000 leads that the sales team is asking you for.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, was the previous question. Sorry.

Katie Robbert
Um, so if, you know, let’s say you’re on that marketing team, and you’re holding off planning, until you get that decision from top down of what our goals are, you know, that really doesn’t leave you enough time to do really deep planning. So what can you be doing? How can you do that iterative planning on a regular basis, having some awareness of what’s happening from top down? But how can you just keep moving forward?

Christopher Penn
The answer to that question is found in in the same sort of outcome mapping that we were just talking about, which is, for any given metric, you should know, what is it? What creates that metric? what it costs to create that metric was a cost to create the step before metric? And then what is the general return on that? So let’s say you want you have a metric like subscribers to the newsletter, okay, how much does it cost you? How many on average, do you get per campaign? If you run a campaign, how much do you get organically, if it’s just a thing. And knowing that number, then when the the magic goal, you know, falls down on your head from yonder on high, you can immediately say, okay, you want this, it’s an increase of X percent over what it was previously, or whatever, and it’s going to cost this much it’s going and it’ll generate this much outcome. Having that map with all those numbers written out is the easy way. And it’s something you can keep updated throughout the year, because it pulls from existing marketing automation software to say, like, yep, our current cost per email subscriber or website lead or, or closed one deal is x,

if we want more of this, it will cost us this. Now, the only gotcha is a situation again, like what you were talking about earlier, where if you are so new in your role, or the department’s new or in our case, the company is new, those numbers may not be reliable. And actually, that’s, that’s something where, to your point, you can’t plan once a year, you need to be planning very frequently, because anytime something’s new, you know, that that settling in on a baseline takes a little while. So you got to be ready to readjust really, really quickly when you’re when you’re managing that. And when you’re managing the people. How do you look at how do you help people deal with the fact that okay, your goals are now over here this week?

Katie Robbert
Oh, lots of Xanax.

No, you know, and I think it’s honestly, that, that open, transparent communication, of being being able to understand, okay, maybe we tried this thing, and it didn’t work. But that’s okay, as long as we don’t just keep going, going down that road and not learning from it. And I think that it’s that, you know, having regular conversations and regular check ins about how something is working, what the data is telling you. And, you know, it can it doesn’t have to be, again, these big day long workshops to do this overwhelming planning thing, it can be 10 minutes to say, Hey, we ran this campaign, nothing happened, what should we do next. And it’s either Well, we adjust the targeting on the campaign, or we change the ad copy, or we shut it down and try something different.

And so it’s those continual milestone check ins of, Hey, we did this thing did it work. And then you know, and that works really well, for brand new companies like ours, we meet on a daily basis to say, Hey, we did this thing, what happened, and it’s that constantly being able to measure everything. So if you’re new, or if you’re old, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re in. If you’re a company, if you’re doing something you can’t measure, stop doing it,

reset, and then measure it, because

that’s the best way to keep up with that planning is being able to gather data on the things that you’re doing. But if you’re brand new, that is so critical to be able to measure the things that you’re doing.

Christopher Penn
I will disagree with you somewhat

Katie Robbert
there, which I find fascinating. Since you are Mr. Measurement.

Christopher Penn
You should absolutely discontinue things you can’t measure in production. No question. If you’re doing r, amp D or innovation as it were, you’re going to do a whole bunch of things. You can’t measure it because you don’t know whether they work or not. And so you can you can have measurements that try to measure where they fit in. But sometimes things are just going to have no outcome other than Yes, we did the thing or no we didn’t do thing because there isn’t a measurement for it yet, you have to build that as part of the process of innovation to say oh and here’s here’s how we measure the thing so we have this new thing called link retargeting which are clearly has, once it’s in production will have an outcome which is better ROI for your retargeting and, and better and, and more, I guess monetization of your current audience. But in the process of building that thing, there’s no measurement other than, hey, I did some more stuff on the thing to see if I can make the thing work better.

That’s just a part of the process of, of trying. And experimentation. experimentation really only has binary outcomes. But you know, pass fail, essentially,

Katie Robbert
right. So I guess let me re qualify my statement with when things are in production when they’re going out to your customers. Yes, you should be able to measure your efforts because you’re spending time resources, money on those things. You need to know where that information goes. But yeah, I agree with you being able to innovate and experiment in sort of your own sandbox of things. absolutely important. But do all of that before it gets into production. Try to avoid doing all of that it’s experimentation on the company’s dime. When you have a limited budget, that’s true. Yeah.

Christopher Penn
Now, that said, I was gonna say how much what percentage do you think is realistic for people to allocate to r, amp D, knowing that they still have to hit their numbers?

Katie Robbert
That’s a really great question. And a lot of companies do it differently. Some companies don’t do r&d at all. And when we say R, amp D, we’re saying research and development,

some companies don’t realize that that’s an important thing that they need. So

I used to work for an organization that really tried to dedicate at least 10% of people’s time each month to r amp D. But what ended up happening was, they were always slammed with production work, so they never got around to the r&d. So it’s, it’s not enough to allocate time, it’s also making sure that people know it’s okay to drop what they’re doing, or rapping up to do that r amp D. So it’s that commitment from the top down to say, Yes, r&d is important. We support your efforts and doing that. So, you know, for a company like ours, I would say a good chunk of our time goes to r amp D, because we need to know what’s working. And as we start to grow and scale, and as we’ve been around for longer, the amount of time that gets dedicated to r, amp D will become smaller, because we won’t need as much of it, but it will still be there. Because it’s still important for us to be able to stay competitive and have our edge. Because if we just keep doing the same things that we’ve always been doing will fall behind.

Christopher Penn
I think that is probably the most important thing. And a good note to close on is that your rd is what creates a unique selling proposition. If you don’t do any r, amp D. Eventually, sooner or later, you will become a commodity and you’ll be beaten on price and you’ll be beaten and and with no distinguishing advantage. You’ll It’s a race to the bottom.

Katie Robbert
And I would add to that to to bring it full circle is what you’re doing in r&d is what feeds your planning sessions. So you need to figure out where the things that you’re experimenting on will get rolled out. And that becomes part of your planning roadmap. So when you think about your 2019 planning, think about what you’ve been doing, what you’ve been wanting to do and where you can fit those into your overall strategic plan.

Christopher Penn
And if you’d like help with that, of course, please visit our website trust And we’ll be happy to to stop by and help you with your 2019 planning. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and do the newsletter and we will talk to you soon. Take care.

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