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In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk the summer slowdown, the time of year when B2B marketers face ever-increasing out of office autoreplies and campaign performance historically drops. What should you do as a marketer during the known slow periods? Options discussed on the show include:

  • Training and professional development
  • Backlog creation for agile marketing sprints
  • Project development
  • Experimentation and lab work
  • Marketing to the people who are still in the office

Listen to the episode to spark ideas for your own marketing!

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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
In this episode of In-Ear Insights, it is according to our data the summer slow down every, every once about once a quarter, we refresh a look at the times that people search for the term outlook out of office or at gmail out of office or out of office template, about 70 of these different terms in order to figure out when are people not going to be checking their email, because the only reason you ever set a an outlook out of office is because you’re going on vacation, you don’t, you’re not going to be around. And so by forecasting this, we can figure out, okay, when are people not going to be reading emails and things and so the week of June 23, and then the following week, which in the United States is the July 4 holiday, of course, the periods of time when nobody’s home, will least for the next two quarters will be one of the two periods of time when people just aren’t around. So, Katie, what do we do when there’s nobody home?

Katie Robbert
What do we do? We work. And I mean, that not just in the sense that, you know, trust insights as a startup, and we really don’t have an option, but to keep working. But for a lot of companies, you know, it is this summer, slow down period, it means people are on vacation, but not everybody companies don’t just flat out shut down during the summer, they just moved a little bit slower. And so, you know, it’s similar advice to that of which we would give to someone who was looking at a predictive forecast of here’s when search volume is going to peak. And here’s when search volume is going to be a lot lower. What do you do in those lows, while you prepare for the next peak period? And so, you know, let’s say this summer slowdown is going to last the next couple of months. Okay, great. Well, we have a couple of months to really get our house in order. And that means this is a good time for us to do our own technical audits, it’s a good time for us to double check that our analytics governance plans still hold up, it’s a great time to talk through, you know, especially mid year like the strategy that we set at the beginning of the year, does it still hold water? Or do we need to adjust? What is that adjustment period look like? It’s a great time to start doing a lot of a b testing on new messaging, new pages, especially if traffic has slowed down to your site, not as many people are going to be affected if for some reason, something breaks. So I actually really like these periods of time, because it’s a great opportunity to reset, reorganize and make new plans to start doing even better. What do you think, Chris? What do you do during this time,

Unknown Speaker
during downtime?

Christopher Penn
It’s coming up with new stuff. So one of the roles that I have is not only chief data scientist, but also we used to call the chief innovator, which is make new stuff, make things that if you have the time and the headspace, figure out what else you could be creating that can create new value later on. So over the weekend, for example, I was playing with some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And one of the things I was surprised to find out that surprised was that a certain basket of searches, wasn’t accurate predictor of unemployment rate, you know, when people are searching for terms like you know, find a new job, or companies hiring near me, and there’s 80 of these terms that I was looking at, it had a very strong correlation with the total unemployment rate. But what was interesting is that there are other indicators that have a much stronger relationship. The job openings and labor turnover survey jolts, also released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has things like, you know, job quits job openings and things. And these are our data sets that have much higher correlations, but they lag they lag in time. And so if you’re looking for something to forecast what’s happening right now, they’re not as good. So it’s, it’s things like that, what can we find? What can we explore? What can we learn, that really help us can build for the future. And that’s something that even you know, when we worked in larger companies, was always a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Admittedly, because I have no life, with with a lot of our staff was to say, like, No, no, when it’s getting quieter. I mean, yes, you can take off, you can take time and stuff like that as you need to. But if it’s slow, and you’re in the office, invest your in yourself in those two periods of time do training, you know, skill up so that when the next what, you know, cycle phases, you’re a better professional.

Katie Robbert
I agree. You know, it’s really the message is to look inward. And so we as marketers spend so much time worrying about our audience and our prospects and lead gen, that we you know, what we often hear and, you know, what happens to ourselves is, we don’t have time to work on our own business to look at our own data. And this is a great time to do that. And even Chris, to your point, professional development, I know, one of the things that’s on my list, for the next couple of weeks is to make sure that all of my Google Analytics certifications are up to date. Because this is a great time to do it, what else would I have time, if things are really busy, and people are needing things left, right and center. So I think, you know, if I’m a marketer, and I’m facing a summer, slow down, I would say the first thing that I should start doing is make sure that all of my certifications that are relevant are up to date, you know, definitely check with whoever’s in charge of your time to make sure that you can work on that professional development. But it’s a really great time to invest in it. And start taking a look at your own data or, you know, running reports that you normally run for clients or for customers, and run them on your own company. So take a look at SEO reports, take a look at your screen analytics dashboards, do you have one for your own team, your own company start building those so that that way you become your own client. So I think that, unfortunately, what I see is people don’t really think advantage of those down periods of time, where they can be preparing for when things are good, going to get busy again,

Christopher Penn
I really, really dislike the when people say I don’t have time, now you chose not to make time. Because if you can tell me what’s going on, on, you know, good omens or oranges, new black, whatever, then you have the time, right? If you if you have, you know, binge watch the latest 15 new releases on Netflix, you had the time to binge watch a training course on our or Google Data Studio or Google Analytics or any of the courses that to your point you are available to you for free. They’re not as exciting and will grant you that they’re not as good as knowing you know, there’s there’s not as much drama, in watching goal conversion setup and Google Analytics as there is in the latest episode of agents of shield. That’s just the way it is. But in terms of what will deliver value to your company and to yourself. The former, the training is going to deliver a lot more value. And so I didn’t I don’t have the time always bothered me even at even again, at large companies that were worked out in the past. Yeah, you, you may not have time during the workday. But if you’re not investing in yourself outside of work, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Because you’re not as marketable a professional at that point.

Katie Robbert
Well, you know, it’s interesting, because the phrase, I don’t have time to your point is incorrect. It really should be I did not prioritize this as something that was important to me. And that’s really the situation going on. Trust me, I love, love. Netflix, it’s one of my favorite things to do. But it’s not as high of a priority as my Google Analytics certification or making sure that the data integrity for the business that I’m running is all you know, well and good. So I think that you’re absolutely right. So this is a great when it when it starts to slow down for the summer, or when you know, just the cycle of your customers and clients starts to slow down. It is a great time to re prioritize and maybe, you know, just even start with that To Do List of is my to do list, prioritize the right way. You know, and ask for help. Ask your managers ask consultants who can help prioritize those things for you, based on your company goals. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t know what the company goals are, now’s a great time to find out.

Christopher Penn
Although you may have trouble reaching senior executives who have chosen to take their you’re eight weeks in the Hamptons, or Thailand or whatever. But fundamentally, if you don’t know what your company’s goals are, or at least what your goals are, what your KPIs are, that is probably one of the most important places to start. I was talking to somebody last week in one of the Facebook groups, I mean, it was saying, Yeah, I don’t know what my I don’t know what I’m being measured on, like, Well, how do you know what you’re going to be reviewed on and in your performance review, then if you have no idea what you’re working towards? What do you do all day. And they’re like, I just do, my manager tells me and my manager doesn’t have any numbers for me about what I’m being measured, I said, then your manager need to have a sit down and figure that out. And if your manager doesn’t know, you probably want to have a talk with their manager to

Katie Robbert
Hmm, yep. And again, this is a great time to get a lot of that internal work done. You know, so I guess the moral of the story, the moral of the podcast is, during those times where things are a little bit slower, like a summer, slow down, or just through the cycle, when your customers aren’t nearly as active, look inward, look at your professional development, look at what’s going on with your company, your team, your data, and make sure that your house is in order. Because the rest of the time the rest of the year, things are going to be crazy cuckoo bananas, and you want to make sure that the foundation that you’re standing on is solid.

Christopher Penn
Exactly. And if you’re looking for some places to start in terms of basic courses, basic professional development that you could be doing right now. There’s Google Analytics Academy, which is analytics Academy with Google com, which has four or five courses that have been revamped recently for what’s new hub spots Academy at Academy dot HubSpot. com is a great resource. IBM is cognitive class Academy, cognitive class.ai has a huge library of training courses on statistics and data science and machine learning. So if you want to get started with any of this stuff, the resources there and the three that we’ve just mentioned, are all completely totally free of cost, right? They will cost you zero dollars, and just your time. So those are places I would start. The other thing that I think we can would say is important to do. Anyway, this is an exercise that we do with our clients a lot. But it’s an important one for you as a person is what we call KPI mapping, like okay, what, what numbers show up on your annual review? What goes into those numbers, what goes into those numbers, and so on and so forth. Back when I was running a department at a at a PR firm? You know, my number was revenue, like how much money is your team making? Okay, so what backing into Okay, what’s the average value per client back into that? What’s our win loss rate? You know, how much do we need to pitch. And so it was very easy to come up with. This is what you need to do to hit that money number that that the powers that be dictated. If you don’t have that kind of map set up in your own office? Again, this is a great time to do that exercise and figure out what is the thing as the CEO of the company? What do you look at Katie?

Katie Robbert
Everything? No, I mean, the first thing, the first question that I always ask myself is, what am I not doing? Or what are we not doing? And so I really I methodically, maybe a bit OCD, go through every digital channel and say, what’s the health of every digital channel? I look at all of our clients, where’s the status of all of our clients? Do they need anything? And these are things that, you know, I wish I had the luxury to do on a more regular basis. But I really try to make it my focus when things are a little bit slower to say, Okay, let me look at every single corner and square inch of the business to make sure that everything is completely intact. And if I’m prioritizing things, then I’m starting with the financials, and I’m making sure that you know, everything is up to date and being paid or invoice and then I’m, you know, moving my way down the list in terms of things that are most important, and that will keep our foundation the strongest. But yeah, I guess the first question I asked myself is, what am I not doing?

Christopher Penn
Yep. Yep. What are we not building? What what are people asking for? That? We don’t have an answer for yet, in some in some fashion or version. I mean, we’re looking at my own to do list of things. There’s probably no shortage, no fewer than 12 different projects that could eventually have outputs that somebody could buy. The other thing I’d say is, this is a great period of time to be investing in research, researching your company, your competitors, your space, your audience. Somebody was asking me this morning, how do I drive more traffic to my website? Like? Well, I mean, if you don’t care about the quality, because commission a bunch of bots, but if you care about quality in the business impact, one of the things you need to do is audience analysis, audience analytics, what does your audience care about? What does your audience Where does your audience get their news, and use that research is the basis for this is what this is our plan for publishing media and where we want to get our guests blog posts, but a place because that’s where people are going to spend the time. But if you don’t do that research, you can’t know that. And so again, when it’s slower, if you’ve got the tools, this is the time to do the research.

Katie Robbert
Well, and I would add to that, as well. One of the things that I was actually writing down on my list at the moment was another blog topic idea, this is a great time to create a backlog of evergreen content for when it gets busy again, so to Chris’s point, do the research, find out what people care about what they want. And then create a bunch of that content, whether it’s short form, long form, audio, video, it doesn’t matter, create it, even if it’s not perfect, you can go back and refine it, but at least it will exist. And then you can start scheduling it out further in the year, when you don’t have as much time. So use the time that you have, take advantage of the slower periods and get some things done.

Christopher Penn
You know what? One thing we used to do, that I used to so advocate for is these, this is also the time to have things like team meetings and brainstorms and stuff. use that for idea generation, or attend a conference virtually This is one that always baffles me people like Oh, you know what, our company doesn’t have the time or the money or the whatever, to go to this conference. Almost every conference because they’re struggling to get attendees is publishing the past two years talks on YouTube, right? So you could build yourself a conference, and take the day or half of the day, or even just a couple hours around lunchtime, and attend a few sessions of Social Media Marketing World or inbound or content marketing world or even Ted like the TED event itself. All the TED talks are published on the YouTube channel, build yourself a conference and attend it as though you take it with the same level of seriousness as if you’re sitting in the seat in someone’s auditorium. But use this time to train up or to get new ideas, new ideas. People always say I don’t have we don’t have time to do that work. The worst, of course, is people who companies that just don’t do brainstorming, well. This is the opportunity for you to do your own brainstorming and not sit in a room with 40 other people all who have yelling random ideas out loud.

Katie Robbert
Right, I agree. So I you know, I feel like we’ve really covered the gamut of things that people could start with when things get a little bit slower. So if you’re not sure where to start with things, get slower. Take one of these ideas, maybe write some content, do some professional development, check in on your own data governance. You know, check your dashboards, look at your financials, whatever the thing is so but just start getting. Start getting moving, do something, re prioritize everything. If you’re not sure what else you can do. Give us a holler. You can join our free slack group at trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers. You can find us on social media at trust insights. Let us know that you’re stumped and we’ll help you get moving.

Christopher Penn
Absolutely. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter and we will talk to you soon. Take care


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