Marketing analytics starts with … paying attention.

Analytics are useless if they’re not actually, you know, analyzed.

Marketing Analytics

“Who visited your website yesterday? Who read your blog?”

“We … don’t know.”

“Do you have analytics?”

“I guess so. Maybe Google analytics?”

“Okay, but who paid attention to those numbers this week?”

“Um. Uh –”

Why pay attention to the numbers?

Monitoring user behavior lets you manage your pipeline. Your analytics will show trends in how users interact with your website and marketing content. See a high (>50%) bounce rate? It’s time to re-examine the messaging on your homepage. Are visitors not spending a lot of time on your website? Your content may not be resonating with them. Your analytics must allow for new insights to be identified — use them to improve your website and marketing materials _ you’ll build a stronger pipeline.

How often should you look at your numbers? We send two types of reports to our clients to gain a better understanding into how they are performing:

  1. Daily reports: Let your marketing and sales team see who visited the website yesterday. Which prospects read the latest blog post? Which leads downloaded the latest white paper? Daily reports empower marketing and sales to respond promptly and appropriately to prospects and leads.
  2. Weekly reports: See overall activity on your website: bounce rates, total visitors, traffic from search, time spent on your site, and more. Identify trends in user activity by examining how activity changes week-to-week. See a traffic spike during summer months? Give marketing and sales the data needed to capitalize on that trend to take advantage … before your competitors do.

Request Free Brand Audit

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

And you can’t measure what you don’t monitor. Maybe the biggest benefit of Sales & Marketing Management (S&MM) toolkit is that it pays attention for you, responds for you, tugs at your sleeve when you should pick up the phone to close a sale. Analytics actually made useful 24/7/365.

Who should be using modern marketing automation? “Anyone selling anything” is a smartass answer, but more seriously, S&MM is a collection of tools especially for high-ticket sales. Complex sales. Considered purchases where you need multiple touch points to close the deal, where a “buyer’s journey” goes from suspect > prospect > lead > hot lead > buyer > repeat customer > brand recommender.

Do you offer B2B intangible services or complex products or investments that require trust-building before commitment? Monitoring user behavior lets you manage your pipeline.

You can analyze the ROI of every marketing tactic when you follow each step of the buyer’s journey, recording prospect actions in your CRM.  You can double down on the ads/emails/search terms/freemiums that work best, and reallocate spending away from unproductive efforts, messages or market segments. Cha-ching.

Turbocharge sales while subtracting sales grunt work. Clients who fully engage with practical analytics often grow sales – by turning “B” salespeople into all-stars. Since better analytics usually reveal the miserable ROI of cold calling, OG dinosaur tactics give way to warm calling and incoming calls. Cha-ching again.

Sounds exciting. But – which MA platform? Good question. Should you deploy Marketo or HubSpot or SharpSpring or Pardot or InfusionSoft or ActOn or Eloqua … or any of a dozen others? It can be confusing, especially because all those feature sets seem similar and yet some platforms will cost you ten times as much as others. For realz. 

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Is GDPR the new Y2K?

Oh, you remember Y2K.

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, airplanes would fall out of the sky, computers would implode, the moon would turn blood red and you’d forget where you put the car keys.

Most of that didn’t happen, BTW.

Now we have GDPR, and some people and many businesses can be found on the spectrum of uneasy-to-anxious-to-panicky. The new General Data Privacy Regulations are in effect as of May 25, 2018, in Europe, and seem likely to be followed everywhere else – eventually.

Don’t panic. In fact, this is a good thing. GDPR will protect the privacy of millions of people, including two really important ones: you and me.

But is it good for businesses? There are some harsh penalties attached to violations after all. The answer again is yes. GDPR offers a positive benefit to responsible organizations to affirm trust – it says we’ll handle sensitive personal data responsibly.

Brands need to be trusted. Brands need to be trusted. Brands need to be trusted.

So if you are an American business, what should you do? First, get ahead of the curve: pretend, in an abundance of caution, that GDPR is law here, too. Comply. If you do business in Europe (as we sometimes do) this becomes a bit more urgent.

Compliance isn’t all that difficult

You need to get double-opt-in permission from subscribers or anyone who’s information you retain, make changes to your Privacy Policies (here’s ours for example) and whatever else your lawyers may recommend. GDPR, for example, gives EU/EEA citizens the ability to ask to delete all their data from all servers and all data collection locations. We like that courtesy, and give that option to all our subscribers, regardless of citizenship.

Europe isn’t out to get you. Those giant fines are there to persuade Google and Facebook and other giant firms to get in line. Always look on the bright side: GDPR raises the expectations of your customers and prospects about your stewardship of their information. It’s an opportunity to be a good corporate citizen. Look back three paragraphs, the part about your brand and trust.

We are not lawyers (and, as the saying goes, our other habits are good) but if you want help getting your digital presence updated so your brand can be trusted, we’re at your service. Our available times to talk are here.

Could “robots” assist your sales A-team?


To understand why that’s a not-scary thing, first think about any process where robotic tools have proved invaluable. On an assembly line, for example, welding part A to part B precisely, repeatedly, reliably, with never a rest, complaint or pee break. That’s what made factory robots a crucial investment.

But sales robots for B2B? Really? For complex purchases? Yes again.

Let’s widen the lens, from factory bots doing mechanical things to software bots doing, say, prospecting. Perhaps evaluating 300 cards collected at a trade show, or qualifying webinar attendees, chores that usually entail a haystack of person-hours to find a few needles of hot leads.

sales robots

Which bots maximize value for you? At what investment? What’s overkill? We can advise you.

The fact remains, bots can’t close sales.

Coffee is for closers and closers are human. Some are superhuman, if you believe résumés. So how can you free up your A-team to Always Be Closing? With a digital assist.

Imagine your next 99 prospects as they begin their buyers’ journey to become your clients and customers. You’ll meet them digitally – that is, even if you meet some in person, they’ll still go to your website to “verify” you. Your “smile and a shoeshine” is no longer enough if your homepage looks like an antique, designed in 2011.

The behavior of those 99 web visitors can signal to your sales robots what suspects need to become prospects, and when. They send out valuable signals, if you’re measuring them. Every tire-kicker needs information you can supply, precisely and reliably. 24/7.

Let marketing automation robots take over the grunt work: watch, tag and track web visitors, send them personalized responses to inquiries, add them to drip campaigns, detect and respond to messages on social media. When the numerical lead score shows it’s warm enough, alert that coffee-hungry human salesperson to make the phone call or offer an invitation. The resulting sales efficiency lets your sales stars focus on what’s the most productive use of their time: closing. Cha, as they say, ching.

So, how soon should you get on board? Well, when do you want to set your sights higher, to start toward geometric growth? How soon would you like to replace cold calling with warm leads?

What’s really right-sized for your organization? Learn more here.

Need a website autopsy? Or just a checkup?

We are offering you a website autopsy. Free.

What’s that you say? Your site is alive and well? Well, maybe not well. Well, not up to par.

Well then, does your site need a cosmetic touchup – or major surgery? Bandaids or scalpels? An annual physical or resurrection? We offer diagnostic tools plus a couple of decades of training to evaluate your digital wellness. Seriously. Answer a few key questions while I grab my stethoscope.

Let’s start with some basics:

website autopsy

Does your site look great on all screens? Is your brand story clear in the 4.5 seconds a new visitor will give you before swiping you away? Is the urgency of your brand visible “above the fold”? Does it both engage and disrupt? Remember, you have to steal customers from competitors, so your value proposition has to be of loyalty-breaking strength.

Now, examine the description in your HTML* source code: will it fail the test of Killian Rule #6? If carelessly written, this line of code could drive prospects to your competitors.

Next, does your content + coding lift you high on a Google search, or doom you to page 2, 3, or 37? Do your analytics show a homepage bounce rate under 50%? Are your CTAs as clear as CHA**?

How would you know if you really need a website autopsy? By the numbers, three different ways: from sales, from SEO and from analytics. Maybe you only need a tweak or two, with no major underlying problem. If so, we’ll be happy to tell you.

Take two (digital) aspirins and fill out the form below. We’ll give you a prognosis within a week. Free.

* If you don’t know how to examine your HTML source code, we’ll show you.
** If you’re not familiar with bounce rates, or the web design terms CTA and CHA, ask me to explain. The latter is, um, too vulgar to put into print….

Do you know #theOtherSEO?

If you invest in SEO, it’s probably because search engine optimization seems so measurable. (And it is.)

But hey: you need the other SEO even more: Sales Efficiency Optimization.

SEO success is far and away the best first step on the buyer’s journey, but it’s #theOtherSEO that fills the funnel, feeds the bulldog, unclogs the pipeline and rings the cash register. Consider the whole journey:

anonymous web lurker >
tire-kicker >
prospect >
lead >
hot lead >
trial customer >
repeat customer >
loyal customer >
referral source >
tattooed your logo on her arm (cha-ching!)

To energize this digital buyers’ journey, your team needs sales and marketing management (S&MM) tools and practices that are automated, integrated, cost-effective and measurable.

“Old-school” sales tactics are either dead or dying. Goodbye printed catalogs, cold calling, snail-mail brochures, FSIs, skywriting, Yellow Pages, matchbook covers…

Yes, there are exceptions. Door-to-door canvassing GOTV efforts, for example, still matter in elections – but they’re vastly more effective if you digitally pre-select the right doors to knock on. Cambridge Analytica may have been evil, but they weren’t stupid.

Learn if and how you’d benefit from #theOtherSEO here.

SEE WHY DESIGNRUSH CALLS US ONE OF THE Best Branding Agencies in Chicago.

How to identify, then crush, your fiercest competitor

Name two of your competitors.

You probably missed the fiercest one.

Let me explain. Prospects, the people you want to do business with, are already doing business with Other Guys. (Let’s call them the OGs).

You can’t magically invent new human beings, so your challenge is to overthrow existing loyalty, to steal customers away from those OGs. It’s never easy. First off, you need awareness. People have to know you exist. Next, you need differentiation from the OGs to separate your brand.
Imagine for a moment your Brand Story (on second thought, let’s not call it your BS) versus two visible, credible competitors: Alpha claims it’s “better” than you, offering some benefit you don’t. Beta claims to be the “low-cost provider,” cheaper than you.

Here’s the jackpot question: Which fierce competitor will your desired prospects choose … almost every time?

And the answer?

It’s a trick question. The most frequent choice (by far) will not be You. It will not be Alpha. It will not be Beta. Your prospect will choose your fiercest competitor: NotToChange.

There’s more than brand loyalty at work here that selects NotToChange 97% of the time. Sure, it’s extremely tough to be a head-to-head competitor to Apple, Weber Grills, Harley-Davidson or Kindred Restaurant. Power brands earn their almost-cult status and repeat business.

What’s a force even more powerful than loyalty? What solidifies NotToChange as the #1 choice? (Momentum of repeating) crushes (bother of changing). Inertia > initiative. Habits repeat and repeat: again today you put on your left shoe before your right, right?

Every banker, for example, knows customers won’t close their accounts unless there’s a major life change or a big service screwup. Same goes for cable TV service, dentists, plumbers, lawn care and insurance agents. “More trouble than it’s worth” is the 97% rule, not the exception.

NotToChange has greater, deeper loyalty than any brand I know. It saves people from what Emerson called “the vexation of thinking.” Change takes effort. Inertia, fortunately, works powerfully in your favor once you win someone over from a competitor. It’s far easier to keep a customer than to win one.

So, now we see the target. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re
• a lawyer, CPA or business coach seeking clients
• a retailer looking for footprints to the front door
• a charity soliciting donors
• a car brand anxious for test drives, or
• a political party attracting voters

To crush that formidable enemy, NotToChange, you must be seriously disruptive.

In a word, you need urgency.

We already said you need Awareness (Job 1) and Differentiation (Job 1A), but you must also be certain that your chosen differentiator is actually urgent to your prospect. Many times it does not. Nobody gives a rat’s patoot that you “put the customer first” or have “proudly served our area since 2003.” Roughly, um, zero people react to that sign outside Wendy’s: “Quality is our Recipe,” a brand statement that’s both stupid and impotent.

If you tell voters about your “12-point plan” but your opponent scares them about a caravan of sinister people creeping across the border … you’re toast.

If you’re a college, promise high school juniors their campus visit will create welcoming social connections (versus finding intellectual stimulation or seeing stately buildings). You’ll be in tune with what’s urgent to your audience.

Can you re-ignite your brand story? Assert a credible differentiator urgent enough to change loyalties?
Yes! Maybe! Well, probably. We help clients crush competitors every day. Email or call 312.836.0050 and let’s explore it. Urgently.

We’re honored (again) to be listed as one of Chicago’s top branding agencies, according to Top Branding Companies: See here to learn more.

Your brand is in one of five buckets

Whether you’re a babysitter, a bakery, or Berkshire-Hathaway, prospects will mentally sort you into one of five buckets. Your brand will be pigeonholed (instantly!) as:

Your brand is in one of five buckets

Cheaper, or

“Doomed” may seem a bit harsh, but “forgettable”, “ordinary”, “exaggerated” and “bullcrap” all lead to doom eventually. 

“New” is good but temporary. A “blue-ocean” position, which combines “new” with zero perceived competitors is gloriously better, but rare – and also temporary.

So different/better/cheaper are three meaningful positions to choose, but you can only be one of them. If you try to occupy two, such as Better plus Cheaper (as so many brands try) you lose credibility, lose focus, lose attention, and sink into #5, Doomed. Stand up, stand out, stand for something.

Can a brand be successful as “different”? Try Apple, Uggs, Dr Pepper.

Can a brand be successful as “better”? Try L’Oreal, Weber Grills, Sterno.

Can a brand be successful as “cheaper”? Try Walmart, Golden Corral, Legal Zoom.

Yes, this five-bucket sort applies to you. But – good news – to all your competitors, too. You are locked in combat to steal customers away from those competitors, and your best move is to be in a uniquely different bucket. If you’re seen as top quality, and top quality matters to prospects, you win. If you cost pennies less, and pennies matter, you win. Are you fighting the low-cost-provider? Be the high-value. Competing against Tiffany? Be Zale’s. They zig, you zag.

First, position your brand into one clear differentiating category – and then the real work can begin. Build your brand story so you can credibly ace two tests: your value prop must be loyalty-changing-urgent to your best audiences. And true.

Want to see how it works for our clients? Call Bob’s cell: 312.399.2894.

Click here to see why we’re ranked as one of the top naming agencies in America, by

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

It is easy to measure “sales” for a business

Sales, as most people define it, is a simple number. Checks get deposited, contracts get signed, cash registers ring. Easy peasy, do the math.

But but but … things get much trickier when you try to measure what leads up to the sale. The ROI of marketing tactics, for example. The lifetime value of a customer. The effectiveness of a particular sales message. The value of anonymous web visitors. Allocating budgets to optimize engagement. What assets (human/financial/intellectual) to assign to social media.

It’s no wonder data-driven people (like most CEOs) tend to distrust people (like many CMOs) who don’t always produce hard-number charts and spreadsheets.

The problems begin with inadequate measurement tools

You may have a CRM (like SalesForce or Zoho or HubSpot) but if it’s just a repository of data, your CRM doesn’t propel action. Here’s why.

You may use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp or Constant Contact, but it’s incomplete. Here’s why.

There’s an abundance of data that can help you measure and manage – but only if it’s integrated, dynamic in real time, action-oriented and practical.

Is your answer a Sales & Marketing Management toolkit?

Probably. We’re excited about helping you measure the ROI of all tactics, and an SMM platform is often the key. See this Prezi for our show and tell.


Are you a manager … or a coach?

There’s a new book by “the Vince Lombardi of business coaches,” if I may quote myself*

The 3 x 5 Coach

A well-coached team is a productive team is an accountable team is a happy team. So buy the book.

Dave Baney’s new book is available on Amazon, and I highly recommend it to anyone who supervises a team. The 3 x 5 Coach is a guide that quickly resolves the “manager vs. coach” question then provides a clear easy-to-follow method to create both profitable growth, and happier people. Yeah, it really works like that.

This is totally practical, not theoretical. It will guide your team so that everyone is clear on mission, goals (company and personal), accountability, communications, titles, feedback and quantifiable performance indicators.

Dave founded 55 Questions, a coaching consultancy which we had the pleasure of naming and branding. I’ve always (immodestly) thought it was one of our better naming concepts.

He had heavy responsibilities with McDonald’s and Burger King, both domestic and international, before sort-of retiring to coach CEOs of small-to-medium businesses. This new book is a distillation of his keen insight into how teams ought to function, and how “managers” can become coaches to bring about changes that accelerate growth, job satisfaction, and efficiency.

*I compare him to the great coach Lombardi in the Acknowledgements section of the book. I did hesitate because there may be some readers too young to remember Lombardi – but what better-known coach could I refer to? Joe Madden? Knute Rockne? John Wooden? I dunno, Polonius? I’m accepting suggestions.

What’s your business card doing for you?

The back of your business card can be powerful.

Or a wasted opportunity.

Take a look. Is the reverse side of your business card blank? Colorful but word-free? Full of features and benefits? Or something in between?

First of all, if it’s blank you need to rethink your priorities: why throw away the chance to stimulate/provoke/disrupt/encourage/uplift that prospect? To say something memorable? Because they’re often right in front of you, remember – make them ask you a question. Make sure your value proposition is clear in the first minute you meet.

Business card backs can be powerful.

If, by the by, you left it blank because you’re somehow conscious of the unit cost of business cards, you’re almost beyond redemption. I mean, c’mon.

Could an engaging, differentiated message capture one new customer/client every thousand cards? [SPOILER: YES!] Do the math.

Cost is never an excuse to do something ordinary. Want to use oversized cards, or folding cards, or singing cards – or oversized folding singing cards? Knock yourself out; business card expenses still won’t be a fraction of your coffee budget.

Okay, we sank the blank. What does belong on back?

The front side is (obviously) the home for your (impressive, stylish) logo, and all relevant contact info: name, address, URL (minus the “www.” which isn’t needed, please), email, phone(s). Limit of two harmonious fonts, please. If it includes a glossy postage-stamp of your smiling face (In Full Color!), it screams “my realtor or car dealership requires me to do this. Please don’t trust me.”

Now flip it over. How can we enhance your brand with this unpainted canvas? For starters, limit yourself to ten words or fewer. The back does not serve the same purpose as the front, and nobody is going to study it. Be brief, be provocative. We use the reverse side of our business card, for example, to drive prospects to a brand-explainer video, a tactic we recommend with enthusiasm.

The best way for you to evoke a response? Express your brand’s value prop in, say, five unexpected words.

If you can do it, do it. If you can’t, call me.