Every Friday since the pandemic shut things down in March (here in the U.S.), we’ve highlighted communicators and marketers who at first were trying to figure out which part of the sky just fell on them in My Hot Mess. Then we shifted to those who are crushing the pandemic with Survive & ThriveNow it’s time to get back to business, even if it’s not totally normal. We’re going to do that with an Ask Me Anything series—an elevation of our previous Spin Sucks Question series.

Today, Megan Hayes asks, “Does anyone have a current definition they use of working vs. non-working dollars? Looking for a more modern definition. Curious how others define it in today’s digital world.”

Welcome back to another Ask Me Anything, which is a new series where we talk to our friends, our viewers, and our community. about what they would like to know. The whole point is to stump me. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask one of my smart friends to join me.

Let’s take a look at the mailbag.

Today’s question comes from Megan Hayes. She asks,

Does anyone have a current definition they use of working vs. non-working dollars? Looking for a more modern definition. Curious how others define it in today’s digital world.

I’d like to start by saying that my expertise is B2B so I look at everything through that lens. That’s not to say a similar approach won’t work for a consumer business, but the examples I use and the case studies I can talk through are very business-oriented.

The first thing is you want to consider that your non-working dollars are going to include things such as brand awareness, credibility, and expertise. The working dollars are the PR metrics, or the things you can measure.

There’s something to be said for awareness and reputation and all of the things that communications does naturally. And you have a fantastic opportunity to use digital communications to measure your work.

But that makes it really challenging because there isn’t a magical split between the two. Is it half? Is it 50%? Is it 60%?

We are going through this exact thing with one client right in this moment and we’re trying to figure out what the split is. We have no data yet so we’re taking a wild guess. I’d like it to be 100% working dollars, but the CMO disagrees (and he’s right…I guess).

We’ve settled on 65% metrics and 35% education, awareness, and credibility. For now. We’re building benchmarks to see if those number are correct and we’ll spend 75-90 days measuring and collecting data.

How to Set Goals and Track PR Metrics

There are three things we know we have to measure:

  1. Marketing leads;
  2. Marketing qualified leads; and
  3. Sales qualified leads.

For a website subscriber to be considered a win, from a marketing perspective, we have four requirements:

  1. Submission. Meaning, if it’s a competitor or a journalist or a partner, they can’t be considered a marketing lead. Or,  is it someone who has the right title in the right industry at the right-sized company? If it’s the latter, we consider them a marketing lead.
  2. Origination. Where did they come from? Was it from social? Was it from earned media? Was it from paid social or paid search? Was it from display? Which tactic did they come from? This is still typically at the marketing lead level.
  3. Contribution. How are we nurturing them through the process? This particular client has a long sales lead so we want to know that they’ve talked to sales at least once and fit the criteria of a sales qualified lead before we can consider them marketing qualified, at this point.
  4. Conversion. And this is the biggie—did they become a client? To become sales qualified before they convert, they have to be the decision-maker, they have to have the budget allocated, and they have to be ready. If they fit those criteria—and we’ve played a big hand in nurturing them—we get to count them in our SQL bucket.

Working vs. Non-Working Dollars

Because my expertise is B2B, I can ask for a list of prospects from a client so we know who we’re trying to reach.

We’ll upload that list into their marketing automation software, and tag them as prospects. That way, when they enter our system through our marketing efforts, it will show up in our reporting that a prospect subscribed to the blog or downloaded some content or filled out a form.

They then become a marketing lead.

From there, we have really specific goals in terms of the number of marketing leads we need to get each month. Like I mentioned above, we don’t have any way to predict that right now because we don’t have data, so we’re spending a bit of time (at least through year’s end) doing exactly that.

While we test, though, we’ve set a goal of 10 marketing leads for October. Fingers crossed!

But, to Megan’s initial question, what is the split between working and non-working dollars?

The answer, right now anyway, is 65% working and 35% non-working.

Ask Me Anything

If you have a question that you’d like to stump me on or get one of my very smart friends to answer, drop a comment in the (free) Spin Sucks Community.

I will be back next week. I’m sure my intern will be, too.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich