Author Archives: Phill

Marketing Data versus Information - Phill Connell

Marketing Data versus Information: My Challenge to You.

This Marketer’s Looking For Answers. Can You Help?

(This post was first published on Linked in, February 2016)

As a marketer, I’ve spent countless hours wrestling with Data to provide my stakeholders with Information. It’s a challenge that will never go away, for anyone who works in a role where things are routinely measured. Can you honestly say that you don’t face this challenge yourself? If not, you’re lucky and you can move on with your day. Don’t let me keep you!

Marketing Data versus Information - Phill Connell

Marketing Data versus Information – Phill Connell

Combining Multiple Data Sources Into One Report

When showing useful information about Marketing KPIs or performance to people who are interested, single Data sources are usually ok. On-board reporting tools from CRM systems like Salesforce (or another) are powerful and incredibly useful. Email delivery systems; webinar platforms; even social media tools all possess good on-board reporting. But what about combining these into one Marketing Dashboard which shows your true Marketing-to-Lead-to-Order supply chain?

Excel, the dreaded Reporting Tool Of Last Resort, can be a wonderful thing. But not very often. I’ve tried that. It’s just so fickle. It’s not good for delivering repeatable, structured, sustainable reporting. Solve your problems in Excel, hand them to someone else and watch them break your spreadsheet. It just doesn’t work.

Then just try to slice & dice the Data into a different view. Got a nice view by campaign? Great, someone will ask for the same Data by the date leads were received. Bah! It’s not them, it’s you – or rather it’s your half-arsed report.

So, What Should I Do?

I need to combine data from multiple marketing channels into a single Marketing Dashboard. I’ve got a combined email and landing page platform, a webinar platform, tracked shortened urls to tell the sources of traffic to my landing pages, and common campaign names across these platforms to enable me to join the data. I need to be able to slice & dice my Data into different Informative views: by date; by campaign; by geography; by Sales team…

Here’s your challenge: Just tell me what I should use. I’m leaning towards Tableau as a visualisation tool but only because I know my organisation already uses it elsewhere. As far as organising the basic Data goes, I could probably do it in Excel or Google Sheets using regular updates from my channel platforms. At least that gives me flat files to report from. Maybe in future I could move to real-time APIs, we can talk about that later. But I need the flat data sheets to combine into a repeatable, consistent, shareable format which makes sense and helps to tell our story of Marketing Excellence in a compelling way. That’s where you come in…

Can You Help?

Have you solved this conundrum in your organisation? Do you use a great Marketing Dashboard already? Did you find something off the peg or build it from the ground up?

If you’ve got a good idea, tell me about it. I’m all ears. My stakeholders will be eternally grateful, but not as grateful as I will be. Comment here or get in touch via LinkedIn, I’d love to hear from you.

Phill Connell B2B Marketing Solutions

A Love Story, in need of a name…

I woke from a very intense dream this morning. This post is my attempt to capture this dream before it becomes a poor memory. It felt like a strong Act 1 Scene 1 from a movie or a novel to me, so I wanted to commit it to digital paper just in case I come back to it and decide to write a screenplay. Because, you know, that’s what every white collar dreamer wants to do, right?

We are in a classy coffee shop somewhere in North America. Dark wood, chrome catering machinery burnished by years of use and carefully-placed pendant lighting help to create an atmosphere of busy, friendly efficiency. Unmistakable aromas fill the air: fine roast beans, confectioneries and savoury temptations carried throughout the establishment by the steam from the dominant espresso machine.

There is a young man here. He’s alone, slowly stirring his dry triple shot cappuccino with the wooden stirrer he picked up from the side stand, where he’d also shaken the chocolate and cinnamon sprinkles provided free to all customers. Let’s call him Harry. We watch Harry for a few seconds. He’s a blonde young man, who looks fairly fit and well-travelled. His hair is probably three weeks behind schedule for a haircut and he has a few days’ growth of unremarkable stubble. He’s clean but looks like he might not have washed yet today. Probably just a rushed start.

Harry stirs his cappuccino absentmindedly, looking like he has a lot to think about. His shoulders are slightly rounded and his brow is furrowed as he looks down into his coffee. We notice (as the camera pulls into a wide shot) that the shop is very busy. Background noise begins to enter our ears and we notice couples chatting, small family groups and gatherings of friends occupying the rest of the coffee shop. There’s a busy and generally cheerful atmosphere about the place. Baristas busily build all manner of caffeine-based beverages to keep the customers happy and keep the tills ringing.

Harry is sat on one chair at a small table. What might be the only unoccupied chair in the shop (it probably isn’t but it might be) is at the table too, opposite him. Harry hasn’t noticed. He’s just thinking about something, slowly stirring the froth on his dry cappu into his three shots of espresso.

At the till, we see a young woman with brown hair, too wavy to be called wavy but not curly enough to be described as curly. She carries a small rucksack which looks well worn, and wears a long sleeved T-shirt and a knee length flared denim skirt. She probably wears a version of this outfit every day. She’s counting out small coins, to pay for the small latte which she’s just cheerfully taken from the barista. Let’s call her Kate.

Kate smiles at the barista, thanks him and turns to look for somewhere to sit. It’s only a second or two until she sees the unoccupied chair at the table where Harry is sat, still slowly stirring.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Um,” Harry wasn’t ready to be distracted from whatever he was thinking about. “Um, yes, okay, go ahead.” Kate smiles (just as she seems to smile at everybody, all the time), puts down her latte and sits. Harry looks up, not wanting to be ignorant.

“Mad busy in here.” observes Kate, “You weren’t waiting for anyone were you?”
“Not at all”, Harry responds, “Just grabbing a drink.”

Kate continues to speak and their conversation is lost among the hubbub of the busy coffee shop. Kate’s gestures towards Harry (as the camera pulls wide again), although animated and clearly heartfelt, become visually less dominant. We’re distracted by children asking their Mothers for lollipops from the shop’s displays; by businessmen picking up laptops and leaving; by empty chairs being pushed back to tables; by new customers entering, then reoccupying those chairs and beginning new conversations.

Some time passes.

There is nothing apparent in what we’ve seen to connect the chance meeting of Harry and Kate to what happens next. There must be some explanation, some reason that they’re desperate, or daft, enough to agree to try something which is at best foolhardy, at worst idiotic, certainly criminal and definitely wrong.

Cleaning Your Lay-Z-Spa Filter Whilst Saving £95

So You’ve Got A Hot Tub…

Well done! Aren’t they great? We love ours, it’s a Lay Z Spa Monaco. I’m told that all the filers look the same, whichever model you have.

Like most people, we did a lot of reading about how to maintain the water quality to keep our family and friends safe and clean while they’re using the hot tub. We found a few alternative ways to make sure you’re always using clean filters:

  • Buy lots of replacement filters – they’re around £25 for 6 and you need to change them AT LEAST once a week. Believe me, they do get very manky even if you’re a very clean person!
  • Buy a cleaning machine – we found a good looking plastic water jet cleaner online for around £100
  • Make your own cleaning machine in around 2 minutes for less than £5 (or $5 for you guys in the U of SA)

I would recommend the latter option, because it’s inexpensive and it works! Just take a look at my two videos below and get to it. You won’t regret it.


Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

Small Goals, Small Achievements, Happy Days

Serendipity Feeds Enthusiasm

Recently, two linked pieces of good fortune resulted in me achieving a goal I hadn’t realised I’d had: to have one of my musical heroes welcome a PhillConnellPhotos print into his life. I’m going to tell you the story. If you’re looking for instant gratification or ‘YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT’ clickbait, you’re on the wrong website.


I was contacted by an old friend a few months ago. We’d last spent time together pretending to be in a band in my schoolmate’s cellar in 1987, and the magic of Facebook has made us realise we still have some good things in common. He suggested we go to see The Wedding Present together, and I agreed this was a marvellous idea.


The day of the gig came around and we met up in a very rainy Manchester. Over a pint of Ruby Ale (me) and a glass of good red wine (John) we talked about film making (John) and photography (me) as well as our mutual love of good music. An old friendship rekindled, we walked through the wet streets of Manchester to the venue. John’s filmmaking exploits can be seen in more detail on his site, Willow Tale.


The gig was on the night after the horrific evening of shootings in Paris, so security at the venue was pretty tight. I was asked to show the contents of my very masculine manbag to one of the door guys, so I duly unzipped and explained that it was ‘mostly my drugs; I’m diabetic’ and was waved onwards. Nobody noticed my new Fuji X-A2 tucked neatly in there. Oh how I love my little new camera! John was subjected to a full frisk, I’m pretty sure that was just because he looks like a hippy.


When the final support act exited the stage (Badly Drawn Boy: he was terrible), we executed our plan. As the crowd breathed, people dispersed: they walked outside for a smoke, or to the bar for a drink, or to the loo for a wee. We took our chance, walked straight to front centre of the crowd and waited for the main attraction.


After the usual faffing of engineers and heavy lifters, The Wedding Present came on stage and began an energetic and entertaining set with a mix of classics like ‘Kennedy’, ‘Deer Caught in the Headlights’, ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’, ‘Dare’ and the wonderful finale of ‘My Favourite Dress’. I spent most of my time with John dancing to the upbeat tunes overlaid with heart-rending lyrics of teenage angst, adultery and frustration. (There’s a playable set list on if you want to relive the night’s classics)


But here’s the good part, for me anyway: between the dancing and jostling for position at the front of a lively middle-aged crowd, I took a few photos which I’m proud of. At the time these were intended purely as memories for me, as most of my photographs are.


After the gig John and I bought a sandwich from Sainsbury’s (rock and roll, kids) and jumped on the tram home. We went to our homes and went to sleep.

The Wedding Present, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos

The Wedding Present, 14th November 2015


Two Days Later

On processing the photos, I realised they were actually pretty good. I had an idea. What’s the worst that could happen? It was too late to get thrown our of the gig for sneaking a decent camera in, wasn’t it? One tweet later and the deed was done: I sent one of the images to David Gedge, The Wedding Present’s driving force, writer, lyricist and vocalist. I simply offered a free print if he liked it.


He liked it. He retweeted it. I gained a few fellow fan followers on twitter. But the main thing was: DAVID GEDGE LIKED MY PHOTO OF HIM. As a fan, this made me very very happy. As a photographer, this meant that a performer considered my photo to be good enough. I ordered the print, and added a wider shot of the band too. I posted them to Brighton, the band’s UK headquarters.


A Few More Days Later

…I got a direct message from the man himself to say a simple thank you. A common courtesy from a man who spends his very busy life entertaining people and writing excellent songs.


This single episode motivated more as a photographer than anything else in the last few months. Someone whose opinion I valued enjoyed a photo that I’d taken. A man whose music I have listened to since I was a spotty student gave a simple acceptance of a simple offer. It was a basic exchange of goods: I’d had the enjoyment of the music, he got a couple of prints. Everyone was happy. The exchange reminded me that I can take a pretty good photo and that people do like my work.

David Gedge, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos

David Gedge, 14th November 2015 by Phill Connell Photos


So What? So Try It!

So if you’re feeling like you’re working in a vacuum, struggling for motivation, just try offering something to someone who’ll appreciate it. We all have something to give: some talent or gift that another person will love. That feeling you get from another person liking your stuff is an enormously motivating gift.


Then get back to it, renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated. Enjoy it.


Suffering from Overwhelm? No, just bad English.

Suffering from Overwhelm?

Aaaargh! I’m overwhelmed with terrible written English and it’s all the internet’s fault. The greatest democratic vehicle in the history of historical things has enabled language to be messed up.

I’m all in favour of misappropriating the written word for comedic effect. Puns and other plays on words are funny: fact. However, when terrible written English becomes the norm (or any other language but I’m afraid I only speak English. Sorry. Unless ordering two beers or typing ‘thanks and regards’ in emails to my European colleagues counts), it makes me more than a little sad. Irritated, too.

Keep Clams

Keep Clams

In support of correct language.

I’d like to be able to clearly differentiate between language murdered for laughs, and language murdered by ignorance. The lack of habitual correction of errors that the light-speed publication and dissemination of information brings about should be slowed down, just so we have time to tap people on the shoulder and remind them:

Correct grammar is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

Here endeth today’s sermon / rant.

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