• Team Highlight: Search 101

    on Oct 17
    in PM New Faces
    with No Comments

    Our team is one big happy family but naturally, we’re also divided into little sub-teams based on what we do. We’re starting a new series to share a little bit more about each of these teams with you!

    Some people know a lot about search, and some people don’t — but we’re here to fill you in and bring you up to speed.

    What does “search” mean?

    We use search as an all-encompassing term for what we do, which includes both Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEM is paid advertising that runs on the search engines Google or Bing — SEO is making tweaks to your website to help it rank higher in search results on those same search engines. Both tactics can help get more people to visit your website and view your product or services.

    Our ultimate goal

    To help customers find you. We want to make your website and company as visible as possible online. To do that we need to make your website as favorable as possible in the eyes of Google, because Google runs the world (at least the search world, that is).

    So, we follow Google’s rules and recommendations to help you work your way up in search rankings. That often means finessing your ads and/or your website listing to be in line with these rules and recommendations.

    Examples of SEM

    There are many different kinds of ads you can run on Google, but we’ve highlighted two of the most common examples below. We searched for “jump ropes”, because we’re kids at heart.

    SEM examples for jump rope search


    In the top left is a simple text ad that’s linked to a landing page. The one on the right is a shopping ad that’s also linked to a landing page, but offers additional fields such as a product photo and price, and pulls in reviews to help users make a more educated buying decision.

    There are many more types of ads you can run, but those are two of the most common examples.

    Examples of SEO

    Beneath the paid ads at the top of the search results page, are the “organic” results. This simply means they aren’t paid for and instead, Google is selecting the best results out of their huge database.

    SEO examples for jump rope search

    We had to scroll down to get past the paid ads, but eventually, you get to the organic results. You can see the #1 and #2 results, as well as a bonus area where you can also be featured. If your landing page answers a question about the topic, Google could feature it here. These spots are tough to get into, just like the top search results spots, but there are steps we can take to make it more possible.

    Advice From the Pros

    We asked two of our team members to share some advice for business owners who are looking into search services:

    “Know your goals. Let the team working for you know how you view success when it comes to your online presence. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions to the team working for you, we always enjoy answering and helping you better understand how to improve your rankings.” – John

    “When possible, I would suggest that business owners work with someone local. We all receive unsolicited calls and email from companies that claim our website ranks poorly, offering a secret formula or special relationship with Google that will move us to the top. Don’t waste your time. Find someone you can meet with in person and get references from someone you trust before moving forward.” – Jeff

    Read More »
  • Nothing Compares…to How PM Does the Iowa State Fair

    on Sep 11
    in PM + DSM
    with No Comments

    The fair is over 😢, but our love for it lives on. We had the best PM night at the fair thanks to our awesome coworkers, ridiculous amounts of fried foods on sticks, a bevvy of farm animals, and of course, the Iowa Craft Beer tent.

    Partner Matt Glynn is our resident fair King. Most people don’t expect this Vineyard Vines and Cole Haan-clad dude to get into the state fair, but it comes full circle when you get to know his roots. It’s a nostalgic couple of weeks for many of us, and for Glynn, it’s less of a tradition, and more of an institution, dating back decades.

    He grew up showing, working, and camping at the fair. Matt’s parents have camped in the same spot for over 40 years — 40 YEARS, EVERYONE! For him, the fair also meant showing cattle, exploring the fair grounds, and working as the “dryer” for the giant slide.

    Working as the “dryer” is just as it sounds — any kids’ dream, really. Every morning, Matt and a friend would ride the slide as many times as it took to get the dew off, over and over and over again. Who are we kidding? That’s everyone’s dream!

    We relived Matt’s part-time fair job during our time at the fair with a trip down the giant slide. Partially because it’s right behind the Iowa Craft Beer Tent, our central gathering point, but also because we’re big kids at heart and it’s just a good time!

    Hopefully, you got to experience the fair and have a little fun. If not, there’s always next year to join us!



    Read More »
  • Are You up For a Challenge?

    on Aug 27
    in PM + DSM
    with No Comments

    The Wild Boar Challenge is a challenging and super fun obstacle course race held at Wildwood Hills Ranch each fall. It was created in partnership with Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping — and if you’ve ever done Farrell’s, you know classes are tough, but upbeat and enjoyable at the same time. It only makes sense that the Wild Boar Challenge is similar.

    Each fall, over 600 adrenaline junkies come together to push through obstacles that involve climbing, balancing, and army crawling, and getting plenty dirty in the process. But that’s the fun of it!

    Contributors Breakfast Club, a local organization, hosts the event to benefit Wildwood Hills Ranch and additional Iowa charities that serve underprivileged youth. Wildwood Hills Ranch is located on 400 acres of scenic hills south of Des Moines, and holds camp programs for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. Kids from across the state are given the opportunity to learn and grow alongside loving counselors, leaving them with hope and positivity.

    Performance Marketing’s own Ryan Albers, is the race co-director of the Wild Boar Challenge, and our team helps with design and advertising. In addition to knowing that they’re helping a great cause, our design team appreciates the freedom and change-of-pace that comes with establishing the identity of the Wild Boar Challenge. The Wild Boar mascot has even paid a visit to the office!

    Every year, PM has a group of employees run the race, and they can vouch for how awesome it is. Anyone can register through race day, but early bird pricing is still available. Take advantage of it while you can!



    Read More »
  • Sip, Sip, Hooray!

    on Aug 8
    in Creative
    with No Comments

    Cheers to another successful Winefest Week. We’re lucky enough to partner with Winefest Des Moines, an organization that does wonders for the culinary and arts scenes in our hometown.

    In addition to giving yearly to Bravo Greater Des Moines, Winefest also provides scholarships to second-year students at the Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC, and to students studying to become certified sommeliers.

    In the spirit of giving back, they also host a bunch of impressive events for Des Moines area residents to attend. From September to May, there’s an average of one event per month, and then in June, the excitement culminates with a weeklong wine-filled celebration.

    It’s called Winefest Week, and it’s a whole different beast of a celebration — one or more events every day, for eight days in a row. It’s busy, but eight days of drinking wine? Yes, please. It might be part of the reason we love working with them.

    About the Work

    Most of the work we do is in preparation for Winefest Week, since that’s when the majority of events take place. Performance Marketing handles all of Winefest’s design and social media needs. That includes the following:

    • Website design
    • Video animations
    • Print design for ads, tickets, posters, invites, and signage
    • Content for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (before, during, and after events)


    One of the most rewarding projects we work on for Winefest is the poster and animated video that accompanies it. Our very own Emma Croskrey has full creative freedom to concept and design the yearly poster, which is super fun. At the 2019 unveiling party, there were lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” complimenting her gorgeous work. (Emma also does the print design and social graphics for Winefest.) You’re awesome, Emma!

    Based on the poster, our video team creates a short animated video that’s used as a teaser leading up the poster unveiling. It ends up being a really fun way to showcase our talents and passions.

    There are a lot of hands involved in Winefest doing video, design, coordination, social, and event support — so we have a lot of people to thank! And as always, thanks to the folks at Winefest for being lovely to work with.


    All photos taken by Maharry Photography.


    Read More »
  • Leverage AI & ML In Your Marketing

    on Jul 24
    in General
    with No Comments

    Brett Burkhart over at Shift recently gave a talk on how you can use AI and ML as a part of your marketing strategy. It’s a pretty cool topic, so we wanted you to hear his points, as well.

    First off, maybe you’re not familiar with what AI and ML are. These acronyms go hand in hand, standing for “Artificial Intelligence” and “Machine Learning”.  When you hear these terms it’s easy to assume that:

    1. Only giant companies can use them
    2. They spy on people to learn and steal information from them
    3. They’re all about robots taking over the earth

    But, those assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Artificial intelligence is “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior” and machine learning is “utilizing algorithms based on sample data, to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task”.

    Sometimes it’s helpful to look at examples of these technologies that you’re probably using today, but not calling AI & ML. Here are a few examples of these technologies that you’ve likely encountered:

    Amazon making product recommendations at what seems like the very moment you’re interested

    Pandora learning the music you like and making recommendations you didn’t know existed

    Nest thermostat noticing trends in your activity and adjusting your home’s systems

    Examples of AI in business:

    Process automation: The art of applying AI technology to your everyday processes to bolster productivity & enhance efficiency.

    Ex: Inventory management

    Cognitive insight: Using algorithms to detect patterns in large volumes of data and interpret their meaning.

    Ex: Fraud detection

    Cognitive engagement: Engaging employees and customers using services like natural language processing, chatbots and machine learning.

    Ex: Customer service

    Now that we’ve covered what AI and ML can do, and what they’re being used for, let’s dive into how they can be used in marketing, specifically. Below are the facets of these technologies that we’ll cover:

    1. Chatbots & Conversational AI
    2. Split Testing vs. A/B Testing
    3. Product/Content Recommendations
    4. Visual Search & Image Recognition
    5. Social Listening & Sentiment Analysis
    6. Dynamic Pricing
    7. Copywriting


    1. Chatbots & Conversational AI

    These work from a pre-programmed library of responses to questions (sort of like an FAQ), and learn as they encounter new questions, terminology and user responses. A good and experienced AI chatbot is difficult to detect from a human.

    2. Split Testing vs. A/B Testing

    A/B testing has been around forever (showing two options to an audience to see which version resonates more), but split testing using AI allows for many more combinations of information (headlines, content, imagery, CTAs, etc). It can learn to show only the combinations, which are getting the highest response rate.

    3. Product/Content Recommendations

    Amazon knows everything about us because their system’s paying attention to a plethora of activity we take. Clustering & interpreting of consumer data, paired with profile information & demographics, allow AI-based systems to continually adapt and offer recommendations tailored in real-time.

    4. Visual Search & Image Recognition

    Can be used to personalize the shopping experience using visual search technology.  It also allows for recommending of relevant products based on how they look (similar or complementary style, color, etc) rather than solely on past behavior or purchases.

    5. Social Listening & Sentiment Analysis

    With AI, brands can perform sentiment analysis on social conversations. It enables them to identify and understand attitudes towards their brand and/or products. It also allows them to spot potential issues and take action before they become too widespread.

    6. Dynamic Pricing

    Can be used to compare businesses’ product pricing against competitors to determine if their pricing is too high, about the same, or too low. For example, AirBnB helps property owners determine the price that they should list their property based on geographic location, listing features, local events, photographs and reviews, as well as market demand and timing.

    7. Copywriting

    Currently, AI’s copywriting skills for marketing purposes are mostly limited to more basic tasks, such as email subject lines and product descriptions. In February, OpenAI which is backed by Elon Musk, revealed it had created an artificially intelligent text generator called GPT2 which mimics a journalist’s style very, very well. The generator is still not very capable of creating original ideas, though.

    Where Should You Start?

    No matter what you’re thinking of doing with a new technology like artificial intelligence, it’s best to work through a controlled process. This will help ensure you’ve checked the necessary boxes for a successful and valuable outcome. Here are the recommended steps to take:

    1. Get Familiar With AI — Take the time to become familiar with what modern AI can do and some examples of what is being done.
    2. Identify the Problems You Want to Solve — Begin exploring areas you, or your clients’, organizations feel there is untapped opportunity, and evaluate whether AI might be a potential solution
    3. Prioritize the Value — Assess the potential business and financial value of the various possible AI implementations you’ve identified
    4. Acknowledge the Internal Capability Gap — Identify the difference between what you want to accomplish and what you have the organizational ability to actually achieve within a given time frame
    5. Bring In Experts and Set Up a Pilot Project — Start building and experimenting! (experts could be internal or external)
    6. Form a Taskforce to Integrate Data — Before implementing machine learning or artificial intelligence, clean up your data sets to ensure the quality of the information you’ll leverage
    7. Start With a Small Amount of Data — Start simple, use AI incrementally to prove value, collect feedback, and then expand accordingly
    8. Roll Out Full Scale — With value proven through pilot projects, you can now confidently roll out the full solution for you or your clients’ organizations to reap the rewards

    To get (and stay) ahead of your competitors, put AI to work so that you can spend less time gathering & organizing information and more time acting on it.

    Will there be uncertainty in the process? You bet. But is there uncertainty in what the future holds if you don’t take action to learn and progress? Absolutely. Exploring new technologies and new ways of doing your work is essential for growth and continued success. Take control of your organization’s future by educating yourself on what’s possible, ideating on what’s applicable, and innovating on what’s valuable.

    Want to talk through an idea or the steps to test your idea and bring it to life? Let’s chat!



    Read More »
  • With This Crew, Every Day is a Picnic

    on Jul 19
    in Events
    with No Comments

    It’s pretty much the same every year — we eat, hang out, and play kickball. We’re creatures of habit, yes, but why mess with a good thing? Our summer picnic is a blast for everyone and we look forward to it every summer.

    Here’s how it goes:

    Hang Out

    Right off the bat, there’s face painting and balloon animals and adult beverages. That means lots of superheroes, dogs, and princesses — and lots of happy parents.


    For dinner, we grill. Nothing screams summer more than hot dogs, burgers, and chips, they just hit the spot.

    Eat Some More

    Somehow, we make room for ice cream after — because we always have room for The Outside Scoop! Their flavors are out of this world and make us really happy. Just call us their number one fans.


    We ended the night with yard games and kickball. Little tikes, middle schoolers, and adults all get out on the kickball diamond together, making it a definite sight to see.

    We already can’t wait until next year. Or maybe we’ll just do it again next weekend! Who’s in?



    Read More »
  • Looking for a Career Shift?

    on Jul 11
    in Shift Interactive
    with No Comments

    Our buddies over at Shift Interactive are growing like crazy! That means they’re looking to add talented people to the team. There are multiple openings right here at our offices in West Des Moines. Here’s what we’re looking for:

    Backend Developer

    Frontend Developer

    Mobile Developer

    Business Analyst

    Technical Project Manager

    Perks include working with great people, lots of opportunity for growth, and a collaborative environment that makes coming into the office fun. Not to mention our various company outings and unmatched holiday parties. We work hard, but we also work hard to make the workweek enjoyable!

    Do you fit the bill? If you do, and you’re into a collaborative and fun work environment, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today!



    Read More »
  • PM Takes Home ADAI Awards

    on May 13
    in Events, PM + DSM
    with No Comments

    We love what we do. It’s not about winning awards. But we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy getting a few from the Art Directors Association of Iowa (ADAI) recently.

    A group of PMers attended the 61st Annual ADAI Design Exhibition April 26th at The River Center downtown, and the event did not disappoint. It’s always a special opportunity to see the range of amazing design talent we have right here in Iowa (both professionals and students!) and catch up with our fellow creatives.

    A shout-out goes to our very own Shifter Renae Meines who, as a member of the ADAI board, put her time and talents into helping create a successful event. We also appreciate the ADAI for all they do to support and connect the graphic design community. Congrats to all of this year’s winners!

    In case you’re curious, we picked up an Excellence Award in Animation for our overview video about the nonprofit organization EMBARC, and both Excellence and Best of Category Awards in Poster Design for this year’s PM Chili Cook-Off posters and animation.



    Read More »
  • New Year, New You – Happy Anniversary, January Pals!

    on Jan 30
    in Anniversary
    with No Comments


    Hey there, 2019!

    And hey there, you. Thanks for stopping by!

    We’re excited to celebrate a fresh year, a fresh start and a fresh batch of anniversaries.

    This month we’re talking resolutions and 2018 highlights with our January anniversary pals: Brett, Sean, Jaclyn, Brandon, Dana and Staci. 


    Brett Burkhart – 4 years

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • Last year, I enjoyed digging into a useful and timely blockchain project and learning the ins and outs of how this new technology is, and will be, used.
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • Taking my family to Boulder, CO to stay with friends and hike the Flatirons. 
    • New Year’s work resolution:
      • Spend more time getting to know team members whom I don’t know well yet.
    • New Year’s personal resolution:
      • Put more effort into playing guitar and drawing/painting.


    Sean Neugent – 5 years

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • 2018 was a year of change, like when the PR team moved to the third floor. In my quest to sit at a desk on each floor in our building, I now only need to cover three more floors. So I have that going for me, which is nice. In other news, I think my favorite thing about work in 2018 is the fact I am fortunate enough to work on an incredible team of people I consider friends. We keep things light even during the stressful times, maybe we have a beer or two during the dull tasks and laugh a lot. Performance Marketing is an amazing place to work and I’m proud to play a part in the good work we do.
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • My family went on a few vacations from Scottsdale to Phoenix (different trips) to our cabin in Minocqua. But, we had a few big life events including my son Owen’s birth and my sister getting married. 2018 was a big year of celebrating in the Neugent household.
    • New Year’s personal resolution: 
      • Normally my resolution consists of giving up cheese or sweets. But, this year I’m working on continued personal development and being the best version of myself. The good news is by stepping out of my comfort zone this year, it allows me to eat cheese and sweets. Personal growth never tasted so delicious.”

    Jaclyn Overton – 3 years

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • It’s been a really cool experience to work on the rebranding and positioning efforts that we’re currently in the midst of for our three companies.
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • Traveled to Ireland, Wales and Isle of Man. So pretty. Lots of green and more redheads in one place than I’ve ever seen in my life.
    • New Year’s personal resolution: 
      • Drink more water, less coffee.
    • New Year’s work resolution: 
      • Inbox (Close to) Zero at the end of each week. *Fingers crossed*


    Brandon Ruschill – 1 year

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • Playing in The Brand.
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • Going to, and racing in, the Trek CX cup.
    • New Year’s personal resolution: 
      • Grow the best beard.



    Dana Kelley – 4 years

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • Finally remembering what GDPR stands for and volunteering for PM’s trail clean-up initiative.
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • I canned my first batch of homemade salsa, pasta sauce, tomato soup and hot jelly!! I hiked in the Badlands, Glacier, Olympic, Mt. Rainier and Grand Canyon National Parks. We also adopted Cubby, the most lovable three-year-old pup this side of the Mississippi. 
      • #adoptbeforeyoushop #aheinz572019
    • New Year’s work resolution:
      • Learn at least one new thing about Google Analytics each month.
    • New Year’s personal resolution: 
      • Complete my first extended backpacking trip and read at least five literary classics throughout the year.


    Staci McDonald – 4 years

    • 2018 work highlight:
      • I was able to learn more about interactive projects as one of our team members was on maternity leave and I was able to step in and run some of my projects. It was a great learning experience and makes me appreciate them even more!
    • 2018 personal highlight:
      • Watch my son venture into team sports for the first time! It is a train-wreck and magical all at the same time!
    • New Year’s resolution:
      • Be more thoughtful, with my friends, co-workers, how I spend my time and appreciate it all!

    It’s going to be hard to top 2018, but we sure are going to try. Luckily, we’ve got these six by our side for the ride.

    Happy anniversary!

    Read More »
  • Let’s Kick It

    on Nov 15
    in Events
    with No Comments


    Kickball shirts

    Our highly-competitive-but-technically-just-for-fun Kickball game is the highlight of our fall PM in the PM. We take it pretty seriously. Teams are drafted, named, and then t-shirts are designed. We’re all hoping that our team’s shirt catches Kevin’s eye because there’s usually a free lunch (and pride) on the table.

    Plus, if our team wins, we get to strut around the office halls until next year’s game. It’s a brutal battle of wit and athletic ability because we all want to proudly display one of those little plastics trophies that Tom orders for the winners.

    But before the balls start rolling though, we pregame with a bit of business. We kick off our kickball with a PM in the PM presentation. (See what we did there?) That just means Kevin and Jim walked us through all the new happenings at PM.

    Here are some of the highlights:

    • We’re growing! Did you know we’ve added nine people since our last PM in the PM? That’s a lot of new friends! (More on that in a later blog.)
    • You can now find us in Minnesota! One of our new additions to the team, Anne Hansen, will be representing PM in the Twin Cities. (More on that later, too.)
    • Next year is our 20th (YES, TWENTIETH!) Anniversary!

    Anyway, back to the really important stuff. The teams. The entire company was drafted onto four separate teams, “Kevin’s Kids”, “Balls of Gold”, “Team Better Brother”, and “Kick Bait”.

    Not quite living up to their name, Team Better Brother was the first to fall. Kevin’s Kids was quick to follow them, proving they really need to focus more on kickball instead of trying to suck up to Kevin.

    The championship match between Kick Bait and Balls of Gold was an exciting one. The twists, the turns, the pulled muscles! In the end, Balls of Gold emerged victorious and the envy of the entire office.

    Here they are in all their glory.

    As a consolation of sorts, Team Better Brother did end up winning Kevin’s affection and he awarded them the honor of “best t-shirt design”. So, not all their pride was lost.

    At the end of the day though, we all walked away winners because we got to play kickball and drink beer at a work event, and isn’t that the dream we all strive for?


    Read More »