For those who know me, my attempt to be a tipster will fail as you know it will most likely lean towards data! Yet, I have always played devil’s advocate in my mind questioning how actionable my analysis recommendations are, though in few occasions have been guilty of hindsight bias.
“Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit” – Phillip Kotler
For marketing to be successful it needs to subtly blend both science and art. But what are the science and art parts of marketing? With significant strides in technology today, it has become easier and cheaper for us to gather, store and analyse data. And that perhaps puts today’s marketers in the horns of dilemma.
“The needs of the modern marketer are increasingly informed by analytics, targeting and Big Data, driving marketers to believe they must become more of a scientist than ever before. Marketers are strongly of the opinion that science rules metrics, with the intuitive marketing qualities playing little part”(Source : Eloqua)
This thinking drives much of the effort in collecting zettabytes of data, umpteen metrics and zillion reports generated much faster than the human mind can consume. This sets out the data FOMO (fear of missing out) in the marketer and have seen many of them despite million-dollar data investments struggle to make decisions and later blame data for failure.
Some of the greatest marketers of our time – David Ogilvy, Walt Disney, Mary Kay Ash, Steve Jobs and others bring us different lessons, approaches and philosophies, but they all achieved the same results: conversions and loyalty.
Their success mantra was to identify what is important for their business and focus data collection and analysis efforts around that. This is a painstaking process and cliched as it sounds there is no shortcut. I am listing top three best practices that can help data based decision making:
1. Less is more – Choose what is the most important data in your business that you cannot live without and build your information strategy around it. Look for areas that differentiate your business in the market and the data you need lies there. Today data lake technologies give you the ability to retrieve relevant data rather than dig in data graveyards.
2. MECE performance indicators – Use the MECE (mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive) principle to cull out the key performance indicators and build your reporting around them. Create smart reports and dashboards to drive consumption across the organisation.
3. Cutting edge analysis – Leverage advancements in data science to mine and extract insights from the data. For best results, get an expert to do it. Focus your time to draw insights from analysis relevant to your business situation, internalise and apply in decision making.
The above three steps are applicable to all areas of business decision making not just marketing. But a marketer needs to understand the interdependence given the high velocity environment she operates in.
It is a fact that future is almost impossible to predict. That is why the ideal decision-making process blends gut instinct and data-driven analytics.
The data drives and guides, then gut decides.
What do you think? Do you use more of gut or data in decision making? Would love to hear about your experience and perspective.