by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
Data. Analytics. Research. All of these are useful tools, but too many marketers (especially the online community) see the data and analytics as gods. Too often, many of these people don’t know what data to look for and what does it really mean. Just because you can count it, doesn’t mean it’s something worth counting.
Too often, many social media proponents say it’s all about conversation and the more your data says people are clicking on, viewing, or commenting, the more successful the online campaign. It seems like too many brands are talking for the sake of talking and not really getting down to true purpose of business which is getting and keeping customers. Paying customers. Listening tand engaging customers is vital and the online world provides that, but many marketers stop there. They think big data numbers is the measure of success, but they don’t know how to translate all those conversations into customers. The world is full of people who love to chit-chat, but idle talk doesn’t pay the bills, pay your employees, or even make your quarterly profits. To me, end-of-year revenues is the measure of success.
Many companies think that people have changed and aren’t what they used to be. In reality, we humans haven’t changed that much over the centuries. We still have the same emotional drives, the same fears, and the same dreams. The details are different, but the core essence isn’t. The principles of human psychology and emotion are still very true. Logic and rationality wasn’t the driving force way back when and it’s still that way. We buy more on emotion and less on logic. We make decisions more on emotion and less on rational thought. We use logic and back track our decision to rationalize why we did what we did. Concepts like “free is paid” is cool to say, but not a good way to stay in business. Of course your analytics and data numbers are going to be great if it’s free. If you asked someone to pay for it, will they? How much will they pay? The free-market is brutal and honest. Even if it’s free, somebody’s got to pay. Who is it?
Data shouldn’t be used as a crutch. It will turn you into a coward. Hardly no breakthroughs came through data. Most of the things that made a difference flew in the face of data that was overwhelmingly against them. Data said that the search engine world was too crowded and there’s no way to make money if you didn’t keep them on your site. Larry and Sergey didn’t care. They started Google anyway. Data said that it was completely inefficient to ship a package from New York City to Boston via Nashville, but Fred Smith thought differently and began Federal Express. These are just two of many examples where data was ignored and replaced by thinking and insight.
Key information, analytics, and research are all powerful tools, but they are not gods. They are just guidelines. They don’t give you interpretation or what a customer really feels. Data can’t start brand conversations, it can only measure them. Analytics can’t engage a brand to their customers, it can only report activity. If you don’t have the right brand position, the right creative execution, and the right key messages, no data and analytics in the world can correct that. It still takes deep understanding of your customers beyond the numbers.
Data is best used as guides, but it’s still up to humans to find the insights to what their customers feel and truly want, not just what they say they want. David Ogilvy once said that marketers who overly value research is like a drunk using a lamp post for support instead of illumination.