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Turning Information (or the lack of it) into Marketing Action
hamish | August 31, 2012
There’s a whole world of data and, as a marketer, your job is to constantly make sense of it. It is a well known fact that systematic data analysis can improve decision making, provide a single view of the customer, show the ROI of a promotional campaign and get the management’s attention. In fact, According to Sookie Shuen (community manager at an inbound marketing consultancy) – a clearer vision on the value of analytics is one of the Top 10 marketing trends for 2012, and must be built into every manager’s annual plan.
But what if you operate in the primitive, technologically-deprived offline world and don’t have the privilege of ‘Big Data.’ Most online businesses and sophisticated retailers have access to heaps of transactional data that allows them to form at least a two dimensional view of their customer. In the absence of ‘data-driven’ marketing, most people rely on vanity metrics like leads from a trade show or Facebook likes, but such metrics seldom help the marketing team deal with a crisis of credibility. The next time you are grappling with a data void, here’s what you can try.
Your company probably has a dedicated research agency that fills you in with quarterly reports from U&A studies and focus groups. Usually, there is a temptation to rely solely on this information to form a view about consumers; however, everyone in the team is privy to such research and quoting from them will not build your reputation as a customer-centric decision maker.
A technique some marketers use is to have a bunch of (uncanny) assumptions handy about your consumer and then attend a couple of researches first hand to reinforce or invalidate these hypotheses. Some of the best customer insight comes from anomalies. Of course there is a physical constraint to the number of customers one can go out and meet, so here is another tip.
All consumer-centric companies have a feedback mechanism via a toll free number or an email address where customers post comments or provide reactions to the firm’s products and services. Make a list of these every week or month, then pick up the phone and speak to an irked customer. If properly catalogued over time, a database of consumer complaints/ grievances can rival the inferences of the best research reports.
SURPRISE WITH SECONDARY SUPPLY
We often underestimate the insights that can be derived of data from secondary sources, possibly because they are so freely and abundantly available. There is a plethora of information available in the form of trade journals, annual reports and financial statements of competitors, census data, TV and other media viewing behaviour, etc. However, the disadvantage of such multi-source data is that collecting, analyzing, interrelating, and presenting all this information is a gruelling task in itself.
Technology these days allows you to skim through truckloads of reports with palpable ease. All you need to do is set up filters with keywords that are relevant to your product and industry and wait for your newsfeeds to pass on only those pieces of data to you that are truly relevant.
A close associate of mine shared an interesting method to grasp and decode such information. Encapsulate the two or three salient points of every large report on different strips of paper, one point per strip only. Now place the strips from different reports next to each other to see how the information relates to each other. You may be bowled over by your own findings.
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