Data…Can Be a Marketing Departments Worst Enemy!
Updated: Jul 26
I recall a Forbes article where Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar was interviewed. He makes the connection between the disappearing roles in marketing and their original area of focus on the “four Ps”—product, price, place and promotion, with the disbursement amongst other departments within many organizations. He notes that “A key area where marketers have been supplanted by others is in data and technology.” I couldn’t agree more!
The issue for those in marketing today, is that data has become “king”. In many situations, those in marketing roles aren’t the ones gathering the data, nor do they know how to decipher it. They tend to lack the math skills and background needed to properly interpret and implement the huge amounts of data that may be provided to them.
It is true that data and analytics can help a business understand consumer behavior, improve business decision-making and determine the ROI of its marketing efforts. But only if those collecting the data and those that need to use it are on the same page. I’ve worked with many clients that clearly had teams of people that focused on gathering data, for consumer insights of course, and teams of people that were focused on the development and execution of the marketing campaigns to target those consumers. While I have not always been privy to speaking with the data teams, the marketing teams that I’ve worked with clearly had their “marching orders” of who their audience was and how they should begin messaging to them.
As someone who has worked in media for nearly 30 years, when I ask any questions about the why, when or where for their media direction, the marketing professionals don’t seem to have clear answers. They don’t even have an explanation on the media decisions they have made and have asked my agency to do. Could this be because they weren’t part of the process of the data gathering and analytics? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, yes!
It’s not their fault though. Most of them didn’t have but a single class or two on data analytics and all that math stuff. There was even a study done by the ANA Educational Foundation that shows the analytics disconnect between the marketing industry and academia. And on the flip side, those that are gathering all this wonderful, important data, aren’t always the best at understanding the human side of things. It’s data in and data out for those folks. I actually had someone once tell me that “data libraries tend to become the proverbial cluttered closet. It’s hard to separate the insights from the junk.” It’s all important to these guys. The challenge with having too much data is:
1.) It’s hard to process in a timely manner.
2.) You end up with too little actual information for marketing purposes.
The most important data that is lacking when it comes to my industry, is the data that comes from market research. Sure, when my clients come to me and discuss their core audience and those they are looking to market to, I am one to second guess them. While they absolutely should know who their core audience is and who they are looking to target with their marketing, sometimes their thinking is disconnected. But when they tell me they have already selected the means to reach this audience, I wonder why my agency wasn’t consulted in the process.
Could their data analytics team have done the research, market by market on each viable media outlet and audience? Probably not. Did they consider the employment rates, income levels, education levels, extracurricular habits, hobbies or even the literacy rates in areas where they are looking to use billboards or the seasonality changes for the times, they are looking to air tv commercials? Again, probably not.
This is where those in marketing need to step up. Yes, they must understand the data that is being provided to them from their analytic teams, chew it up and ensure they have digested it. But they also need to have the practical sense when it comes to the overall promotion of their product or service.
Their jobs go way past designing the messaging and creating various advertisements. If those in marketing want to keep their jobs from disappearing, they need to show value and express to their leadership that consumer data is just one piece of the puzzle.
To save valuable amounts of advertising dollars, marketing teams need to show that the information they bring to the table is just as valuable as what the data and technology departments offer. However, data is only as good as those that interpret it, and no amount of computer-generated info can replace the value of true common sense.