Great Marketers Will Focus on Small Data for Success This Year

January 9, 2017 Frank Grillo

 

small data about your prospects paints a clearer picture

We’ve established that this is the year of the consumer. We’re living in The Age of ‘Me’, and that means that as marketers, we really need to understand who our customers and our prospects are—and we need to use that to speak to them contextually.

I started off my 2017 recommendations series by explaining that—rather than interacting contextually—marketing has been neglecting to seek out and react to our consumers’ cues as they provide them (like my experience with the online retailer and the shoes). The first step to remedying this is thinking beyond one-to-one marketing to one-to-one in the moment marketing. The next piece of the puzzle is looking at the small data for a better picture of your consumer, at a particular point in time.

It’s the Small Data that Matters; Stop Counting Everything

You don’t need to have a ton of information on me to understand what’s driving me. You need the right piece of information about me at a moment in time.

Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. He espoused the notion that for any problem, you should define objectives, make a plan and measure your success. In order to determine whether or not we were successful in the war, he measured what he had available to him: bodies. He concluded that, because we were killing more people than we were losing, we must be winning. Clearly, that was not the case.

In marketing, our vision is often clouded by the same mistake: measuring what is easy or readily available to measure at the expense of what is useful to measure. We rely on clicks, store visits and other single data points that don’t really tell us what is happening in any given situation. And we collect a whole bunch of this information. Another CMO I know likes to say, “I’m looking for a needle in a haystack, and you people keep throwing hay on top of it.” We count everything we can count, but we are counting things that don’t matter—or we don’t understand the information we have.

Instead of looking at all of the data that’s readily available and possible to collect, we need to look at the real indications that we have a ready buyer. It’s our job to determine what an interested buyer looks like—and if there are some data points in that description that we can’t easily get to, it’s our job to figure out how to get them. This often means breaking down walls inside the organization to share information at a human level rather than at a channel or interaction level. It can also mean bringing in third party enhancing data that help you understand who the buyer is.

Once we know what this buyer looks like, we can build algorithms to help us identify more buyers and a content engine that allows us to match the exact right message to the right person in the right moment—or at least as close as we can get.

For more insight on small data, see Martin Lindstrom’s article on MarketingJournal.org.

The Next Step is Content: Small Messaging to Match Small Data

The importance of that message and the content it’s contained in is the third thing we must rethink as marketers this year. Check it out in my next post.

 

About the Author

Frank Grillo

Frank Grillo, CMO, brings creativity and an emphasis on customer centricity to the Harte Hanks brand. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Frank has helped many brands expand and transition their marketing strategies through periods of significant change, innovation and disruption in the marketplace. He is laser-focused on two of our clients’ critical needs—defining solutions for digital and data, and raising the Harte Hanks profile with external audiences like media, analysts and investors.

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