Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer at advertising behemoth Publicis Group, has said “data is available on a much more real-time, granular, and unified basis than ever before.” This speaks volumes for those tight margin industries like restaurants, grocery stores, consumer goods, retail and countless others who need to utilize data to be extra efficient in their marketing, decision-making and operations. More importantly, we see data collection as a tool that ultimately drives strategy.
While this sounds simple on paper (or in this case, a blog), execution is everything. And frankly, capturing and interpreting data is not without its share of pain points. For that reason, I want to share some tips, thoughts and suggestions from what the team at Morgan & Co. has experienced through the years. Like the Farmers Insurance commercial – we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.
What To Look For
As a steward of brands, marketers are tasked with using information to predict market fluctuations and customer preferences, reveal areas of concern or opportunities and home in on things like efficient acquisition costs. Adjusting to the latest data, marketing efforts stay flexible and nimble allowing for strategies and tactics to be shifted on the fly.
For example, a hotel’s marketing strategy looks at database information and pivot tables to reveal patterns (opportunities) around purchase history (frequency), date of purchase to arrival, type of purchase (room size, rate offered) and regional patterns. The findings will set the stage for their marketing initiatives in the 2nd half of 2020 and into 2021.
What To Be Aware Of
Getting back to execution, the two biggest challenges most marketers should be prepared to address are collection and culture.
Data collection is challenging because of the two routes taken: through systems and by people. Often, systems in place to collect data do not talk with each other because they weren’t originally built to communicate with other systems. To overcome this challenge, be prepared to create a solution that funnels all information together into one spot. This is easily accomplished if your systems output to similar file or format types, such as all exporting to Excel. But remember, someone will have to manage the process and output.
As for people, utilizing data requires change and, well, people often don’t like change. Maybe they, much like the systems and data itself, aren’t even located on the same team, department or even building. For these reasons, the people side becomes an issue, so we provide a few recommendations below to help.
The culture challenge speaks to the people issue. Whether it feels intimidating to get started, appears to be cost-prohibited, or one hundred other reasons, using data and information to drive strategy is foreign to most organizations, and often something a marketing team (or leadership team) is leery about. What I can say here is a new way of thinking is required. Throw out the rulebook, the attitudes and how teams work. Be prepared to invest time, money and energy to bring in the necessary systems, processes and thinking onboard to accomplish the mission. The bottom line is you need to do things differently going forward to achieve your desired results.
Where To Start
Information empowers marketers to make logical decisions, predict the future and improve the customer experience and operations. Yes, data is that powerful. But it is also challenging and at times, feels overwhelming. To help with the learning curve, here are few things to keep in mind when fine-tuning your data gathering game-plan.
- Small – Keep it simple by avoiding too many data sets or KPIs, which tend to raise the complexity of a data program.
- High value – In terms of picking the right initiative, go with one that has a high worth for the team. Make it meaningful, which equates to excitement and support.
- Communicate – There is no such thing as too much communication. In fact, communicate early and frequently to your team as the program is being designed and implemented.
- Be realistic – Data is a massive undertaking so please set realistic goals and timelines. Under promise and over deliver speaks volumes here.
- Do not rush – In the spirit of being realistic, do not rush. Time is one of the biggest ingredients and you must take caution not to skip any steps.
- Get buy-in – Because of the multiple people and systems required, plus the challenges outlined above, get everyone on the same page early. At the first step is recommended. Do not blindside someone when the initiative is almost complete.
- Assign responsibilities – Because this may be new to your team members, and it’s a new way of thinking, they must have clear direction to who is responsible for which task(s). And then support it with #3: Communication.
“Easy” or “fast” are not descriptors often used when capturing, interpreting and using data. But the information gathered is worth it in the end. For many years Morgan & Co. has been using data systems with success to drive media and marketing strategies and optimizations. If your brand or team needs pointers on where and how to start, give us a shout.