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Timeless Truth #3: Seek and You Will Find

Are you lost? Maybe a little? Fear not. “Seek and you will find.”

What am I talking about? Data, insights, intelligence—that which can transform your business. 

Let me explain…

We live in the age of Big Data. Unfortunately, most marketers live in organizations with small budgets. Even marketers in large organizations usually have constrained IT budgets.  In addition, data has been called “the new gold,” yet most marketers are not trained as data miners. 

So how can marketers reconcile these realities? How can you better leverage your data investments? How can you lead data initiatives without getting lost in technological complexity?

Here are four simple, timeless ideas:

1. All data is not created equally

Forget Big Data for a moment. The objective is not to churn thought big data files; the objective is to leverage key data sets that really drive success.

To do this, first concentrate on data points that significantly lift results—and make sure there is appropriate organizational understanding of, and emphasis on, this critical data. Two very simplistic examples are: a) If you’re in auto insurance, critical data might be your prospects’ insurance policy expiration dates; and, b) If you’re a car manufacturer, it might be the nanosecond someone clicks on a competitor’s car configurator landing page. 

Big results can come from small data sets. One small step in data can mean one giant step for data-driven marketers.

2. The end is a good beginning

If you can’t do it all, where do you start? At the end. Proximity to purchase has always been a smart way to invest limited dollars. Obvious examples of proximity to purchase include targeting those who abandon your shopping cart. Or, leveraging customer data in your inbound call center to cross-sell the right products. Or leveraging longer keywords. (Someone who searches for, “Caribbean cruise, March 15-22” is obviously much closer to buying than someone who types “Cruises.”)

If you don’t know where to go, remember, proximity to purchase is always a good place to be.

3. Although not recent, recency/frequency/monetary is still current

In classic scientific marketing, we based communication and investment decisions on customer recency, frequency, and monetary value. Guess what? This old-time direct mail modeling approach is just as important for contemporary marketing techniques like retargeting. What’s old is new again. So I ask, have you recently and frequently leveraged RFM to drive monetary success?  You should.

4. To stay out of jeopardy, play like Jeopardy

In the game show Jeopardy, everything can be won or lost in “Final Jeopardy.” Similarly, in the world of marketing, you can make or break a career with a large data technology investment.

Many organizations get into trouble because they overspend on data systems or believe that technology will provide a panacea. It won’t.

To win at Jeopardy, you have to hit lots of singles before you swing for the fences. To win at data-driven marketing, you might want to consider the same approach.

In Jeopardy, you’re presented with “answers” and you have to formulate questions.

In marketing, consider what data insights or “answers” might make an important improvement in your performance. Then access a limited data set and test your hypotheses without making a major tech investment. If this data or these “answers” prove significant, the “question” will be, how do you get access to this data in the most efficient and effective way? Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be better at outlining your technology needs and justifying your expenditures—and you’ll likely stay out of jeopardy.

Small is the new big

The promise of Big Data is exciting. Capitalizing on big data’s volume, variety, and velocity can be exhilarating. But for most organizations, the prospect of harnessing the power of Big Data soon is unlikely.

Therefore, seek the critical data you need now, and you should find that small data strategies can yield big results.


M. Kimmel is executive director of hawkeye and a frequent keynote speaker at marketing conferences around the world. Follow him @KimmelsCorner.

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