Data is still a “dark issue” for marketing.

Five years ago, after working on over 80 campaigns in a 2-year period with a variety of clients – I came to the belief that clients couldn’t trust their own data.   Since then I think this has continued and is in danger of becoming worse unless we understand why.

There are 3 simple answers to why this is true:

  • Intensified imbalance between sales and marketing – The two worlds are in general very different and in most major sized organisations marketing is seen more than ever as a poor relation for organising activities, delivering generic content and a support function by many in sales. This means marketing isn’t engaged early enough to shape a joint strategy, approach and budget to be truly effective and know the details of who to specifically target and how jointly with sales.  By working in this way and accepting it then marketing will always be in catch-up.
  • A baffling lack of customer insight – We’re experiencing a transition in the technology space whereby sales now need to have a business-led discussion with a new set of decision-makers outside of their traditional IT contacts. With this in mind, when I see a data set for a campaign that is adopting a business-led argument aimed at the business leaders, it concerns me beyond belief that the contact data is still low to mid-level contacts and focused on technical based roles.
  • Budget prioritisation – The majority of marketers are focused (when the pressure is really on) on producing a volume of outputs within a budget they have to grab rapidly and show a return on. When this happens the focus shifts to the end visible physical assets above the need and time to get key foundations right – time and time again.

In reality, the answer is well within our own control. If budget was assigned to a smaller set of incisive actions, executed with logic and thoroughness, then a greater return would be generated.  This means less emphasis needs to be placed on “outputs” and more focus on “actions” delivering impact – such as finally getting the upfront collaboration with sales and marketing right and the data fit for purpose from the beginning.

For more on Big Data, request our executive insight report ‘Differentiating in a new age of insight‘.

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