This week’s AH-ha! moment wonders what are the real game-changers in marketing today. This is a real challenge because with all the ballyhoo about the power of social media, we believe its game-changing ability is so overstated and sensationalized that what you are doing with it right now is likely working against your brand’s best interest. Yet, many brands continue to pour resources into it.
Marketing as a business discipline has abandoned the fundamentals that drive a business. The new media gurus have turned our attention away from the customer and instead focused on the media. Every time there is a sizable shift in the way brands communicate with consumers, a new cadre of experts takes center stage and soon traditional theories of running a business are forgotten.
We recall that it was about 15 years ago that we helped one of our clients launch an e-commerce site. The goal was to create a site that would generate the same sales rate as one of its brick and mortar stores and it took almost two years to get to that volume. That was 15 years ago. Two of our clients today have entered the arena of e-commerce and their goals are to achieve the same sales level as one store. We are amazed that the e-commerce paradigm has not changed after all these years.
Social media continues to dominate the marketing landscape and we agree with a growing group of marketing writers who are expressing second thoughts about its effectiveness as a business marketing tool. GM figured it out first: Facebook advertising does not translate into sales results. Of course, GM kept its Facebook pages but transferred its advertising dollars elsewhere. Our research is clear. With a handful of exceptions such as Starbucks, Coke and Disney, few brands have much of a social media presence in relation to their total customer bases.
If social media is not the game-changer the experts claim it to be, what will lead us toward renewed growth as all brands struggle out of the lingering recessionary pressures that impact worldwide commerce and local sales? We believe the new hot item is BIG DATA. Not just data but big data. It’s true that data has been around forever. Unfortunately it has been bottled up in legacy systems and as more companies are unlocking it, data is piling up everywhere. New technologies can process those piles. The challenges are threefold:
- How to combine it so it makes sense
- How do we train marketing to use it
- How do we leverage it to influence sales
The Marketing Implications
Big Data is a game changer. Data always has been a game changer but marketing never really had good data to build accurate marketing strategies and never had follow-up data that could pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in marketing campaigns. This is not to say that all big data is good data, especially data generated internally.
The old data paradigms are rapidly changing as legacy systems fall and are replaced by new systems. What is lacking is a new breed of marketing technologists, aided by system and web developers who can lead marketing into the world of big data – the game-changer.
However, the real game-changer is not the data but how marketing uses it to influence the next sale and our experience is there are not enough of the new breed of marketing technologists to transition marketing into the new world of data driven marketing initiatives.
This is when we need to set up a “data still” in the woods to distill the data into clean information marketing can apply to the marketing process. This is no easy task but it’s the game-changing course brands need to embrace. This is an enterprise-wide effort. No one department owns it; every department owns it and it needs to be driven and modeled by a team of marketing technologists.
This is big picture thinking in a world filled with micro thinkers. Everything we need (except maybe people and financial resources) is at our fingertips. Today’s challenge is finding the teams that can unlock the key to big data utilization and unleash its power.
When we began development of our new trigger based marketing tool, we really didn’t understand its full potential and we probably still don’t but we are a lot smarter than we were six months ago. The beta testing has unlocked some amazing knowledge keys and we are going live next week. We have also determined that every retail and service business can take advantage of the new Ei3™ package.
After 25 years, it’s like giving birth to a new baby. This week, ask your team how you are using big data to drive your brands’ growth and don’t be surprised if there is a difference of opinion. If fights break out, give us a call – we’re skilled referees.
Have a fantastic week. Stay cool. Bart is off to steamy Houston to conduct four marketing workshops and hopes the air conditioning is working.
Bart Foreman and the Group 3 Marketing Team
P. S. We’re curious. Our local non-profit, Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, won the $50,000 grant to rehab the American Indian Family Center in St. Paul. We asked readers to vote and have had some feedback that you did. We would love to quantify the impact of this plea for votes for a future AH-ha! and invite you to take a simple two-question survey. Thanks in advance. Click Here