Data and a 'wish list' for Marketers

Marianne Kirkegaard, SVP-Products and Marketing, CSM Bakery Solutions
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It’s all about the data – except when it’s not.

In what I often hear referred to as “the brave new world of marketing,” I am bombarded with calls, emails and mailings attempting to make the case that almost every challenge I have – or will have – can be easily addressed with more data. My success, according to these missives, is tied to simply knowing just a “bit more” about my customers   than my competition. I’m implored to sign up and pay up – and grow my business. If only it were that easy.

“The key to a successful marketing strategy is having the right data and – most importantly – being able to translate it into insights”

While I would love it if my success was only tied to a plethora of research, experience tells me that’s not the case. Like anything else, the key to a successful marketing strategy is having the right data and – most importantly – being able to translate it into insights that will highlight what it all means and the actions that are needed for success. Data can certainly help grow a business but, like the saying about fertilizer goes, “if some is enough, then more is not necessarily better!”

As a marketer, I am constantly in search of tools that will help me do my job better. Earlier in my career, marketing may not have been easier – but it was certainly simpler. At that time we bought Print, TV and Outdoor. That was it. Although these choices weren’t as flashy as the many marketing options available to us today, we knew what we were paying for (given all media was traded on target rating points or TRPs) and we also knew exactly how many of our target consumers we would reach and with what frequency. This made it quite easy to compare media plans, match those with product launch plans, and make a decision.

Today, we have many more choices, such as online communications and social media, and that is in itself a good thing– but it is harder to compare these different mediums since we can no longer apply the same efficiency measuring system. In sum, I know what I want – but I am not sure it’s available. With that in mind, I am more than willing to put my “wish list” out there regarding the types of data and tools that would make my job easier. It’s by no means an entirely comprehensive list, but here’s a good start:

Harmonized Measuring Systems for Online Media: Almost every day I see a new way someone is using online media. Some I love, some I hate, and others I’m still not sure about. But, no matter what opinion I may have, there is no way of knowing if they are effective. If there were an industry-wide and accepted tool that would tell me which online methods and applications were the most effective, it would certainly get my attention.

Filtering and Organizing: As much as I am intrigued by the concept and potential benefits of algorithmic marketing (being able to combine all types of data on a target group to understand demographics, interests, ambitions, life style, etc.), it also scares me to death! When considering the massive complexity of managing all data, these types of insights could provide an almost insurmountable challenge. So back to the wish list— if only “somebody” would offer to not only help acquire data, but also provide the expertise to help filter data sources, organize them and translate them into the exact type of insights we need, based on our business challenges and opportunities, then we could talk about wishes coming true.

Insights FOR (not about) our customers: CSM Bakery Solutions is a B-2-B company, and our primary goal is to help our customers understand their customers, for which we rely a lot on insights– what triggers the consumption of our products, are there certain occasions that are more or less important to support with our portfolio, are consumers looking for healthier options, what do consumers think about packaging (i.e., do they worry about the environment), and so on. This type of approach helps us demonstrate that we understand the market trends, our customers’ customers, and their environment, and that we have the right solution to help them be successful.

In the end, we know we all need market data. The challenge is to determine what that data should be and what we should do with it. My “wish list” is fairly modest in number, but far from easy to fulfill. I’d love to hear from you. What would you like on your list?

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