Live by the data, die by the data

In a digital marketing world where every click can be measured, monitored and managed—and eventually compiled into a massive and sweeping trend report or big data analysis—it’s tempting to make every decision “based on the data.” 

 

“Should our brand voice be more conservative, or more conversational? Let’s see what the data says.”

“Is that commercial spot working? Check the online engagement numbers!” 

“How should we position this new product? Let’s go to the reports about similar products. Oh, we don’t have any reports? Let’s do a focus group.”

 

Data acts like a spotlight; if you know where to look, data illuminates behavior that used to be a complete mystery for brand and marketing decision makers. 

It’s no wonder why our clients favor online campaigns over less measurable methods like print and outdoor. At the end of the day, there’s so much data from online advertising, even if the campaign fails, the mountain of data feels valuable. “Well, at least we learned something.”

The problem is, when data becomes a crutch for every decision, it becomes impossible to drop the crutch and sprint in the direction of a truly original and potentially breakthrough idea. Rather, our campaigns turn into cable news: the same message over and over again because “it’s what the viewers want.”

Over reliance on data leads to lowest common denominator marketing: what’s most likely to appeal to most of the people, most of the time?

That’s fine, but it’s not what agencies are for.

We’re here to demand focus from people who already had squirrel-like attention spans—even before we strapped ringing, chiming and buzzing devices to every part of their bodies. 

We’re here to immerse ourselves in our brands and customers––to get to know them better than they know themselves. It’s so we can recognize when the moment is right to break the pattern—to hit them with a fresh and unexpected message because they’ve been lulled to sleep.

Most importantly, we’re here to stir the pot, to get people talking—the people who matter most to your business and brand—even if they’re only talking to themselves: “Hmm, that’s interesting. What could that be about?”

This work isn’t safe or easy, but it’s worth it. One needs only to look to game-changing brands like Nike to see that the data is clear on that.

So use the data…
to challenge us,
to guide us,
to inform us,
to measure us.

But never to suffocate us because when we die, the best ideas often die with us.

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