From Being In Love With Your Data to a Lasting Relationship

Good marketers desire to engage in long-term relationship with data. They develop a deep attachment for the abundant riches embedded with their data. These marketers recognize all the possibilities data makes available. Yet, the continuous onslaught of data, leaves many marketers feeling somewhat overwhelmed maybe even smothered. In this case, the love affair with data comes to a chilly halt.

Moving from love to a relationship takes commitment

We all know that making any relationship work in the long-term takes commitment. Similarly, you have to be committed to turning your data into actionable insights for it to have any depth or substance. What does a commitment of this level entail?

First, you must give your data and the associated analytics your undivided attention.  Second, you are going to have to invest– invest in new skills, new tools, and potentially even in new talent. If you wait for your data to be 100% perfect, you will miss opportunities. Third, you need to be willing to accept that there are imperfections in your data. Fourth, you need to be proactive. You have to choose to always make data and analytics the basis for your business decisions, not just when it is easy and convenient.  

Four Secrets to Making a Meaningful Long-Term Relationship with Your Data

You can reach deeper and understand your data’s inner-workings. These four steps will help you transform your infatuation with your data into something more meaningful.

  1.  Start with the Business Question

We’ve worked with hundreds of firms who are striving to become more data and analytically inclined. Whether they’re just starting out or they are already headed in the right direction, it is not uncommon for Marketers to arrive at a crossroads where they feel burdened and exhausted by the quantity of data.

Many of today’s business questions fall within the domain of Marketing. Questions such as:

  • What new customers or markets should be pursued ?
  • Which current markets or customers offer the best opportunities for growth?
  • Which customers at risk for defection?
  • What channels do customers most prefer and when?

At VisionEdge Marketing, we find that when we ask Marketers to step back and clarify what business question(s) they are trying to answer they become more invigorated.  When you gain clarity into business question(s) you can focus. Your data becomes more manageable.  

  1. Focus on a Known Problem

We imagine this first point revealed an infinite number of business questions. Perhaps as infinite as your data.  You can’t address every question at once.  In the words of Bernard Marr, “you need to know what you need to know.” Rather than trying to solve everything at once, start with a known problem that you must and can improve.

Identify which are the most important data as well as the best analytics to perform. Avoid becoming distracted by all the tangential questions that will surface as you begin to solve the original problem. Try to keep your scope manageable. Use this guide. In 5 -6 grammatical and clear sentences, challenge yourself to articulate the problem, why it’s important, what data you need to solve it, and what solving it means to the organization.

  1. Identify an Executive Champion

Strong lasting relationships endure with the help from a quality support system.  A sponsor at the executive level is essential to fostering a deep relationship. To secure this level of support, seek the involvement of someone on the leadership team who trusts you and sees your data initiatives as vital to the long-term success of the business- such as your CFO or CIO. Once you have determined a candidate, ask your sponsor to share the responsibility for the initiative’s success. As this is no small request, make sure that your sponsor shares your passion for the value of data-driven decisions.

  1. Develop and Deploy a Plan

While raw data is captivating, it only provides you value in a processed state. You will need a plan that enables you to achieve the ideal end state for your organizations’ use of data. Your plan should address how will you go from descriptive (summarizes what has happened) to predictive (applying analytics to make predictions about what MIGHT happen future) to prescriptive (enables business decision-makers to act) use of your data. It will need to address in the words of Tom Davenport how you will become an analytics competitor.

To move from one stage to the next in a relationship is not something that just happens. It is a thoughtful and deliberate transformation that should be taken with care. In order to reach your desired state of commitment, you need a phased plan to move your data relationship forward.

Where do you begin? Here are some helpful tips to help you develop your plan.

  • Avoid making your plan too complicated.
  • Do make it SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).
  • Consider the constraints and dependencies and well, plan accordingly. Your success may require you to create processes or improve existing ones. It may also require reallocating existing resources and adding new systems and tools to the already growing technology stack.
  • You may not have everything planned out prior to moving forward. Do not allow the unknowns or lack of budget to stall you. Turn to your champion for help.
  • Create incremental milestones in your plan that allow you to evaluate your progress and make adjustments.

With all the time and effort it takes to develop a strong, lasting and beneficial relationship, is it really worth the effort? Well, yes. You will be happier with a more stable base from which you can execute your decisions.  A long-standing and intimate relationship with your data will help you create a more customer-centric business with a better competitive position, greater market momentum, larger market share, and faster growth. The only thing left for you to do before committing to a data relationship is answer a final question, are you ready to take the leap of faith?