Big Data,Leadership,Marketing strategy

True Stories From Working With Data in Platform Marketing

You are probably wondering, what is Platform Marketing? Platform marketing is an approach where marketers embrace data and the customer journey and put the customer first, to ensure their experience is seamless. It uses the information or data to enable the consumer to do what they want.

Sounds simple right? Focus on the customer, get the data, and give the customer different options or paths to interact with your brand, a piece of cake! This is the goal any company dreams of achieving with their marketing efforts, but sadly it is ever the case. As a marketing professional, I’ve seen how you have all these ideas of being customer-centric and having all the information integrated, but in reality, it is harder than it sounds.

There are three main obstacles I have found: first accessing the data, second integrating the data, and third getting other leaders of the company working towards a customer-centric approach.

My experience has been in retail marketing, for a company that has been in the market for over 40 years, so you can imagine the amounts of data we have to work with. That is very exciting! But also, most of the data analysis platforms that exist today were not available 40 years ago, so that amazing and exciting data is in silos and it doesn’t help you get the full picture. This is where the first and second obstacles come in: Accessing the data integrating the data.

Even if your data is in these feared silos, there is hope! Believe me, I have worked with these silos for the past 8 years, and we’ve achieved great results. You just have to be a little more patient and give your team the tools to work with. In the HBR article Breaking Down Data Silos by Edd Wilder-James (Links to an external site.), he mentions that in the field of data science “its practitioners have asserted that 80% of the work involved it’s acquiring and preparing data. Despite efforts among software vendors to create self-service tools for data preparation, this proportion of work is likely to stay the same for the foreseeable future.” So when I say you need to be patient, I am not exaggerating. Data mining and cleaning take time, but I believe the two key things to get on working with this process are:

1. Having the Right People To Do the Job:

Data mining is a very tedious job, so you need the right amount of people, but also they need to be very skilled with data processing, and they have to love going into a database to look into the numbers and information. It is not a job for everyone, and not because someone is good at data analysis, they will be a good fit for data mining. Analysis requires more creativity, on the other hand, mining as the word says has a more laborious work component. And in the world of marketing, there will be people great for mining and people better suited for analysis.

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2. Asking the Right Questions        

I learned this one the hard way. We were not making any progress with our data-mining efforts, because the people doing the mining didn’t have a clear view of what our goals were. I thought, our goal is to get the information in one place and then seeing what this data tells us, and we will move from there. Big mistake! You need to have small objectives set each step of the way, and the way we did it was by asking questions. What do we want to know from our customers, and how the data we have can give us the answers? This was the key to start moving forward.

I like how Edd Wilder-James puts it “First, you can’t cleanly separate the data from its intended use. Depending on your desired application, you need to format, filter, and manipulate the data accordingly. Every new problem has its unique aspects that usually reach back into data acquisition and preparation. Second, data confer insight and advantage. Once you have harvested the low-hanging fruit, then you’re falling behind if you’re not looking for the next level of insight. So you must pursue the data which is harder to find and use, driving the amount of time spent in prep up.” This is the asking questions approach that helped us move forward from our data silos.

We covered the first and second obstacles, but that brings us to the third obstacle: getting other leaders of the company working towards a customer-centric approach. This is probably even harder than getting your hands into the data because it involves people. I’ve been lucky enough that the CEO at the company I work for has been always data-driven, and customer-centric so that was not an obstacle. But getting the other leaders to a customer-centric mentality has been harder, especially when people in the company think they have a customer-centric approach, but in reality, it is fueled by a product-centric mentality or optimizing operating costs. For this one, I still don’t have an answer, but one thing that has helped me get through is presenting results, from our customer-centric, data-driven strategies to the other leaders in the organization, where they see an impact on their results, and also having the CEO involved in making data more accessible to everyone who needs it.

So, in conclusion, getting to work on a Marketing Platform will involve getting your data to work for you with a customer-centric approach. This in reality can be easier said than done, especially when you are working on the company side, but it doesn’t have to be discouraging. You need to start with having the right people for the job and look for the low-hanging fruit in your data to start making small, but impactful changes. And the other thing you have to work with is with the rest of the leadership team, getting them involved in this customer-centric mentality by showing them the results the strategies focused on the clients can bring results to the entire organization.

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