Nearly every decision you’ve ever made, whether it’s business or personal was based on some kind of data. Your likes and dislikes influenced your decision and are often rooted in the subconscious. The importance of data has always existed, and the ability to better understand and use it as an advantage is nothing novel.
Like any other trend, data is the service du jour for many agencies of late. Some have even rebranded themselves to make data a more centric focus of their brand strategy and highlight the necessity for it throughout their branding, marketing and communication process. Data has always been in the forefront of the minds at Boldthink, and is a key aspect to the framework of our strategies. We believe so highly in leveraging meaningful data that we’ve made this a prominent role in our agency, even though we’ve always consulted with experts in these areas. These roles, lead by a former scientist and brand researcher, have helped our clients see the meaning behind the numbers through analysis and synthesis. The trend for other agencies to expand into roles like these is understandable and shows data’s significance and importance.
But why? Why is data becoming such a hot topic right now? Part of the answer to why is that data is powerful, and really good data can lead to more insightful and deliberate decisions, which is exactly how data should be used. Data helps turn decisions into actions that we can better control and understand. But another reason why some top agencies are looking more at data is simply because they can. Data has become more accessible because of technology such as HubSpot or Moz. Obviously these are more centered on inbound marketing data and only accounts for a fraction of the useful information out there that can be collected to lend some valuable insights about your company. But there is a huge amount of data available to companies that can provide powerful insights into demographics, financials, inventory and so much more. Are you ready to collate subsets of complex data to leverage it for use in making your business stronger?
A good example of tapping into the power of data can be seen in the automobile industry. Whether in terms of your family car or the most complex IndyCar, the use of data has evolved over the years. From the pre-1980’s to now, a sort of analog to digital transformation has happened to the use of computers in cars. Previously, a mechanic could understand the symptoms of engine issues based on certain output. For example, he would know and be able to adjust based on the color of the smoke from the tailpipe. The color gave an indication of how rich or lean the mixture or oil to fuel ratio was. There is a lot to be said for the expertise that it took to diagnose and fix problems. But the emphasis of this diagnosis was more of an analog one. Flash forward to today’s use of computers in cars and you get literally 100’s of sensors continuously measuring oxygen, fuel mix, output, safety and so forth that provides lots of data. This example simply highlights the obvious: that data is more accessible then it used to be because of how technology has evolved. It allows a fairly knowledgeable user to scrutinize the data stream and use it for brand dominance, or at minimum, an advantage.
The perfect storm is here. One where nearly every business is operating online, competing over a more discerning audience made up of Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. This simply means that the message has to be more targeted to catch the decision maker or prospect at the very moment they need information. How do you gain that insight on how to best reach them? Yes, you guessed it: data. There are very few things more important in marketing than delivering the right message at the right time. By providing a targeted solution to the very problem that the prospect is having at that very moment can give you a competitive advantage. If you consider the following article by Fast Company’s Elizabeth Segran from a marketers’ perspective you can see how data might completely reframe the problem as well as the strategy. Take a quick look at the article by Fast Company.
This all comes with a few disclaimers: (1) data is only one aspect of a well-designed strategy; (2) data is very black and white. If used wisely and in a way to augment it can result in beautiful strategy, design and solutions.