“Data-Driven”! How could my life be any better?

[Note:  Being “data-driven” is a critical skill for today’s business leaders, but sometimes the term is so over-used, it looses its original meaning and intent. Here’s my take take as it starts to get overhyped.]


I love being trendy. So, once the term “data-driven” started showing up everywhere…in event names, white paper titles, news articles, and webcasts…I had to immediately jump on the bandwagon and change everything I was doing.

I mean really. How could such an amazing term be found, be available to me, and become so widely accepted? Of course, data-driven-marketing. How could I be so dumb — not being “data-driven”? I’ve been doing it all wrong and wasn’t going down the “data-driven” path. OMG! *That’s* why I can’t evaluate my campaigns properly; I wasn’t “data-driven”. I’m so glad that another marketer has shed light on my abyss.

I’m sure you’re very curious as to how I got by before becoming “data-driven”, and now, feel so utterly fulfilled using a term so widely used. So, I’m happy to present to you a set of methods that I had been previously using to make campaign and content decisions. Before I became “data-driven”, I would:

Roll the dice. Write my 12 favorite campaigns on a piece of paper. Roll the dice. Whatever total comes up on the dice, select the corresponding campaign on the paper. If I needed 3 campaigns, roll the die 2 more times. If I rolled the same number twice, go ahead and throw the dice more times till I’ve rolled 3 unique numbers between 2 and 12.

Finger-in-the-wind. This one can be fun depending on how windy it is outside. Make or print an image of a compass. Be sure it includes 8 points: N, NE, W, NW, E, SE, S, SW, W. Write down corresponding campaigns to each of the 8 points. Go outside with your mobile phone in one hand and open the Compass app (available here in the App Store if you need one). On the other hand, wet your index finger on ALL sides and point into the air. Select the campaign that matches the wind direction.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Yea, you know…”catcha’ tiger by the toe”. Just have each of your marketing managers line up in a circle holding a sign with the favorite marketing campaign. Going from left to right. Tap each one lightly on the head until you make it thru the nursery rhyme. Go with that campaign. Don’t even think about going back on your selection.

Pick a card. Any card. Take a few index cards and write the campaign names on one side. Shuffle the cards and place all of them face down on a table. Pick one card at a time and begin executing those campaigns. Pick as many cards as campaign spend will allow.

One may wonder why marketing occasionally 🙂 gets ridiculed for coming up with some nutty campaigns and ideas, and maybe even a few cool new terms and acronyms to describe the latest capabilities and features. I can appreciate the innovation. After all, you gotta always try out new tricks to get new market traction, branding, identity, or interest.

Seriously though. Do we have to add “data-driven” in front of every marketing strategy? What was the alternative — “NON data-driven”?  Has “data-driven” now added meaning to your campaign title that wasn’t there before?

Was someone using one of the methods I listed above? You came up with a content marketing strategy and didn’t *once* utilize existing campaign, pipeline, keyword, or industry stats prior to making your decision and spending marketing budget and resources? You’re setting up targets for your account-based marketing strategy and you’ve chosen not to look at any demographic or behavioural data? You’re evaluating your trade show and seminar programs and you’re not even thinking about looking at the value you generated from 2013 or 2014?

Let’s continue to commit to coming up with meaningful phrases to describe marketing strategy.  While we’re at it, any other phrases you’d like to see less of, more of?

Best wishes for a prosperous 2015!

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