“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!


In Obsolete Terms

With the kids getting older, I’m now realizing how many things they have access to today that I never did at that age.  It’s amazing to think that whenever they see a computer they assume it’s connected to the internet.  They have email and collaborative internet games like Toon-Town whereby they can play against other connected kids and siblings.   They have hand-held computers they can play in the car that sure beat my car-trip days of finding the A-B-C’s on road signs.

Some technology like compasses and barometers, which have been around for hundreds of years, haven’t been totally replaced.  But, we now use more pleasantly-reliable technology like GPS in-car, mobile phone, etc.   We’ll still use terms like “what direction are we traveling”, so that’s a bit easier to explain.

However, what will be more difficult to explain is how the latest advent of technology replaced something the kids will never know about.  Where terms and phrases will become obsolete.   Here’s a few of my favorites:typewriter

Honey, Where’s the Liquid Paper? – This not only meant for fixing a written word, but also it fixed misspellings on the typewriter (before the advent of IBM Selectric which had an special editing type ribbon to erase misspellings.  Jeez, what an amazing technology that was.  Hours of savings and cleaner, type-written results.  I’m sure if I put a typewriter on the kitchen table (I don’t have one in the house), the kids would scream in unison “what the heck is that?”  Ironically, you can find pictures and the history of typewriters on the internet.

Go adjust the Antenna – Perhaps this is where Ro-Sham-Bo was invited and the loser had to get off the couch and adjust the antenna while everyone shouted out the changes in the reception.  Do you remember get excited about going to Radio Shack and your dad buying a state-of- the-art antenna that you just couldn’t wait to wrap the wires around screws on the back of the TV?   And, then of course the local channels would come in clearer, but you still had to adjust the antenna as soon as you changed the channel — the knob on the front of the TV of course.   When was the last time you saw one of those huge antennas on top of someone’s house?   Maybe only in Des Moines.

I’ll Go Get the Paper – Home delivery of the newspaper has been a staple almost my whole life.  Even in college, I had the Chronicle delivered to my apartment.  Now, I can get the Chronicle on-line and the need to pay for a home delivered paper virtually vanished overnight.  Obviously, no surprise almost every newspaper company is out of business or near bankruptcy as they didn’t adjust their business models fast enough to align with people’s changes in reading habits.

I’ll Bring My Polaroid – Remember about 25 years ago being the life of the party by being able to take instant photos and then passing them around.   Shaking them in your hand to dry after taking a photo and watching the images come to life.  So to speak ’cause no matter what, they’re still fuzzy with mis-matched colors.   Today, of course, it only takes a $20 (or free) mobile phone to take a digital image and send it or post it to anyone in the world.  Polaroid isn’t exactly out of business, but just another vendor in the digital camera market.

rotary phoneCheck Out Our New Rotary Telephone – Do you remember being worried that a number had too many “9’s” in it, or were you excited to whip the entire dial around and watch it spin back.  While we still use the term “I’ll go dial that number”, the word dial has taken on new meaning.  In reality, to dial – means to regulate, select or tune in.   Sure, that’s what we’re doing, but it’s not the result of using a circular device or knob.  I could imagine my kids reaction if we brought a phone like this into the house.

I Got a Deal on These Cassette Tapes – I still remember paying premium dollars to get blank tapes to record my records to play them in the car.  What a pain that is compared to today.  We would spend entire weekends playing albums and writing down the songs on little cards that fit inside the cassette tape boxes.  The iPod changed all that, but so did the ability to cut a CD.  The only thing the kids would associate tape with is an art project or fixing stuff around the house.

As I think of new ones, I’ll add to this post.   What terms or appliances are obsolete in your house?

Bill Gates Has Heart Attack While Watching His New TV Commercials

There sure was a lot of talk about the new ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.  It was supposed to be hilarious.  It wasn’t.  They are complete duds.  There’s not a chance anyone, and certainly not even Bill Gates, would have a heart rate issue watching these ads, ’cause they’re really boring.  Sleep inducing.  About the only thing you might be having trouble with is keeping your hand from scratching your head as you try to reconcile what Bill, Jerry, Microsoft and some ad agency were thinking.  The only good part of these ads for Microsoft is that everyone is talking about how crappy they are, so at least they can attribute the marketing spend to “share of voice”. 

It’s been rumored that Microsoft will spend $300Million on this campaign with a new ad firm Crispin Porter & Bugusky.  And, Seinfeld is getting a cool $10M for his spot.  Now, there’s some heart valve clogging material for you.

In case you’ve been a little out of touch with seeing any good TV ads, Microsoft is seriously losing a branding popularity battle with Apple – even though the Apple ads only refer to “PC”.  It could be Intel, HP, Dell, or Microsoft they’re actually talking about, but everyone knows it’s an on-going jab at Microsoft.  And, Microsoft thought, “let’s just take our top visionary and a ton of money, and we’ll beat those Applewholigans”.

So, enter Jerry Seinfeld.  The head comic, writer & producer of one the most successful TV sitcoms (at least in my generation).   You know we’ll be watching Seinfeld re-runs til eternity, about as long as M*A*S*H and the Brady Brunch.   We know Jerry for his comedy, his writing, his unbelievable wealth.  Why on earth risk your reputation with the fuddy-duddies of Redmond?  It couldn’t have been for the pay-day.  Did Jerry have some sick debt to Gates with no chance of retribution?  And, we’re subject to the aftermath?

It’s completely beyond comprehension why a man of Bill’s stature needs to be involved with such a terrible spot on TV.  Is this his last gasp to inject positive vibes into the Microsoft brand?  Did he really buy off on this?  Please don’t tell me it was actually his idea (read = you better do what Bill says).   You’re talking about a person that’s done hundreds, if not thousands, of appearances.  Mostly all very serious and thought provoking, and I’m sure he’s left a few scripted chuckles along the way.  But, other than having a great, geeky smile, he’s not someone we rely on to hit the funny bone.  Surely, if you were able to play a roaring practical joke on him, it would be outrageously funny, but unlikely anyone would sign up for that.   Love him or hate him, Bill certainly can never be replicated, duplicated, or in any way replaced, but doesn’t mean we need to see him do the robot or shake his booty on TV.

In a web2.0 world, where Ray-Ban, Nike, and Levis are kicking butt with viral videos and ads using a combination of YouTube, print ad, and TV, why is Microsoft simply left in the dust?   Because in the web2.0 world, it’s not about outspending.  It’s about outmaneuvering, creativity, and novelty.  With all the money in the world – literally – it’s truly amazing Microsoft could compile such a horrible attempt. 

Microsoft would have been better off paying a bunch of college grads $2Million to come up with whacked content and rough-cut video, and the result would be better viral branding and positive messaging than the waste they put on TV, and now subject to during national sporting events.