As I posted last week, I had the opportunity to attend Digital East and before the creativity-inspiring afterglow wears off, I wanted to reflect on some additional thoughts from the conference.
Some of my most thought-provoking moments from Digital East were not just from listening to the presentations, but listening to the audience feedback. This event pulled some of the most elite, major players in the world of Digital Marketing; executives and VPs who have had the opportunity to work with multi-million dollar budgets and campaigns servicing brands like GE, American Apparel, Virgin Airlines and the like. It’s almost mind-boggling to view their examples of work and see what they’ve accomplished with such a high level of creativity and intelligence. For one of the breakout sessions I noticed an almost instinctive reaction from some of the people I was sitting near…
OK, so how can I do THAT for my organization?! There’s no way we could ever pull something like that off.
I can’t deny it, I had similar feelings.
For most of us in the audience, the organizations we represent aren’t nearly as “sexy” as the examples that were being showcased. The audience profile was mostly business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-government (B2G) marketers. It’s easy to see an example of a B2C campaign from start to finish and understand why it worked or didn’t worked. Why? Because we’re consumers ourselves. Developing the proper tactics and strategies for businesses or government agencies is going to be different but that’s no reason to shut down or deny that as a marketer you can’t be just as creative, powerful, successful and…well, awesome.
Throughout every session I attended, there seemed to be one common theme every marketer in any industry can take away and that is the significant role data is playing and will continue to play moving forward. As a marketer, no matter how well you may think you know your audience your marketing personas are constantly changing and evolving. Behind every successful and sexy brand campaign example featured at Digital East there was the data-driven research that laid the foundation for the creative genius. And in many ways, probably gave life to the initial idea in the first place. So while your organization may not enlist the largest in-house creative team or budget, every marketer is capable of gathering data and testing insights in order to refine their understanding of their target audiences.
However, in my opinion, there are a few caveats with taking a data-driven marketing approach. First of all, you must have patience. Collecting data and building intelligence from that data takes time and the insights may not be so apparent in the early stages. Second, data can drive your plan but don’t let it dictate. The data you gather now may help guide your short-term marketing plan but you can’t let it dictate your long-term strategy. Data is something that should live and breathe within your organization allowing you to take advantage of real-time marketing. But inevitably additional data will be gathered, transforming what you know now and the more you plan the more you’re going to be hesitant to let go of the things that didn’t work.
Data may not seem sexy but it is powerful. With data we are able to gain intelligence and with intelligence we form insights. This is something every modern-minded marketer should live by.