Many companies think data itself will be the silver bullet which magically improves the bottom line. This is not the case, data without insight and choice is like a holiday without planning – an expensive disappointment.
Getting to the right strategic choice means organising and distilling data. This entails examining it in the context of Culture, Consumer, Category and Company, and exploring the macro and micro issues affecting both buyer and seller.
Culture, as the most macro level, is where we like to start. By looking at emerging and dominant cultural trends we can find important clues about consumer behaviour, attitudes and personas that help us understand wants and needs.
Company information comes last but is by no means of least importance. This is a reversal of the approach adopted by many others, who begin by looking at business and brand performance and then finish with culture. In my opinion, starting externally is the best way to get the big picture. It’s vital to understand cultural trends and category drivers.
An easy mistake people make is limiting their horizons, for instance by taking a narrow view of data as merely a way of counting things. Qualitative data – opinions, reactions, perceptions and the like – can yield a great source of understanding. The rapid development of AI means findings can be grouped together by themes very efficiently, a great improvement on the laborious manual work necessary not very long ago.
A fantastic example of cultural, qualitative choices to inform a strategic planning approach is our recent work with Secure Code Warrior (SCW), a platform which helps developers level up their skills in secure coding. SCW wanted to inspire both their employees and developer customers, to stand shields raised, and get behind the brand which is truly making the world safer through secure coding.
However, data analysis revealed the word ‘warrior’ was perceived by some audiences as combative and masculine, it was even seen as alienating. Removing ‘warrior’ from the brand name was an option, however, after a deep dive into the culture and personality of SCW, we chose to reframe the meaning of the term ‘warrior’. By leaning it instead of walking away from it , Hotwire was able to redefine ‘warriors’ for modern times. Today warriors are not one dimensional, they are diverse, empowered, and champions of change! Think Ava Lovelace or Greta Thunberg.
Carefully crafted building blocks can be put together to provide the basis for brand strategy. As former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina once wisely said: “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”
These days, everyone has data. It’s using it to unlock growth that makes a difference. To finish, here are some pointers and lessons from our approach to helping clients make great choices to inform their B2B marketing strategies.
1. Build a comprehensive and diverse data pool.
2. Organise it from macro to micro information.
3. Interrogate intelligently to find the problem that will drive (or is inhibiting) growth.
4. Mine the information to find the audience insight that you have the credibility and the capability to solve.
5. Then make a choice. Be single minded in how you are going to solve the problem.
6. After all this hard work, make sure the work reflects the choice you’ve made. You’ll be amazed how often it doesn’t.
7. Don’t try to solve multiple problems with a single solution.
These days, everyone has data. It’s using it to unlock growth that makes a difference.