Balancing Analysis with Losing Control

Nicolette Lemmon, President/Founder

My Marketing Strategy

Nicolette Lemmon, President & Founder

Did you ever think how numbers can be spun to make any argument seem plausible? As an example, my daughter and I play a car-finding game with calling Slug Bugs (VW Bugs), PT Cruisers and Minis (Coopers). Recently we added Cop Car to the mix. On my way to work, I counted 10 PT Cruisers, 6 Slug Bugs (VW Bugs) and 2 Minis. If I were to start a running count each morning, I could get an average of the number of each and make the statement that if there were always more PT Cruisers, that they were more popular than the other two models.

The flaws are numerous in that quick assessment, considering the small sample, the time of day, the route taken and other factors. However, as a marketer, I immediately start to assess the motivations of buying the different cars, noting that PT Cruisers are more “common” than the Bugs or Mini Coopers. That further makes me wonder if consumers prefer larger cars, whether price drives the decision or different ages is more the factor.

In a similar discussion with a friend, he recommended the book, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He said that the author uses “being fooled by randomness” to describe when someone sees a pattern where there is just random noise. To the author’s point, we can be too driven by numbers that are potentially fallible.

Marketers have been bullied in the last ten years of looking at the numbers and forced to justify every expenditure by the financial or analytical people in organizations. By the very nature of trying to make every marketing decision work to the numbers, is a detriment to funding creative solutions.

Professionals drawn to marketing are often more creative and conceptual in their thinking. Trying to develop marketing messaging to attract consumer attention and convince them to try a product or service takes a lot more than looking at numbers.

While I can appreciate that numbers can be very helpful to guiding us, like tracking a promotion for auto loans that has an offer for a gift card and finding that while there were many loans booked, only a few gift cards were given out. However, the Internet has opened up a new marketplace that is less definable and requires a balance between working from the “numbers” and traditional methods. Online marketing, social media, social networking and more are all about losing control of every brand message.

It’s a brave new world of balance – traditional layered with social media!

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