The concept is not new, but the execution absolutely is. Cavemen started it all; if they heard a load “roar,” they ran. That’s a simple example of using what you know (i.e. a saber-tooth tiger is approaching) to power what you do (i.e., run like hell). In finance an analyst reads the signs of the day, such as the housing market, and uses that to drive the decisions made by her company for current and future investments. Some instances are instinctual and some are acquired, but in all cases it’s an example of using what you know from past learning and/or experience to drive decision making in future, Some call it memory applied to business, I refer to it as market intelligence.
Market intelligence can be translated to marketing intelligence. Marketers have functioned for a very long time on instinct. Marketing has been dominated by the “big idea” for years and although that not being asked to go away, it is being asked to revise itself to include experience as well as instinct. In the Mad Men days, things were more heavily weighted towards “gut,” with some additional thinking around research. In the ‘90s and ‘00s, the pendulum shifted toward research and testing as marketing and advertising became more science than simply art. It shifted back temporarily, but it’s a complicated world now.
However, previously there was a disconnect between research and insights and the ability to directly use that information to drive tactical execution. The research was gathered through focus groups and panels, then analytics teams ran their numbers and handed their findings to the account, media and creative teams in the form of a stack of insights and were told to “make it happen.”
That disconnect of human intervention created inefficiencies. First off, the media itself couldn’t be purchased in a granular fashion to match the insights. Second, one person’s attempt at interpreting the insights could be different from another, and upon execution there would be elements of contrast that make it hard to be consistent across multiple channels.
This is not the case anymore. Now marketing has entered the stage of true activation connection. We now have platforms and systems that enable a direct activation of “what you know” to power “what you do.” Now you can push a button and your customer and audience insights will be permission shared to the execution stack, and your actions can be informed with insights. Execution can be optimized for maximum efficiency, impact and results.
The promise of marketing has always been to provide “the right message, to the right person, in the right place at the right time.” Previously, there was too much room for error in the process of execution, and that room has been eliminated. Media can be purchased in a granular fashion, and insights can be generated quickly and within a seemingly endless loop of feedback. It’s exciting, isn’t it?
This is very dramatically demonstrated in the shift toward science from art and the rise of programmatic buying, analytics platforms, the DMP and the entire “big data” space. Marketers are latching onto these kinds of platforms simply because they are exactly what marketers have always wanted but always before had been unable to deliver: 100% targeted messaging, no waste.
So remove all the buzzwords around big data and data-driven marketing and think of the simple concept of using “what you know” to power “what you do.” Use the insights and understanding of your audience you’ve gathered from any number of places to inform every marketing interaction you have, from digital display to mobile to your site to email, direct mail and even (eventually) TV. That is where things are headed, and that is what’s exciting to me about the world of marketing today.
Don’t you agree? How can you not?