In his book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," Michael Lewis describes how a handful of Major League Baseball general managers have succeeded in creating championship-caliber franchises despite substantially smaller budgets and supposedly inferior players. My view is that the approach these managers are taking is directly relevant to what marketing managers need to do. In my assessment, there are three skills that companies need to develop in order to win consistently: 1) Start with quantifiable outcomes; 2) use new metrics based on new data; and 3) execute agile game plans.
Most new marketing initiatives fail to achieve anything close to their business-case potential. Why? Unilateral analysis, or looking at the world only through your own company's eyes, as if there was no competition. It sounds stupid, I know, yet most of us perform our analysis of the expected payback on marketing investments without even imagining how competitors might respond and what that response would likely do to our forecast results.
Unique visitors come in two shapes and sizes -- the Web Analytics Association (WAA) version and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) version. For more than 10 years, the term unique visitors has been known as the count of unique cookies (de-duplicated over the period of analysis) to a Web site. As most sites do not require authentication or login, this unit of measurement (although not foolproof by any means) has been the de facto standard that most Web analytics vendors have used when configuring the unique visitors metric within their software.
I've been thinking a lot about cell phones lately. I was the very last person I know to get a device with the functionality of "email in my pocket;" I got an iPhone last summer, waiting first for the new generation that synched with Outlook, and then for the lines at the Apple store to abate. If you have an iPhone, then you'll know what I mean when I say it ranks second to your spouse as the thing you most complain about but love the dickens out of.
As someone working in analytics, I always get very excited in learning a company/agency has been collecting the kind of data that is needed to tackle tough questions. Yet often my initial excitement is quickly replaced by disappointment. It's not that they don't have all those data that they claim to have -- but that the data are not collected in the way analytics folks would like to see, which usually leaves the data kind of available but far from useful. One typical example of this is what I would call the lack of the single point of truth.
In times like these, budgeting and resource allocation decisions tend to get made fast and furiously, with little time for clear thinking. Unfortunately, it's exactly these times when some real discipline is required to both make smart decisions and build credibility with the rest of the senior management team. So if you're thinking about recommending that your firm should be spending MORE on marketing right now, STOP.
When Skittles turned its brand over to the great unwashed masses by replacing its home page with a live Twitter feed, the move got a lot of attention. it was the same sort of attention that Seth Godin once joked about when asked how to allocate a $10 million advertising budget for the launch of a new product: "Take $8 million out to the parking lot and set it on fire. You'll get more media attention than you can buy with that kind of money -- and you will have saved $2 million."
Most of us remember the state of the Internet economy after the dot-com bubble burst in September of 2000. I, for one, have vivid memories of walking into a Soho Starbucks in the middle of the business day and seeing the place full of lean 20somethings dressed all in black, sobbing into their lattes, "My options! My options!" But pretty soon (at least in hindsight it seems soon) the industry was back as a vital part of the media, marketing, and retail economies, this time with profitability having replaced multiples of revenues as a means for evaluating company performance. In …