SOLVING THE INTEGRATED DILEMMA By Lynsey Barber, Marketing Magazine Round Table discussion 15 August 2012

The more marketers can work across channels, the more choices they face. Here, key figures discuss how they unravel cross-media’s almost infinite complexity.

Inundated with a plethora of rapidly evolving consumers, platforms, data and technology, understanding how to connect these complex and seemingly disparate parts can seem like an overwhelming hurdle for many marketers.

In an enlightening and in-depth Marketing roundtable discussion, held in association with annual industry event Cross Media, key players with client, media and creative perspectives shared their insights on the trends and challenges of integration.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN CREATING INTEGRATED MARKETING?

Craig Morgan, innovation director, Grey London Agencies don’t give people the capacity to learn and specialisms are created for revenue streams. In the current climate, clients are asking for a lot more for a lot less. It’s about creating a culture where people are allowed to learn and have permission to try new things. It’s changing so quickly and you need a really fluid structure that allows people to mix.

Marco Scognamiglio, chief executive, RAPP We have been working to integrate our media, data and technology businesses into one offering to clients. There are challenges as a business as well as with clients.

The most significant challenge is realising that we need to do what we always used to do as marketers – that is, to understand customers. We accept today that brands are no longer what we the agencies or clients say they are. The experience and conversation customers have with other people haven’t changed. It’s even more important that we work harder to understand consumers.

Dominic Grounsell, marketing director-personal, More Th>n From a client point of view, it’s measurement and return on investment, because that’s incredibly difficult with multiple channels running simultaneously. We struggle with that, as do most clients. A second challenge is fighting fadism. There’s too much of that in the industry.

Bob Wootton director of media and advertising, ISBA In a single word, ownership. This subdivides into a number of uncomfortable and inconvenient things. It could be ownership within the advertisers, between marketing, procurement and ecommerce, or agencies, and, particularly, within the social space. What do you do with that as a customer? Who owns the consumer insight? Is there enough of it? Who owns the implementation? My suggestion is, no one, yet.

Steve Willmore, co-founder, Monk Our agency is a mix of (people with) client and agency backgrounds. We found that too many agencies fall down when asked, ‘how’s that going to make me money?’

When we set up Monk we wanted to do things differently. The challenge is, how do you market to the individual? It follows from what Marco says about the customer, but how do you go one stage further? We put customers into brackets and groups, but is that good enough any more? Not everyone wants to engage with your brand in the same way. Integrated marketing is really key, but only if it’s on the level the customer wants to engage with.

James Papworth, marketing director, PPA The most important thing is metrics – working out what to measure. The problem sometimes is that we measure what’s measurable and the objective of the campaign becomes the metric. As more campaigns become integrated, there’s more to measure. How do you pick out which part is doing what? It’s a case of being uncomfortable, as has been mentioned, and being prepared to measure or look into things which you don’t quite know where they are going to go.

Jem Lloyd-Williams, head of digital strategy, MediaCom I think there is a lot of fantastic integrated marketing going on. Not all of it is by design, I think some of it just happens naturally and someone then has the courage to run with it, which we encourage all our clients to do. From a media perspective, on paper it looks really simple, but it’s not in practice. There are too many people trampling on a good idea because they have got to get a fee out of it at the end of it. That’s the kind of world we live in at the moment.

Andy Thornhill, marketing manager, Cross Media One of our biggest challenges, from a print perspective, is breaking down those sector barriers that people have instilled in them in the print industry, the beliefs of what they are capable of and their fear of not taking ownership of something that goes beyond printed material to a much wider marketplace. Our aim is to break down those barriers, and certainly Cross Media hopes to do that.

WHAT ARE THE CHANGING TRENDS IN THE WAY IN WHICH PEOPLE CONSUME MEDIA THAT BRANDS AND BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT?

Lloyd-Williams I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a media planner. Everything is connected now. There isn’t a reason why a press ad can’t connect to your website. There isn’t a reason your TV commercial can’t activate on a mobile phone or whatever technology you use.

Slowly but surely, all these fads that we were being sold three or four years ago as ‘the’ big thing, are actually becoming relatively [mainstream] and worthwhile. Consumers are seeing merit in using a form of interruption or engagement to take them to another layer of content.

We all need to step back slightly, though; it doesn’t have to have everything in it. It’s about plotting journeys for particular consumer types, understanding where the medium will work best for them and making connections when they are useful and feasible. Consumers are realising that interactive in media gives them something a little bit extra. Brands are putting decent journeys together and layering their content and experiences in a more meaningful way, which is all-round integration.

Scognamiglio There are so many different routes to content for consumers, so much content they can find that is relevant to them, [and] there are many more platforms to find it.

Flipboard or even Google+ allows you to bring all those different sources together to effectively create your own content environment.

How do we help facilitate all that content out there, which is relevant for brands, in one place for consumers? What platforms can we offer to help facilitate brands’ content in the way these services do?

Grounsell There are many trends, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Essentially, as a marketer, you’re here to engage people with something interesting, persuade them of some kind of message and get them to act. At the core, that’s the same thing we are trying to do in every brand, in every category – all that has changed is the means.

I hate the expression ‘you don’t own your brand’, because we’ve never owned them. Social sites have amplified the ability to tell people what you do or don’t like about a brand. The danger is getting so hung up on means; the channel becomes an end in itself. Why should toothpaste or an insurance product have a Facebook page? To create engagement in a low-interest category by copying a brand with high interest inevitably leads to distance with your consumer, and that’s a danger. However, as a brand manger or marketing director, if you’re not doing those things, you’re not considered brave or bold. If you question why you would do something, you are considered out of touch. They are the tensions marketing directors wrestle with all the time.

WHAT STRUGGLES ARE BRANDS HAVING WHEN IT COMES TO CONSUMERS?

Wootton The person who’s controlling the budget, let’s call them the marketing director – all roads come back to them. If there isn’t a fairly firm hand, it will go awry, as everyone has a vested interest to come up with a solution.

As Dominic said, you are trying to impart a message with a shortor longer-term effect. The short-term effect is to transact; however, the longer-term effect is to feel good about that brand, so when you come to transact, you’re going to transact with them. That’s it. The most brilliant and successful marketer could do that simply by making it easy for that consumer. If it makes it easier for that consumer to be entertained, even by a haemorrhoid cream, brilliant. It’s just about that and the means are endless.

Morgan You have to appreciate there are different consumers who want different levels of engagement. There are some who want to interact with a toothpaste brand. I wouldn’t.

We work on toothpaste brands that don’t have Facebook pages, but I think you have to look at what they want, and it probably means you having to adapt slightly to what we define as creativity. Because actually, if you’re looking at utility, relevance, context or location, there could be something very useful (as a toothpaste brand) that you could give someone via these new technologies.

And it’s not necessarily campaigns; we have to get ourselves out of ‘campaign mode’ and into giving customers what they want.

For some, that means a difficult shift from a definite start-stop and media plan. We talk about not finishing our campaigns now; letting people take them, have a go with them, replicate them. I think you have to try new stuff and relinquish a little bit of control.

Papworth  Looking at what Craig said, technology is just a way to distribute the same thing – we can’t do that in publishing. We learned early on that consumers of the same content wanted different forms of that content on different platforms. As technology moves on, it’s different across different elements of publishing. Some are further ahead digitally than others. As audiences are aware of technology changing, they are demanding content on the platform in the way they want.

From a publishing perspective, it causes problems. To facilitate that, you need specialisms within the business. There’s an audience ready and waiting to be addressed and to carry advertising to in a receptive manner. There’s money to be made, but it’s working out how you divert the resources that you’re currently using in one place to another.

Willmore We’ve been presented with so many different media, which makes life harder for people like Jem. You’re no longer able to predict a person’s buying behaviours. It’s about relevancy – we’ve got to make things relevant to customers because we can’t predict their buying patterns.

We’re all busy, we all have lives. We’ve got all this noise going on, so not only have we got to communicate (and) be relevant at the right time, but we have to reach that minutest spot among all that information to actually engage. Technology is hindering us, but it can help us if we use it in the right way.

Thornhill As consumers have become more aware, their whole reaction to technology, marketing and media has radically changed. Trying to benchmark that becomes more difficult. As a marketer, you’re trying to cut through all that media clutter. Certainly, for people attending our events, it causes a fear factor about using new technologies that makes them stick to what they know, because they know how to do that well.

WHAT ARE YOUR METRICS OF SUCCESS FOR BRANDS?

Grounsell For something like Dove, integration is matching luggage, and that’s an FMCG model. Over time, integration has evolved into something much more interesting.

You can do sophisticated things with data and targeting in the digital space in conjunction with traditional media channels to create a much more immersive campaign. The data you can pull from a campaign like that to inform your thinking and evolve your work is incredibly powerful.

What keeps me awake is trying to do that while also delivering for my organisation. The importance of certainty and predictability can’t be overestimated. The risks of taking on large-scale new campaigns and channels are huge. Your credibility’s at stake if you make the wrong call. In that respect, as a marketer, who do I trust? Who’s a snake-oil salesman and who’s the new Mark Zuckerberg? As a marketer, I have to deliver certainty to my chief executive. That’s a particular challenge.

Lloyd-Williams It is hard. Technically, and on paper, things sound incredibly simple and easy. The snake oil is usually related to how easy things are.

Tech is exciting. It is absolutely the right thing we should focus some of our time on. Most campaigns that sing and give consumers a pleasurable marketing experience are simple or immersive and engaging, but they all have a small element of technical innovation.

Grounsell When things are increasingly opaque and people don’t understand how fast the digital marketing agenda is moving, I’ve found it very easy to tell finance directors or chief executives that we’re going to put a set amount of money into this innovation, but we have no real idea what it’s going to do.

The transparency of uncertainty helps.

By over-promising and under-delivering, marketing and innovation loses credibility within organisations.

Morgan The honest answer very often is that we don’t know, and you can be criticised for not being proactive or innovative enough sometimes.

Scognamiglio  Agencies need to get better at balancing input, output and outcomes and be braver about looking at evaluating work afterward, so that integration can be better defined. Our client Race for Life is very digitally driven now.

Previously the focus was on ROI of average donations through sponsorship. Our main metric now is connection value.

People’s digital behaviour encourages others to donate to Cancer Research UK, and we therefore look at the value they bring as a result of other people. That’s connection value. The whole way we look at measurability has changed.

When we went in with the idea, we thought about what the analytics should be like after-ward, because you need to go to the finance director with a commercial answer too.

HOW DE WE ENSURE INTEGRATION IN THE MEDIA CHAIN?

Willmore So many agencies work with one brand and they all try to protect their own area. That creates conflict. How can we, as agencies, bring the different departments within the brand together?

I always ask a client: ‘Do you really understand what this person in your marketing team is also trying to deliver? What’s their bonus based on? Do you really understand that?’ If you can understand that and get them working together, it gives you a greater chance.

There are too many people who want to protect their own role and it’s a result of the corporate culture and especially the economic climate. But, if you work together, you achieve an awful lot more. That would help the integrated approach, because it would tackle a number of things.

Wootton First of all, it starts with the client, and second, the only way to achieve that is making sure everyone has skin in the game. It means everyone on that team is mutually accountable, so you can tell whoever: ‘That’s not in our collective best interest.’

Until you can have that conversation, you’re going to waste a vast amount of energy and the client’s money. It’s very, very hard to do, especially if you think about the different business models. There are some huge obstacles in achieving this, but until you can get everyone in the same room and say that, you can’t do it.

Lloyd-Williams At MediaCom, it’s about making better connections. That’s a simple metaphor for integration. Be better connected to your clients.

Talk to them about things they are worried about and understand their business first, then their brand, then you might get some communications that work. Have someone leading the team connecting everyone and all the component parts, including media owners, technology and data on a regular basis.

Papworth There’s an element of polarisation. Bigger media brands have good relationships with bigger clients and there’s a real sense of integration. There’s difficulty with smaller brands, sub-brands or smaller media-owners.

If you expect media-owners to really buy into and understand a brand, that takes time and effort and they can’t do it for everyone, every time. Encourage people to re-engage with the brand and go the extra yard again. For big brands, it’s happening, but for mid-tier brands it’s more difficult.

Thornhill It’s about accountability and approachability, and we do that very clearly at things like this round table and events like Cross Media, when we become approachable and have these conversations and build these relationships. We all have very similar problems at our desks day-to-day.

A TALE OF TWO BRANDS

Ford and Volvo test-drive new agency models.

To support a more integrated approach, automotive brands have brought their separate agencies together under one umbrella.

Team Detroit was formed by WPP in 2006 to service its client Ford. Based in the US car manufacturer’s home city, Detroit, it unites communication arms from JWT, Y&R, Wunderman, Ogilvy and Mindshare. Team Detroit now services Mazda and has won further client briefs for US brands. The model has since been applied across other WPP clients such as HSBC and Vodafone. Blue Hive combines Ford’s UK agencies in the same way.

Amsterdam-based Team Volvo, formed in 2010, united its creative agencies Havas’ Arnold, Euro RSCG 4D and SapientNitro, but not its media agencies. However, in December 2011, the brand appointed Arnold as its lead global agency, dismantling the alliance.

While Ford’s approach has thrived, Volvo returned to its traditional agency method, demonstrating that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to integration.

 

ACTIONS

–       Clients need to pilot integration.

–       Make choices based on consumer insights and desired outcomes.

–       Create organisational structures that facilitate good relationships.

–       Take a risk. Optimise the rest in order to gain the space to try new things.

–       Plan your measurement. Short-term ROI has its place, but think beyond that too

THE FOUR BUSINESS AND MARKETING CHALLENGES FOR 2012 – PART 4 – THE SOCIAL GENERATION

On the school run this week I was reminded on how quickly my daughter and her friends are growing up.  First off was the request to have her own mobile phone. Our quick reply was, “why do you need a phone”? “Erm, to speak to my friends and play games”, she replied! My daughter is seven, far too young (in my eyes) to have her own phone, let alone a smart-phone.  Then as she was walking to school with her friends, totally lost in conversation, I wondered at what stage will they rush home and pick up their conversation, not via the traditional phone as we know it, but on Skype or what other means they will have access to by then. Will Facebook be around or just become this global corporate entity trying to suck as much cash from our pockets to justify its insane $100bn value?

You cannot deny the success of Facebook, or the major importance of twitter in delivering real-time news or the ability to share everything. The way we live, act, purchase, interact, ENGAGE has changed forever. We continually see new social media sites being launched, especially the rise of the niche social sites, couple that with the developments in technology allowing us to be continually connected, never missing a thing, sharing everything instantly, means life as we know it will continually change.

Today, people are far happier texting each other rather than having a human conversations, we have the ability to shop around the globe at the touch of a button. We can find out more than ever before about a brand they’re engaging with and whether they have had a positive or disappointing experience, they can share their views with millions of people just like them, instantly. Expectations, whether they are consumers or business customers, are soaring, which means they have the power to make or break a brand overnight.  I call this the transparency of everything.  Long gone are the days where a brand could piss someone off and think ‘that’s OK, it’s just one person!’.  Business leaders, CMO’s and Marketers have to ensure their brand and customer engagement strategies understand this and have in place an approach that fits with what the customer is looking for, not what the brand wants.

The added issue for marketers is in the correlation of all this activity. You have the social team doing what they do, the customer engagement team doing their thing and the retention team doing another. All doing different activities and tracking and measuring differently (Obviously if you are lucky enough to have a budget big enough to allow for this, otherwise it is just a smaller team with a bigger problem!). So the issue is to ensure everyone works together rather then in their silos, using each others tracking and measurement techniques and all sharing the same vision – ‘creating value for customers as individuals by providing experiences that matter to them and their lives’, because when that’s what they receive, they consciously and subconsciously engage with their arms wide open, no matter how or where they are doing it.

THE FOUR BUSINESS AND MARKETING CHALLENGES FOR 2012 – PART 3 – SMART CONNECTIVITY

I hear this years 2012 International CES was a success! “The largest in the event’s 44 year history, with a record number of more than 3,100 exhibitors across the largest show floor in CES history – 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space – and drawing a record of more than 153,000 attendees, including more than 34,000 international attendees. More than 20,000 new products were launched”, stated the CES press release.  20,000 new products! WOW.  Do we really need that many?
We now live in a world where technology changes on a daily basis and every time you pick up the paper, magazine, go online we hear about the fight Samsung is taking to Apple, or how our TV can do this and that and processors becoming microscopic, or we see the development of a new connected city that is built with all the latest technology already in place. So where does it end? Actually I hope it doesn’t! I love gadgets, technology and new widgets. I am amazed at how humans have the ability to be creative and innovative. I remember watching Tomorrow’s World (first broadcasted in 1965)  and being totally amazed at the gadgets of the future!  However this has all changed now, tomorrow’s world is here today.

If you try and think of a new gadget you can be sure somewhere in this world someone has already thought of it and has tried to or has developed it. As the world has changed, so have us humans. Our demand for creativity and innovation increases each day. We live in an ‘always on society’, where we can speak, chat, surf, find, buy whatever we want, virtually wherever we want. So the innovation will keep on coming, because we demand it to.

But as marketers this brings us another issue or challenge. With so many gadgets and channels to communicate through, what is the right one to use, is it online, social, mobile, TV, Outdoor, do we use the latest wizardry that technology has given us or do we keep it simple?   These are real and relevant questions that business leaders, CMO’s and marketing people face today. My advice is to take a Human approach to your marketing, understand that everyone is different. People want to interact with brands in different ways, so first make sure you truly understand the desired action you are aiming for and then understand whether the humans you are trying to engage with want to be engaged in that way, rather than rushing straight in with the newest, shiniest technique.

So if anyone knows of a lovely looking classic dress watch that allows me to make calls, take high definition/3D video and pictures, lets my daughter play games, lets me record and watch all the programmes I missed on Sky, automatically finds and stores the music I like, comes with a virtual keyboard and acts as my notebook, connects with my house and car so I can control everything (including the kettle – Oh and makes a cup of tea too) and has the ability to tell the time and date, then please let me know, otherwise I will look out for it at CES 2013.

THE FOUR BUSINESS AND MARKETING CHALLENGES FOR 2012 – PART 2 – THE DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT

I read recently that the boffins over at CERN got a glimpse of the Higgs Boson!  WOW I hear you all say. What the **** is that I hear the rest of you say?  Well let me explain.  The Higgs boson is a “fundamental” particle, one of the basic building blocks of the Universe. It is also the last missing piece in the leading theory of particle physics – known as the Standard Model – which describes how particles and forces interact.

Got it?  No?  Well here’s another explanation: The Higgs part explains why other particles have mass. As the Universe cooled after the Big Bang, an invisible force known as the Higgs field formed together with its associated boson particle, with me still?  Simple really isn’t it!  OK need a bit more?  OK then.  The way the Higgs field works has been likened to the way photographers and reporters congregate around a celebrity. These clusters of people are strongly attracted to the celebrity and create resistance to his or her movement across a room. In other words, they give the celebrity “mass”.

So for those of you who didn’t stop reading at “I read recently” or “Higgs Boson”, let me explain where I am going with this and why this relates to what I see as the four big challenges facing business and marketers today and for 2012.

CERN are spending billions on finding out the building blocks of life or as they say part of the mass.  In our approach to Human Media Marketing we are doing the same, just not spending billions or trying to create the next black hole!  We always talk about the need to understand the individual, not the mass market or categories that we marketers love to people into.  This is because we have and will continue to see a massive shift in the Demographic of our customers and target market.  We saw the explosion of the Gen Y population, but what is next?  We first saw the Gen Y term used back in 1993, but this is 2012, so what new fancy name is the industry going to come up with next, GenZ!  What we are failing to recognise that everyone is different, we act differently, we buy differently, our consumption habits have changed.  Although I understand that as humans we want to be in groups, we will all do things differently within that, and as brand owners, business leaders and CMO’s we have to open our eyes to this.

Gone are the days where people follow the same path and buy in the exact same way!  For example, I may like the same gadget as the person next to me (let’s call him Mr Z).  We will even be the same age, live in the same town, like the same music and both happily married with children.  But that is where the similarities stop.  It may take me four months to buy something, where as would take 5 minutes.  I tend to see something in a magazine that catches my eye, which, depending on what it was, I would ask the boss in doors on what she thought.  Then I may go online and have a look, read up on the reviews, then actually get totally involved in something completely different and then forget all about the fantastic gadget that I saw in the first place.  Then I could see that a friend has posted (or boasted) that they have this gadget, which again then sparks my interest yet again, and the trawling of various sites looking to see who has the best offer but then still do nothing about it, but this time I sign up to something and then….. well you get what I mean.  Whereas Mr Z saw it, bought it there and then, or he may have seen it in a shop and then looked to see if he can get it cheaper off Amazon or ebay and then bought it.

As I said, we may look the same, but buy completely differently.  So the challenge we face right now is how to tackle this!  Well I believe that we have all become information Kings, the desire to consume as much information as possible.  So it is key that when your social agency comes to you saying you must be doing x campaign because that is what will get you the responses you want.  But ask the question, will it?  How do you know?  Your customer may use the social channels but do they really want to engage with you via them?  Have you gone out and asked them?  (you will be surprised on how many companies still haven’t done this!).  Do you use a multi-channel approach?  Do you understand Human Media Marketing and how that can help?

Of course I will push the Human Media Marketing route, but only because it is the right route.  What is it?  It is about understanding the Human (your customer or prospect) first, looking at how they want to interact with you and then you engaging with them in that way.  Follow this path and you will not only get engaged customers, but deeper, longer lasting (and more predictable) relationships, that give you what you want – profitable loyalty!

But if you can do one thing then let it be the ability to see and treat people as individuals.  Engage with them in a way that they want to be engaged with.  Don’t trash or interrupt their conversations and then expect them to buy something from you.  Round up a number of people in your office, group them how you would normally, but then ask them some human questions and see how different they really are!

THE FOUR BUSINESS AND MARKETING CHALLENGES FOR 2012 – PART 1 – THE DATA REVOLUTION

Well 2012 is fast approaching and yet we are being told to batten down the hatches, prepare for the economical storm that will be and even the banks are being told to not pay bonuses!

So should this be our only worry? Well if you are a business leader, CMO or just work in marketing, then I think there are four challenges we are all facing right now (whether we realise it or not!) that we all need to consider when engaging with the customer. Why do I think these are real challenges? Because over the next few years, they will add massive complexity to everything we do, not just in marketing, but also right across every business.

So what are these big hairy arsed challenges that we are all facing? Well I have labeled them: The Data Revolution, The Demographic Shift, The Social Generation and Smart Connectivity.

I remember when us marketers spent far too much money trying to obtain data, I don’t mean lists, I mean insight, intel, knowledge! However today, we are inundated with this. With the rise of the internet, social channels, CRM (or is it now CEM?) businesses realising that as long as the product works, it’s how you look after them that counts, we are collecting more and more information and data every single minute of the day. This is great I hear you say, what is the problem? Well the issue marketing teams now face is how do you extract the value from all of this? What are the little golden nuggets that will make the difference?

The volume and variety of the information we have at our disposal today is unbelievable, in fact for a closet data freak like me it is quite exciting. But for those of you are normal, what should you be doing?

Well there are many ways to do this. There are some fantastic data agencies that can do a great job in helping us see the wood from the trees and there are some forward thinking businesses that realised this and went and hired some exceptionally talented (and very clever) people to do just that!

But what if you are an MD, CEO, CMO or just a plain old marketing bod working for a company that doesn’t have a budget that can stretch to outsourcing or purchasing expensive licensed based software packages (another bug-bear of mine!), or you work for some of the leading brands that have these great people/teams but don’t even use them? What do you do? How do you extract the meaningful insights that are sitting there undiscovered?

Well the first step is to realise the problem. You may sit there reading this thinking I don’t have this problem at all! Well you do, you just don’t know it, as what is worse, is the fact you are missing out on so much vital information that will help you do things so much better.

The second step is to look at what you are doing now and change it. How many of you currently run a monthly/ quarterly survey? What questions are you asking? My favorite one is always ‘how satisfied are you? One a scale of blah, blah, blah…! OK great that you scored a 5% increase in overall customer satisfaction this month over last, but do you know why? Have you thought that if you asked the question differently and gave them the option to give open, fluid feedback rather than picking somewhere on a scale, you may actually find out so much more about your customer, what they really like and actually what they also don’t like about the same thing!
Your customers are screaming out to be treated and engaged with differently! How much do you know about them, do you even realise they are humans, not marketing packaged acronyms or just another stat in the monthly board presentation!

A good friend, and a very clever data guy I know, used to say (quite a bit actually) there is such a thing of paralyses by analyses. This is very true for some, but if you look at it or approach it differently, ask the questions in an open not closed way, give them the chance to tell you something useful, then you may even like what you find and therefore get exited about it! Look at what you have now, what can you tell from it, how are you collecting it, who is giving you what and allowing you to do what with it and then try something that you would never dream of doing in the business you are at, we like to call this testing ;o), and look at the people sitting behind this data and engage with them in a human way. Ask human questions, try to understand something about their lives, because only then will you be able to see the value in what you already have. You never know, it could be that little something that helps you achieve that big horrible 2012 target!

How important is data to you, are you struggling, have you found a solution or do you think it will only get worse? Would love to know your thoughts.

p.s. my reference to anyone taking a liking to data as being a freak is solely my own opinion and is just of myself, but anyone who could be viewed the same remember this: you hold the magic key to any successful marketing team, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.