05.12.2016

Performing Jedi Mind Tricks Through Data

The Evolution of Smart Data in Marketing

Every marketing professional has heard (and related to) John Wanamaker’s infamous quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Despite everyone’s drive to connect marketing to ROI, these words hold true today. Why? Because just when we think we have things figured out – events, social media, mobile, PR, etc. – the retail marketplace and consumer expectations shift.

A quick timeline of consumer marketing will speak to that evolution:

  • 1800’s: Sideshow product hawking introduces new remedies to consumers (aka: the snake oil salesman)
  • 1870’s: John Wanamaker modernizes advertising by placing the first print ad in a newspaper
  • 1930’s: Macy’s masters “big event” marketing with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade
  • 1950’s: TV revolutionizes advertising by speaking directly to a captured audience
  • 1980’s: Equity characters (Energizer bunny, Pink Panther, etc.) strike a chord with consumers
  • 1990’s: PR & word-of-mouth (WOM) begins to carry more weight/legitimacy than paid placements
  • 2008: Social media kick-starts the consumer advocacy movement
  • 2016: Mobile/technology shift consumer expectations to “predictive” & “proximity” marketing (aka: tell me what I want to know when I want to know it)

But, hidden in the fabric of all this and even before marketing entered the mainstream, there was one constant – data.

  • 1790: The first US census to collect resident data

Now, before your bang your head against the wall and go down the dark path of overused buzzwords like “big data,” lets take a quick look at today’s consumer:

  • They have short attention spans (thank you Twitter & Snapchat)
  • They use technology to enhance (not replace) an experience
  • They demand authenticity

All of these things can be addressed with “smart data.” As we pointed out, data isn’t new. Rumor is, Abraham Lincoln was a data collector before he became president. Data isn’t particularly sexy either. If your title is “Data Analyst,” very few people are picturing George Clooney or Charlize Theron. But, data derived from mobile technology that gives us insights into physical behaviors IS new (& kind of sexy).

Don’t believe me? Smart data leads to exciting applications in both B2B & B2C, it cuts down on excessive marketing (if only Mr. Wanamaker was here today to see it!), it isn’t exclusive to the big budgets of conglomerates like Coke or Nike, and it isn’t going anywhere like some other “bright shiny objects” that have come from Silicon Valley. That sounds pretty darn sexy to me.

But what if accessible and cost-effective data could do even more? What if smart data could…

  • Arm your leasing team with not only accurate and real-time traffic information BUT ALSO real insights about your actual visitor behaviors that are tailored to specific retailer types.
  • Influence events and promotional efforts by understanding your customer segments.
  • Filter your visitors via a database at the touch of button (in real time) allowing you to customize your seasonal marketing budget & messaging so that you ONLY target those who are relevant with messages that are relevant.
  • Monitor customer behaviors of your top competitors or look-alike peers to more clearly understand your position within the marketplace and better define your brand.
  • The possibilities are truly endless and endlessly impactful. Just think of the ROI reports we could create!

We love to talk about the possibilities of this kind of data as it relates to what we do at COHN – branding, messaging, PR, design, digital, thought leadership, etc. – and have started putting programs in place to apply it to our client objectives. It’s actually pretty remarkable what we can do with the smart data. We joke around the office about the “Jedi Mind Tricks” we’re executing on behalf of our clients.

It makes us feel kind of cool – in a Data Analyst / Star Wars kind of way.

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