Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bring proper marketing analysis from the lab to reality

We no longer need to fight to bring more analysis and logical reasoning to our marketing efforts. The past decade, with the maturation of sound technological applications, has brought a more measurable and scientific approach to our efforts to reach the right customers, at the right time, in the right place, and at the right price. Marketing analysis now has a permanent seat at the table and now it is time to take the proverbial lab coat off of the technicians so that the esoteric talk of the ivory tower can translate into real world results at the market place.

Gail McGovern of Harvard has done a great job of explaining the value of working with an outsourced partner who has the strong analytical left-brain know how that many marketing organizations lack. Smart technicians have taken heed to this trend and there are more and more companies that offer solutions in the realms of applied statistical analysis, econometrics, and predictive modeling. While this is great there is often a disconnect created between the science and the business.

Take a look at the latest issue of the Journal of Marketing Research and you will be bogged down with jargon, formulas, and language has a hard time translating to the day to day efforts of most marketing groups. You don't want to spend serious money on a report that gets left without an appropriate Rosetta stone that allows it to be directly applied to your specific set of circumstances. That's why choosing the right partner is so critical. They need to be proficient and knowledgeable in the application of the right analysis for what ever the situation calls for. But they also need to have a solid background in business and marketing so that they can translate the findings into recommendations that can be easily executed upon by the client.

So, what are some tips for leveraging your marketing analysis and your relationship with your provider of such intelligence?

  • Demand that all research be brought home. Or in other words make sure that the insights provided is actionable intelligence that can be interpreted and acted upon all parties involved in executing the recommendations. It sounds very basic but you would be surprised at how many"inane" jargon and nuance laden reports end up in the hands of executives who have no idea what to do with them.
  • Start simple or at least understand the underlying assumptions and models being used. That way there is greater transparency and you are a more involved participant in the process. Don't let ignorance prevail and take everything as scripture just because you see a lot of fancy greek letters everywhere.
  • Always ask why. Many people advertise the fancy service or analysis without describing the benefits. Companies want the sizzle not the steak. They don't care about conjoint analysis but they care about what characteristics their next product should contain.
Choosing a partner that has the requisite analytical background is an essential complement to marketing activities. Finding one that has the ability to provide practical results that also fit nicely with corporate strategy is the paramount difference between success and just spending a lot of money on a bunch of propeller heads in lab coats.