The Glitz and Glamour of Marketing

May 10, 2011 by

For large companies, especially those whose fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, the first quarter of the new year is often spent launching new products, initiatives or campaigns to spur growth. Kick starting the first quarter and focusing on creating customer value can generate revenue, or at minimum, awareness and momentum through March 31, the end of Q1.

Successful launches that generate incremental revenue or create new markets hinge on having great customer insight and data. A shortfall of customer and market data is where small and medium sized businesses often fall short.

I recently spoke with a Senior Vice President whose midsize company’s target market is small and medium sized B2B and B2C customers. The SVP is charged with growing the organization’s operations and its customer base. Because of the company’s industry, he saw business growth tied to operational efficiency. So when the topic of marketing came up, he referred to marketing as 'the glitz and glamour’. Through our conversation, it was clear he saw marketing mainly from a promotional perspective without making a connection to the potential impact on his business.

There’s no denying that part of marketing is promotional in nature. What this particular executive fails to realize is that behind the promotional aspects, companies in his industry make key decisions based on customer data. Here are areas where the executive’s company could benefit:

  1. His organization does not capture customer data. Detailed customer data could be gathered and analyzed with the results used to drive decision making.
  2. Currently, customer data is not readily available. For this reason, the company is unable to identify its best customers (or worst customers, for that matter). Identifying best customers will enable the company to accurately identify highest potential customers to target. The company could also determine which customers to cut loose.
  3. If customer data were available, the company could analyze the key attributes that current customers value. Armed with this knowledge, the company could focus on deeper penetration of the current market. And let’s not forget markets that are similar in need but under penetrated.

Small and medium sized businesses often miss a key business fundamental. Know your customer. Companies must possess an intimate understanding of the attributes of their customers. This should include type of usage, frequency of usage, purchase patterns and average amount of spend (daily, monthly, seasonally and/or yearly). Additional measurable, industry-specific criteria should be captured. All of this benefits acquisition and retention efforts.

Data analysis will pay off in the ability of small and medium sized companies to accurately assess and target their markets with accuracy. Analytics as a basis for decision making is undervalued in small and medium sized companies.

I cannot disagree with the SVP on one area - there is a certain ‘glitz and glamour’ to marketing. But, focusing solely on the promotional aspect of marketing is seeing only part of the picture. As my marketing 101 professor stated, ‘marketing is an art and a science’. The science comes in gathering data and crunching numbers.