October 25, 2007

Mailbag

This is a popular question here at The MineThatData Blog, one that I've been asked several times over the past two days: "Can I, as a marketer, make customers do what I want them to do?".

My first response is to turn the question around. Name a marketer that is able to make you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do?

If you cannot name two or three marketers off the top of your head who make you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do, the answer for you is "no".

One of the great challenges of this "age of data" is that one can correlate nearly any activity with any metric. This gives the marketer the illusion of control.

Earlier today, I attended a session hosted by the folks at Abacus. One presenter shared the reasons why catalogs are a necessary marketing tool. The other presenter essentially shared the reasons why catalogs are at best a marginal, complimentary marketing tool.

The pro-catalog presenter put up a slide with a half-dozen metrics ... things like "61% of online purchasers like to thumb through a catalog before placing an online order".

Metrics like this one give the illusion that there is cause and effect. Metrics like this one suggest that the marketer is in control.

A cataloger would never increase sales without placing catalogs in the mailbox of prospects who have never purchased from a catalog. Online brands would never grow without placing ads in prominent places on Google.

In essence, marketers influence customer behavior. In my opinion, the ones that "influence" have a better chance of succeeding ... the ones that "control" have less chance of succeeding.