July 21, 2011

More Arguments Against MineThatData

Earlier this week, I discussed The Arguments Against MineThatData.

Apparently, there are plenty more, gotta love a minority of individuals in the vendor community!  So, we "pick up the conversation" from Tuesday with a new list, some of which were forwarded by the esteemed @amyafrica, so thanks to her, and some of which were forwarded by others of you kind enough to add your $0.02.

Issue:  Don't buy his books.  One of his books has 70 pages of computer code, who wants that?
  • The folks who want that book are the folks who like to compare code, so that they can implement that type of work in their own environment.  There was also a link to the code, so that it could be copied into your environment.
  • I thought I was being nice to include the computer code that I spent close to a year writing, all for the low cost of $7.95 via Kindle.  You get a year of work for $7.95.
Issue:  Kevin doesn't favor a channel, and that's not good for catalogers.
  • I always favor the customer, and I favor profitability.
  • I favor the survival of your company.
  • I favor an honest assessment of your business.
Issue:  Kevin hates search, e-mail, and all forms of modern marketing like mobile/social, have you ever read his comments about social?  He's biased in favor of catalog marketing.
  • This comes up a lot.
  • This is exactly opposite of the issue just mentioned.
  • I always favor the customer, and I favor profitability.
  • I will say this, I hate open/click/convert as the measurement technique for e-mail, as it is almost always wrong, when compared with the more accurate method of using mail/holdout tests to measure e-mail.
  • I have no idea where people get the idea that I don't like search marketing.
Issue:  Don't work with Kevin, he makes fun of catalogers with that stupid Gliebers Dresses series, and he doesn't even know how to use an apostrophe for crying out loud.  Oh, and he thinks everybody owns a Kindle, which is just stupid.
  • If you've read the Bible, for instance, you already know that parables are used to explain issues without specifically taking issue with an individual.  
  • Gliebers Dresses is a parable.  It is a series meant to teach in an entertaining manner.
  • The apostrophe is missing, in deference to Lands' End, where the apostrophe was incorrectly printed incorrectly in the early days of the brand, causing the owner to use the mistake strategically.
Issue:  Kevin doesn't like discounting, he either doesn't understand the business model or he blasts discounters while praising his former company when it discounts merchandise.
  • Allow me to make my stance very clear.
  • I don't have a problem with discounts/promotions being the core "strategy" of a brand.
  • I don't have any problem with events, activities where you create a reason for the customer to purchase.  If you have three sale events per year, every year, well, again, that's a strategy, isn't it?
  • Having sale events 30 out of 52 weeks is not a strategy, it is not an event.  I am against this.
  • I have a huge problem with measuring promotions only during the promotion period, because that seriously overstates promotion performance, causing folks to offer more promotions.  Ask yourself why you offer promotions all the time now, and you didn't back in 2000, and your annual retention rate is still the same, and orders per buyer are still the same, and you're struggling to acquire new customers??
  • Offering 20% off plus free shipping randomly because business is bad is not a strategy, and I am against that, unless you have no other way to clear inventory.
  • Offering free shipping 24/7/365 is a strategy, and I support that.
  • I am against Cyber Monday, a concept developed by a trade organization.  Add your total sales two weeks prior, and two weeks after, for the past ten years, does the holiday boost actual sales?
  • In other words, I support a strategic approach to discounts and promotions.
  • And, yes, you can sell merchandise at full price.  Marketers feel like they don't have a job if they don't add frosting (discounts/promos) to the cake, take your ego out of the equation and get busy selling merchandise, not selling your fancy promotions!
Issue:  Don't work with Kevin.  He pimps his books to the #measure community on Twitter, that's not ethical, #measure is "all about the community".
  • The very people who are angry with me are people who either work for companies that promote themselves in that community, or they actually promote themselves within that community.
    Issue:  Don't work with Kevin, his activities are outside the best practices established in our industry.  Work with people like me instead, people who execute proven and classic direct marketing tactics.
    • A competing consultant, a classic direct marketer, left this comment on my blog.  Geez.
    • Again, my methodology delivers an average of $1,000,000 profit per year for a $100,000,000 catalog brand.  
    • And yes, my methodology is not an industry-standard best practice.
    Issue:  Kevin's ideas only work with companies that have unique product and add 30% new product each year.  His ideas do not work with companies that sell the same crap as everybody else.
    • How could you, the person who said this to an individual, possibly know this?  Be honest, how could you know this?
    • I've worked with companies that sell the same stuff as everybody else.  The issue isn't the merchandise, the issue is how your customers respond to advertising.
    Issue:  Kevin doesn't know B2B marketing, don't work with him.  B2B marketing is a special discipline requiring special people.
    • I'll be the first to say that I know more about B2C than B2B.
    • That being said, B2B isn't rocket science.  You mail catalogs, you send e-mail messages, customers respond.
    • Furthermore, in the projects I've worked on in B2B, the organic percentage is usually higher than it is in B2C, allowing the B2B brand to cut even more catalogs.  Yes, that's accurate.  Often, the organic percentage is 85% or greater, and your vendors are greatly over-stating the value of catalog marketing to your business ... when vendors do this, it benefits the vendor, not you.
    Issue:  Kevin doesn't know the gift industry, don't work with him.  He only knows apparel marketing.
    • This one comes up a lot.
    • The only fundamental difference for a gift business is the seasonality of purchasing, coupled with "ship-to" activity ... very easy to account for.
    • I can promise you that I've delivered above-average results for gift marketers.
    Issue:  You need a consultant who has too much work to do.  Kevin spends all day writing books or tweeting, so he probably doesn't have any clients.
    • I've worked with 63 brands in the past 53 months.
    • I limit my clients to 2 per month, maximum, to give each client maximum attention.  In other words, there are times when I am turning business away or deflecting it to later months.
    • Allow me to teach you something about how I do my job.  I write computer code ... about 6,000 lines (+/-) of code per consulting project, about 84,000 lines of computer code per year.  
    • In other words, I type a lot faster than the average person types.
    • The computer code is used to re-shape and analyze customer transactions.
    • In an average project, I'm analyzing about 10,000,000 customer transactions.
    • When I run a program, it takes anywhere between thirty seconds and thirty minutes for the program to run.
    • While a program is running on my laptop (yes, I do all of this on a laptop), I'll write a blog post, or I'll tweet something to the 3,000+ folks following on Twitter.  In other words, activity is happening concurrently ... the computer is running a 10 minute program while I write several pages in an upcoming book, for example.
    • I work about 13 hours a day, six days a week.  My wife is ok with this, my dog resents my utilization of time.
    • All of this leads to an average of $1,000,000 annual profit for the $100,000,000 brand that hires me.
    Issue:  Kevin spent too many years working for big brands.  He doesn't understand how hard it is to make things work at a $50,000,000 catalog brand.  Kevin only knows fancy, big-company solutions that don't work at small companies.
    • My median client has annual sales of $50,000,000.  About 20% of my client base is above a billion dollars a year.  About 20% of my client base is under $20,000,000 a year.
    • I have many clients in many different life-stages. 
    Issue:  Kevin knows nothing about social media.  Look at Victoria's Secret, they've got a million fans on Facebook.  Simply put, it works.
    • FYI, from 2007 - 2010, 70% of my projects were sourced from my blog (that's social media, right)?
    • In 2011, 45% of my projects are sourced from my blog.
    • Social media works for individuals and small businesses.
    • For large brands, go find a single 10-Q or 10-K statement where the Management team attributes even 3% of total annual net sales to social media.  Go ahead, I'll wait right here.
    Issue:  Kevin doesn't know anything about mobile.  Work with a web analyst, those folks know mobile.
    • 95% of analysts struggle to measure the way channels interact with each other.
    • My specialty is measuring the way that channels interact with each other.  I will tell you how mobile customers interact with the rest of your business.
      Issue:  Kevin focuses on comp-segment performance as a key customer metric, while best practices suggest that campaign performance is the best indicator of marketing effectiveness.  Don't listen to him when he starts talking about geeky comp-segment measures.
      • If campaign performance was a leading indicator of solid business performance, then why have we increased campaigns across all channels by about 1,000% since 2000, and yet, our annual customer retention rate remains constant?
      • When your annual retention rate is bound by a 10% range, over the course of a decade, then comp-segment performance is a very solid indicator of actual customer behavior.
      Issue:  Kevin only knows how to deal with loyal customer behavior.  We'd all like to have customers like Nordstrom has, customers who repurchase at a 75% rate and buy seven times a year.  Kevin knows nothing about companies with 30% annual repurchase rates, and that's why he's always saying those business need to acquire new customers.
      • 50% of my client base has an annual repurchase rate of 38% or lower.  I know a little bit about managing these situations.
      Ok, that's the latest list.  Go ahead and forward the complaints and arguments offered to you by the vendor community and by consultants who compete with me, I'll continue to address them for you.


      1. Hey Kevin,
        - 'A short Rant in Defense of Expression and Non-Mainstream Thinking'

        I'm lost for words! I mean, I've purchased and read some of your ebooks, and I have to say, especially given the price, that they're well worth the read and time spent reading them!
        I think if more of us made as good a use of our time in the way you do with your blog, ebooks and consultancy, we'd be considerably better off economically, as would our clients.
        I really find it interesting that you have to justify yourself, your competence and even your creative use of 'story telling' to explain ideas.
        The fact that you are labeled as not 'non-mainstream' is also amusing. That's an argument often used by 'sciency' types to debunk people and ideas which compete with their own theories or which they either dont't grasp, or don't want others to consider as valid arguments. In science there are many anomalies that don't fit our theories, and are thus likely to remain unexplained until a 'new', 'non-currently-mainstream' idea comes along.
        Most formulae, theories, and ideas have to be adapted to the specific instance in which they're to be used. If they were used verbatim, then they'd be pretty useless a lot of the time. So, I guess non-standard usage which produces results is to be expected, if not demanded by savvy clients. I mean new, or tweaked algorithms etc.. After all isn't this combined with proprietary and unique data a form of competitive advantage for a firm?
        Given that most data analysis/mining/prediction requires analysing large amounts of data in a reasonable time frame (i.e. don't reinvent the wheel if it already does most of what we want), I am thankful for the code to experiment with, and provide a basis to translate to another platform/language and start new projects from!
        So, what's to moan about really?! :(
        BTW love the way you write. It's genuinely pleasing, amusing, and informative to read.

      2. If your methodology threatens to take business away from established solutions, you're going to face a bit of criticism!


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