Does Your Data Tell the Whole Story?
As a marketer, you’ve heard the mantra: let the data tell
the story. But does data tell the whole story? What about other
consumer insights, third-party data, cultural trends and your own
gut instinct? What is the right formula for getting to the truth?
I interviewed Carol Kruse, a Valvoline board member and
former CMO for ESPN, for our Data Dialogues podcast about how she
leverages data in her storytelling. She also draws from her deep
experience in senior leadership roles at Cambia Healthcare and
Coca Cola, where she was Global Head of Digital Marketing.
“I am the firmest believer in the marriage of art and
science. You can have great creative, but if you don't have the
data and insights to create good storytelling, and don't have the
data and insights for where to put that message and when, and
through what channel, you're really missing it,” said Kruse.
Kruse said that while data is essential to unlock the story,
it won’t tell you everything. There are other sources to consider.
“Data is both a blessing and a curse because some people
take that first layer of data as gospel, and they go with it. And
I think the smart data person or marketer says, ‘Hey, that's
directionally interesting. Even if it's quantitative data, let's see
what else.’” Listen to our podcast for the full interview.
Getting the Right Data to Tell Your Story
Below is an excerpt from our interview. It is edited
I think it's important as you say, to really have that
finely tuned gut check and that inquisitiveness to say, ‘okay, so
let's not take the data at first blush. Let's overlay it with some
additional data points and consumer sentiment to help layer the
story and give us a bit more of a composite. That's what I'm hearing
as you're walking us through this. Is that correct?
Kruse: It is, and there is some magic to selling
things in a company, right? So when you're new in a company, it's
harder to anticipate what kind of objections or touchy points there
would be. Or preconceived notions.
But once you've been at a company, you tend to know some of
the barriers to accepting data. And so I always found that I would
try to talk with folks conceptually first and tease out what those
either long held beliefs are or the reasons why they won’t believe
How would you coach someone on drawing out the data if
their systems are not integrated or it’s difficult for them to get
their queries pulled? How can they get to the insights that they're
looking for if it's not going to be relatively easy to get to the
Kruse: I used to think that so many companies
focused on gathering so much data, most of which they never
actually could act. Most people know that either there's an
opportunity in their company or there's a competitive threat or
their sales are going down, right? There's some business issue
that you are trying to work towards and you are using data to
solve that question.
So a lot of people waste a fair amount of time gathering
data that isn't actionable. So what I would suggest is prioritize
the data. You need to make good decisions. Someone may say, ‘Oh,
if only we had that, it could be better.’ And I'd say
significantly better or 5% better? Well guess what, let's focus on
getting 90% better. Let’s act on that, and we can fine tune.
Perfect can be the enemy of good.
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