Analysis versus Good, Old-Fashioned Creative Gut Feeling

June 5, 2008 at 10:05 pm 8 comments

I really enjoyed a recent post I found on the Precision Marketing online magazine.  Jenny Hoffbrand  discusses Ian Ayres new book called Super Crunchers and a quote from the book that really summarizes the value of using analytics in the business, as opposed to relying on your “intuition” or gut-feeling: “Intuition and experiential expertise is losing out time and time again to number crunching. Businesses and governments are relying more and more on databases to guide their decisions.”

The post goes on to talk about Ayres recent keynote speech at the recent SPSS Directions Conference in Athens, Greece.  “Ayres used his platform at the conference to endorse the advancements being made in the field of predictive analytics and encouraged brand owners to use their data to determine the most suitable strategies for their marketing campaigns.”

Oftentimes, we see really savvy direct marketers get so tied up in the day-to-day that they forget the value of predictive analytics.  And, they go immediately to their gut feelings on what population to use in the upcoming direct mail campaign or what a certain segment consists of when they create their messaging.

And, time and time again, we see this “intuitive approach” fail.  Let’s face it — the smartest direct marketer in the world is probably not psychic.  We’ve seen very few direct marketers (actually none) who possess the ability to wave their hand over the server that houses their marketing database and pull out an “Ah — 45-65 years old, incomes of $100K+, with 1.3 children per household.”

I’m not bashing the customer intelligence that direct marketers obviously accrue over time, I’m simply emphasizing Ayres argument — that is when you dig into the data and analyze it scientifically you end up with a really robust — and highly accurate — idea of who your customers are, what segments may exist, who may be most responsive to your offerings, etc.

On the other hand, analytics isn’t all about number crunching either.  It’s about using the statistics to better mine the data, then using your business intelligence to look at the output and come to meaningful conclusions and recommendations on how to better conduct your direct marketing efforts.

That’s why there will always be a need for the creative process in direct marketing.  As Philip Keevill, creative director at Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, states: “If you get rid of intuition, you get rid of emotion. You can’t predict emotion with a machine.”

We agree with Hoffbrand . . . the two should be used together to create the best direct marketing strategy.


Entry filed under: Business Performance, Data Mining.

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