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Redefining what it means to be a skilled marketer in the digital age

Not too long ago, marketing was dominated by gut feelings, intuition, and vague definitions of creativity. TV shows glamorize this analogue era as if it were the golden age of marketing and advertising but the truth of the matter is that it was an era dominated by truisms like:

“Half my advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

Sadly, though we know have the technology and mathematical rigor necessary to identify and address the wasted half (as well as all sorts of interesting pieces of information about consumers and competitors) many marketing and business leaders insist on continuing the Madmen-inspiring tradition of relying on what amounts to subjective opinion.

More on that in a moment.

I’m very fortunate to work at a place that employs real life data scientists. Why? Because they’re able to help me apply statistical rigor to the various hypotheses I come up with as I pour through the mountains of data produced by our digital marketing programs. This ultimately helps me sift through subjective ideas and opinions, falsify the ones that are ultimately nonsense, and focus in on the ones that might lead to measurable business impact.

More importantly, they help me realize just how deficient my own quantitative analysis skills are at this point in time. That’s a problem because like most people I talk to in our industry, analyzing data is one of my favorite things to do. Heck, for many years, I thought I was really good at it.

But the reality is that I’m not. Not even close. Sure, I can slice and dice some obvious data points and come up with an interesting angle from time to time, but if the world’s leading consultancies and thought leadership collectives are correct, we’re on the verge of a literal revolution in terms of the degree of expertise needed to properly leverage data to optimize marketing programs. This revolution could and likely will render my current level of analytical expertise obsolete. And me with it.

I’m not about to let that happen. You shouldn’t either.

P.S. If you think reaching that a senior leadership position provides you with immunity from prerequisites like mathematical proficiency you might be right. But then again, you might not be…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://valejo.net/ Tre Jones
    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for sharing the link, Tre! I’ll take a closer look at what Gary and Semphonic are up to. I’d also add that I don’t think it’s enough to rely solely on an outside entity like an agency or consultancy for data science thought leadership. A culture of mathematical rigor and application development must also be cultivated in-house. Thanks again for chiming in!

  • http://www.onqmarketing.com.au Quentin Aisbett

    Always on the money Hugo. The disappointing thing is, the big boys will start employing the minds to conceptualise all of this data and many of the SME’s will still be acting on instinct.

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for the kind words, Quentin! Glad the post resonated with you. And I do agree that the enterprise level will adopt data science faster/earlier than smaller companies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002544405751 Arun Kumar
  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “The Madmen-inspiring tradition of relying on what amounts to subjective opinion.”

    Back in the day there were a few well-established channels for communication including print, television, and radio. Now, with the multiple platforms to use for marketing purposes, you can’t waste time being subjective because there are too many options to choose from. Instead, taking a look at data, trends, and making analytical decisions is where marketing is trending as we are all trying to get the maximum ROI on our efforts whether they are traditional or digital.