Sexy headline right? I know you might be ready to click away but here’s a newsflash: This is the future of marketing! Heck it’s here now and if you don’t embrace this stuff you will be in the buggy whip business. It’s 2014, marketing and I.T. have collided and it is all about the data.
When it comes to data, Jeff Hayes is the man with the numbers. As president of InfoTrends, a leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm, he has conducted numerous strategic market and product planning assignments for a host of firms in the consumer imaging, office equipment and production printing industries.
Brands such as Adobe Systems, Canon, Eastman Kodak, Hewlett Packard, IBM, International Paper, Lexmark, Ricoh, Sony, Toshiba and Xerox have all turned to Hayes for research, analysis, forecasts and advice to help understand their market trends, identify opportunities and develop strategies to grow their businesses.
“Two of the most important ways that market research and data can help enhance a company’s sales and branding efforts are to guide targeting and messaging,” Hayes says. “Companies have scarce resources and must focus on the best customer segments and deliver relevant messages through preferred channels to drive sales.”
Hayes says that customer data from your website, CRM or other operations systems (e.g. field maintenance logs, customer support calls), along with data from occasional surveys and third-party sources (think Dun & Bradstreet, ZoomInfo, social media) are essential to segment your customer base, using various behavioral, attitudinal and, what he calls, “firmographic” attributes (industry, location, company size, credit score).
“All this data must be organized and analyzed to develop insights that can drive actions,” Hayes says. “Depending on the amount of information and rigor of your analysis, you may use simple spreadsheets or more advanced data tabulations, regression analysis, and segmentation modeling software to characterize your customer base and identify high value prospects. Some companies prefer to develop in-house expertise to gather and analyze this information, while others look to outside experts that have the appropriate tools and experience to create a program and deliver results.”
In either case, Hayes says it is critical for senior management to be involved so they can articulate their requirements, understand the process and have confidence in the results and recommendations. He believes that insights from this type of program can help determine whether you should make a promotional offer to a customer and what type of offer has the highest probability for success. “This approach has its roots in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, but can be applied to some business-to-business (B2B) markets, too,” he says.
“There will always be an art to marketing and sales, but increasingly these processes are being driven by data,” Hayes says. “The most successful firms of the future will have a strong proficiency in collecting, analyzing, and applying data to optimize their sales and marketing resources.”