Smart direct marketers have been doing evidenced-based marketing for a very long time. Yet even with the use of old school matrixes prior to the rise of spreadsheet marketing, a fair amount of experienced based intuition would be employed. What does that mean? That means that sometimes the numbers are ignored and even good marketers go with their gut instinct. I’m here to advise that intuition can be both useful and dangerous.
I came to this conclusion while reading Nobel Prize winner Daniel Khaneman’s very interesting book “ Thinking Fast and Slow’. I won’t get into the aspects of System 1 and System 2 any more than to note that the book’s central thesis is a contrast in two modes of thought: “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Spoiler alert – System 1 dominates and as Mr. Khaneman relates that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Is marketing intuition important? I say absolutely. If something feels wrong or right it bears further exploration. You must test your hypothesis and not simply just act upon it since it seems or looks familiar, or fits neatly into some cubbyhole in your mind. Creative efforts in marketing are born from intuition. Most successful creative efforts manage to meld that intuition with an empirical understanding of the responsiveness of a particular audience. Breaking the rules can be very effective but it’s always better if you know what the rules are in the first place.
Marketing measurement is nothing new. Yet the differences in the ability to measure today are significant compared to ten or twenty years ago (how did we manage without the use of analytics – Google or otherwise?). To ignore the data staring you in the face is a perilous road to travel – and a likely less successful compared to using the data to bolster marketing intuition.
Over the years I’ve seen numerous instances of marketers ignoring the data. It’s sort of like a friend of mine who years ago moved to Las Vegas to play blackjack for a living. He counted cards (in the days before 8 deck blackjack). He did fine for a while and then deviated from his plan and started to play his hunches combined with his counting strategy. He did not last very long and soon was on his way back to New York. Counting cards in blackjack for a living was a boring and methodical – even tedious. But it works. Until you ignore the data.
In a multi-channel marketing effort there are many times when one particular media channel performs decidedly better than the corresponding ones. Marketing intuition would move you to increase your efforts in that media channel. But the first move should not be to employ the best performing channel to the exclusion of the other media channels that undoubtedly had contributed to the overall success of the campaign and best-performing channel. As we direct marketers always say – test, test, test, and test again.
How do you feel about data-fueled marketing intuition?