I believe with the right amount of runway, most savvy marketers can make almost any statistic tell a particular story.
This is why I tell all clients to scrutinize any number, data point or insight that is delivered to them from any source.
Context is king with data and I’ve been in the marketing business long enough to see the danger in false positives of improper data analysis -not to mention the downright disgusting sham of some folks using data to tell a story simply to benefit their own cause.
For me, one insight is nothing more than a directional path to continue our search for the truth. It gives us a starting point to test alternative and opposing theories and a platform to continue to learn from.
My advice to my friends and colleagues new to the space is to simply make it a point to try this one easy exercise with the marketing or advertising agency you are working with — ask the question “why” three times in a row against any insight you are presented with.
The conversation could sound something like this:
AGENCY: “Our advertising has been effective…”
CLIENT: “Why do you think that?”
“Our sales have been up since we started running advertising… “
“Why do you think this specific campaign was the reason? What else was running during this period of time?”
“Well, we specifically pulled all other advertising during this window of time to test this theory.”
“Why do we think this wouldn’t have happened anyway? Is this a seasonal trend we are benefiting from?”
“Our year-on-year shows we are up, but there is no harm in pulling back to do some testing of this theory over the coming weeks to see the impact on sales.”
“Thank you. You really thought through this, which is hugely appreciated. How can we continue to test this and evolve our campaign?”
In a digital-first marketing landscape, the benefit of data and insights is laying the ground work for the million-dollar question of why things happen, not just what happened.
Always ask why.