My Best Guess At Effective Marketing

This piece was borrowed from… But, it was a refreshing ‘read’.

Posted by Rob Rose on September 7th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

There’s a wonderful scene in Star Trek 4 (the one where they rescue the whales) where just prior to the Enterprise going back in time, Kirk asks Spock if he’s accounted for the variable mass of whales and water in his time re-entry calculations.  In other words, if he hasn’t calculated this correctly, they could overshoot their return home by hundreds of years.   Spock replies that Mr. Scott cannot give him exact figures on the whale weight so… “he will make a guess”.   “A guess?  You. Spock?  That’s extraordinary”, says Kirk.   Spock is confused and believes that Kirk didn’t understand him.  And, McCoy, always one to prod Spock says “No, Spock.  He means that he feels safer about your guesses than most other people’s facts.”

What’s Your Best Guess

Saying that using analytics to drive marketing decisions has become an in-vogue activity among marketers is a bit like saying that Justin Bieber is popular with the young girls.  In short, marketers have the Bieber Fever for testing and measuring.  Or maybe it’s the Measure Pleasure… or, maybe Number Hunger… Okay, I’ll stop now…

Anyway, one of the things we need to remember as we start to imbue our marketing with more measurement right from the beginning is that if we start out with a poor hypothesis – even the best measurement and/or testing process is useless.

There’s a wonderful new book that I’ve just finished reading called Street-Fighting Mathematics – The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving by Sanjoy Mahajan.  If you like math problems – it’s definitely for you.  And, the author opens the book up with this: “too much mathematical rigor teaches rigor mortis: the fear of making an unjustified leap even when it lands on a correct result.”

That’s just a wonderful way to start a book – and is an amazing lesson for us – not only in just looking at A/B Testing philosophies – but in all facets of our Analytics data.  Our marketing analytics are not just pass/fail.  If we don’t start out with a compelling, creative and (at least somewhat) rational “guess” – we will get meaningless numbers feeding flawed insight producing ineffective marketing strategies.  In short, as someone told me the other day – analytics in this sense just helps us fail more efficiently.

As measurement and testing become more and more a part of what we do for a living, don’t forget that it’s the unique “you” that brings the value to the marketing table.  The smarter the test, the more relevant the message, the more creative the campaign – this is what produces measurement that means something.

Today’s digital marketing should not be a practice of decimal points.  It’s a fluid guessing game of getting to the right answer even if we can’t show our work in the margins.  Analytics and testing data help us do this by providing benchmarks and insight into what’s working and what’s not.   And even if it’s you – you have to find your Spock.  Find the people on your team who can help you make the best guess possible.  As another mathematician George Polya said “a method is a trick I’ve used twice”.


~ by rtymerej on September 9, 2010.

%d bloggers like this: