Using Data to Make Better Decisions

Marketing Woes

A couple of news stories hit the wire that really captured my attention this week. Mostly in the social Media Marketing arena, the first article was about how retailers are closing their FaceBook stores. Gamestop, JCPenney, Gap and others were the first to explore retail on Facebook.

Only a year ago analysts and Social Media experts were excited about the potential of F-Commerce (FaceBookCommerce). “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” noted Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Another Social Media Channel

Another article that hit the wire about the same day as this was a story about how businesses are trying to capitalize on Pinterest, the newest Social Media hit. Here is the quote from the article that got me questioning the assumptions that are being made about this industry, “Just as many businesses have finally figured out how to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Google Plus, here comes yet another social media obligation that’s too popular to ignore.”

So, “many” business have figured it all out, have they? This may be the view from the media perspective; That businesses are driving visitors to their sites and capitalizing that into profitability – they must be, right?

Do you have it all figured out?

The assumption that businesses are figuring this out is laughable. From speaking at over 40 events last year, to thousands of attendees, I can personally attest that businesses are frustrated with social media, unsure of how to approach it, and no one knows how to measure it. It is a curve ball thrown to a traditional business model that has no room for all of this social interaction. This is the first generation of businesses that has had to add an entire component to running a business, beyond just the day-to-day responsibilities of business operations. Developing an online presence, changing to digital marketing, and now attempting to integrate a social media understanding – all the while being told by the media that other businesses are doing just fine and working it out successfully.

What provides your best value for your dollar?

Once in a while, I have the opportunity to meet with a company that is taking the time to develop a measurement-based understanding of their business, and develop their marketing based on their ROI. These businesses do not seem flustered by social media, and that is because they understand the value and where it comes from. You see, a data-based business measures success and knows which channels provide the best success for their marketing dollar. While experimentation with other channels, such as Pinterest is encouraged, it is only performed with a specific purpose and measurement goal.

These businesses know where their core marketing success is gained. These businesses understand and know where to invest their marketing dollar, because it provides the greatest return compared to other channels. These are the businesses that take their time in exploring new tactics, and use new media as a complimentary feature, rather than expecting great rewards that will change the business. It’s a form of maturity. When you know what works, and why it works, you don’t chase the “new.” Rather, you sit back, evaluate it, see if it fits your business, your message, and your resources. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

Now, I’m NOT saying that Pinterest can’t be used – it can, IF your business model can leverage it. It’s the same with Twitter; I see publishers making great use of Twitter. I don’t see much success from non-tech B2B companies – it’s a medium that just doesn’t fit everybody. Knowing what fits is the first step to making your own marketing trend. The path of Social Media is littered with hundreds of cast-offs that were on their way to becoming the next best thing (MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, Second Life, Bebo, Jaiku, PLaxo, and the list goes on…)

Businesses that are successful in social media have made social media work for them; Rather than attempting to do everything, all at once, not knowing what to expect.

The Original Social Media

The last article I recommended to my friends was explored the groundbreaking marketing technique of seeing your clients face-to-face. Or, as a friend of mine explained, “the original social media.” Imagine that. In a world of articles about the benefits of social media, and the whirlwind of advice on how to get the most our of Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, etc – there is an article highlighting the value of meeting people face-to-face.