How to “Wean Creatives Off Gut-Feeling and On To Hard Data”

“Creatives” such as marketers rely more on intuition than on data analysis or even consultation with colleagues when making decisions, says an Accenture Customer Analytics Survey. CIOs can combat that resistance by IDing metrics that matter and finding advocates open to new approaches.

“In customer-facing functions such as marketing, CIOs often find the door firmly shut in their faces. Indeed, many executives in these areas positively pride themselves on applying intuition rather than hard evidence.”

"Creatives" like marketers rely more on intuition than data or even consultation with colleagues.

Image courtesy of Flickr user audreyjm529.

So writes Marianne Seiler at cio.co.uk, in “Help marketing managers overcome their intuition fixation: 6 ways CIOs can help wean creatives off gut-feeling and on to hard data.”

Seiler cites a May 2011 Accenture Customer Analytics Survey (PDF) of 800 directors and senior managers at companies in Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A key finding, according to the report: “While almost 70 percent of respondents said their senior management was totally or highly committed to analytics and fact based decision making, corporate culture still presents a major barrier.”

But CIOs can be proactive in helping to get marketing executives using data analytics for decision making.

Among the six steps Seiler highlights: “Identify the metrics that matter” and “Find a business partner: Select a group within the marketing functions that is ready for and open to new approaches, and examine its culture and ability to change. Take time to discuss its objectives and expectations, and identify the resources needed to spearhead the driving of data into decision processes.”

Seiler, bylined as “senior principle, customer analytics at Accenture,” notes that the challenge is particularly acute in the creative parts of companies.

“Some 35% of those respondents responsible for marketing, sales or customer service said experience and intuition were the key inputs when making decisions,” she writes. “In contrast, only 22% placed the same reliance on data analysis, and a mere 15% on consultation with colleagues.”

For more tips for being proactive, go to the full text of the story.

2 Comments On: How to “Wean Creatives Off Gut-Feeling and On To Hard Data”

  • andrew.kingnz | September 5, 2011

    As a “creative” working his way through “data rehab”, I concur 110% with your ‘take’ on the need for hard data (as opposed to ‘raw gut feel’) to be the basis for strategic decision-making within the marketing role.

    I cite the case of my own employer – an entrepreneur in the global online engagement ring business: He recently set me a research project requiring me to determine ‘who the top ten online jewelry e-tailers are in the US (based on sales revenue).

    My ‘gut feel’ told me to merely “google it”… surely I would find a ton of information that I could sift through and extract the data I needed.

    I was right – I found (or at least “thought I had found”) enough information to compile a top Ten list. I duly put it all together and submitted it to the CEO.

    He was impressed – after all, the companies entire SEO strategy would be relying on this data for when we launched into the US market.

    Product development managers also got their hands on the report I’d compiled. I was feeling pretty good with myself…

    …until the CEO approached me one day and asked me “if I thought it was odd that two of the top ten companies in my list were actually UK-domiciled companies and not (as you’d expect) publically held US companies.

    He then asked me what ‘checks and balances’ I had used to cross-check my data.

    Ummmmm… Yeahhh

    Needless to say, I took his advice and subscribed to a major online retail research company so I could double-check MY list against THEIRS.

    Ohhhh boy :(

    Let’s just say that ‘humiliation is the best form of cruel and unusual punishment’ I know of.

    I was ‘wildly’ out in my creative, gut-feel approach to data compilation.

    Over 40% of my own data was incorrect, based on nothing but the self-serving opinions of the authors of the data I had found online.

    I still have my job… but let’s just say I am a whole lot wiser now.

    The motto of the story…

    Wanna future-proof yourself and your company? Wrap yourself up ‘real tight’ in hard data.

    End of Story.

    Andrew King
    Marketing Manager

  • Anne O'Connor | September 16, 2011

    @Andrew,
    Ouch! A good lesson and one I’m sure a lot of us make at on time or another. The idea that all the information you’ll ever need is just a few clicks away is very seductive but totally misleading.

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