Don’t Let Big Data Make You A Big Dummy

Does big data make your brand look fat?

Every brand is currently focused on building customer loyalty networks. It’s all based on the classic business idiom: “Your best new business is your current customer.” It’s true. Gartner Group research can show that 80% of an average company’s future revenue comes from just 20% of their existing customers.

Motivated by new technology platforms and findings like this, the corporate rush to loyalty has become almost comical. Marketing automation consultants are being hired and Salesforce.com is being licensed in marketing departments but without regard for a cohesive digital plan for how accounting, sales and the call center will integrate. Brands are aggregating consumer data without even knowing how to use it.

If this innovation chaos sounds familiar, you are not alone. Market disruption is a learning process for everyone.

That’s why strategy is more important than technology per se. What will we do with all this data and unlimited consumer access? We must never forget that consumer attention still has to be earned. Consumers can easily block email, delete apps or turn off notifications if we constantly annoy them with pushy advertising messages.

The data we gain on our consumers could be very personal, lending Big Data the potential to become Big Brother. Brands’ knowledge of exercise habits, eating patterns and current location can be used to build consumer relationships … or destroy them.

Your relationship with your consumer will be like a marriage. We might have the power to tell a consumer they are eating too much and haven’t been to the gym in a month, but should we?

Brands are just like people; there are people we like to be with and people we don’t. We must practice restraint. If we focus purely on product advancement and extracting the sale, people will be left with the feeling they are being used, rather than appreciated. We’re all familiar with that feeling.

Author and marketing expert David Salyers once said, “Big Data gives us all of the power to be generally right, but get everything specifically wrong.”  Initially, Big Data was viewed as a scientific way to get more customers. But what if we changed our thinking? Let’s dare to consider how we can give something more meaningful than points or free products after 10 purchases. What if loyalty made your customers lives better? What if we could make rewards more fun?

Imagine this: A consumer downloads an app from his favorite restaurant, on a road trip with his family.

All of a sudden, an alert comes through on his phone:

“You’ve driven a long way! Why don’t you take a load off at exit 35 and have an appetizer on us?”

What about this one: “You’ve come to see us quite a few times in the last couple of weeks. Let us buy you a coffee.”

Once, when I went to a resort, my wife and I were greeted when we got out of our car by a valet saying, “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Cobb. Happy Anniversary.”

I’m still trying to figure out how they did that.

This is what Big Data can do for us. 

But not if it stays locked up in a database managed by the I.T. department. We must activate Big Data to serve our customers. The Customer Relationship Networks are becoming core service experience and marketing tools that need to be driven by the leadership of every organization.


– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age