It’s All About the Offer: Marketing on the Left Side of the Brain
Using data, you can focus solidly on the customer -- not the product -- to make more effective offers.
Back in the 20th century, sales and marketing geniuses were American business heroes—they built great sales forces that built great companies, and created great ads that built great brands.
But during the past 25 years, technology changed the rules. Now and forevermore, marketing geniuses will be guided not by intuition but by predictive analytics. In the future, marketing geniuses increasingly will use an understanding of customer behavior to offer the right product, at the right price, at the optimum time. Forrester Research analyst Eric Schmitt calls this data-driven, logic-based approach, left brain marketing.
The good news is that while customer analysis has become an increasingly precise science, the raw data that fuels the analytic engine already has been collected by the enterprise. Otherwise known as highly granular customer knowledge—information such as customer ID, transaction date, transaction amount, product descriptors and other behavioral data—this goldmine is sitting in sales order, billing and accounting files, waiting to be turned into marketing insight.
The dilemma marketers face is how to apply this data: Should they use it to focus their marketing effort on the products they sell or on the customers they serve? This is not as simple a question as it might seem.
Every business carries two kinds of inventory. Its “hard” inventory consists of the products it makes and sells that sits on warehouse shelves. “Soft” inventory consists of the customers it serves. While not sitting somewhere on shelves, this asset is equally tangible—it sit in customer files, accounting ledgers and sales order books.
Marketing a tangible product is relatively easy. Products are quantities that can be defined, measured and compared. Marketing with product focus means deciding which products you want to push. This is especially compelling if inventory is piling up; when a new product is being introduced; or when an old warhorse of an item still has “legs.” But even in obvious cases like these, wall-to-wall product marketing across the entire customer base burns marketing dollars that could be otherwise invested.