It’s WHAT you know, not who you know, that is important

Data is probably the single most important asset available to the modern marketeer.  Online or offline, data helps you understand your audience, target appropriately, and evaluate what you have achieved.

Marc Michaels, Director of Direct Marketing and Evaluation, COI

For every organisation, there is an imperative to measure: be this HR statistics, i.e. attendance, satisfaction, billable hours; sales and marketing efforts vs returns; key customer behaviour; client satisfaction; website activity… you get the picture.  For publishing and events companies in particular data underpins almost everything they do, as well as being their most transferrable asset and how this data is managed and used is as important as the brands themselves.

Having established that data is incredibly valuable, and can really drive a business or organisation forward, how come most of it sits gathering dust at the bottom of a drawer or stored somewhere  on an individual’s hard-drive? Why do organisations make the same mistake over and over again, despite conducting annual satisfaction surveys or presenting monthly figures to the board?

Is part of the answer that once an organisation has collected some data they consider job done,  and haven’t established a clear mechanism for acting on the results?  Or is it because there is such a lag between collecting the data and delivering the results that by then the business has moved on and believes it is already addressing issues highlighted in the retrospective research (when in fact it isn’t)?

Of all these factors, time lag has to be the most important.  Receiving a visitor list a month after the event fails to capitalise on the momentum of a live experience; it leaves visitors wondering why you didn’t contact them earlier and your sales team have already moved onto something else.  Spotting a need to deliver another specialist session at a conference can only happen if you are either a) there in person and able to listen in to all of the chat; or b) able to view what everyone is talking about around a specific topic as it happens.

Even in the corporate sector, the ability to capture data about what is important to your staff or the customers they are talking to is nothing unless it is available in real time, in a format that can be interpreted easily and acted upon.

Virtual experience platforms go a long way towards achieving this.  Built correctly and with the right technology in place, they are able to tell you what your audience really wants to know, where they are going to find out about it, what they expect to receive, who they want to interact with them and how long they are willing to do it for.

Valuable information that is available instantly.

Advertisements

Chicken or egg?

Chicken and eggWhat comes first – the problem that needs the technological solution or the technology that provides an innovative solution you couldn’t have imagined before it arrived?

Unlike medical research, where scientists are looking for a specific remedy for a relatively well defined condition, with clear protocols and clinical trial proceedures, new ideas for business often happen incrementally.

But in the last two years there has been a major paradigm shift in the way clients and customers interact with the organisations that supply them.  Where once they were passive recipients of marketing messages, customer service and product development now they can comment, praise and condemn to an audience of millions should they choose to do so.

The difficulty for the organisations at the receiving (rather than the delivering) end is how to listen and react to this phenomenon and, more importantly, to harness it to grow and enhance their day-to-day business.

Fortunately, just as networking sites, wikis and user groups have created this phenomenon, new technologies in the form of virtual experience platforms, collaborative meeting software and independent broadcast media will enable companies to embrace the power of incoming marketing to create powerful networks of their own.  Which will require a significant shift in strategic thinking since the inputs won’t necessarily match up to the forecast.

Organisations that are able to engage with their audiences, respond and react will be the winners in this new world of communication and marketing.