Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Ways to Tick off Your Executive with Data Analysis

In 2011, data-driven marketing is hot. Wait, really? As a graduate student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern, I worked with a company on a project of customer database consolidation and analysis during the summer residency. However, the management team was not that into data. Why? If you are an analyst with the same problem, you may have done one of these things to tick your executive off: 

"Huge potential profit is hidden in the customer data. It's a gold reef!" You were trying to persuade the CMO, "$50000 and 4 months. We'll discover impactful consumer insight and segment our target." 
 With those words, your gold would stay deeply buried for another century. Data analysis requires investment of money, time and human resource. Proposing without an objective linked to the $ sign is the easiest way to kill it in the cradle. 

"We did an ANOVA test and confirmed that the difference is statistically significant." You were reporting the progress of the project. The CMO frowned but you were excited about your finding and didn't notice, "The survival analysis shows that overcharge for text message is a trigger event for churn rate."
Yes, don't ever talk in plain words because that doesn't show your expertise. Analysts are too awesome for normal people to understand -- That thought is the second stab to your analysis.

            "The data is telling a different story. The plan was not worth trying. " You were persuading the CMO to abandon the new marketing plan.
            "I've been working in the industry for 20 years and I'm telling you that this will be the hot topic in 5 years. The plan is launching next week and I want the timeline on my desk within tomorrow." Your CMO left, and slammed the door close.                 
           Don't involve him in the process; don't encourage him to discover any truth from the data by himself. That guarantees your analysis to be dumped in the trash bin.

           Now here are the 3 things you don't do if you want buy-in from your executive: Don't forget to mention the monetary return; don't talk in jargons; don't throw the conclusion at him.

Mina Zhou, Northwestern Medill IMC2011, Twitter: @Mina_Zhou9

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