A marketer walks into a room filled with accountants . . .
No, its not a joke. This month I had that very experience when I participated in the CPA Congress. The congress is an annual education and information series of events organised by CPA Australia and held throughout Australasia. In Melbourne and Sydney I found myself on stage between Glenn Cooper, the Chairman and Marketing Director for Coopers Brewery and Ruslan Kogan, the founder and CEO of Kogan. We were being interviewed by Lisa Carroll from CPA Australia.
We faced an audience filled with finance professionals. It reminded me of a budget meeting, except that this audience appeared to be much friendlier.
Ruslan said that his marketing department has more accountants than “traditional marketers”. Kogan is Australia’s largest online retailer, selling consumer electronics sourced directly from manufactures. Ruslan explained that his marketers are continuously testing communications and measuring every click, email open, purchase, return, like, share and many more digital metrics. “They are much more likely to be using spreadsheets than brainstorming sessions”.
Ruslan’s point demonstrated a real issue; Big Data vs Creativity. At least that is how it is being portrayed in many articles, posts and comments. But there is no conflict. Or at least there shouldn’t be.
I suggested to the CPA audience that data had always been the foundation of marketing. Even in the early days of marketing, businesses built their programs on data; information about their business, the market, the product, pricing, sales trends, profit margins and a host of other pieces of information.
Today however, data has changed:
It measures behaviour. There is often a big difference between what people say and what people do. Marketers not only know what people say they will do, but what they actually do.
There is a lot more of it. The “big” in Big Data is probably too small a word for the enormity of information now being collected.
And with the mountains of information collected, it can be easy to get caught up in the data, and to see it as an end in itself. As marketers we must use the data as a tool to deliver business results. It matters little if a hundred digital metrics are positive, but we have not accomplished the objectives set by the business. Data without a creative spark is just a collection of ones and zeros. And creativity without the data can be beautiful, but impotent. Together, they are magic.
So, data has always been the foundation of marketing. Today that foundation is wider and deeper. And that is good news for marketers and accountants.
As Glenn Cooper rightly reminded the audience, “there is nothing to count until something is sold”. And, despite the giant changes taking place in communications and technology, a definition of marketing remains;
“the science and art of creating and keeping customers”.