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Why Metrics and Data shouldn’t be the only focus

Whether you’re a big business, a one-man-band data is important to measure the effectiveness of your marketing. 

However, an article in MarketingWeek draws attention to the danger of focusing too much on data and budgets and not enough on the creativity and the development of fresh ideas that should be at the heart of any marketing plan. 

And, I have to say I agree.

A company I previously worked for as an employee did exactly this, they got far too hung up on the money and the data and didn’t focus enough on using both successes and failures to inform future marketing. 

The result was they lost some fantastic creativity and skills but this isn’t their only loss, they lost their ability to diversify their marketing and to creatively pursue new avenues that could bring in new revenue.

I’m not saying that money and data shouldn’t be an important factor but what I am saying is that it can’t be at the cost of the creative development of what marketing actually is. 

There was a post a few years ago where Aldi, who were celebrating their birthday, tweeted to all the other supermarkets asking if they were coming to their party. This piece of creative genius resulted in many other brands joining in, including a number of retail brands and some that aren’t food retailers. 

This kind of creativity is absolute gold dust and really needs a supportive business behind it who understands marketing, understands what it needs and gets that creativity and development is vital to getting results – like the Aldi campaign. 

Without a supportive business, a campaign like this would have been pulled down before it had even developed. 

And, unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of culture that was running amok in this company I used to work for.

So, what can be done about it?

Well, like I said goal setting and data are still really important, but they should be used as informative tools to identify what does and doesn’t work with the audience, not as a way to stifle creativity and essentially kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. 

Companies need to have a culture of honesty, and use data to learn and grow, chasing metrics for the sake of it is hugely damaging and stifles innovation, thought development and effectiveness. 

This kind of things comes from the top of a company down to the employees. If people are being bashed from above about metrics, data and targets all the time, this is going to be the only thing they’re focused on and care about and also, they’re going to become very stressed about not hitting those targets – thus further stifling their ability to actually achieve and produce effective marketing that gets the results they’re chasing. 

This cripples creatively to a point of it being non-existent, then it’s those at the top who are the first ones to ask why the marketing isn’t working – giving the poor staff more targets to achieve – thus compounding the situation further, ending up in a state where nothing is effective. What the owner doesn’t realise is it’s actually their fault for stifling this creativity and development in the first place. 

But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that metrics, data and targets shouldn’t be a part of marketing, instead what I’m saying is it needs to be something that works alongside and informs rather than being the main focus. The two parts of marketing, creativity and data, should compliment each other and not be a situation where data becomes the greedy child. 

Using data to adapt and learn is really important, but it shouldn’t become the only focus and business owners should take the time to learn how marketing works so as to avoid disgruntled, overworked, burnt-out, disinterested staff.

Targets, metics and data are only an issue if you use them in the wrong way and restrict people’s ability to do their jobs effectively. 

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