Let's reflect for a moment on some of today's biggest business stories:
- Amazon has crushed retail
- Uber and Lyft have changed the taxi game
- Dollar Shave Club got acquired by Unilever for $1 billion
- Facebook and Google dominate media
All these brands have one thing in common: they are the "haves," companies founded on and built by data. Those without a direct link to customer data? They are today's brand "have-nots." They have let intermediaries form a wedge between consumer insights and business decisions. Every consumer packaged goods company, for example, that lets a retailer be the middleman collecting valuable purchase data they should own loses out big time.
I call this barrier-free zone "the new transparency," a clearer window into who your customers are, what they buy, how often they buy it, how much they pay, where they live, their credit card info, their IP address, their interests and behaviors, and so forth.
The biggest, most successful disruptors of the day, across distinctly different industries and business models all share this new transparency. And these data "haves" are crushing the "have-nots" in countless ways:
- They market more effectively, because they understand customers better.
- They manage logistics better, using real customer data to optimize their supply chains.
- They leverage data to understand what to manufacture and how much to stock, and also which SKUs are ripe for custom labeling.
- They maximize profitability at the customer level by locking in demand and shifting from discrete sales to recurring revenue.
- They seize on network opportunities so that growing their customer base means better, not just bigger.
In other words, the data "haves" are smarter than you.
So what are data "have-nots" to do? The only way to compete is to even the playing field. Carve out your own new transparency.
Here are five steps you can take to become a data "have":
1. Rebuild your digital marketing for data. Collect raw data from every visit, engagement and transaction across your digital and mobile delivery.
- Work with a partner able to marry this raw data with rich individual and household information, including demographic data.
- Collaborate with strategists who can smartly evaluate and help plan for your needs, and data scientists capable of modeling the right audiences to produce forward-driving business intelligence.
2. Leverage this data for marketing performance analytics. Use your enriched intelligence for multi-touch attribution, to begin to tease apart the impact of your marketing activities at the audience level. This will help sharpen your media strategy and distill core value drivers.
3. Become data obsessed. Every piece of content has the opportunity to drive new insights if tagged correctly. All content or media should have an exoskeleton – a tagging taxonomy that itself returns rich insights.
4. Decide what you want to learn and figure out how to learn it. Get zealous about data collection. Never miss a chance to build more transparency into your customer experience.
5. Disintermediate the intermediaries. Stop giving middlemen the upper hand. Build direct relationships with your customers, using data that gives you a full picture.
- QSRs have been doing this brilliantly with apps and loyalty programs. They've set out a strategy to close the data gap, to make millions of previously opaque experiences transparent. They've turned anonymous shoppers into identifiable ones, with known shopping patterns and direct connections for marketing communications, promotions and rewards to drive loyalty.
Of course, data is just the enabler. Real business advantage comes from how you use the data. And this is where the data "have-nots" have a real opportunity. If you're new to data, you have the opportunity to build your structure around tomorrow's needs. You don't have to live with disconnected systems or imperfect stacks built five years ago. You can skip a whole generation of technology. It's the ultimate revenge for the brick and mortar player, CPG, or a previously hamstrung industry competing on an uneven playing field. You haven't wasted a decade stringing together suboptimal systems and limited technologies. Study the "haves" and build your own network of connection.
Tony Rogers, CMO of Walmart, said it best at the 2017 ANA Masters of Marketing Conference: Every company, every industry needs to "evolve or perish." Data is the difference between growth and decline, billion dollar valuations and share price decimation, winning and losing.
Get moving toward the new transparency… today. Don't be on the "have-not" side of data.