Ask any marketer or e-commerce team how much time they spend analysing reports and looking at data, it's always going to be a considerable amount of their time. The real skill however, is to derive the outcomes from those numbers. What do the numbers actually mean and how can this information be used to improve future strategy?
Marketing has always been complex. It was complex 17 years ago when I started my career and it is still complex today, but for very different reasons. All those years ago, the main barrier to success was technology and tools. Google analytics didn't exist, tracking was messy and inaccurate and trust me, there was no such thing as a marketing cloud. To be completely honest, everyone was winging it, including me. It was the early days of internet marketing. It was fun, interesting but extremely frustrating because the tools on the market just didn't cut it.
Fast forward to today and things are very different. We now have hundreds of thousands of tools and technologies that are fuelled by AI and ML. Pretty much anything that a marketer can dream of can be executed through any number of platforms. So what are the problems that we face in today's marketing landscape and what has instinct got to do with all of this?
We rely too much on technology instead of our innate instinct
This problem isn't new. Technology will never be the answer to our problems. Technology is the solution to deliver the answer to our problems and that is all. The vast majority of marketers will look at tools and technologies and ultimately their marketing strategy will depend on what the tools can or cannot do. But this is the most dangerous of all pitfalls. It results in marketers and e-commerce teams being entirely dependent on technology, from ideation all the way through to execution and optimisation. This means that we never give ourselves the opportunity to truly imagine what we could do. instead, we opt for what is possible. The most successful people in the world never try to do what is possible - they dedicate their lives to doing the exact opposite. They discover what might one day be possible, through imagination. If marketers adopt this culture, this is the difference between a good marketer and an exceptional marketer. Being a visionary in marketing makes you highly desirable and it's likely that you have an exceptionally successful career. Anyone can work out how to use tools well, but very few of us can actually imagine something into being. Put your strategy first - the tools can come later. Use your instinct and do something incredible.
We depend on analytics way too much
Analytics is a critical element in any marketing programme, that's one thing I think we can all agree on. But the problem with analytics, is that we often only use it to analyse and optimise what is already there. This is just as limiting as relying on the same tools and technologies that you've been using in the past. If we only consider what exists today and what we know today, then how can we possibly imagine what we might be able to do tomorrow? Beyond a little bit of optimisation, we can't. You cannot illuminate the path ahead, in the shadow of the past. We have to transcend this way of thinking...
So what is the answer? Use your intuition. Take what you need from analytics, take a step back from what the current situation looks like and start again. Don't build on top of what you've already created - you have to stop and re-imagine everything. This is strategy and this is how you get exceptional results. And many of us ever get this opportunity, because according to Smart Insights, 49% of marketers don't have a marketing strategy.
Your intuition is your greatest marketing tool
With all the marketing tools, technologies, analytics and data, it's so easy to solely rely on this as our toolset. You'll probably do super well in doing so. But you are much greater than this. My invitation to you today is to step into your true power as a marketer. That power is your intuition. You've most likely experienced and worked through some of the biggest problems in your industry already, through marketing. How did you do it? Most probably through your intuition.
Seth Godin describes intuition as "just another name for a skill we don't have words for".
"Intuition is just another name for a skill we don't have words for."
I couldn't agree more with his statement. It's like an invisible skill - it's so powerful but because we don't have words for it, we almost dismiss it, because we can't see it or compartmentalise it.
When has your intuition got you out of trouble or helped you in making the best decisions you've made in your career? Make a list now and you'll see the power of your own intuition and how it has already guided you to phenomenal success.
Taking this to the next level, means that you use your intuition as your primary tool from now on. This is how we all do great work. This is how we build resilience and make the impossible, possible. And the best bit is, you already have it and you will already have a list that evidences how you've used it before to do great things before.
Someone somewhere (I have tried to find the source - drop me a message if you do know who said this!) once said "if it looks right but feels wrong, it is fear. If it looks wrong but feels right, it's intuition". I think this is a great reminder that if we do over-rely on the tech, it will feel wrong but of course it will look right - because everyone else is doing it that way. But when it looks wrong and feels right, that's when you know you're about to do something special.
Be the intuitive marketer.