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Where Is Your Company’s Next Data Dalai Lama?


lunghuangupdatedData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lung Huang, vice president of global partnerships at 84.51°.

Little known fact: The Dalai Lama is technically not chosen, but rather found.

This idea of “being found rather than chosen” rings especially true for me today in regards to advertising technology’s pursuit for true data enlightenment, or finding the “winning” data marketing strategy.

As marketers conduct meticulous processes of testing different methodologies, I see the “discovery” as comparable to finding the Dalai Lama, although data and the “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism don’t have much in common. Instead, it’s what the discovery will provide – the journey to the illuminating result that gives marketers the confidence to conduct their tactics and strategies.

More often than not, it won’t be easy to find the best tactic or strategy, forcing marketers to try again and again. It is through taking these chances that marketers can really determine the best result for their advertising and marketing efforts.

The Data Dalai Lama Journey

In this search for elusive data enlightenment within marketing technology, I watch with great amazement, and sometimes humor, the amount of data companies attempt to collect and throw together for their marketing initiatives. While there is great demographic data available, I am not sure data is what the world needs more of right now. That said, I do applaud the effort and hope that maybe, just maybe, some paid heed to my previous call to use data for better marketing plan performance.

But instead of using all of the data, let’s prioritize resources.

Today’s challenge in data-driven marketing is deciding which data to use and who can access it. The very best companies are going into their virtual storage units and digging around to see what gems they can find. The process is similar to exploring your parent’s basement storage areas. You might find your mom has a good Samsonite luggage set from the ’80s, but that does not mean you should resurrect it for your next trip to Europe.

The same rings true for data. Just because you have such a robust supply of data doesn’t mean you should use all of it.


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Right now, I bet many of you have a CRM database in use. If not, you have probably sat through a meeting where you were shown several great options of how to innovate your CRM program, but the brainstorm session resulted in everyone saying, “Yes, let’s just send them all the same email.”

These CRM meetings can be far more fruitful. Individuals and customers have asked you to contact them. So instead of waiting for a major sale or event, this database should be used to speak to your customer in a personalized way.

If you want to take it even a step further and earn better performance, buy better media based on your newly created data insights. Now if you still can continue reading this without being distracted by the cheers from the media sellers, it is not all rosy for them as there will be new winners and losers in the world of performance marketing. The limits of what you deem successful will be different 10 years from now, and that is OK. As circumstances change, so does the analysis of what matters to your company, but simply doing nothing because the task seems too daunting is a shame.

No Easy Task

When the time comes for starting the process of finding the next real Dalai Lama, it is far from easy. The high priests conduct simple tests to identify the next spiritual leader, such as putting articles of clothing from the former Dalai Lama and others in front of a child to see which clothes the child will choose. If all else fails, they may put the names of all finalists into a vase and draw one.

Similarly, marketers must employ a thorough process testing different methodologies to identify which one generates the success they are seeking. This involves a close look at their data trove, selectively determining the right data to leverage for a marketing initiative. For some marketers, they might luck out with a successful first attempt, but that is quite rare. Even if that strategy can withstand a couple of campaigns, it will likely need to be reassessed a couple years later in accordance with the rapidly changing advertising market.

For the rest of us, where first-attempt marketing efforts often do not yield the results we are looking for, the discovery process might take longer but the results can be more vigorous. Marketers sometimes exhaust all possible tests and measures, finding themselves without a clear-cut winner. Then what? It’s as simple as taking a page from the Dalai Lama search and throwing all of the options in a pot and just picking one.

While you may not have one clear-cut winner, at least you have the confidence that you did everything possible in your search. We are all trying to make our customers’ lives easier and providing them with the most engaging advertisements possible, based on the best data available. And while it might be exhausting, the market changes so rapidly that such search and discovery experiments constantly need to be conducted.

With an ever-growing data trove and more technology to help better reach customers, the options to improve upon and better understand data-driven marketing efforts are routine. Playing an active role exploring the best devices will give marketers an unparalleled confidence when you finally select the right strategy for your brand.

Follow Lung Huang (@Lung_Huang), 84.51° (@8451group) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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