Big Data, Bigger Lies

The marketing profession is filled with myths and BS, but none is greater than the part when they tell consumers that “big data helps to elicit customer insights in real-time. Therefore, marketers can understand the tastes and preferences of their target audience.”

Uh-huh. Spoiler alert — marketers don’t actually care about your tastes and preferences — they want your money $$$$. And that becomes clear when you examine their flawed funnel-based systems where they only measure the BOTTOM of the funnel – what happened to the top you might ask? No one cares. Those “targets” are simply collateral damage in the battle to get your money. And it’s wrong.

Here’s why big data doesn’t work the way they say it should.

  1. Marketing lacks empathy and doesn’t really see you as a person — you are a target, a goal — a convenient objective with one of two outcomes, you bought — yay or you didn’t and let’s pound you with the message a few hundred more times until you acquiesce and buy from us.
  2. Consumers don’t want you (the marketer) to have their data.  That’s why all of these new privacy laws were written — because of marketing’s insatiable desire to “learn” about the customer journey. It’s creepy and no one likes it so BACK OFF.
  3. Consumer personas” created from big data are generally useless (although a nice little buzzword to sell services to fools who don’t know the difference.) Why? Because human beings sometimes behave irrationally and emotionally and the minute you think you have a fix on it, they will change for no good reason at all. Sorry, big data – but human beings’ behavior cannot always be accurately predicted. 

The problem with modern marketing isn’t our access to data, it’s our lack of empathy and desire to create a real relationship with them because we 1) HAVE to get that sale NOW 2) Must “convert” them which even sounds creepy. 3) Must stuff them into our funnel

NONE of these approaches builds relationships. None work like REAL human relationships moving GRADUALLY through the phases of Curiosity to Enlightenment to Commitment.  So….what should you do instead?

Forget about big data and see YOUR customers as people. Then start asking the real questions — How are we helping them solve THEIR problems, How are we establishing ourselves as THEIR guide and how are we making their lives INCREDIBLE and AMAZING?  Be about them – dump your funnels, your personas and all of that crap into the nearest trash can and start over with some key relationship-building questions. 

Make YOUR story ALL about THEM and their journey to get their problems solved. Tell that story a number of ways for as long as it takes to make your audience feel comfortable enough to take that next step with you.  Adopt a “No Relationship Left Behind” strategy where our funnel becomes a magnet and we attract our audience WITHOUT bothering the whole world.

Big data is full of BIG lies. Don’t let them destroy your company’s chance at building real relationships with your marketing.