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Getting Big Data and Marketing to Work Together

Or Why Your Analyst Needs to Understand Brand Strategy.

Imagine you’re a bioinformatician, a technologist at a major medical research institution.

Your task is to munch Big Data.  A “kabillion” fields of biological data.  You’re Curiosity, Big Data, and Marketingon a team led by a scientist, a pharmacogenomist (also an oncologist) who oversees clinical drug trials.  As the data diva (guru), you’re critical to the success of the team and to the development of the drug.  And you have a track record of success.  You’re no slouch.

You feel a bit superior to others on the team because of your expertise, and you should.  You are superior…at least in your ability to analyze what is in front of you. And yet…

One day, the scientist (chief investigator) asks you a simple, off-handed question, “Has anyone ever told you how the drug works on the human body?”

You’ve crunched DNA data for years.  You’ve been a good little technologist.  You deliver brilliance in charts and tables.  You give your boss what she asks.  And when the investigator asks for a different graph or another slice of the data, you oblige.

But the answer is no.

No, you’ve never thought to ask the most obvious question, “How does this drug actually affect the body?”  For some reason, you’ve never taken an interest in the bigger picture.  You’ve buried your head in the data.  Never looked up.  Never asked about the subject matter itself.

Would knowing something about how the drug interacts with the liver make a difference in how the technologist approaches the data?

And would the investigator (oncologist) who is running the drug trial benefit from knowing something about analytics, p-values, and the myriad kinds of graphs to display results?

Stick Your Nose Where It Belongs:  How Curiosity Can Help Both Big Data and Marketing 

I’m not dinging the technologist (in this true story).  The point is that experts need to be curious of the subject matter of other experts on the team.  Big Data and Marketing can achieve more by being more curious of each other’s expertise.

In marketing, the brand strategist needs to ask more questions about how the analytics and Big Data (or Small) is derived.  And the market research analyst needs to ask about brand strategy and how emotion drives customer behavior.

Curiosity can solve problems and deliver more sophisticated and meaningful results.  In a world of specialists, we need our experts, more than ever, to ask what may seem like dumb questions.  Our data experts need to be asking other experts questions like, “So why is location the predictor of enrollment when only 19% of the population lives within 30 miles of the law school?”

The stakes in marketing may not be as high as in drug development, but if curiosity gives you a shot at reaching more customers and driving the bottom line, why not ask the question?

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About Dave Goetz

Dave Goetz is president of CZ Strategy, a strategic marketing firm that specializes in messaging strategy and brand publishing. Dave is the author of Native Tongue: Translating Your Messaging into the Language of Prospects (Big Snowy Media), and Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul (HarperOne). He is also the founder of Big Snowy Media, a publishing imprint for CZ’s clients, and RealityRN, a social community for new nurses.

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