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Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means for Marketers Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 239)

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Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 239) – Headlines and Show Notes

We’ve long talked about how data is the crown jewels for business. But what does that mean for marketers today? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look for you. And here are the show notes:

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You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

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Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means for Marketers Today Transcript

Well hello again everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Monday February 18th, and this is episode 239 of the big show. I am so thrilled that you are here with this today. Thanks so much for tuning in. I think we've got a really, really cool show. I wanted to begin by building on the discussions from last week about why Google is the beast that the 800-pound gorillas in your industry are afraid of. And I'm not gonna recap all of episode 238. You can go find that on the website, or on your favorite podcatcher.

Instead, I want to talk about one of the reasons why they're such a terrifying beast. And the answer is, because they have the most data. Google over the years has collected a tremendous amount of data. Let's just start with search, they're able to make their search results better because they have more data about what a positive search result looks like. Google know what you clicked on, they know when you come back and do another search. If you're searching for something different than what you searched for the last time, or if this is just you trying to update what you just searched for to get a better answer, and then they can use that data to improve the results, and make those results even better for the next person.

And that's before we talk about Google Analytics, or Gmail, or Google Docs, right, or Android, or all of these different tools that they have to get more access to more information about the customer. So Google is this incredible beast because of the data that they have available to them. Now I've mentioned many times that data is the crown jewels in any business. It is a thing that differentiates you and allows you to compete more effectively with your customer. And Google simply illustrates that point all the time.

I've talked in the past about whether digital will turn every business into a service, and asked the question that in a digital world is every company a software company? And the answer to both is, well not exactly. However every company is a data company. Every company depends on their data to get a deeper understanding of their customer. When we're talking about data, the reason we care about it is because of the deep customer insights that it gains for us. Your data provides a more complete picture of who your customer is, what they do, and to some degree why that matters.

Now I've talked many times in the past about the fact that we shouldn't get too hung up on the kinds of data we once did as marketers. For years we looked at things like demographic data, and to some degree psychographic data, to understand what our customers were doing. So we build these sophisticated demographic profiles of our profiles as, you know men between the ages of 18-34 with household incomes of greater than $65,000 per year, and so on. But the problem with that data was that it was a picture of who the customer was, but it wasn't necessarily predictive of what they would do. It was a proxy for what we expected someone would do.

What's been great about digital for us, is we actually can see what people do. And we don't really care which demographic bucket people fall into, because the data that is most predictive of what people will do is the data about what people have done. That data is tremendously useful. And when we talk about people like Google, and Facebook, and Amazon, and Expedia, and Airbnb, and Uber, and all these folks, one of the reasons that they are so effective is because they've done a terrific job of building up data around what people do.

And that behavioral data, that predictive data, enables them to have much deeper customer insights, a much clearer picture of what customers are apt to do, are likely to do. And then use that to put the right products, and services, and recommendations, and everything in front of those customers before you get the opportunity to. That's tremendously valuable. It's tremendously important in terms of understanding what customers do. It's made even more relevant when we think about the fact that customers are now carrying a mobile printing press with them. They're carrying a mobile broadcast television network with them.

When we think about what people post on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, and all of these different tools that are part and parcel of their every day live, it provides the companies the platforms that provide customers with that printing press, with that HD television studio, with enormous insights into what matters. Think about the advertising business that Google has built, and think about the advertising business that Facebook has built. Why were they able to do that? Because they knew exactly what content mattered to their customers, to our customers ideally, because of the very things that people come in and tell them all the time.

Oh this customer over here likes artificial intelligence, oh this customer over here likes Italian restaurants, boy it makes it really easy to say, "Let's put an ad in front of person A about AI tools in a B2B marketing sense," and, "Oh let's put an ad in front of person B about Italian Restaurants that are new in their neighborhood," because we also know their geography. Oh and we also know the device they're on, and we also know what times of day they come online. All day, every day, that's remarkable in terms of our ability to target. And Google, and Facebook, and Amazon, and all the rest have spent years building up those capabilities. And most companies who are not those platform providers, while they've put some energies around it, it hasn't been their core focus.

Digital at its core is about data. And then using that data to understand what's going on with your customers. When we talk about artificial intelligence, AI needs data, it lives on data. And if you're going to compete as you go forward, you have to have the data that allows your AI, or any AIs you may use, to do something useful, to tell an accurate and interesting story about your customers. And if you think about any business, it doesn't matter whether in retail, or hospitality, or food service, or B2B, you have tremendous data about your customers in various places. And what becomes important is pulling that together into a wave that you can actually access it and do something with it, and learn from it.

Now I wanna be fair, you can do this wrong. There was a story a few weeks ago about Vizio, the television manufacturer, using smart televisions to track customers. To use data about what people were watching to then of course sell to advertisers. And of course we've heard lots of stories lately about telecoms selling location data. To say nothing about Facebook and all the various ways that they have frankly effed up in terms of the data that they are making public that probably most of their users would rather they didn't. So you've got to watch for that as you think about this. I don't think this can end well in the long run. I've argued in the past about why digital is like gravity, and how when you invent the ship you invent the shipwreck.

More importantly, I've talked about the fact that things like GDPR exist because marketers have screwed up, because we've made errors. We didn't treat our customers like people, we treated them like numbers. And so as you move forward on this journey, as you move forward on using data about your customers, you also need to think about how are we protecting the crown jewels. How are we using data in a way that is beneficial, and not creepy? So as you get started with this, there's a few things I would encourage you to do. First, start small, start with a pilot, start with a project that's focused on a very specific set of deliverables, and a very specific use case of where the data's going to help you.

Think about the data that you need to help customers on their journey. How are you using that data to create a better experience for your customers? You've heard me say repeatedly, "Content is king. Customer experience is queen, and data is the crowned jewels." Well this is the point, the data can only be effective as the crown jewels if you're actually using it to help your customer succeed. And I wanna be fair, yes you can sell the data to people. Yes you can use the data in lots of different ways, but if you think about the companies who are being most effective with this, they're using the data to power a better experience. And I'm looking at people like Apple. I'm looking at people like Google. I'm looking at people like Amazon. And I'm even looking at people like Facebook, who despite their challenges are designing things to say, "How do we put the right information in front of our customers so they'll stay on the site longer?"

You can argue both sides of that with Facebook, so I wanna be very fair. And I have argued both sides of that with Facebook, not everything they've done is for the better. But certainly Apple, certainly Google, certainly Amazon, they've done what they can to create a better experience, yes so people will use their products more, but also people will use their products more because they had a great experience. So think about the data you need to help customers on their journey.

Make sure this is someone's job. Who's accountable for this? Think about your team and your talents, do you have the right team and talents in place, and is someone accountable for delivering on a specific outcome of using this data. And of course when we talk about protecting the crown jewels, make sure somebody is looking out for the customer and their data. We've seen far too many news reports, far too many stories about companies getting hacked, and having issues because of this that matter, that have hurt the company's public standing, and in many cases their share price, because the crown jewels got hacked. So think about that as well, and make sure that's somebody's job.

But if you can do that all correctly, if you put the pieces in place to do this well, you will find that you are able to create a better experience for your customer, and that the crown jewels truly become something valuable to you. And that's where you ultimately want to end up.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I'd like to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all our episodes, by going to Again that's Just look for episode 239. While you're there you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes that you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite pod catcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes, or the Google Play music store, or Stitcher radio, or whatever your favorite pod catcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those.

I'd also very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive review or rating while you're there. It would be so helpful to me, and it would just make me super happy, not gonna lie. I'd also like to thank our sponsor, Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery, and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter, by going to You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to

You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. Or of course you can shoot me an E-mail, just send an E-mail to Again that's With that I want to say thanks again so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, a great weekend, and I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and of course as ever, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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