Despite acknowledging that insights-driven firms pack competitive advantage into every decision, marketers give me good reasons every single day that they can’t quite rise to the level of insights they want to.

But, as in all things, progress can be as powerful as perfection.

Take a look at some of these most common concerns and my most common guidance:

Marketer: My data’s the worst. 
Me: Unlikely.

Marketing decision makers cite managing data quality as one of the top six challenges facing marketing programs, and 77% of B2B marketing decision makers indicate that their use of data and analytics to guide marketing decisions is one of their department’s top five weaknesses. Bottom line: You’re not alone here, and your imperfect data shouldn’t prevent you from becoming a more insightful marketing organization.

Marketer: Insights into what?
Me: I hear you.

Like all initiatives, it’s prioritization that enables focus. When marketers initially consider insights programs, they first need to understand their organization’s priorities. Lack of defined metrics to measure success is a major concern for almost half (48%) of decision makers. Bottom line: Get in lockstep with the goals of your organization and align with its explicit paths to revenue.

Marketer: Been there, done that, didn’t work.
Me: Tough one.

Yes, every company has a history with analytics — the projects that never took flight, the plans that were too ambitious, and the projects that garnered early enthusiasm but ultimately fizzled. This is an enormous cultural experience to overcome. Bottom line: Face skeptics head-on and communicate what the organization has done so that current initiatives can progress further than previous ones.

Marketer: Analytics/shmanalytics.

Me: Not quite.

Insights-driven firms win, serve, and retain customers better than their competition. I’m not speculating. Forrester examined the valuation, revenue, and growth of 40 insights-driven public companies as well as thousands of venture-backed startups that are built around digital insights and concluded that those public companies will continue to grow an average of 27% annually, and the startups will grow 40% annually — much faster than the projected global 3.5% GDP growth. Bottom line: Firms that capture and manage more and better data about customers and markets and that blend qualitative and quantitative knowledge to develop actionable information are smarter and faster than their competition. It’s worth pursuing. 

HT to Brian Hopkins, James McCormick, and Ted Schadler for their report: Insights-Driven Businesses Set The Pace For Global Growth.

Marketer: I don’t have the talent.
Me: Maybe you don’t, exactly.

Look, it’s true that insights tasks — making hypotheses, wrangling data, identifying trends and patterns, and even translating insights to prescriptive action — make for a high-skilled game. Becoming an insights-driven organization doesn’t call for turning marketers into data scientists at the outset, but it calls for access to quantitative competency. Bottom line: Make the most of what you have by maximizing generalists in marketing or borrow analytics skills from the tech organization, finance, or elsewhere and apply them to your specific business problem.

Forrester clients can read my report Seven Steps To Kick Off A Customer-Obsessed Insights Program. In that research, I share real examples of firms on their insights journey, present assessments to inform your approach, and further detail the benefits and challenges encountered in establishing an insights practice.

Image source: Unsplash