Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I love fact-based marketing

I'm a big advocate of fact-based marketing, which means I like to focus on what we can determine objectively about the market and the customer as much as possible, relying on our own opinions and impressions only when we have no other choice.

This approach gives us many advantages:
  • Accuracy.  First and foremost, the more outside information we can gather, the more likely we are to make optimized decisions.  If you discovered a new island, you wouldn't imagine mapping it by sitting down with a piece of paper and making things up.  You would go look at the actual island and draw what you see.  Yet, people map a market all the time simply by sitting down and making it up.
  • Repeatability.  If the facts gathered the first time were accurate, we can have a high degree of confidence they'll still be accurate in the future.  That means we can apply the lessons we've learned over and over again.
  • Teachability.  The fact-based approach is something marketers and teams can learn.  That means it can go on helping the organization be better even when entirely new individuals are involved in doing the work.
  • Extensibility.  Once we're building a structure of empirical knowledge about a market and its behavior, we can start to make connections.  We can make reasonable conjectures about other behaviors we'd expect so see, even if we don't have the facts on that matter yet.  Just as physicists have used their demonstrated knowledge to reason out good hypotheses to explore new questions in physics, marketers can do the same thing.


  1. While I agree that marketing activities and priorities should be fact-based, couldn't the term "fact-based marketing" also apply to using facts _in_ your marketing content as well?

  2. In this case I very specifically meant the use of demonstrated knowledge to enable marketers to make better decisions.

    There is an ocean of discussion we could have around the use of facts (including alleged facts and dubious facts and highly misleading facts) in customer-facing marketing activities. We can look at them from the perspective of legality, ethics, customer relationships, credibility, or effectiveness in influencing behavior. As it happens I love to provide facts in marketing, but their most effective use is highly situational. For example, Apple has done very well by deliberately staying away from communicating too many facts and merely communicating the ones that matter the most. The early iPod marketing slogan "1000 songs in your pocket" is a great example. It was a high tech computer peripheral, but you had to look really deeply to discover the speeds and feeds information. The one fact that Apple chose to highlight was so compelling it had to shine clear without obscuration from these other facts.