Too much ‘What’

It’s a subject I have blogged about before, but I make no apologies for returning to it.  Understanding customers is the single most important enabler of effective marketing.  And to be clear, when I say ‘understanding’ I mean the in-depth knowledge that means we can truly stand in the customer’s shoes, to see, hear and feel the world the way they do rather than the way we see things.

In 2017, marketers have more customer data than ever before, and more computing power with which to process and analyse it.  This presents a fantastic opportunity to find out what, when and how much customers are doing, but no amount of Google Analytics, web tracking, social media ‘likes’, re-tweets, loyalty card data, CRM history, email opens and clicks or postcode profiles will tell you ‘why’ they are doing it.

It is the ‘why’ that allows us to predict and influence future behaviour.  With this insight we can plan our marketing ‘Ps’ (however many there are now) to create and sustain the desired level of profitable demand our businesses need.

The ‘what’ is important of course.  We need to know the impact of our marketing, the size and potential of different customer segments, where and when people buy and much more too.  The ‘what’ delivers the sales, revenue and ultimately profit.  I’m not suggesting we stop measuring, analysing and reporting the ‘what’.

In my experience though, not enough time and money is invested in understanding ‘why’.  Perhaps that’s because it’s harder to do (‘what’ data is normally fairly easy to obtain and often at little or no cost).  Maybe we are a bit nervous of talking to our customers, scared of hearing some unpalatable truths?  Whatever the reason, if you don’t know ‘why’ your customers do what they do, you are trusting to luck and in all probability missing opportunities and wasting money.

It’s time to start asking ‘why?’ a bit more often.