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Directional Dysfunction Syndrome – a digital nightmare

DDS is endemic throughout the digital world. The problem is that the symptoms are quite difficult to spot especially in its early stages – when like many diseases it’s much easier to treat.

But what about the symptoms?

A general feeling that no matter how hard you try you’ll never be able to use your customer data to improve your marketing the way others appear to be able to.

A feeling that you are drowning in data. It just keeps coming and coming at an increasingly rapid pace.

A feeling of inadequacy because everyone else seems to have a “Big Data” solution when you’re struggling to understand the data you already have.

A feeling of intense anxiety about what you could or should do to make the significant customer engagement improvements you quite rightly feel should be possible.

A worrying feeling that it should not be this difficult. That it should not require huge investment or major changes in working practices to make a big difference.

Where to start?

DDS is a serious complaint. The symptoms can have a paralysing effect on marketing decisions. Can blind us to the simple executions and simple solutions that invariably have the most impact on customer engagement, sales and profit.

It’s a debilitating syndrome driving us towards inaction.

It can lead to investment decisions based around trying to solve the data problem. When the real issues revolve around how to use the data you already have to make simple and significant marketing gains.

So what about the cure?

The cure is remarkably simple ask yourself some simple questions:

What am I trying to achieve – what are my marketing goals?

Will understanding more about your customers help you achieve your goals?

How much do you need to know to make the difference – to lead to your goal being achieved?

So, you now know what you need to know. How are you going to use it to improve your marketing?

How will you report on and assess success?

Start with a review of your marketing goals not your data requirement. Collecting more and more data does not mean you’re obtaining more usable information on your customers.

There’s a diminishing return associated with data collection. More and more data is not necessarily what you need to do.

You probably already collect enough customer information to enable considerable improvements in how you communicate with your customers.

What’s more important is understanding the information you already have access to and using this information to help you reach your marketing goals.

Using customer insight to design and deliver creative personalised and relevant marketing your customers will respond to consistently.

So, the cure for DDS is simple –

An injection of common sense. Your customers will respond to a great story, delivered creatively, in formats they enjoy using irrespective of how much you think you know about them.

Gerry Stockley, a Fellow of The Institute of Direct Marketing, is founder and managing director of The Insight People with a mission to simplify an increasingly complex marketing landscape, transforming marketing thinking and helping customers engage more effectively with brands and businesses.