Being data-driven isn’t necessarily helpful

In fact, being overly reliant on data can be a great setback and a tremendous waste of time and resources, both for you and your company.

At the very least, leaning blindly on data can really lead you astray in your design or marketing efforts.

The bad news to all this is that data by itself is at best meaningless, and at its worse, misleading. In most cases it will tell you very little or nothing about what to do.

Bill Pardi

I tend to be of the very strong opinion that too many people use data as a crutch to compensate for a lack of competency in essential skills such as content creation, as well as the motivation to carefully analyze and critique what they’re doing.

Let’s consider an example: customer personas. Personally, I despise the term “persona” as it implies a simplified, hypothetical assumption of the buyer profile based purely on data collected from customers (usually via surveys).

In tech-driven companies, especially startups, collection and usage of data is all the rage. Send out surveys to your customers and entice them to respond to a series of pointed questions about themselves.

Then collect the data and use that the basis for creating your so-called “personas,” the presumption of your understanding about the customer and how to best market or create a product for them.

The critical point of failure is that you’re not combining data without sufficient understanding of your products, how they’re sold, and how they’re adopted by your customers.

In other words, you’re using data without proper context and insight – along with some creativity and instinct to help solve problems that benefit your sales team. That’s not only just plain wrong, it’s also likely to make your efforts meaningless to your company.

… data is meaningless only if we are expecting objective truth from it without factoring in our perceptions and assumptions and getting past those with our creativity.

Bill Pardi

And when that happens, you’re also not adding to your authentic value proposition for your company.

The problem is that so many of the younger generation of marketers want to “cut to the chase” and deliver vanity metrics with very short-term goals of making themselves look good to management.

To them, understanding the product and business functions of the company is but a secondary priority behind generating flashy metrics. It’s something on a “I’ll get to it when I have time” basis.

That’s a half-ass backward way of doing marketing, and boy, what an incredible waste of resources and spend for the companies that employ them. But it’s what so many have been able to get way with in a free-spending environment with gobs of investor capital to burn.