October 12, 2015

Data Is A Frame, Not A Picture

You don't have to spend much time around marketers to realize that every few years the marketing industry discovers a new miracle and becomes obsessed with it -- until the next miracle comes along.

Our latest marvel-du-jour is data.

You can tell it's an official miracle by the number of dreary conferences held to talk it to death, and the number of nitwits that can't finish a sentence without invoking its name.

Every dim bulb consultant and loudmouth agency hustler has a tendentious Powerpoint proving that data is the answer to every marketer's problem.

But I have a thought I'd like you to consider.

Do you think Coke has some mystery data that Pepsi doesn't have?

Do you think McDonald's has secret data that Burger King can't find?

Do you think Facebook will peddle its data to Target but not to Walmart?

Here's my point -- just about the same data is available to just about everyone who wants it.

Yahoo and Twitter and dozens of other online media companies have reams of data about you and know everything there is to know about you. And they're still stuck in the mud.

It's not the data that makes the difference, it's what you do with it.

That's why all the data hustlers are full of shit. They want you to believe that their proprietary data inevitably leads to a magical answer. It doesn't.

The answer is, and always has been, a smart person with an idea.

Give a mediocrity all the data in the world and he'll come up with garbage. Give a brilliant person one critical fact and he'll build you an industry.

Literally thousands of scientists had the same data as Einstein. But Einstein had something they didn't -- the creative brilliance to formulate a vision of what the data meant.

Data is a frame, not a picture.

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