Data-Driven Marketing Is The Gateway To Organizational Alignment

By Jeff Winsper, President of Black Ink


Jeff_Winsper_HeadshotIf information is the currency of business, then data must be the ore. And of course, data resides everywhere in an organization — ranging from under-utilized “dark” data that’s getting dusty inside applications to live, real-time data collection that happens on the front line battles of the web and customer interaction applications.

So why should data-driven marketing only be cornered into the silos of marketing functions such as corporate branding, or demand generation, or mobile apps? It shouldn’t. In fact, some may have a strong argument that marketing is the parent of sales. After all, it is called the four P’s, not three P’s and one S. And if you buy into that, arguably marketing is one of those unique set of processes that cuts across all functions of an organization, but more importantly, it touches customers in nearly every possible engagement, 365 days a year. (OK, inbound mail and face-to-face may be the exception).

With data being at the core of all information exchange, this provides a huge opportunity for marketers to leverage it across all company operations, like mortar amongst the bricks. So how would marketing leaders get permission to leverage it all when there may be push back from the customary data owners called IT? It must be all about the customer.

After all, customers are the reason why businesses exist; certainly the customer is the one in which the all functions operate to support their needs. When the customer is kept at the core of the need, it provides a more productive and proactive conversations to access, organize, parse the data and make it available for all to be more customer-centric.

Taking it even further, once marketing has a more complete view of the customer, then it makes it far more effective to apply marketing models and analytics to drive more sound business decisions across product R&D, forecasting, budgeting, sales, channels, pricing, supply-chain management, etc. This invariably will result in more sound integration of data flow independent of applications so that anyone who feels responsible for being customer-centric can do so with far greater confidence.

I believe all too often the notion of being a data-driven marketer, defining the person itself, ends up in a heap of mess around only the promotional function they are responsible for — such as social departments, demand generation groups, etc. While these people are important for conducting this specific marketing task, it still represents a very small portion of the data management food chain to support a sound, enterprise-wide business operation.

Rather, data-driven marketing — defining the process of marketing and the completeness of the four P’s — is a more expansive philosophy of how to conduct business. It may seem like a slight nuance, but we witness many clients starting from the tactical bottom-up first, versus the top-down strategic perspective. Here is just one data point to suggest why this theory is true. Check out Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape. The lion share of the data technology apps resides in the tactical, customer interaction section of the top left. The behemoths on the platform plays already provide data-driven offerings that cut across an organization, such as Oracle, Teradata and SAP.

They represent infrastructure, middleware, and backbone platforms. It just so happens that these multi-billion dollar organizations are chasing marketing (the department) and marketing (the processes) because it’s a high growth sector. It is a high growth sector because it’s one of the last frontiers within a company to upgrade to automation and standardization. Oh by the way, marketing touches the consumer more so than any other function. The reverse could be also said that the consumer touches a business more so through marketing processes than any other business function.

Here are five key takeaways for how data-driven marketing is the gateway to organizational alignment:

  1. The process of marketing extends across all organizational functions;
  2. Other organizational functions are limited in its ability to interact with its customer base;
  3. The customer base interacts more with marketing processes than any other business department;
  4. Having a customer-centric philosophy enables a data-driven marketing philosophy; and
  5. There should be no divide between selling and marketing. Sales can market. And marketing can sell.


Jeff Winsper, President of Black Ink, offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups. His deep experience generated the insight that companies – in particular mid-sized enterprises – are lacking the foundation of proper big data analytics to measure marketing’s performance. Connect with him @jeffwinsper on Twitter and LinkedIn.