Over the past few weeks, I’ve written on a broad range of topics pertaining to the customer journey. While we went wide and deep, the main takeaway was this: to properly measure the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives, brands must view all of their data (pulled from all of their touch points) concurrently and through the same lens. This got me to thinking about heuristics, and how my assumptions were framed by the teeny tiny amount of information available to me.
But let me step back for a moment and let’s define the term… according to Kendra Cherry, famed author specializing in psychology, a heuristic is "a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently". It allows us to use whatever information we have on hand to construct a bigger picture. In my case, the fact that I live and breathe marketing technology tempered my opinions on the topic.
Not only are heuristics really interesting, they’re also super prevalent right now because omni-channel is the new normal, micro-moments are the new currency, and consumer psychology is giving us some detailed macro-level insights that are easily actionable, quick to deploy, easy to measure, and can be tweaked to perfection on-the-fly.
For example, say you’re a sportswear retailer, and you’ve just read a host of reports detailing how Under Armour’s newly developed, super-fresh, multi-functional, cross-vertical, nano material is set to be 2016’s definitive disrupter in your space, a game-changer that will fundamentally impact the sale of every SKU in the industry. You may be inclined to think "yikes, I better get my order in soon before they sell out…”, or “...so I can make some coin on the scenario” but in reality the only thing you know for certain is that Under Armour have an awesome PR team.
Now, I’m not for a moment suggesting that you need to be a Doubting Thomas when it comes to industry reports (or any 3rd party data really), but you should at least take it with a grain of salt, because any data that’s not collected or ingested directly by you doesn’t consider the intricacies your business, or the unique curiosities that make yours a viable enterprise.
In the Under Armour example above, for example, you may be less inclined to place a significant order if your store is in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers rule supreme and their maestro, LeBron James, publicly declared his distaste for the Under Armour brand. On the other hand, if you have a store in Oakland, where the Under Armour sponsored Steph Curry is at the helm of the a record breaking Golden State Warriors, you’d be well advised to have your order placed before any such report makes it to print!
These are the kind of insights that industry reports and 3rd party data can’t give you. They’re based on intuition and local knowledge. They’re fueled by instincts, which are a crucial component of your business acumen. And while instincts shouldn’t be blindly trusted, they can be used as a starting point, or an indication that your gut feeling should be explored.
We all agree that business-based decisions should be data-backed, but ideally our key source of data should be first-party data. You can go fish in an area that you’ve been told is laden with the tastiest of Salmon, but your own first-hand experience will the best indicator as to how, where, and how you should be fishing.