Data for decisionmaking

“See what you can do with real data?” One of my clients’ other advisors said that to my client right after I’d presented some analysis of his marketspace. In the previous year, another marketing consultant had spent a lot of my client’s time (and money) on branding analysis. But he hadn’t taken the time to understand the size and shape of the market they were going to push that brand into. And that’s why they never got confident that the “brand” they were identifying and creating would have a real shot at longterm success.

Mind you, it’s not like I did a McKinsey binder’s worth of data analysis. But after about twenty hours of sifting through trade journals, pulling data into spreadsheets (with a +/- 15% range of accuracy), I could tell them with 95% certainty that they could do 500% of their current business volume in the market space they were already living in. And that this market space was growing. And that they really ought to focus their growth energy on further penetration, instead of exploring new sectors.

Twenty hours. That’s all the data time it took to nail down the biggest strategic decision they were going to consider that year. They might have made the same decision without the data. Then again, they might have pushed hundreds of thousands of dollars of effort into an unnecessary chase after new business. Under these circumstances, twenty hours of data time sounds pretty cheap to me.

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