Data is essential when making marketing procurement decisions. It’s the foundation to understand where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re headed.
However, developing a data strategy can be easier said than done. We have decades of experience in the marketing procurement space, so we’ve put our heads together to form a simple 4-step process that will help you develop your own marketing procurement data strategy.
If you follow these 4 steps, you’ll be able to identify what the key decisions are and who needs to make them. Having those answers will help you accomplish your end goal, whether it be cutting costs, bringing in more agencies, or evaluating the work of your current staff.
Data Strategy Step 1: Determine the Business Question.
A good data analytical process always starts with the end in mind. What is the business question that is being asked and why is it important?
Generally, the answers to these questions lead to decisions being made, actions taken, leading to positive change in our organization or day-to-day working lives. Identifying what needs to be asked and the expected outcomes (if we get the right answer!), helps guide the entire process.
Data Strategy Step 2: Gather and Structure the Data.
The next step in the process is for us to look at the types of data we need to assist us in making the decision. Do we already have this data at hand, or do we need a new mechanism to help collect it?
Key information that we need about agencies generally comes out of our operational systems, examples being Scope of Work, Agency Evaluation, and Production Budgeting.
Scope of Work
During the Scope of Work process, we capture the planned work that the agency will undertake during the year, the staffing plan (both the functional areas and resources that will be working on the business), as well as the critical budget information (the fees, out-of-pocket and general expenses).
Agency Performance Evaluation
Agency Performance Evaluation provides us the ability to capture qualitative “survey” ratings in a way that can be analyzed, both in the overall level and also digging deeper into the individual questions within the scorecards.
Our Production Budgeting process provides us information about the specific content that will be produced (e.g. television spots, video, images, radio, outdoor etc.), strategic vendors working on our business, and the costs associated with the jobs.
Data can come in a wide variety of forms and qualities. Before we can effectively work with it, we need to make sure that it’s in a format that can be easily manipulated and mined.
“Data wrangling” is a new term that has been coined to describe the techniques used to transform and clean source data into a format that is useful for analytics.
Data Strategy Step 3: Explore the Data.
Unfortunately, the answer to our questions is sometimes hidden deep inside the information set, and it might not be obvious at first where to find it.
And once we have located it, we may struggle to use current tools in the best way to help interpret it. To help this discovery process, a new breed of software has evolved to allow us to rapidly move through this sea of data, allowing us to look at the information in different ways using different visualization models.
We also need to be able to filter and drill down into the data. As we explore, we need to manipulate different types of information using numbers, words, and images to represent the data in the best form possible. Visualizations must select an appropriate format to allow rapid and correct understanding.
It can certainly help to be aware of some of the fundamentals of statistics so we don’t fall into the trap of “visual-lies.” We need to ensure we don’t mistake correlation for causation. It’s also dangerous to infer more than that the sample size can justify, so we need to make sure that the sample we are utilizing is appropriate.
Too little data and the results may not be valid; too much data and we can get completely overwhelmed!
Data Strategy Step 4: Present and Communicate the Story.
Finally, once we know what the answer is, we need to be able to communicate this to a wider audience, and in many cases to an audience that might not be as technically familiar with the data as we are. For that reason, it’s important to be able to engage them, both factually and emotionally.
Many of us have sat through presentations that are “death by spreadsheet,” where we are as unclear at the end of the presentation as we were at the beginning. We might understand that important facts have been presented, but we are unsure about what we need to do with them, and we certainly aren’t motivated to take action.
Good design plays a very important role in this area. As we have learned from companies like Apple, successful adoption is often as much about the form as the function. A well-styled visualization can arouse interest and create an emotional connection, and this leads to a far higher chance of action occurring.
However, any embellishments to the visualization must not distort the content or distract the key message, thus hampering our ability to understand what’s important. Pragmatically, we need to check for design mistakes such as poorly selected color schemes, multiple fonts and sizes, badly aligned labels, or distracting images.
Utilize Decideware In Your Data Strategy
This 4-step process to developing a better marketing procurement data strategy is only useful if:
- You have good, reliable data to collect
- You have the tools and dashboards needed to visualize it
If you want to get away from cluttered spreadsheets, canned reports, and confusing charts, consider taking a look at Decideware.
Decideware is the world’s best Agency Lifecycle Management Platform with incredible solutions for advertisers. Request a free demo to better understand how Decideware can help you gather the right data, view it in a helpful way, and make better business decisions as a result.