Birthdays can do funny things to people. We all mark the occasion in our own way - looking backwards, looking forwards or just grabbing the moment and enjoying a lovely glass of fizz.
This month it’s our marketing and data consultancy, Milk's first birthday, and we’ve used the opportunity to take stock and relaunch our website. I thought it would be a simple process to de-clutter, refine and streamline the content we have.
But during this process I was struck by just how complicated it is to simplify things. It was a useful exercise, as it got me thinking about our clients, the job we do for them, and reminded me of the constant challenge - simplify and improve.
This is particularly resonant when looking at the data challenge. The sheer volume of data now available can be overwhelming if not managed properly.
In the wrong hands, data can end up clouding issues, rather than illuminating.
Furthermore, consumers are streets ahead - they already mine and sift information themselves - they do what the best consultants do; they strip away anything extraneous and concentrate on what’s useful, valuable and interesting. Plus, they know that their details, opinions and behaviour are sought after and saleable.
Agencies would do well to remember that consumers are smart and experienced. They know what you’re after and usually why, it’s up to us to make sure that transaction is as transparent and mutually beneficial as possible.
Crucially, data collection and interpretation is as much about what you don’t ask as what you do. It seems simple, but if you need one piece of information from 250,000 people, why ask them for four - rocketing the data you have to analyse to a million bits of information.
There are so many data touchpoints these days, than the real job for brands isn’t collection but distillation.
A strategic approach to data collection and a 360 analysis is now top of the agenda - find out what’s the most important information, boil it down to its essence and analyse it.
Consumers are also up to speed on privacy and many have acted quickly in terms of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for instance, with most of us already having revised what we make public and share.
At the grand old age of one, we have learned that consumer behaviour remains the key for most of us in our industry.
Keeping up with them and reflecting their changing attitudes and actions is absolutely pivotal to providing a great service for them and the brands they use and love.
As an industry, we have a way to go, but more and more of us are getting there - now that’s something to celebrate.