If someone claims that they cannot master a certain subject or advance in their skill they are simply foot-dragging. With overwhelming data around us, it is simply inefficient to say that we don’t have time to analyze that data and convert it into something meaningful. To gain a competitive edge brand must see beyond the box and learn how to take data and convert it into insights.
When we are on the topic of thinking-outside-the-box it will be a disgrace to humanity if I don’t mention ‘Abraham Wald’. Born in Austria-Hungary (now known as Romania) Wald was a mathematical prodigy. In the primary school he was correcting his teachers and in the secondary school, he was rectifying mistakes in his textbooks.
In World War II there were severe damages & wartime problems. The situation required someone to minimize the bomber losses. Instead of working on the areas where the aircraft was hit, Wald suggested an alternate theory. Wald proposed the Navy to reinforce the areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost.
Abraham Wald had no idea about the war, but he was good at math, so he used the power of data to present a solution to the problem.
The brands of today can learn a lot from Abraham Wald. There is a reason some brands are sustaining the competitive edge over other brands.
Let’s look at some of the tactics that can help brands create a competitive edge over their competitors.
Don’t Hinge Upon Intuition
Wald was the ultimate genius of his time. But still, he didn’t rely solely on his intuition. Instead, he collected data, analyzed it and gave his hypothesis.
A research done by Newsworks investigated a problem. They surveyed 30 young media planners and asked them to finish the IPA Touchpoints diary for a week. This was done so the results can be compared with the broader population.
The results were straggling. The young planners watched tv for half of the duration as compared to the total population. This led to confusion that often people assume that what they are thinking is right.
To rely on intuition is dangerous – it may influence us but not the customers. Instead, every plan needs to be analyzed with data. Wald gave us the insight that data is meaningful only with analysis.
Collect Data with Simple Tools
When Wald collected the data he used a pen, paper, and numerate assistant. Which was basic even for the 1940s.
Data Collection is important for marketing and most of the agencies these days fall in the trap of complex methodologies to collect data. The machine learning, AI, econometrics, and so on. It feels like we have replaced the hard work thinking with high-cost measurement of value.
But insights don’t require high budgets. In fact, there are free survey tools that can help, collect, manage data of users without even spending a dime.
Email is the evergreen medium to collect data from clients and deliver them customized products. The key is to get good insights in simplest of ways.
Just the Data Won’t Be Enough
“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” ~Stephen Few
Data is nothing but a raw form of material out there. If the data is not analyzed for the insight it won’t do any good to the creator.
If the agencies want to take the competitive edge they must take the data and study, is to strengthen the human decision making. This tells a lot about Survivorship bias.
Survivorship bias is a tendency to only focus on the survivors rather than everybody. Which can also mean that people tend to focus more on the winners rather than the losers. This can due to their lack of visibility which can, in turn, lead to false conclusions. This affect consumer decision making.
The experience that Wald provides us leaves us with plenty of lessons. We can learn from Wald and other historical figures who didn’t have much with them, but they took the leap and gain a competitive edge over others.
As Bill Bernbach said:
“Human nature hasn’t changed for a million years. It won’t even change in the next million years. Only the superficial things have changed. It is fashionable to talk about the changing man. A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging man with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”
The agencies that can transform the data into insights will gain a competitive edge over anyone coming in their way. Abraham Wald is a prime example on how to utilize data and convert it into insights.