Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought you looked fine? Then you saw a photo and realized that maybe what you were wearing did not flatter you?

It’s the same reason that your marketing campaign needs data. We all lie to ourselves. We see what we want to see. Data serves as the mirror or the photo image where we have a moment of clarity and objectivity and we see what others see. There are many recent examples of this. The presidential election serves as a great example of data beating perception. Jared Kushner had data. Hillary Clinton was the perceived winner up until election night. Until the results came in and Donald J. Trump became the president elect.

We recently had a home builder doing a high end infill project with highly traditional looking homes. He thought the market was millennials and empty-nesters. We weren’t quite sure. We asked to a $2,500 research budget to investigate. The client declined. He was far more worried about selling the units too fast. He has since sold one of the 44 homes. He felt he wasn’t getting ROI but what is more possible is that he wasn’t reaching the right prospects. Without data, we will never know.

Data helps us map the customer journey, build personas, understand their pains and help us solve their problems. This results in sales, effective campaigns and complete marketing success.


Mapping the customer journey

This is taking the customer’s buying process one step at a time between when they first discover they might have a need to their purchase of a product or service. According to HubSpot, a provider of tools and information for inbound marketing, this consists of three stages: awareness, consideration and decision. Once you learn the customer’s rhythms, you can develop a strategy for each of these stages. It’s all about learning the personas.


Finding the Personas takes research 

It’s coming up with semi-fictional characters based on likely customers. It all starts by interviewing your current customers and finding out their background, demographics (age, gender, etc), identifying how they talk, personality traits, etc. It looks at who they are and what they want to become. How they like to be sold. What drives them to a purchase. What media they consume, what websites they visit regularly.

The reason this works so well is that you then fit individual campaigns to specific “personas” We were doing a project for a national vaping company. We had seven distinct personas- some obvious, some surprising. It  transformed their marketing. Due to the tie between vaping and “gamers”, we are designing a video game for their marketing efforts. This was all due to the research, which lead to the personas, then the strategy.


Speak to their pains

Research can uncover your personas pains- which can provide remarkable opportunities to solve their problems with your product or service. This can be done through simply talking to your customers, surveying potential customers, delving into psychographic research. They say nothing can  be sold without uncovering a pain.

An example of this was during the recession a home builder wanted to stand out. He realized (through research) that his completion wasn’t other home builders, it was foreclosures. It seemed so intoxicating to the consumer to walk away with an inexpensive, foreclosed home. But we spoke to their pain- did they have cash for “as is” homes? Where mold grows, Animals died and appliances were ripped out? We created scare campaigns that spoke to these shoppers. It worked because of the research, data and insights we got, as a result.


Research how to solve the consumers’ problems with surveys

The right kind of research will help you solve the problems of customers and potential customers. Research how problems the personas are experiencing and see if they have been solved in other geographic locations. Talk to the personas in their language. Educate and nurture through content in publications, web sites and news outlets they frequent.

Let the data lead you. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Does this my butt look fat?

Only data will tell you the truth.


Rosaria Cain is CEO of knoodle and advises clients in health care, real estate and manufacturing in strategy, content, creative, paid media and digital.