Data-driven marketing may be a new weapon. But beware, the customer’s also packing heat.

Posted by on May 18, 2012

I talk about data management issues in relationship to marketing and branding and product development because this will affect(possibly permanently) a business’ relationship with customers and marketing relationships if not handled right.

We are living the age of data based marketing. Technology has empowered companies to collect, organize analyze and profile data to know your habits, leanings and personal situation. To the point, where Target got in trouble for using its data gathered on a customer to tell that she was pregnant and time she’d give birth. Something her parents didn’t know.  For the world of target marketing, that’s being a sharpshooter.

A pretty powerful marketing tool. That’s why it’s a staple for companies that can afford the IT infrastructure or outsourcing firm to support it. And as more data drives more accuracy and insight into marketing opportunities, companies are looking for anyway possible to capture data about customers.

Recently it’s gotten to the point where companies are being caught, grabbing customer data. Data their customers felt they had reasonable expectations would be off limits. Phone app Path, uploaded user contact lists from smartphones. Google’s new Drive cloud has had to fend of accusations its terms of service, give it complete control, if not ownership over any file uploaded.

I’ve found in marketing technology, and now with technology marketing there is the “If-you-build-it-they-will-come” fallacy. That if it’s technologically possible, it’s always good to do it. Not always.  You know who else kind of has that philosophy? Stalkers.

I’m not saying companies are stalkers; just they if not careful, they can have one quality stalkers have. They don’t know when to take it easy. Just because it’s legal to look at someone through a window from the bushes across the street, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Now think about that in terms of customer privacy. I know in the can-do world of companies, we see hard-charging firms doing everything they can to give customers a better mousetrap (or the latest iPhone). But you can take it too far; especially if you don’t prepare customers ahead of time. Especially when they are shocked to see  you taking information they feel they have privacy for or rights to.  It tends to creep consumers out. That’s what I mean by a form of stalking.  One where the consumer says, “I don’t care how much you want to love me buy giving me great product, you’re creeping me out”

And if creeped-out enough, they’ll issue a restraining order in terms of no longer buying your product.

As big firms deepen their use of data-driven marketing and as mid- and small-sized firms enter, the point to keep in mind is how you roll out, explain and use such tactics to customers. It can come back to affect your brand and marketing efforts if you are not careful. Yes, your Terms Of Service may cover you legally.  But as Dr. Phil once (sorry, it’s a good quote) “Do you want to be married or do you want to be right?”

The other reason you really do want to manage this relationship well from a brand-relationship perspective:  the consumer now has the power to ignore or destroy your business with their technological weapons: the Internet and smartphone apps.  More on that next marketing post.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.