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Intuition vs. Data: Which Marketing Style is Right for Your Business?

This month on the blog, we’re revealing 3 easy, actionable ways to predict your customer’s next purchase using data and predictive analytics. This is #3.

Some marketers rely heavily on intuition to create their marketing campaigns.
When they’re right about what their customers want, this technique works well. However, when marketing goals aren’t met, it can be mystifying to try and find the source of the problem.

That’s why last week’s blog was on changing your mindset about your customer.

Whether you rely on intuition, data, or a combination of the two, it’s important to recognize that only your customer knows what they really want.

Once you understand that your customer has specific needs, and is ready and willing to reveal what those needs are, Step 2 is to get to know them through the acquisition of relevant customer data.

Acquiring customer data and finding out what your customers want can be a challenge. In a way, it’s easier to use your intuition and assume you already know what each customer segment wants based on general ideas about what customers buy and when.

Also, in the short run it can appear to be more cost-effective to send every customer segment the exact same marketing materials.

But this type of intuition-based marketing tends to backfire, even when you have the best of intentions.

It reminds me of my problem with pasta. See, I have a mild pasta obsession. If I could eat pasta at every meal, best believe that I would! But eating copious amounts of fettuccine alfredo every day, as tempting as it might be, just isn’t the best for my health (just like marketing plans based on intuition instead of data can be bad for your bottom line).

Luckily, there’s a solution to both problems!

I can still get my pasta fix by substituting butter, cream, and cheese for healthier toppings like cauliflower and Italian sausage. In fact, I found this amazing recipe for Sausage Cauliflower Spaghetti on Food Network and can’t believe how healthy and delicious it is.

So it’s possible to have your pasta and eat it too.

What does that mean in terms of your marketing?

Tailoring your creative, intuitive marketing ideas to fit the actual needs and wants of your customers. But you can’t cater to those needs and wants until you know precisely what they are. And you can’t find out what they are without collecting data!

Here’s how to find out exactly what your customers want:

Incentivize Store Managers

The cheapest, easiest way to get to know your audience is by having store managers and employers talk to them in person. Create an in-store system so that personalized conversations can easily be converted into data. Train managers how to obtain relevant information without making the customer feel like they’re being “grilled.”Have them document their findings and specify key demographic information after each and every conversation.

Work with Focus Groups

The next level up involves conducting market research with focus groups. It is essential to engage a marketing firm to do this kind of work. A focus group will reveal key information about the wants, needs, desires, and purchasing habits of both customers and non-customers. Once you know what your customers think of each individual store and product, you can make strategic marketing changes that cater to actual customer needs.

Create Online Surveys

Reach a wider customer base using an online marketing firm, or by creating and emailing surveys to your customers. Be sure to provide tempting incentives or gifts for completing the survey – ideally a coupon or other gift that will encourage your customers to come into your store. Ask questions about their next purchase, the product group they’re most likely to buy from, and their preferences as to product style.


Armed with this invaluable information, you’ll be able to create the perfect marketing recipe based on what your customers really want. Instead of unreliable intuition-based marketing that can slow you down, you’ll use hard data to develop a fresh, flavorful approach to each individual customer segment.

In our final installment of this 4-part series, we’ll reveal what to do with all this data once it’s been collected.

Are you ready to ditch intuition-based marketing and dive into your data? To find out what makes your customers tick, and to accurately predict their next purchase, contact Bonnie at (312) 463-1050 or by completing our email form now.

Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofits to make the best use of their information about customers, partners, donors and sponsors. With more than 40 years of experience in marketing and predictive analytics, Bonnie is passionate about helping clients make informed, data-driven decisions to increase the value of their customer base. She strongly believes that making pasta and ice cream from scratch are worth the effort, and she spends much of her free time testing and re-testing that theory.

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