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Using Data to Build Your Dimensional Marketing Strategy

Even I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by data. (Yes, really.) Too often, I hear marketers say that they don’t have the resources to get deep-dives of their data, so they just do what they can. I understand that to a point, but in today’s marketing, you cannot afford not to take your data seriously.

One way that I see marketers cut corners is to pick one metric, such as a customer’s state, as the determining factor in their marketing strategy. But if you’re not using all of the data you have, all at once, you’re not marketing for 2018 and beyond. Just eyeballing data variables to intuitively determine the value of each one in a model won’t do! This is an informed science!

Think about your data as building a picture of your customers. If you’re only using one piece of information, your customer view will be one-dimensional, and consequently your marketing strategy will be, too. With so many savvy customers and competitors in the field, that won’t do, either!

Here’s an example to make it easier to see how valuable your data is – and why it all needs to be used.

Retailer Example

Let’s say you’re responsible for running a national advertising campaign to drive folks to your brick-and-mortar stores. You need to show people the products they want to buy, then ensure that those specific products are in the stores closest to them. The obvious first segment is going to be location, right?

Let’s start there. Take a look at this heat map, based solely on state. What does it tell you about your customers?

Here you can see that California has the most sales of all, followed by New York, Texas, Washington, Pennsylvania and Florida. That’s interesting information, but it’s likely not a surprise, and it’s not nearly detailed enough for you to build a marketing campaign.

Now, let’s look at that same state info, adding product category and profit ratio. See how it changes?

Ah-ha! Although in the heat map, we saw that Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania are big revenue states, now we see that they are not profitable in all three product categories. Knowing that should have an impact on your marketing strategy to reach customers in those states. So now we have more work to do!

Let’s take it even one step further, with just one more piece of info to help us refine our marketing strategy for these states with negative profit ratio. Adding in a sub-category to our products, here’s our clearest picture yet of where the profit ratio sinks in some states:

Look closely at Florida. The issue there is in the category of office supplies, the sub categories of binders and supplies. Bam! Not only do we see that Florida has a profit problem, but we know exactly which items are the issue. Only with all this information can we see that promoting office supplies in Florida won’t get us to a successful customer campaign until we solve the profit problem.

I want to make that point really clear: Your data can show you the complete picture. All products are not profitable in all states, and therefore the marketing strategy across store locations needs to be analyzed as segments. “One size fits all” just doesn’t work for impactful marketing anymore! Trying to send one message to all of your customers is a lost opportunity to embrace them as individuals with unique needs or problems to solve.

I skimmed this to get to the food, Bonnie.
What do you want me to know?

First, thanks for being honest that you’re really reading this for the recipe. Second, it’s simple: Using all of your data to make decisions about your marketing strategy takes planning up front, but it pays off in the end. Like the old adage “measure twice, cut once,” in marketing, it’s “plan twice, execute once.” You’ll have stronger:

  • Marketing – you’ll know the right products to put in front of which customers, based on what they’ve already told you.
  • Buying – you’ll be able to customize inventory for each of your stores.
  • Merchandising – you’ll know what pieces to position with what add-on items that will really sell.
  • Brand loyalty – your customers will know that you have what they want, when they want it.

Still think you can’t make these data-based decisions? How about adding one additional metric to each campaign you launch? Testing and making changes is always better than just rushing a campaign out the door – and it will serve you best in the end.

Food for Thought: Fettuccine in Pesto Cream Sauce

Data and pasta are both OK on their own. But as we keep adding ingredients or data points, the value increases exponentially!


Every now and then, I like to have a decadent bowl of warm, cheesy, creamy, delicious pasta. For me, fettuccine is hard to beat, and this recipe of just a few ingredients is always just what I needed.

Boil your fettuccine to al dente, according to the package instructions.

While the pasta cooks, warm up a cup or so of heavy cream (about 1/2C per person) in a non-stick skillet. When you see bubbles at the edges, stir in your favorite pesto. I am partial to sundried tomato pesto, but store-bought basil pesto will be delicious, too. Stir it together on medium until warmed through, but do not boil.

Drain the pasta and add directly to the skillet with sauce. Stir until well combined and the sauce has fully coated every delicious strand of pasta.

Serve it in a pasta bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese! Bam! It will make your brains fall out!

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.


Since 1985, Massa & Company has helped businesses reduce their marketing costs and increase sales by turning data into actionable insights.


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