Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How do you use numbers?

Numbers dictate the way we make decisions. Some people call it statistics. 

In marketing, you use lots of numbers. You make decisions based on chances of success or avoidance of failure. Whether you are approving an ad or deciding which market to go for. You make decisions based on the profit you will make. 

Again, numbers. I would argue that you make arguments for your plans and profits based on large numbers.

Even when you are going after a niche market, you will compare all the niches and you are likely to go for the biggest amongst the smallest. Or highest chances of success amongst the smallest if that is your decision.

Here’s the funny thing, why do you like to quote the anomaly, the outlier when you want to reject something? 

Let me give you a non-marketing example, if you say to a smoker that the chances of getting lung cancer is x% more than a non-smoker, chances are you will hear the smoker quote you an example of a cousin’s grandaunt’s mother-in-law who smoked 3 packs a day and lived till 96 years old. Oh wow. Evidence to continue smoking.

And a marketing example, if you presented an ad based on an insight you found out from research that 78% of your consumers do a certain action and featured that for good reason. Inevitably, some smart ass marketer sitting across the table will tell you, “ Well, my __________ (insert closest relative here or the tea lady) is a consumer of this but she does not do this.”

Add to the conversation in order that we tighten our decision making. Using anecdotal evidence like that in the face of statistics and numbers does not sharpen our thinking as a group. It takes discussions off-tangent.

When are you discarding anecdotal evidence?

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