Guest Post: Say Buh-Bye to Big Talk about Big Data (Part 1 of 2)

McKinley research and analysis consultant, Tom Sommers, has chosen to share his insights and experiences in analyzing data sets and why bigger data doesn’t necessarily mean better results. This is the first of a two-part blog series on the topic, so be sure to check back in two weeks when Tom reveals seven caveats for generating data!

Say Buh-Bye to Big Talk about Big Data

By Tom Sommers

There’s much media hype about big data being the only solution to uncovering valuable insights into your business, but you shouldn’t let a lack of “big data” deter you from using general data to make key business decisions. With small data come fewer investment-dollars and time-allocation requirements. Why feel overwhelmed by the “BIG” moniker, when you have plenty of options for generating and applying data without hundreds of people or servers.

Companies of all shapes and sizes across all industries use data to make vital decisions to avoid costly errors and improve profit margins.

Your company can use data to gauge:

  • Brand management – Measure awareness, use, and preference for your brand and your competitors’ brands among your target audiences.
  • Brand equities – How do previous, current, and future customers view your brand’s strengths and challenges?  How do customers’ perceptions align with your intended strengths?
  • Segmentation – Who is your target market?  What are your customers’ social attitudes, media habits, category uses and preferences, aspirations, etc.?
  • Advertising content, reach, and effectiveness – Is your advertising leading customers to take action?  What about the content or presentation? Is it or is it not working?
  • Developing new ideas into products/services – What do your customers want from your next brand extension or new product launch?
  • Guiding public relations efforts – What was the impact of your last PR campaign?  Did you reach the intended target, and what changes did it make in perceptions or decision-making activity? 
  • Editorial content – Did your readers capture the essence of your publication article, or did they even recall seeing the content?

These are just some of the buckets where you can apply primary, “small” data to support your brand’s “big” decision making. Prioritize your business objectives and then seek outside counsel to help design and execute the appropriate data-gathering solution for future decisions.

So, the next time a colleague or client suggests investigating BIG data, take a step back and ask, “Why?”  The optimal solution may be simpler, less expensive, and less complex.

Check back in two weeks when Tom reveals seven caveats for generating data!


Tom SommersTom Sommers is principal of Explorations & Insights, a Washington, DC consulting firm with marketing-research and communications expertise supporting Fortune 500 firms and advertising/PR agencies.  He is a contributing blogger, writer, strategist, and weekend yogi.  Follow on Twitter @tomsommers1.

by McKinley Marketing Partners