What My Dog Taught Me About Marketing

IzzyWhen I adopted my dog, Izzy, from a rescue organization a few years ago, she was about 6 months old. She is a black lab mix and as the owner of 2 other black labs, I assumed Izzy would employ similar behaviors. Just as we do in marketing, grouping customers and prospects into buckets based on assumed behavior, so I did with Izzy.

What I didn’t realize with Izzy …

…is that my assumptions were based on a bad data.

The environment that was suitable for our other black labs was not ideal for Izzy. Our fenced-in back yard was the perfect place for our other dogs to run free, without a leash and stay safe. For Izzy, it was a disaster. She likes to dig. And escape! Our other dogs never had this behavior. So,why Izzy?

We fortified our fence, thinking that would solve the problem. If she can’t dig, she can’t escape, right? That didn’t work, either. She began to jump over the fence. We couldn’t contain her! Our other dogs never had issues with jumping the fence. And they were bigger than Izzy. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.

The last time Izzy escaped, I called my neighbor to help us get her back. He brought his dog Oscar, and she came home without much effort. Finally, insight and an epiphany! How do we get her to “want” to stay? Not just try to contain her. We need another dog! Not just any type of dog, a male dog. So, we got Logan (also a lab mix). She has not tried to leave since.

This really made me think about marketing. We try very hard to group people together and create segments. But, if you don’t have all of the right data, it could be a disaster.

It’s funny to think that Izzy had the answer to what some may deem a daunting marketing problem. I realized that no matter how complex the situation, with a robust set of data, you can learn to attract, retain and create better experiences.

Assumptions can be dangerous. 

I assumed I knew the behavior of Izzy because she had a characteristic of our other dogs. However, I didn’t evaluate her behavior. Nor, did I derive any insight from her actions. This is all very valuable data that I needed in the beginning. I needed more data to understand how to get Izzy to stay!  As a marketer, this was a very valuable lesson for me. Bad assumptions can lead to very strange results.

Izzy brought me clarity. You have to know your audience. You can’t just put them in a bucket and assume that they will behave a certain way. This is short-sided and will eventually fizzle out. Survey your customers, find out what makes them tick. Conduct focus groups and engage them to find out what will elicit the desired response.

The richer the data, the better. 

You might learn that the expensive tactics you have in place are not working. Or, your message may need to be adjusted slightly to address a current need or product demand. Learn as much as you can and don’t rely on small data sets. Increasing sales might be as easy as getting a male dog named Logan.