Wednesday, 25 April, 2007

Two fundamental questions

Open any database marketing or data mining book and you’d be convinced that business should be completely numbers driven.

Switch back to the real world, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single marketer whose marketing is founded on numbers. (Crazy sales targets fall under dreams, not data.)

Why is it so?

If we take off the frustrated direct marketer’s cap and pull on an unbiased amateur anthropologist’s, we may find some solace.

At any rate, we do find two fundamental questions:

First, at what stage does the store clerk’s memory become inadequate? How many customers, regular and irregular, does the store have become matters go out of hand for the unaided salesman? How many categories and brands can he handle? Are we trying to introduce software, database marketing and CRM into a market that can still make do with traditional shop keeping?

Second, at what stage does the presence of techniques and technology begin to compensate for the absence of the ‘genuine human touch’? Whether B2B or B2C, it’s foolish to discount the role of unquantifiable human element. Perhaps there is a certain value threshold beyond which customers are prepared to be sold by an efficient system instead of a fellow human.

Which leads to another question: Does the answer of the 2nd question begin where that of the 1st ends? Is there a gap between the points where humans become scarce and machines kick in. If there is a gap, what do database marketers do in a market trapped in that gap?

It’d be naive to expect easy answers to these questions. Yet they must be asked. Surely someone has researched these basic points? Please enlighten.

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