Beyond the Myth of Diapers and Beer

Anyone who knows a little about BI, Big Data, or Data Mining has heard about the charming (but obviously untrue) story regarding the direct connection they discovered at Wal-Mart between beer and diapers. Legend claims that one supermarket checked shoppers' shopping data at checkout. They found out that on Thursday and Saturday evenings, young fathers buy beer and diapers in direct correlation. They dug deeper and found out that on Saturdays they had larger purchases (the weekly grocery shopping) compared to Thursdays, where the cart was significantly smaller (filling in gaps). Therefore, to maximize profits and sales, they placed product shelves (beer and diapers) and did not offer discounts on Thursdays for these products.

Like any good urban legend, the story is rooted in something, but the connection between it and reality is very distant. Those who want to read more in depth and delve into the real story are welcome to read here. Written by Daniel J. Power.

Now that we know the truth, you might wonder why I am telling you this. Because considering that we know the connection between beer and diapers is an urban legend, the bottom line and the moral here are very significant: the data of our business contains much more than we know!

Data tells the story.

Every piece of information you collect about your business is your story. Correctly collecting and analyzing data will streamline your business from end to end. As we learned from the legend about diapers and beer, data analysis maximizes profitability. It also allows us to get to know the customers better and, thus, adapt the messages/campaigns in the most accurate way to the needs of the customers. If the goal of marketing is to create a need for customers (and respond to this need), then adjusting our message to the customer through data aligns exactly with that goal.

So what exactly is this data?

Details about business and customer activity that we can receive and document. Collecting information is endless. The most basic data includes the customer's name, email, phone number, and age. A little more in-depth information will deal with the needs that brought him to us: the reason for his contact, the type of products or services he examined, saw, or requested. It is critical to remember that "negative" information is also vital, for example, which product/service is not of interest to the customer. More advanced information is the number of times a customer visits the property, or what hours/days he does so (digital property – website/blog, physical property – store, clinic, and/or office). Every piece of information is part of the puzzle that defines our business. Every additional piece we collect is another huge step forward for our business.

Once only for huge companies, today it is for anyone.

Not so long ago, Data Mining and Marketing BI were concepts heard only in the boardrooms of massive companies with substantial budgets. Today, using new (and not expensive) methodologies and tools with incredible capabilities, even smaller companies and businesses can and should begin to collect information about the customers and leads that reach them, learn, draw conclusions, and act from these conclusions.

So what do we do?

Of course, it's not easy to dive into data. Like everything in the business world, you start at the end. Ask yourself, if I had all the information in the world, what would I want to know about my client? What would make him choose me over a competitor? How does he make decisions? When does he make decisions? After we understand more or less what information we want to know, we move on to the second step.

How do we collect this information?

Although we all know this, this is the place to reiterate it. Our customers (and honestly, we) are not happy to provide information. Therefore, you have to offer a substantial incentive to the customer to provide information or alternatively use manipulations (marketing, right?) to collect the information without the customer feeling/understanding/knowing that the information has been collected.

As soon as we have collected the information, we commence with analysis and data mining, and from there, we move on to products and actions, according to the type of business, its products, and its services.

Is it complicated for you? Want to hear more? We didn't just invest time in a long article!

If you need help or guidance, pick up the phone or send an email.

And let's not forget… have you managed to figure out what the connection is between beer and diapers? According to legend, due to their new role, young fathers cannot afford to spend time out on the weekends drinking beer with friends at the local pub. So they simply "brought" the beer home. Nothing really.

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