Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Vendors Need to Think Beyond the Report

Where does a vendor's value lie?

One of things we do at work is to distribute our clients' promotional content thru a number of channels and platforms.  And a recent project we were requested to work on was simply entitled 'extract business insights'.   Since we already produce reports on activity, this left us wondering just what that might mean. 

A bit of brainstorming left us with three potential questions that could form the basis of the analysis.
  • Tactical:  What worked and what should I do next?
  • Acquisition: Who is a good customer and where do I find more of them?
  • Strategic:  How do I compare to other players in the category?
Each of these questions could produce answers that change how we market, and thus qualify as 'insights'.  Plus, they seem to cover the potential range of interests a marketer is likely to have.   And if we can answer them satisfactorily then we have the opportunity to be a consultative partner rather than just a vendor.

Since we're a 3rd party, one of the advantages we have is to look across the market as consumers interact with various brands.   This normative view, even without identifying brands by name, is one of the key things of value we can bring to the table. 

The data requirements and time horizons are likely to be quite different than traditional reporting solutions provide.   For tactical questions - it is granular, short term and requires financial knowledge.  Did last week's offer of 'grapes' generate store traffic and sales?  Would it be better to promote 'lettuce'?  At the other end of the spectrum, strategic questions take a longer term and higher level view.  Is our merchandising strategy engaging customers better than other approaches?   In between lies the acquisition work - what consumer characteristics appear to be associated with events generated by digital content? 

Each of the questions is framed to foster discussion.  And in the end, that should be the goal of any vendor with a professional services staff.

Yet, there are still things to consider and work on:
  • How does consumer behavior change over time?   (this requires a means of identifying someone across time and space)
  • What is the ROI of not only the promoted item, but the basket? (this requires linking from the offer all the way thru to the basket)
  • Are deal sensitive consumers valuable in the long term? (this requires both of the above fixes)

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