A recent set of conversations about how various marketing campaigns were performing all included the phrase: "I believe".
- I believe the drop in acquisitions is due to the holiday period
- I believe the lift in sales is incremental
- I believe the best to time to contact consumers is before or after work
Sometimes it is easier to work under a belief system than a hypothesis-driven one for the simple reason: there is a lot more work to do.
- What are the right questions?
- How do we go about answering them?
- How can we be sure?
And to be creative, we need to be able to see the shopping experience from the consumer perspective. As evidence of this view, the Media Decoder blog of the NYT highlighted a set of M&A deals that reflect a roll up along the journey in order to provide clients with end-to-end solutions. No more silos means lots of unknowns.
The surety issue suggests that we need the tools to reduce risk by quantifying uncertainty - and that is the domain of analysis in general and statistics in particular. These disciplines are grounded on the notion of testing hypotheses. Thick skins required; it won't be personal.
So, how do we transition from a belief system to a culture of testing? Some recommendations:
- State what assumptions have to be true for a belief (or opinion) to be valid.
- Focus on confirming the assumptions, one at a time, where being proven wrong has less impact.
- Build to the conclusion slowly, in bite size pieces, to allow it all to sink in since the mind is the hardest thing of all to change.