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There’s a lot of buzz surrounding big data and it’s impact on marketing. According to some we’ll soon be living in a world where data and analytics becomes the primary driver of marketing decisions. The technology is already in place, all that remains is hiring some math geeks and the wherewithal to push the button and let it take over.

A good story, well told.

More knowledge is certainly better, but this kind of future smacks of grabbing on to the newest, shiniest object and hoping it’s the answer. The problem with this kind of thinking is we get so obsessed and so totally focused on the object that we often minimize the fundamental truth of what works in our business—a good story, well told.

Think for a moment about the iconic brands of our time—Nike, Apple, Disney, Harley Davidson, and Coca-Cola. They all have a well-told narrative, almost mythological in some ways that transcends any sort of “marketing.” It’s the story that we as humans gravitate and relate to, not how it happens to be delivered.

Yes, all of the delivery mechanisms need attention. So keep up with social media, channel fragmentation, mobile device trends, big data algorithms and whatever is next on the technology horizon. But don’t be blinded by the shiny object and never, ever forget that at the root of success is the story, how it’s told, and how it’s nurtured to live on in the minds of customers. You won’t get that from the math geeks.



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