New Ps (and a Q) for data-driven marketing

Adrian Gregory, chairman of the IDM Data Council and chief executive, DQM Group

I vividly remember studying Philip Kotler’s big blue book, “Marketing Management”, and learning about his 4 Ps of marketing in the final year of my Business Studies course over 25 years ago. How times have changed. Alongside digital developments, maybe the greatest change of all has been the emergence of data, which is now so central to successful marketing and sales strategies and programmes. 

Like brands, data has become a key asset to most businesses. This new world of data-driven marketing brings with it another collection of Ps – Protection, Privacy and Permissions – and a Q for Quality. Starting first with P for Protection. As organisations increasingly recognise that their data is maybe their most valuable business asset, they are beginning to appreciate that it can also be their greatest liability. 

Just ask the folks at TK Maxx whose loss of 45 million customer credit card details evidently cost them $800 million in the following six months or HSBC, fined £3.2 million this summer for losing data in three divisions. The list goes on and on.  In addition to the direct financial loss suffered, the brand damage is enormous, with many consumers refusing to deal with organisations found to be cavalier with their data. 

For marketers to be able to use data, they are going to need to be trusted by their organisations that they know how to securely manage and transfer data and, importantly, take great care with management of their third party data processors.  They need training, even indoctrination on the key principles, regulations and best practices associated with data management.

The second new P is Privacy. Marketers at all levels must understand and adhere to the Data Protection Act and other key legislation. With the growing powers of the Information Commissioner’s Office, it will no longer be sufficient to ignore or delegate this responsibility. 

Thirdly, Permissions. Many organisations are waking up to the fact that because they have failed to put in place the optimum permission management processes and systems, they are fast seeing large sections of their overall market totally disappear.   In financial services it is not unusual for companies to be unable to target 40 per cent of their market – ouch. For anyone capturing data to put into a marketing database and use for future targeting, I would look very closely to ensure you have the optimum opt-in and opt-out clauses. This isn’t rocket science – it just needs careful thought and probably a little training.
Before getting onto training, I can’t touch on key areas relating to data governance without raising the Q for Quality. Data quality is absolutely crucial to maximising the value of your data assets. Not leas,t it is the Fourth Core Principle in the Data Protection Act. Marketers must invest in data quality if they are to maximise the value of their data. It should not be viewed as a cost, but as a fundamental requirement of every data programme.

The implications of the new Ps and Q of data-driven marketing are not lost on the IDM Data Council. A key priority for us is to update and introduce new courses to address the needs of marketers at all levels to understand and exploit the new Ps for maximum commercial advantage, not least to help protect and grow the value of their organisation’s data as a key business asset. We might even write to the publishers of Kotler’s Blue Book to encourage them to update its text – recognising IDM copyright of course!


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