The Covid-19 pandemic has been a huge influence on the rapidly changing pace of business and the way Americans work and connect. Even though digital technology has seen its greatest surge ever in the past decade, the onset of the pandemic accelerated that growth and ultimately changed the way many industries operate. This change led to an especially noticeable shift in branding and marketing strategy, but not always in the right direction.
For someone who works in a very data-driven pocket of marketing, David Mountain believes that the best way to navigate the current state of marketing is looking at advertising media and the way they use data collection. Both of these elements operate under a certain level of uncertainty and rapid change, requiring a lot of focus from marketers in order to wade through and stand out from the massive amount of information available online.
In the world of data collection and analytics, it’s important to take an angle of nuance when assessing and utilizing the facts at hand. Can we focus on the facts and not get lost in the story?
In an interview with Pinchforth, David reflected on his career, which previously involved work with several advertising technology companies, where a lot of the marketing he performed focused primarily on consumer behavior online. During his time with those companies, David began forming his strategy for better, more direct and efficient marketing strategies.
Currently, David heads up his own marketing agency, M&AD (Marketing and Advertising direction), which provides custom creative advertising and marketing projects to clients in a wide variety of industries. The agency also lends its expertise to Prohaska Consulting, focused on providing more detailed services in social media, email marketing, event planning, marketing strategy, recruiting and SEO.
David Mountain spends a lot of time thinking about marketing strategy, which undoubtedly involves some thought around KPI. Key Performance Indicators measure quantifiable performance of a business or campaign over a period of time for a specific objective. KPI provide specific targets for marketers, operating as milestones to gauge progress and provide insight into how they can better reach their goals.
The problem with KPI is, according to David, the fact that so many business owners seem to be overly focused on hitting specific KPIs. He says that one of the most harmful things you can do as a marketer or business owner is to get hung up on a single KPI. Focusing on single elements like click rates or email open-rates inevitably don’t solve any actual marketing issues, and may even create new problems. Focusing on actual campaign nourishment and step-by-step processes is key. You have to combine multiple forms of media and several layers of data, all while taking a certain level of nuance into account.
David also discussed the shortcomings and failures of current media strategies that measure only a single KPI. Even with all the data collection and targeted media, advertisers are still getting it wrong because they’re not looking for the big picture, but stopping after a single bite. There is still SO much wasted media, because too many people are focused on too few KPIs.
David feels that if we can get to a point where every ad is correct, we’d have a more accurate and effective form of marketing. It would mean that in terms of data collection, we’re doing our jobs right. More accurate advertising means less money wasted by advertisers. Even though accurate ad targeting can be viewed by some consumers as “creepy” or “stalkerish,” it’s actually just effective data collection and implementation.
Measuring the success of the media or advertising platforms has to be done in context. Sometimes a campaign fails, but the lesson you learn from that failure may be much larger than the measurable success of the campaign. Understanding the why of advertising, not just the what, makes you better for the next time you do it. It’s a learning experience and the learning sticks with you.
When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, David stated how he wished he had embraced nuance more. In moments of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on the fact that, in the universe there are two things: there are facts and there are stories. We make up stories about facts, and then treat them as though they are facts. But we don’t know everything that we think we do. And that’s why it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt and recognize that not everything means what you think it does.
David also stressed the presence of marketing tactics in everything so many people do. Everyone is in marketing, they just don't know it. Marketing makes businesses better and adds value. It makes jobs better, which makes their lives better and enables them to also touch the lives of others. We are all here to help each other and learn from each other.
David admitted that while a part of him hopes things go back to how they were before the pandemic hit, part of him also thinks this environment of constant change is a warm up for what is to come. We are getting used to the fact that things can change overnight, and figuring out how to adapt to it. Embracing the nuance.
In the face of change and challenge, embrace nuance. Embrace process. Everything is to be learned from. What you’re doing is seen and it matters.
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