The plural of anecdote is not data

Have you ever had an opinion? Of course you have. As marketers, we reply on people having opinions to do our jobs.

Have you ever heard the same story from five different people, leaving you not knowing which version was correct? This phenomenon is called Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”). For example: “The rooster crows immediately before sunrise, therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.” If this statement is repeated enough, people may start believing it. Scientific data tells us that a rooster crowing does not, in fact, cause the sun to rise. While this may be a silly example it demonstrates the point that the plural of anecdote is not data.

When trying to understand what the market needs, you can’t just assume that if one or two people feel a certain way that the majority feel the same as well or even have the same information. This is what gets us into trouble and where we create strategies that will struggle.  We need to be diligent and disciplined about data collection.

Data is all around us. Almost everything we interact with is collecting some kind of data. Our phones, our computers, our watches, even our cars collect data about us. There is no excuse for not having a data-driven strategy.

As marketing and communication professionals we should not be staring a sentence with “I think” or “I feel.” Instead, lead with what the data is telling you.

Katie Lioy
Account Manager, Marketing Technology

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Posted on October 7, 2015 in Data, Data-Driven PR, Marketing, Marketing Technology

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