The work we do reflects the way we think about marketing strategy, analytics, and ideation.
Analytical thinking enables us to break down problems into their component parts. While this step is necessary if we are to understand the inner workings of a brand, the components need to be reassembled to discover a complete solution. Synthesis, or integrative thinking, is an essential step if we are ensure that strategy accounts for the interrelationship of forces that can impact a brand.
The future, by its very nature, is characterized by incomplete information. While examination of the current marketing environment is a starting point, we should explicitly apply experience, managerial judgment, and some level of creative thinking to the data at hand when we try to make sense of what may occur in the future.
We may remember what we hear, but we understand what we do. Simulation of marketing strategy during the early stages of development reinforces the learning process and provides a demonstrable example of the way things work in the marketplace.
Structure is different from rigidity. When properly used, analytical frameworks ensure that managers explore a wide range of alternative idea paths as part of problem solving. In addition, when structured approaches make repetitive tasks routine, managers are able to devote more time and energy to creative thinking.
Too often, marketing models are defined primarily in terms of the statistical techniques employed by research analysts. In reality, marketers carry their own implicit "mental models" of the way the marketplace works. While we employ state-of-the-art methods, we have learned that the strongest analytical thinking occurs when sound management concepts are structured, quantified, and shared.
Marketing and sales managers do not seek out arcane mathematical algorithms. We have seen that the results of black box models are seldom accepted fully or used as intended. Managers prefer to act on findings that are understood and "make sense". While analyses shouldn't be simplistic, they should be direct and actionable.
Analysis represents only half of the approach to strategy development.
Understanding the future of the marketplace requires more than data.
Interactive testing of marketing ideas is a superior way to learn about strategy.
Structured thinking and innovation are not mutually exclusive.
Marketing models start with concept, not with quantitative method.
Analytical approaches should be understood by the practitioners they serve.
Copyright 2013, Applied Thinking LLC
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