Data has come to define how strategy is crafted and how decisions are made in almost every aspect of business operations. That is, everything except the creative part of marketing according to Dan Gingiss, a Forbes contributor and customer experience keynote speaker and consultant. In his article, "Why Subjective Marketing Decisions Can Lead To A Poor Customer Experience", Gingiss contends that most aspects of a company, from accounting departments to product development teams, would never default to relying on one individual's opinion to make wide-reaching decisions for the company. Yet, creative decisions in marketing often boil down to the executive choice of a single person making their best educated guess about what will work best. The marketing team can then go on to test the individual's hypothesis and iterate around the results to uncover the best communication strategy, but this subjective decision on what to test is rarely efficient or as effective as a more nuanced approach could be.
The problem, Gingiss argues, is not that individuals tasked with these decisions think and operate in a bubble; on the contrary, their decisions are often informed by emerging market research. Rather, Gingiss states that this market research too often focuses on what the customer thinks, and doesn't contextualize that data with what the customer actually does (he cites the fallibility of projected election polling results as prime example of the potential dissonance between how an individual thinks and acts). Customer surveys and focus groups are incredible insights into the consumer psyche that should not be taken for granted, but also should not be considered in a vacuum without any attention to how those customers decide to act.
Ultimately, Gingiss suggests that creative marketers invest more time into understanding why their approaches work, as these insights are more likely to align with how a customer acts. He recommends using advanced analytic tools like multivariate testing and experimental design to create marketing campaigns, which will demonstrate not only what works, but why different aspects of your approach are effective on the audience you are trying to reach.