As Good As Your Data

As Good As Your Data

I had what I thought was a clever post ready to go, but it’ll have to wait for another time. Why? Because I got home today and received this (above) in the mail. It got me thinking about data. In marketing, you’re only as good as your data.

This came from 1-800-FLOWERS. They’ve been my go-to for quite a few years now, always dependable, always on time. I once strayed from them, earlier this year for Mother’s Day. I will never do that again. My mother didn’t receive her flowers until a week after Mother’s Day.

Anyway, check out that picture. Really, all I’m asking is that you just pay attention to the top part. I think it’s a solid marketing play to send out printed, personalized cards to remind you about an upcoming birthday. There is still undoubtedly a place for printed, physical, personalized mailers. I like that.

Unfortunately, I have no idea who Alyssa Kipetz is. I hope she has a great birthday, though. I do know someone whose birthday is August 21, but it’s definitely not her. It reminds me of the time that the Boston Bruins sent me a birthday greeting email on February 3rd. But my birthday is May 5th.

Now, two years ago if I had received this card, I probably would have written a real snarky blog post about how horrible 1-800-FLOWERS is for sending me such a huge mistake of a reminder card. But I’m not going to do that. In fact, I’m going to give them a mulligan here. A sweet, sweet mulligan.

Am I softening in my (sort of) old age? Um….no. And I’m not old, dammit! But I lived the experience of bad data, so I’m feeling their pain.

as good as your dataHere’s the thing. I think bad data is really common. Like, more common than you think. If a company flush with cash like 1-800-FLOWERS or even the Boston Bruins can’t get it right, how can a small-to-medium business get it right? I will be the first to tell you that database management, IT and clean data go beyond my baliwick but I can also tell you it’s been an issue at every single job I’ve been in. Every. One.

I don’t think I’ve had a string of bad luck, either. It simply supports my assertion that this is a large issue.

I managed a large web project at my last job where this was a total and complete nightmare. The backend system wasn’t strong in the first place. You can only fault the business so much for this. It’s a chicken and egg thing. When a business is small, they can only purchase systems they can afford. They simply can’t make the investment in some crazy-priced, beautiful backend – the cash isn’t there. Sales don’t justify the investment. You just hope customer and product data get entered correctly.

But as you get bigger, you damn well better be focused on advancing your backend systems with it, or it’s gonna get painful. You can only put it off for so long.

I don’t have any solutions. It’s a problem. I can tell you I’ve learned my lesson. If I ever come across this again, you can bet I’ll be googling the crap out of data cleaning services. Much like everything else in life, you live and you learn.

But I do give 1-800-FLOWERS (and others) a mulligan when I experience this now and I will keep buying from them because they’ve never let me down. And an occasional slip up because of bad data? I can deal with it, because I’ve lived it. I can sympathize. But it’s so true – you’re only as good as your data.