Big Data may be the hottest topic right now but for most of us – especially in FS communications – it’s Small Data that will make the greatest impact. Where Big Data refers to vast, centralized data sets that remain the purview of governments and multinational corporations, Small Data is the really useful stuff that promises to enhance our daily lives. As Dr Rufus Pollock, Founder and Co-Director of the Open Knowledge Foundation points out, “for many problems and questions, small data in itself is enough. The data on my household energy use, the times of local buses, government spending – these are all small data”.
In the world of B2B marketing that sounds about right also. Most of our clients count their target customers in the hundreds or thousands not millions or billions. For them, it’s not knowing something about a million people that makes them great marketers, it’s knowing a million things about one person. This applies equally to influencer sets: it’s about really knowing the right 10 analysts, finding the perfect 5 events for their business, identifying the 10 or 20 financial reporters they need to target and influence today. For us, this is what we mean by Small Data.
Vera Newhouse, a PR professional in financial technology I spoke to recently, told me: “I’m always asked to qualify the value of engaging a journalist or analyst based on a publication’s target audience, or an analyst’s reach. Even if I know intuitively that the reporter I suggest is one to run with the story, I always need to prove this with analytics.”
On the PR & Marketing side of our business we’re witnessing Small Data inform the types of projects we deliver. Market segmentation is becoming increasingly critical and a growing number of our clients are ditching high volume, mass-marketing in favor of highly targeted and smarter ‘account based marketing’ programs. In 2013, for example, we executed a number of projects which delivered extremely personalized collateral to fewer than 100 senior executives per program. Each item cost over $100 to produce but the level of detail and customization was astonishing. To identify the right targets for these programs requires a deep understanding of who the decisions makers are, their interests and pain points, cross-referenced with their likeliness to buy – in other words Small Data.
At Cognito Analytics – our data and technology business – we’re leaving Big Data to the likes of Google and IBM and focusing our efforts in enriching much smaller, more focused, data sets with truly useful information that marketers can take advantage of immediately. Sell FX solutions to hedge funds and want to know the exact right events to go to? The right journalists and analysts to speak to? The right editorial opportunities to appear in? Or who, among your core set of influencers, is speaking about FX right this moment? We can show you that and we don’t need a supercomputer to do it.
While we hear a lot about the future promise of Big Data, Small Data offers marketers and pr pros the opportunity today to get smarter about their targeting, their program execution and their C-level reporting.