Sunday, January 7, 2007

Perception Blindness and Competitive Intelligence Methodologies

For those of you who know me, you know that Michael Shermer is one of my heroes. Ever since I read his book "Why People Believe Weird Things", I realized how much of my life I had spent being a pattern seeking animal. I loved science, but never took it to be much more than a series of facts or theories. In fact, I couldnt even define "theory" very well.

It is due in part of Shermer and the Skeptic Society and Magazine that I live and breathe evidence. I need evidence in life and evidence in my work. Analytics seem to me a perfect example in marketing that evidence is needed. Before I do that, I wanted to show you a video... and you must watch this before you read on... from Michael Shermer's talk at TED - (it's short... less than 3 minutes).

Did you watch that? Did you miss it? Did you see it?

Perceptual Blindness hits all analytics readers at some point or another. Often times, when I'm speaking to a client about competitive intelligence, they think that it's a "thing" that I do. In reality, it's a process... like science is a process. Competitive Intelligence is a methodology and a way to process information in order to make predictions about something. Often times, it's about M&A's... in my line of work, it's about looking at an existing strategy of a selected sample of companies who dominate a keyword marketspace and determining what they're doing and potentially, what they're going to do... then comparing that against the goals of the client and the trends of the industry and making recommendations.

Simply put, it's multivariate research and statistics with evidence guided intuition and theory... and this is the important part - It has to be measurable. Perception blindness occurs when the analyst goes into the research with more than just the goals of the clients. The client often has their own expectations of what you can do, or what the industry is like. I used to tell people that "you know your business, I know your business online". It's two different animals.

One of my old clients wanted me to do an intelligence report on some of their competitors. They gave me a list of competitors and I went to work. When I finished it and presented it, they were impressed, they loved it and all was good. However, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head. I felt that I had missed something. When I got back to work, I used a program we developed called the "competitive analysis baseline reporting tool". While it was a fairly simple scraper and easy to program through an excel macro... the reporting capability was, in my opinion, very powerful. I found that looking through their online competition, only one of the competitors they mentioned even had a presence (from a search engine marketing perspective). As soon as I found who their online competitors were, I was able to do some more research, report it, and the result was a 20-40% increase in all of their benchmark analytics. If I hadn't done that, if I hadn't recognized my own perception blindness, I wouldn't have done everything I possibly could to help that client.

In the future, I will be talking more about perception blindness in analytics and how to avoid some common mistakes.

For now, if you liked the 3 minute clip... here's the entire lecture from Michael Shermer from TED. It's brilliant.

1 comment:

Cord said...

Great article JP. I have been trying to watch as many of those Ted videos as I can. It just seems like each one I watch gets better than the last. Great stuff.