Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The core product matters

From a post-election comment.

[Ref:] 8. The Democratic ground game is losing ground.That was one I always doubted. There were lots of stories about how good the Democratic ground game was. Also a lot of related stories about how good the Democratic analytic folks are, and how good the Democrats were with social media.

But having worked on large analytics projects for retailers most of the last 30 years, the Democratic stories sound really similar to those I've heard in the business world. When something works lots of people want to claim credit for it working. Getting credit for a successful piece of a campaign gives a consultant the ability to charge higher rates for years. And it doesn't much matter if that campaign was to elect a candidate or to get people to visit a store.

The reality is when there's a good product that people want the marketing is easy. And analytic tweaks to the marketing message are at best of marginal value. When people don't want the product the marketing and analytics won't save it. President Obama had lots of people who were proud of him being the first black president. They were easy to get to the polls. It didn't take a great ground game, great analytics people, or an inspired social media presence. It just worked.

A lot of effort goes into marginal things. Product names, lots of branding details, or focus on insane detail that isn’t even “on the screen.” It does add up. Or it’s an inherent part of an overall mindset or approach that can’t be divorced from what is on the screen. 

But blocking and tackling is usually most evident when it’s absent or deeply flawed. Suspicion is probably warranted when extraordinary claims are made for results stemming from optimizations made far outside the core product.

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