You Are Not Your Market: How to Outsmart Bias with Data

It’s a hard-won lesson: you can’t always trust your gut when it comes to marketing.

We all tend to seek out information that confirms our ideas and ignore everything else. That can be a damaging bias when making marketing decisions. Overcoming it is tough, especially when you’re a marketer or business owner and everyone else expects you to know the right answer.

A colleague once said to me “You’re the expert here. If you know your instincts are right, why waste time testing?” That’s a nice thought, but a short-sighted one. Even being right most of the time can mean taking two steps forward and one step back.

While instincts are valuable, the final decision should rest in something more reliable. “In data we trust” is the marketer’s Hippocratic oath.

The smartest, most effective people I know are thrilled to be proven wrong because it makes them better at what they do. Good feedback is hard to come by — and there’s no better critic than hard data.

Putting your ideas to the test will occasionally show you how wrong you can be, but knowing when and how you misunderstand your market will also teach you how to serve it more effectively.

Finding out what works can’t be left to guesswork or bias. It can start there, but it needs to end in a data-driven decision.

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