How I Moved Cross-Country Based on a Database

The following is a guest post by my friend , a hype-free social media and content strategist, author, and speaker. He just released a book called Youtility (check out my review here), and is out and about quite a bit these days. So I thought it would be nice to shed a little bit of personal light on his story. He graciously agreed.

Read on to learn about his journey and how he used helpful marketing to move across the country. Plus, get a free excerpt from his newest book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype.

I know a lot about Arizona. I lived there from 1970 until 2010, with residences in Lake Havasu City where I was raised and where the “falling down” London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was rebuilt in 1973 as a tourist attraction; Tucson, where I went to college; Phoenix and various suburbs; and the mountains of Flagstaff, where one year my family and I received 120 inches of snowfall at our house.

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City

After experiencing just about all the Grand Canyon State has to offer, my wife and I decided in 2010 to consider other locations. I’m a marketing consultant, author, and speaker (which may be replacing actress/singer/model as the most common triple threat job description in America). Consequently, I’m fortunate enough to be able to do my work more or less anywhere. This realization, and the inkling to possibly act on it was the zero moment of truth for my eventual relocation.

Like many of today’s consumers, empowered by always-on high speed Internet access, I research vacations obsessively, read many product reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and consume blog posts like Halloween candy. I draw the line at chicken sandwich investigation, preferring the visceral thrill of fast food drive-thru roulette. In short, there’s usually a method to my research madness.

So when we considered moving from Arizona, the obvious next step to me was to research our options. We created and ranked a list of desirable attributes: college town, fewer than 200,000 people, close to a major airport, in the middle of the country, good schools, decent weather, affordable cost of living, and other factors. Then, we turned to the Internet.

We used a variety of websites that compare, contrast, and recommend locations to narrow down our list. Most notable among them is BestPlaces.net, the online home of researcher Bert Sperling’s “Places, USA” software. This system, first developed in 1985, allows people to enter their personal preferences to find their own best place to live, work, or retire. Almost every time my wife and I performed these analyses, Bloomington, Indiana, was recommended by the location-finding websites. I’d never been to Bloomington, and I had only a vague understanding of where and what it was through my consulting work with ExactTarget (located one hour north in Indianapolis) and the famous film “Breaking Away” that chronicled Indiana University’s Little 500 bike race tradition. This lack of knowledge was not a deterrent. “I’m an online marketer,” I thought. “Who am I to argue with a carefully researched relational database?”

So, off to Bloomington we went, knowing nothing and nobody. We fell in love with the city on our visit, and, three months later, we sold our home in Arizona, hugged friends and family goodbye, and drove across the country with two kids, a dog, cat, snake, lizard and 12 cases of wine to start our Indiana experience.

Without BestPlaces.net there is no chance I’d have written my new book in the law library of Indiana University in Bloomington. None. In fact, friends who cannot fathom that I’d pack up and move based on a website, joke that the BestPlaces site must be a guerrilla marketing program created by the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. Not true, but a great idea!

If BestPlaces hadn’t answered most of my questions about how Bloomington compares to other cities, I never would have gotten past the zero moment of truth. For me and my family, BestPlaces was the ultimate Youtility – marketing so useful, people would pay for it if asked.

Creating customers by answering their questions is imminently viable and carries remarkable, persuasive power. With the barrier to research approaching zero, your customers are kicking your informational tires like never before. If you think you have enough content, or if you believe you’ve answered all of your prospects’ questions online already, I can almost assure you that have don’t and you haven’t.

We used to create relationships and make decisions with interpersonal, synchronous connections. Increasingly, we’re now creating relationships and making decisions asynchronously and from afar.

The Dog Bowl of Big Data

Big data continues to confound the average marketer. The issue surrounds comprehending the data that matters.

Marketers need to understand how to use the technology. Big data has no value unless you can mine information sets to achieve better business outcomes.

Which data sets make for richer relationships with prospects and customers? How will it impact business? What should a marketer look for?

Go back to key performance indicators (KPIs). One worthwhile KPI might be return customers. Let’s apply that to both a hypothetical B2C and a B2B scenario.

If you are a retailer, instead of examining the immense amount of data produced from web site and social interactions, intentionally predetermine what will matter to your company. One thing we know about social media is that People Love Pets! They post pet pics, talk about them incessantly, and like everyone else’s pet pics.
Continue reading “The Dog Bowl of Big Data”