This cartoon is something I use to teach clients about the dangers of blindly following the data they collect when real world information, gut instinct, and experience give opposite indications.

Many marketers (especially techie marketers) believe that everything can be reduced to a spreadsheet or formula for decision making.  This usually stems from seeing good results from relying on large data sets and large numbers of buyers over a long period of time.  If you have enough buyers, clickers, etc. over a long period of time then the trends you see in a large data set can help you have success in predicting patterns in marketing a product.

The problems arise when the product is a lower volume product, with low numbers of sales such as a high priced product or service.  With these kinds of products or services it is normal to have relatively few searchers, clickers, and buyers – so the data set won’t provide enough information to reliably make data-only decisions.  That’s where the human factor comes in along with experience, good judgement, and just knowing the broad range of people buying the product or service.

Another factor is that the data driven model often relies too much on the tech part of marketing and ignores the psychology.  The tech is just the delivery mechanism, it is the psychology that attracts, converts, and sells.  Relying too much on the data and ignoring real world factors, experience and human judgement often leads to disasters like in the cartoon – which, by the way has happened in real life, people have actually ignored obvious dangers right in front of them because the “data” (GPS) said something was there when it wasn’t.