Last week was a tough week for the Don Drapers of the world.  The Wall Street Journal ran two articles with a similar theme – data-driven marketing is making marketing geeks hip and Don Draper types passé.  The trend is nicely summarized in the article, “Old-School Ad Execs Sweat as Data Geeks Flex Muscle”… 

Once home to creative types in the mold of Don Draper and “Mad Men,” Madison Avenue is increasingly a bastion of geeks: computer programmers, data heads and quantitative analysts.

In his article, “Don Draper Has Left the Building: The Rise of Data-Driven Marketing,” guest contributor Thomas Davenport piles on.  He not only agrees that individual marketers without any analytical orientation should be worried about their futures, but he also says there is plenty of evidence showing that organizations are lacking analytical skills…

…the Corporate Executive Board surveyed 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies in 2012. The survey revealed that marketing executives depend on data for just 11% of all customer-related decisions. When asked what types of information supported a specific recent decision about customers, data was actually last on the list, after such anecdotal sources as conversations with colleagues, advice from experts, and interactions with single customers. Only 6% of the marketers could correctly answer five basic questions about statistics, and only 5% of the sample owns a statistics textbook.

The need for individuals and organizations to be analytically oriented is the result of the rapid evolution to digital marketing.  As we stated in a blog post a couple weeks ago, digital marketing budgets are on the rise and this requires organizations to develop a different mindset…

The days of marketers making gut decisions while drinking whiskey – like in Mad Men – are long gone.  While experience will always have value, marketers must leverage the digital data they have access to and incorporate a data-driven framework into their decision making processes.

In closing, Jon Bond, co-founder of an ad firm now called Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, who currently runs a digital firm Tomorro LLC, a holding company of digital marketing and media assets, said it best

“Look at ‘Mad Men’ when they could go out drinking and come back three hours later and come up with an idea.  Now they go to Starbucks and get caffeine. The double latte is the new double martini.”