Jennifer Fondrevay, Vice President, B2B Marketing, Apollo Education Group, shared her thoughts on data-driven decision-making and how it impacts today's chief marketing officers during her presentation to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum: Fall Event in Chicago on Sept. 28. In her presentation, "The [Digital] CMO Imperative," Fondrevay examined the role that marketers play as they try to cultivate the human point of view across their respective organizations.
According to Fondrevay, using the "gut instinct" to make marketing decisions is becoming exceedingly difficult in today's data-driven global marketplace.
"In a data-driven decision-making era, we're abandoning the use of our gut," Fondrevay said. "We're not tapping our [gut] enough in the decision-making process."
There is an overwhelming amount of data available to marketers, and the amount of data continues to increase as well.
Plus, Fondrevay pointed out the amount of time that marketers possess to make decisions is decreasing as the number of choices available to them continues to increase.
"There are so many choices out there," she noted. "The more choices you have, the tougher it is to make a decision."
Logic dominates intuition in today's global marketplace, Fondrevay said. As such, marketers are expected to collect a broad assortment of data and use it consistently; failure to do so could cause an organization to ignore certain business segments or miss out on opportunities to grow its brand.
"With big data, everyone now expects you to analyze every possible data point," Fondrevay said. "Our decision-making trees have gotten that much more complex."
Furthermore, despite the wealth of data that is already available to marketers, there is always going to be a shortage of data.
"In a data-driven decision-making era, we're abandoning the use of our gut."
"You're always going to feel like you never have enough data. That's just the nature of the beast," Fondrevay said.
There are risks that marketers could skew the data at their disposal, using this information to make biased decisions that ultimately may cause an organization to suffer myriad problems down the line.
"You [might] go in with an inherent bias and just look for data to support it," Fondrevay stated. "That's not the way you should be making decisions."
With the ability to foster gut decision-making across an organization, marketers are able to promote leadership development.
"You need to think not only about the decisions that you make and tapping your gut but [also] the effect that has on your role as a leader," Fondrevay stated. "No one wants to follow someone who is constantly second-guessing themselves."
Fondrevay also pointed out the "zombie apocalypse" represents one of the key reasons for marketers to rely on their gut instinct during the decision-making process.
Products like automated hand dryers and driverless cars show the impact of technology and innovation on today's global marketplace. At the same time, these products highlight how the decision-making process is being made for individuals.
"With big data, everyone now expects you to analyze every possible data point. Our decision-making trees have gotten that much more complex."
Instead, marketers need to take accountability for the decision-making process. And even though data is available to them, marketers should be unafraid to rely on their gut to determine how a decision may impact an organization, its employees and its customers.
To foster gut decision-making, Fondrevay recommended that marketers give themselves "mental space." By doing so, marketers may be better equipped to separate themselves from data and other factors that could skew their decision-making processes and make choices based on how they feel at a given time.
"Whenever I make mental space, I know good things happen," Fondrevay said. "You've got to either block the time on your calendar … you've got to get out. However you make that mental space, commit to doing it."
Fondrevay also stated marketers should be ready to go with their first choice at times. This will enable marketers to become more confident in their decision-making processes and ensure they can make tough choices even when a vast array of data is unavailable.
"Go with the first answer. Don't dwell on it. There's a reason for that. Write that first answer down and dwell on it," Fondrevay noted.
Gut decision-making can make a world of difference for marketers and must be fostered throughout an organization.
If employees feel confident in their decision-making abilities, they could prove to be valuable contributors within an organization. And if these workers possess extensive training, they may be better equipped to act on a gut feeling and make the right choices consistently.
Today's marketers are responsible for educating workers and ensuring they possess the skills and know-how needed to act quickly and effectively. By devoting time and resources to provide employees with comprehensive training, these workers could help their organizations expand significantly thanks in part to gut decision-making.
Jennifer Fondrevay is a proactive builder of brands, teams and customer/consumer relationships.
As the Vice-President of B2B Marketing for Apollo Education Group (AEG), the $4 billion private education provider for the professional development of working adults, Jennifer is driving the repositioning of AEG for a B2B audience, leveraging Apollo’s global expertise in adult education and advanced learning technologies to design and deliver customizable talent management solutions for Fortune 500 companies.
Before joining AEG, Jennifer was the VP of Client Marketing at Asurion, the leader in consumer technology protection plans and service solutions. In that role, she executed the rebranding of Asurion, evolving toward a B2B2C brand strategy that overhauled the consumer experience. Jennifer equally led the market strategy, planning and execution of retail campaigns for protection plans across online, in-store and digital for 50+ retailers, including Target, Walmart, and Home Depot.
Prior to embracing B2B marketing full-on, Jennifer built her career in advertising over 15 years, working at multinational ad agencies J. Walter Thompson and Foote, Cone and Belding, developing integrated campaigns for such admired companies as Coors, Gerber, Kraft, Nestle and Unilever.
Jennifer believes passionately in the power of advertising and marketing and has been an active volunteer, regularly co-chairing the CMO dinner for the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference, and as a former president of the Women’s Advertising Club of Chicago for 7 years. She received her MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management (a.k.a. Thunderbird) and dual BA degrees in Political Science and French from the University of Illinois.
When not reinventing B2B marketing or helping develop future marketers, Jennifer can be found playing USTA tennis along with equally devoted tennis enthusiasts or preparing her ‘65 Mustang alongside her husband and 2 children, for their next journey on Route 66.