Data-based marketing and Pep Guardiola

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What do Manchester City and and data-based marketing have in common? Surprisingly much, in fact.

In the old days football was played in a simple way. The ball was kicked to the scoring zone and then the forwards tried to get it over the goal line. Traditional marketing worked in the same way. A number of ads were created and published. Then the client hoped that the ads would work. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t.

Time went by, football and marketing went through changes. The players got better, the stadiums got bigger, but the game stayed basically the same. Then, along came Pep Guardiola and data. They changed the game. Both football and marketing.

Pep Guardiola’s football tactics are based on the idea that the field is divided to three parts. First, second and final third. Put simply, for the first two thirds of the field the players must always keep their positions. The game is strictly structured and regulated. You have to stay in your position and trust your teammates in order to get a scoring chance. Only when the team reaches the final third of the field are the players granted freedom and they can move wherever they want.

The same principle applies to data-based marketing, too. Let me explain. When a marketing team starts to work on a project, the first two thirds of the field are spent getting the basics right. The team gathers information, analyses data and interviews the client. What kind of obstacles have to be won before breaking to the final third? What has worked before and why? The ball moves from player to player. Short, exact passes are given. Everybody must hold their positions and trust their teammates to do their job. Everybody has to respect the data, respect the plan. No room for solos or excessive dribbling here.  

Finally, when the team reaches the final third, the players are granted freedom. Wonderful creative freedom to do what they do best. Dribble. Give amazing passes. Score. Create.

The old way can create scoring chances, too, but you are more dependant on individual skills and sheer luck. Pep’s team or a growth marketing team gathering and making use of data increase the scoring chances significantly by sticking to a strict plan in the early stages of the attack. And similarly to top-level football, only the end results matter in marketing.