Commercial Analytics and Marketing Intelligence. Geertje Zeegers and Sven van Veen were Guests in the Lecture Value-based Marketing

MIcompany is a Dutch consultancy firm specialising in big data and commercial analytics. In their guest lecture on marketing intelligence, Geertje Zeegers and Sven van Veen demonstrated how they translate their expertise into practical terms by using an indicator known as customer lifetime value (CLV).

MIcompany not only helps its customers to translate raw data into usuable knowledge. It also shows them how to analyse data without external assistance and how to act on the basis of customer lifetime value. Sven van Veen considers CLV as the most important key performance indicator, and he believes that this indicator can be used to boost a company's value. The importance of CLV is due to its special features: CLV is calculated at an individual level and takes account of the entire customer life cycle by means of a long-term approach. Van Veen undelined the positive influence of the connection between CLV and variable emoluments for marketing managers as opposed to a connection between financial remuneration and the number of products sold and customer satisfaction or customer loyalty.

If we are to believe Geertje Zeegers, research findings have a better chance of leaving a lasting impression on an audience if they are presented with due care and skill. Zeegers stressed the importance of stating the main point (e.g. a solution to a problem) at the beginning of a presentation. A speaker, according to Zeegers, will do well to build up an argument step by step by answering questions which emerge as his ideas unfold. If ideas are set forth in this way, listeners will feel that the role they have been assigned is more active than passive, and the odds are that the speaker will remain firmly in their memory. The procedure described by Zeegers was developed by McKinsey and is an application of what is known as the pyramid principle.

Zeegers pointed out that convincing visualizations are a key element in a successful presentation. However, visualisations should only be built into a presentation if they serve a distinct purpose. Zeegers suggested that presentations could be rendered more effective if they were adapted to the way information is perceived by the brain. Line charts, for instance, are read from top to bottom and from left to right. A pie chart should begin at noon. Horizontal axes are particularly suitable for representing developments over time, while vertical axes  can be used to represent results that can be assigned to different categories.

Questions and Answers

Q: What are the challenges faced by your branch?

A: Most of the challenges we face are identical with the challenges faced by our customers. One can distinguish two main problems:

  1. How can we quantify the impact of marketing expenditure, and how can we prove that such investments pay off? If we succeed in doing this we can help our clients to boost growth.
  2. There is a growing demand for programming skills because it is becoming increasingly difficult to process and analyse the huge quantities of data which are currently available. Our customers have difficulty in finding staff who have sufficient expertise in this field.

Q: Does a company which has its own data analytics department need help from analytics consultants?

A: We are anxious to help companies to gain autonomy in analytics. We realise projects and provide firms with the knowledge they require in order to attain this goal. We can always contribute something new even when companies already possess a certain degree of expertise. All things considered, we believe that every company ought to have its own analysts. This helps them to expand just as it has helped MIcompany to expand.

Q: What qualities do you expect a modern marketer to possess? Are the people you hire predominantly markers or analysts?

A: We need to hire people who have an outstandingly good knowledge of mathematics (including statistics) as well as an exceptionally good knowledge of marketing. Most applicants fulfil only one of these requirements.

A: It isn't enough to be a good analyst. It's equally important to be able to translate findings into business ideas. In addition, it is essential to convey one's own requirements in such a way as to produce the desired effect and enable the customer to act. You can learn these skills if you're sufficiently ambitious and prepared to give a lot of yourself.

Q: Are there any areas where you need academic research findings?

A: At present we are engaged in a discussion with the MCM professors. We are considering how consumer analyses might be used by scholars in order to develop new models and methods.  As the social media are becoming increasingly important for business enterprises, it would be fine if the impact of social phenomena and the new media could be represented with scientific precision. It would also be particularly interesting to devise innovative methods that could be used to collect and process data which have a direct bearing on the business world.

Biographical Details

Geertje Zeegers is an expert leader and manager of the Marketing Intelligence Academy at MIcompany. After studying social psychology and business psychology at the University of Groningen, she obtained a post at VODW Marketing. In 2006 she took over a post as market intelligence analyst at MIcompany. As a senior marketing intelligence analyst she has carried out projects for telecommunications providers and insurance companies as well as transportation and online startup companies. As an expert leader she has been in charge of MIacademy's training programme for more than two years.

Sven van Veen is a graduate of the University of Groningen, where he obtained a master's degree in econometrics and operations research. At present he works as a team and project manager for MIcompany, where he specialises in analytical pricing. Before taking up a post as marketing intelligence analyst at MIcompany in 2007,  he amassed professional experience in the gas industry, where he worked for Gas Terra in Groningen. He has continuously expanded his field of expertise by working in challenging industries such as transportation, telecommunications, the media, finance and sport. Among other things, he has dealt with topics such as the creation and appraisal of risk profiles or changes in product and consumer behaviour.