Dennis Hecht, Chief Intelligence Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Contrary to popular belief, Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile. But he did pioneer an assembly line production method centered around a conveyor belt that brought parts to the workers, which allowed them to build a Model T in less than 90 minutes. As marketers look for solutions to counter the oncoming deprecation of third-party cookies, they may find answers in Ford’s century-old innovation: Focus on production, put the right team in place, and pool your resources to be more efficient.

Focus on production: What are you trying to accomplish? Many marketers get stuck when it comes to creating a data strategy. The fact is that they already have a skeleton data strategy because your data strategy is built around your business strategy – or should be, anyway.

Start with your Key Business Questions (KBQs). Specifically, what are you trying to sell, and how many? Who are you doing business with today, and who do you want to add tomorrow? What sets you apart from your competitors? Do you have specific selling seasons?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that let you track success, monitoring trends and actions that support your overall business goals. Your data is simply a tool to help you execute your business strategy. An important tool, to be sure, but your data should be subordinate to your overall business goals.

Putting the team in place: Do you have the right people at the table? A data strategy is only as good as the people and processes from which it’s derived. Unfortunately, many marketers focus on the processes and technology when they should pay more attention to the people. The process part is easy when you have the right people.

Ask yourself two questions: Who in your company is collecting/storing customer data, and where does this data reside? Bring them all to the table. Marketing and sales teams are obvious choices, plus training, IT, customer support, aftermarket, and the legal department. Basically, you want everyone who touches customer data – and knows how to access it.

Don’t forget to invite your data people. I’m amazed at the number of companies I encounter who reach out to their data team when it’s time to execute a strategy rather than inviting them to help formulate the strategy. Because your data strategy is the same thing as your business strategy, your data team should be involved in your regular up-front marketing sessions.

Pool your resources: Start with first-party data. As we face a world without cookies, making your first-party data accessible and actionable should be the most important goal for your organization.

What is first-party data? Simply put, it’s any data exchanged directly between you and the consumer. It’s the low-hanging fruit; you know them, they know and trust you, and they’re interested in hearing what you have to say. You’ll find this data in sales transactions and information in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool; behaviors and actions taken on your websites or apps; data from subscription-based e-mails, surveys, or customer feedback; data from social media profiles. All these are examples of first-party data, and when you put it all together, you’ll likely have a much more robust list than you expected.

Putting all this information together in a single Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a frightening prospect for many marketers because they don’t know how this data mesh is created. A simple explanation of data mesh is the idea that all data sources can easily and seamlessly interconnect in a cloud-based infrastructure. Marketers should focus on why they want this, not how it will be accomplished, because in my experience technology is rarely if ever the bottleneck. Once you have an inventory of all your data sources and know who has access to each there are any number of tools or teams who can help you create a CDP. Then you can begin to truly weaponize your data.

If you have any questions, need help creating your CDP, or simply don’t know where to begin, I’d love to have a conversation. Otherwise, look here for the second article in this series that will explain how you can begin turning data points into shoppers.