Happy 2014! I recently asked you to join me in three New Year’s resolutions that will help us meet the challenges of marketing in our highly competitive, data-driven world.

Here’s Resolution #1: “Lean in to the opportunities that data stewardship offers for marketing in your company. Embrace this role to protect consumers and to invite innovation in marketing.”

I urge you to take on two key initiatives that can lead to greater empowerment, both for you and for your marketing team as well as your company:

  • “Leaning in” (that is, seeking out responsibilities and challenges instead of waiting to be appointed) is crucial if you want to participate in corporate decision-making, not just carry out those decisions or deal with their aftereffects on your department. (This blog post has more of my thoughts on this.)
  • Data is the currency of today’s digital marketing economy.  How you steward that data – the care you take to collect it, protect it, and use it for the benefit of all of your constituencies – can make or break its value within your company.

As your company’s marketing leader, you are in the best position because you understand better than anyone else what that data can tell you about your customers and prospects, and your market and your company’s role and image within and beyond that market.  You also know how to use it to achieve company initiatives and business goals.

But that’s not enough to get you your coveted seat at the corporate table.  Like everything in life, the seat must be earned. Take the next steps:

1. Advocate for responsible data practices that protect the consumer.

Every day brings a new report about data breaches or complaints about data collection or management practices, such as this lawsuit against Facebook.  Just think what a New York Times headline would do to your marketing success and the value of your email file, social media fans and all that hard-earned trust you’ve been building with consumers.

Whether these complaints are valid or not, consumers are concerned about the privacy of their data, whether they hand it over voluntarily or have it collected from their Internet use. Using data responsibly helps you retain your customers’ trust and loyalty and respond effectively accusations from outsiders.

2. Invite innovation in data-driven marketing.

Data is the great liberator for today’s marketers. You can know so much more about your customers: who they are, how they buy, what they’re considering versus what they actually buy, what stops them from buying or from buying again. Are you giving your data the chance to exploit this potential?

Make 2014 the year you fling open the doors to your data warehouse and see how you can responsibly use what’s in there to drive at least one new marketing initiative. Want to reach out to a new market niche? Strengthen customer loyalty? Tell your story more effectively to prospects and browsers? Even one small success can fuel the desire for greater achievement.  Use DMA Ethical Guidelines to ensure you act responsibly and ensure consumer trust.

3.  Know the line between cool and creepy for your audiences.

The difference between customer delight and disgust is a pretty thin one – and is usually unique for each audience.  DMA Data Governance training will help  you and your team firmly establish the line for your business – and ensure everyone on the team is embracing the role of data stewardship.  It take a village to ensure consumer trust; and similarly so for governance.  It’s a team effort. Make sure your team is ready and that there is an active conversation on this topic every day.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss Resolution No. 2: “Resolve to step up for your customers, using your data to drive ever more customer-centric marketing that puts customers and their needs and wants in the forefront of every marketing program.”

In the meantime, I would love to know what’s on your agenda for 2014 and how you could embrace the data-stewardship mantle. Share your comments below.

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