Bias is a natural part of the human experience. We all have certain mental blocks that shape our perceptions, thoughts, and ideals. Unfortunately, where marketing is concerned, bias can have a severe, negative impact. If imperative you become aware of yours and take steps to eliminate it.
Everyone has biases. We are if nothing else an amalgam of our personal experiences. While on the one hand, a unique perspective can be incredibly valuable in breathing life into a marketing campaign, on the other, personal biases can easily end up stymying everything from market research onward.
As a marketing professional, it is your job to remain as impartial as possible.
The good news is that this is fairly easy to accomplish. Bias is only dangerous if you're unaware of it. By understanding how you might intellectually stumble, you can ensure it doesn't impact your marketing efforts.
This starts with understanding the different kinds of bias you may be subject to as a marketer, and how they may manifest.
- Confirmation. As humans, we have an innate tendency to search for information that matches what we already believe. As a marketing professional, this means taking great pains to view research data in an objective context rather than a subjective one. It is in your best interest to also have extra sets of eyes in the room when interpreting this data, to help eliminate any gaps in your understanding.
- Survivorship. The lessons that can be gained from failure are both more extensive and more valuable than those gained from success. When a marketing campaign fails, you need to consider the reasons behind that failure. Unfortunately, too many marketers frequently focus only on their successes.
- Cultural. It's easy to forget that our cultural and socioeconomic background has a significant impact on our perceptions and assumptions. For that reason, particularly when analyzing marketing data from a different region, it's imperative that you do so from their perspective rather than from your own.
- Escalation. When a brand refuses to admit it's made a mistake, this is known as irrational escalation. If your data gives you insights you don't like, the correct response is to figure out why. Unfortunately, what often happens instead is that marketers double down in an attempt to force the data to give them the results they want.
- Questions. When you carry out a survey, you should consider not only randomizing question order but also grouping questions by topic. This will help ensure that you aren't unconsciously arranging questions in such a way that they influence how your audience answers. Consider also how your questions are phrased; ensure they are as objective as possible and do not lead customers towards a particular answer.
Everyone suffers from bias to some extent. Whether it's the pursuit of a specific hypothesis or personally-held beliefs, these biases can easily poison your marketing efforts from start to finish. As a marketing professional, it's your job to ensure that this does not happen.
You must remain objective as possible, focused on the raw insights of your data, and aware of any mental fallacies which may influence your perception of them.