Over-Datafication: When is too much data, too much?

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During the early stages in my career (yes, this was back in 2001) social media didn’t exist. We had to rely on some basic marketing know-how to prove our point, build out campaigns using a lot of traditional mediums and always focus on the 4 P’s - product, placement, price and promotion.

I have officially dated myself, because the four P’s are about as old as dirt.

But when it came to determining what the ROI was for anything we spent money on, it was extremely subjective and quite honestly, a whole lotta guessing. Because of this, marketing had always been frowned upon by those who just didn’t get what we do simply because we had to spend a lot of money to execute our tasks and it took time to actually see results. Worthy results. But also, because the real hard data for any marketing efforts were hard to measure. Accurately and well.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with collecting data to prove my point. I love it because it is necessary and people want hard numbers (numbers NEVER lie!), especially when companies are spending boatloads of money to promote and push a product or service. I hate it because the numbers are so subjective and you run the risk of becoming hamstrung by the need to consult lots of different data sources. This takes a lot of time believe it or not.

TRUTH: the amount of data available to marketers is INSANE! It’s good, but the data is plenty.

I’ve tried to follow a few tips and best practices over the years so that I’m reigning in on the data I collect for any company or client, ensuring it’s data they need to know, and that it’s relevant to what we are trying to achieve. If it doesn’t make sense to me, it sure as hell won’t make sense to the client.

The question is, as marketers, what best practices should we be using when it comes to data collection?

This article will help explain as well as offer some good tips.

in the weeds: regulations around marketing cannabis & what it means for marketers.


Who knew there would be a day when us marketers would be facing the possibility of having to market cannabis!?

Well that day came and as of October 17, 2018, our country went where no other North American country had gone before: nationwide legalization of cannabis. Not just medical cannabis, but legit recreational cannabis. All of a sudden, 4/20 takes on a whole new meaning.

So where does that leave us marketers? How do we market a product that likely has far too many six-point font disclaimers, with ever-so-carefully thought out messaging and imagery that will be scrutinized even before it goes public? News flash: this isn’t new for us because believe it or not, there is a lot of careful consideration into the messaging we choose with any marketing before it goes public. Who we market to, where we market and how we market is a part of what we do and yes, this comes with a lot responsibility.

There are already a lot of hoops to jump through and steps to take when marketing cannabis thanks to the Government. They may have legalized the “stoner” drug, but they’re not really going to make it easy for us now, are they?

Case in point: I’m currently in talks with a cannabis company who want to franchise across Canada and they need to onboard marketing help. After having our initial conversation and learning about the amount of red tape involved in even licensing-to-operate a store, it came to my attention that this was going to be no easy feat.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s when the Marlboro Man was dominating billboards, radio and TV advertisements claiming that their product didn’t “have any serious health threats”, there were few if any regulations on how a product like tobacco could and should market. Eventually, because of all the backlash and claims of health risks, cancer and death, there was a law passed in 1964 requiring warning labels on tobacco products and restrictions on tobacco advertisements moving forward. Fast-forward to 2019, the tobacco industry has been scrutinized as we know, prohibited in public places and has had to implement several health warnings that are LEGALLY REQUIRED to be on their packaging and in all of their marketing efforts.

Because of this, a lot of cannabis retailers and producers are now facing something similar, only now there are strict(er) laws in place before they can even go to market.

Late last year the CMA published a guide on Permitted Cannabis Marketing Activities that outlined permissible and prohibited marketing activities contained in the Cannabis Act. It also identified aspects of the legislation that are unclear and lists relevant policies to be considered as marketers prepare to promote cannabis and cannabis-related products.

So how do we as marketers effectively market cannabis? How creative can we be in our advertising and marketing efforts without getting taken over by legal disclaimers, legal content and intense scrutiny? Placement is another big deal because there are obviously legal restrictions when it comes to age and who can purchase cannabis, so how do we advertise appropriately in public without speaking to an underage demographic?

As you can see, there are a lot of questions and concerns about how one markets cannabis. And fortunately, the tobacco industry has taught us some lessons, paving the way for products that are difficult to market and highly regulated by the government.

Much like anything we learn in this constantly changing, quick-paced world of advertising and marketing, we learn how to roll with the punches, adjust, align and prosper. We have to look at this new terrain as an opportunity to push the envelope and make our mark. This will allow us to be more creative, think outside of the box and make our mark in an industry that is just getting started. In 2011 and 2012, branding for cannabis that was legal (medicinal) was unsophisticated and unfortunately, not a lot of companies really paid attention to that part of the business. What we are now starting to see are businesses playing catch up because it’s an opportunity for businesses to make a mark with their brand, looking more professional and geared towards the various audiences that consume the product. The “Bob Marley” brand is not a way to market weed anymore. Sorry.

Whether you are pro-cannabis legalization or not, it is here, and it’s here to stay.

why marketing should be seen as a key contributor and not a cost centre.


Have you ever had something in your career worth fighting for? Trying to explain the importance of why what you do is worth far more than just the money you spend to do it?

I bet you have. And full disclosure: I have too.

Maybe I’ve been working for the wrong companies all along, but I doubt it. There have been companies I’ve worked with who understand the importance of marketing, what it contributes to and have been willing to spend the money necessary.

Marketing is, always will be and should be seen as a key contributor to any business. Period.

I don’t just say this because I’m a “marketer” but because marketing is more than just logos, visual identity and mission statements. It’s the anchor of a company’s brand and growth whether you like it or not.

Let me explain. This post was inspired by another fantastic email newsletter I subscribe to (more on that later) and they covered a story on how the landscape of ad agencies is changing, resulting in the emergence of small agency-focused consultancies. They are in fact slowly replacing a lot of traditional agencies as we know them today. Clients want to think beyond advertising and communication, re-imagining the way brands connect with customers (source).

At the end of the day, they want to influence how marketing should be seen as a key contributor and not a cost centre and as a result, there has been an increase of business owners showing greater interest in the consultants’ approach (umm hello, now you’re speaking my language). Their intent is to have a far greater analysis on a brand and its customers landscape, and then using that intel to identify opportunities, and creating a programme to deliver that opportunity while monitoring its progress and impact.


It’s simple: marketing affects every cornerstone of every business. Storytelling, campaigns, visual identity, public relations, advertising, digital media and platforms, internal communications, promotions & events, sales, management, training, printing & collateral, business relationships, signage, strategic partnerships, trademarking etc. The list goes on and on and on.

So why aren’t company’s see marketing as a key contributor? Maybe the better question is: why do company’s struggle so much to make the investment in marketing, while understanding the value it offers, at all stages of a company’s growth? Yes it costs money, but so does everything else to run a business. It’s really that simple.

As a consultant where it’s basically feast or famine, part of what I do is educate clients on the importance of marketing as a whole being very systematic in my approach. It’s an investment towards the brand and strategic growth of any business, whether they’re starting from scratch (no visual identity or a rebrand) or if they’re in the midst of creating a strategic plan to take them to the next level of growth.

Big or small, new or old, there needs to be a shift and reconsideration on the importance marketing has on any business. Just like everything else, it’s an investment and often it’s a big one, but the results pay in dividends and always have positive, long-term benefits.