DEAR REPORT MONKEY,
I just started a marketing analyst position, and already I’m getting flooded with requests for reports! The thing is, no one has any clue what to make of the data. I can’t spend all day building reports, trying to explain them and getting blank stares. How can I enable my colleagues to be data-driven and avoid becoming, well, a report monkey?
INUNDATED IN OHIO
Oh, I feel your pain! It’s tough trying to bridge the gap between report monkey and analyst. Numbers are a lot like teenagers – constantly misunderstood. Luckily for you, it’s far easier to shed light on your reports than on the adolescent brain. Here are some ways you can help your colleagues learn to love and understand the data you provide:
- (1) Ask them what business decision they’re going to make with the data. Don’t be surprised if you get blank stares, or even, “I just need it for reporting.” Be gentle; they’re new to this, and they’ll need guidance. But be persistent as well – if you continue to deliver data that’s not tied to business needs, you’ll stay a report monkey.
- (2) Give them all the data they need to back up that business decision. That means reports (plural) – not just a single set of numbers. It also means showing them how those reports correlate, how the numbers work together to tell a story. Sit down with your colleagues and show them what you see when you look at those reports, and they’ll soon recognize that there’s more than a monkey brain in that head of yours!
- (3) Educate, educate, educate. Often, people ask for one report because someone else has asked them for the numbers they think they can get on that report. If you’ve done the work in #1 and #2, you’ll be ready to help your colleagues learn to make better requests – the kind that lead actual analysis, not just numbers.
The real trick is to get your colleagues to stop thinking “web reporting” (or really even “web” anything) and start getting them to think in terms of business analysis using online data. Our marketing professional courses can certainly help; they’re designed to help marketers (or anyone using web data to make business decisions) move from monkeying around with numbers to actually using the information to improve their business.
Hope this helps a bit, Inundated! Keep fighting the good fight, and eventually your colleagues will come around.
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