12/09/2014 10:42 am ET Updated Feb 06, 2015

Marketers -- When Is "Who and Why?" More Important Than "Where?"

Big data is a wonderful tool for marketers and we all love it when we can see past trends and even forecast with predictive analytics and consumer rich insights. With all that being said, it appears to me that "where" has trumped many of the other factors a marketer pays attention to. Is that really where all of us should place our focus?

Big brands have the luxury to dive into big data and uncover previously unseen and unknown, big opportunities. Those brands can then deploy a team of marketers and creative gurus to implement an entire marketing initiative designed to focus on the exact market opportunity they discovered. However, a high percentage of us work with small to medium sized businesses that cannot devote the time, energy and resources to do that.

Speaking of big brands, let's hear what the biggest,
most influential brand has to say about
why we should care about location or "where."

According to Google research, four in five people use search to find local information. Collectively, these searches provide a view into consumer interest and intent in a given place. Today, we can use that intent to offer the most relevant ads, but that's only half the picture. Location data can also provide rich consumer insights that inform strategy from the start, before there's even an ad to distribute.
- Lisa Gevelber, VP, Americas, Google

Lisa has a very good point and she is spot on, insights are very important. However, I do not think that is perfectly aligned with the "where." I would argue that the emotion aspect of an ad is more effective when the marketer knows "who and why."

"Who and Why"
Most companies start their marketing thinking and planning by diving into their personas and the nuances of them, which does include "where." Personas also include "Who" attributes and many others that also show motivational aspects of "why" they purchase. I prefer to lead with the "Who and Why" as opposed to the "Where." It is easier to create marketing content relevant to people, their motivations for buying, their problems and their needs rather than a location. People buy, locations don't.

By knowing the problems your customers face, you can cater your content to your audience in a way that they'll find valuable. Use these insights into your customers' needs and wants to identify the topics your prospects want to learn more about, and create content around those topics. - HubSpot

Yes, I do agree that marketers need to pay attention to "where?" - it is very important. For brands that do not rely heavily on advertising but draw customers from around the US, the "where" becomes less important and the "who & why" takes the lead. For big brand marketers out there, I understand why the "where" is critical. For us marketers that have to bootstrap campaigns and solve problems with far less resources, the "where" just is not as important.

Maybe a day will come when "Where, Why and Who" will be one and marketers will be able to apply one solution to solve their problems. However, that doesn't exist yet and we must be creative problem solvers to figure out the best way to open the floodgates to create lead-generation paths and results that are relevant, targeted and applicable to "who" our prospective customer really is.

Related Huffington Post Article:
Big Data And Marketing Personas - A Perfect Match?