Your Data is F**ked: Mark McKenzie unveils harsh truth for marketers

Founder of Absolute Analytics Ltd and Director and Consultant at McKTui Consulting and Ventures Mark McKenzie speaks to NZ Marketing about his recently released book titled Your Data is F**ked: For Marketers. Here he explains his motivation for writing the book and the research that went into it.

What inspired you to embark on this writing journey, and how did you develop the initial idea for your book?

When I first had the idea for this book, I thought about writing a textbook; I wanted something I could use to file and organise everything I’ve read, learnt, debated, and processed and could pull out whenever I got stuck or needed a reference point to go to back to. I got excited about that idea for about a day before the thought of writing a textbook moved me to boredom and the thought of all that work that nobody would read to tears. So, I thought, literally, F it, I’ll try and write something on digital analytics and digital growth that a busy marketing manager or consultant might actually read, and Your Data Is F**ked was born. 

Were there any particular challenges you encountered while writing your book? How did you overcome them?

The writing was mostly the easy and the enjoyable bit. I had some time to get into a new project, and it was refreshing to just sit with my thoughts for a few months. The editing and then understanding the world of publication was the most difficult part for me as well as checking sources and making sure I had the right permission to use other professional’s work. 

For the editing, I outsourced to friends, colleagues and family first before finalising the book with a professional proofreader and developmental editor; after doing a little research, finding that those were two different skills. I then reached out to some of the sources I had used in the book, the work of people I had admired and respected for a long time but never contacted. I was pleasantly surprised that they all responded with support and approval, something I wasn’t expecting and greatly thankful for. In fact, one of the best in the industry (Avinash Kaushik) then also read the book and liked it enough to help spread the word. Finally, rather than hoping to be ‘discovered’, I found the incredible albeit frustrating world of Amazon self-publishing. I found it very similar to learning new marketing and tracking software, it was the same process of reading loads of blogs and then trial and error until you get it, or at least you think you do.

Can you share any unique or interesting research you conducted during the writing process? How did this research contribute to the depth of your book?

Yes, I had a fair amount of the theory down as I had used that a lot previously in my roles at Absolute Analytics and Reason, but I couldn’t use any client-sensitive information, and I felt I needed more examples of the broader context of digital and the use of data in marketing. I found exciting articles and case studies such as the recent Cannes Lions – Data Tienda winner and how huge brands like Kmart had tackled Personalisation and Customer Data Platforms. I expanded further on the works of other professionals that explored the real-world effect on markets with the forced move to first party data and how the lack of useable third party data is more likely to top up the coffers of big tech and cost agencies and marketers the most. I also explored predictions for the future and the possible political, economic and social effects of those, such as linking Fitbit tracking how to much you pay or your insurance. Really the biggest challenge was making sure I only included what would be both interesting and useful for the reader, as well as being true to the scope of the book. 

If I was going to write something else, it would be an investigation into data from the customer’s perspective rather than the marketers – everyone has a story where they mentioned a product in a conversation somewhere only to have an ad appear on some other platform.

What role did StopPress and NZ Marketing play in the success of Absolute Analytics while you were building it up?

When I was first starting out, NZ Marketing and StopPress were really important to building up the companies and my personal brand. As a reader, the magazine itself was also immensely valuable for me to understand the wider players and people in the New Zealand market and what everyone is doing and how I might fit into that. My favourite issue is still the Agency Issue. It listed all the companies to look out for, and whether you agreed with the order or not, the list itself was so good to have, as well as the additional research.

I first advertised in NZ Marketing, having my article published in StopPress, which drove at least one lead that then paid for itself five times over, not to mention the reusable PR and link I could use to build up my fledging website backlink profile. From there, the team often reached out to get my take on something, which was fun and obviously increased the value of the original investment. 

There is also something special about having a physical print copy of a case study, an article or even an advertisement. I regularly took those copies to pitches and to conferences and gave them out for free, along with business cards. I also cheekily left the odd copy and card tucked in at more than one of my competitor’s reception waiting rooms. 

More than anything, I genuinely enjoyed working with the NZ Marketing team and regularly recommend them to anyone that asks. 

Grab a copy of Mark’s book here:

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