dart board

The Bayes’ theorem is a statistical model that describes the probability of an event, based on conditions that might be related to the event.

It goes like this. Say you’re blindfolded and throw a dart at a dart board. You don’t know where it landed cause you’re blindfolded. But you can throw additional darts and someone will tell you where those darts are in relation to the first dart. The more darts you throw, the easier it is to determine where your first dart is. That’s the essence of the theorem.

There are specific mathematical applications of how this can be used in marketing projections, but I’m just going to focus on the overall concept of it.

Basically, it asks you to make a hypothesis and then get new information that either:

  • further supports that hypothesis
  • further invalidates hypothesis
  • is irrelevant to the hypothesis

The more data you get to evaluate your hypothesis, the more accurate your prediction will be.

So let’s say you have a hypothesis that high-touch customer service is a key differentiator for your industry. Your company offers high-touch customer service, so that’s what you want to focus your marketing on. There’s no guarantee that this is true. But you think it is based on your experience. And you can probably think of lots of examples that would support this claim.

However, rather than simply seeking out further evidence that confirms this belief (as most of us would do), you should look for any examples that both prove and disprove it. You see a review that applauds your service, that’s a point for hypothesis. You lose a client for a lower cost alternative, that’s a point against. Gather all data that can confirm or deny your hypothesis.

With each new piece of data, you’ll come closer to understanding the truth and can more effectively modify your marketing strategy.

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up into pursuing strategies that make sense and fits the story we tell ourselves. But it can also make us blind to what consumers really want.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Instead of seeing marketing as merely a way to communicate your message, you should view it as a grand experiment to continuously learn more about your customers. And there is no final answer, as people’s preferences change based on an infinite number of factors. All you can do is get closer and closer.

Guess. Test. Adjust. Test again. Adjust…

Effective marketing isn’t about hitting the bullseye on your first try. It’s about getting closer and closer with each tactic.