Help Your Data Geek Help You

Help Your Data Geek Help You

The spreadsheet junkie. The numbers fanatic. The data geek. More and more marketing departments have one—or plan to get one soon. Not only do data geeks know all kinds of interesting facts (for instance, that “data” is plural, whereas “datum” is singular), but when your metrics aren’t making sense and your eyes start glazing over, they will patiently set things right. But even for a data geek life in the land of numbers is not always roses and peach cobbler. Requests come in from across the organisation, and sometimes data geeks get overwhelmed and grumpy.

5 Tips for Treating Your Data Geek Right
(and becoming a little more efficient in the process)

1. Be specific.

Let’s say you need a customer list pulled so you can send a targeted email. You ask your data geek for exactly that, but to your astonishment, you’re met with a stankface. Why? Data geeks can’t read minds. Before you ask them for something, figure out what it is you want. Specify the parameters for your list, for instance customers from France who purchased Product A in the past 6 months, but don’t own Product B. Feel free to make it complicated. Data geeks love complicated. Also be sure to list the fields you’d like to see included. You’ll likely get more fields than you asked for, but it’s good to know what you absolutely need.

2. Learn to fish.

To paraphrase an old proverb, “Teach a man to fish, blah blah blah”. Well, don’t just wait for the fish to come to you, learn how to catch some yourself. A few of the tools your data geek uses, like Google Analytics or Marketo, are probably available to you as well—and don’t require you to have a degree in data science to use. Ask your data geek for a demo—and take some notes. The next time you need that data, you’ll know exactly what to do; you’ll get the report faster and your data geek has one less thing on his or her plate. That’s what I like to call a win-win.

3. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

There are bound to be times when your spreadsheet doesn’t come out right. Columns aren’t adding up, percentages are way off. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to fix things on your own; in fact, data geeks encourage it. Sometimes, however, trying to fix things yourself can make things worse in the process. If you want to try and fix it yourself, save the sheet as a new file and experiment away. If you find that you’ve dug yourself too deep a hole, you now have an instant escape hatch.

4. Share victories with the team.

It’s certainly true that data geeks are a different breed, but they’re still human. They like to know when something they provided helps achieve the desired goal. They like to be acknowledged for helping you exceed your projected outcome. The ironic part is that since data geeks live in data and metrics, they’ll probably already know your campaign was a success. Sharing your wins can benefit both your team and the data geek as well. Next time a similar project comes up for your or a team member replicating the data-pull will be easier than writing one from scratch.

5. Bring beer.

Have a problem that requires a sit-down-and-talk-it-through meeting with your data geek? Protip: data geeks like beer. Bring some bottles—you’ll likely figure things out faster and have more fun in the process.

Working with mountains of data can be hard. It occasionally feels like being in the middle of a cornfield with no clear path to the exit. Use the preceding tips to throw your data geek a lifeline. Trust me, your data will flow like a nice, creamy Milk Stout.