The New York Times reports that medical patients struggle with statistics. One patient, informed that she would either respond or not respond to a medication, asked if that meant she had a fifty percent chance of success. A Harvard statistician likens the confusion to the following scenario: “Either a woman is pregnant or not. She can’t be a little pregnant. But that doesn’t mean that she has a 50 percent probability of being pregnant.”

Medical patients aren’t the only ones who struggle with numbers. Marketers need to be able to understand, manipulate and interpret statistics, so that they can predict market growth, probably revenue, and buyer behaviour. Before you work with a marketer on a market research or financial project, find out about their grounding in numerical subjects. A few courses in basic stats, calculus, accounting and finance should do the trick.

(c) 2004 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.