The Data Modeling Addict April 2013

Excerpt from Data Modeling for the Business: A Handbook for Aligning the Business with IT using High-Level Data Models
By Steve Hoberman, Donna Burbank, and Chris Bradley
ISBN: 9780977140077This is the tenth in a series of articles covering the ten steps for completing the High-Level Data Model (HDM), which is also known as a subject area model or conceptual data model. In our article series so far, we covered an overview of the HDM and nine of the ten steps to building one: Identify Model Purpose, Identify Model Stakeholders, Inventory Available Resources, Determine Type of Model, Select Approach, Complete an audience-view HDM, Incorporate enterprise terminology, and Signoff. In this article we will discuss the ninth step, Market. Here are all ten steps as a reference (the step in bold is the focus on this article):

  1. Identify model purpose.
  2. Identify model stakeholders.
  3. Inventory available resources.
  4. Determine type of model.
  5. Select approach.
  6. Complete an audience-view HDM.
  7. Incorporate enterprise terminology.
  8. Signoff.
  9. Market. 
  10. Maintain.

Think of yourself as a product vendor of sorts—the best product on the market won’t necessarily sell unless it is marketed effectively.  And the best-advertised product won’t sell unless it solves a need of the consumer. Marketing is about understanding the customer’s motivations (i.e. what’s in it for me?), creating a plan to accomplish a win–win scenario, and then making sure to get the word out to the appropriate audience.

In building a successful high-level modeling project, it is important to treat the marketing aspect as a project in and of itself. To that end, make sure to create a specific communication plan as part of your project’s deliverables. This communication plan outlines both the message and the target community.

The development of a marketing plan includes the following process steps:

  1. Identify the target audience / customer
  2. Identify the pain point(s) and desired result
  3. Develop a customer motivation profile
  4. Identify marketing resource constraints
  5. Develop the message
  6. Identify the media channel
  7. Develop a communication plan

1. Identify the target audience / customer

We’ve already defined our stakeholders in building the model in Step 2. In this step, we’re looking at these same individuals as our potential customers, rather than as the members of the team building the model. It’s now time to”‘sell” them on the idea of how successful this model is and how it will help them in their daily jobs, make more money for the company, etc. Since we already thought of this in Step 1, it shouldn’t be new to them, but formalizing the identification of the stakeholders for your marketing plan is a helpful way of making sure that once the model is complete, you’re going back to the right people to let them know what a great thing it is.

2. Identify the pain point and desired result

In marketing the model, it’s important to go back to the purpose we defined in Step 1. What pain did we solve with this model? How does it help people improve a specific process in the organization? How does it help the organization, in general? With an HDM, your reasons will probably include a reference to alignment among different areas of the organization on terminology and rules, the ability to share data for corporate-wide initiatives and possibly opportunities to improve data cleanliness. It’s also important to identify the desired result of this marketing effort. If we’re selling soap, the answer is easy—we want consumers to buy more soap. But with a data model, the desired actions are more diverse. For example, you might decide that you want the data quality program to utilize your data modeling environment for all of their new initiatives, or the business sponsor to give you more funding for the next project. For each audience, you need to not only show how the model helps them, but also make sure to let them know what you’d like them to do about it.

3. Develop a customer motivation profile

Once you have the customers/stakeholders identified, you need to analyze and record the customers’ motivations. This will help you fine tune your marketing approach. Put another way, this is the “What’s in it for me?” aspect of marketing. The motivation profile is a list of potential benefits that your target customer could expect to realize if they bought the product advertised in the marketing campaign. For each targeted customer, record the customer name and the potential motivator.

4. Identify marketing resource constraints

Every marketing campaign has a resource constraint which may be related to deadlines, budgets, specialized communication, and graphic support. Most likely, your data modeling funding didn’t include any extra resources for ‘marketing’, so you will have to be creative. Understand what your resource constraints are and design your marketing plan around your constraints.

5. Develop the message

Consider what message you wish to communicate. This should be something simple, easy to remember, and memorable. A short four to six word phrase would be ideal. Once you have your phrase, use it in every communication message that you deliver. The key is a simple, consistent message. If you are having difficulty thinking of a message, watch TV for an hour and write down every advertising phrase. These are examples of what you need to develop for your message.

6. Identify the media channel

In the world of advertising, the media channel is the method by which the message gets delivered. Every organization has a media channel. They may be internal publications such as magazines, online portals, and daily reports. Also don’t forget to consider free resources or underutilized resources like newsletters and lunch-and-learn forums. For example, many organizations have a monthly newsletter. Editors of these internal newsletters are always looking for interesting stories, announcements, and success stories.

7. Develop a Communication Plan

Once the model is complete, word has to get out that it is available for use. If the model has a relatively small scope, it is possible that the users who helped you build and validate the model are also the only ones who need to know about it, so marketing requires little effort. However, most HDMs span broad areas; it is essential to let the appropriate business and IT resources know it is available for use.

In summary, marketing should be fun. It does not need to cost a lot of money or require assistance from a marketing department (although money and professional communication staff support can be invaluable). Take into account details like cultural differences. Create a timely, relevant, interesting message. Anyone can apply these techniques in their office environment. Volunteer to lead a team building event and make it fun!

In the next column I will go into detail on Step 10, Maintain.

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Steve Hoberman

Steve Hoberman

Steve Hoberman has trained more than 10,000 people in data modeling since 1992. Steve is known for his entertaining and interactive teaching style (watch out for flying candy!), and organizations around the globe have brought Steve in to teach his Data Modeling Master Class, which is recognized as the most comprehensive data modeling course in the industry. Steve is the author of nine books on data modeling, including the bestseller Data Modeling Made Simple. Steve is also the author of the bestseller, Blockchainopoly. One of Steve’s frequent data modeling consulting assignments is to review data models using his Data Model Scorecard® technique. He is the founder of the Design Challenges group, Conference Chair of the Data Modeling Zone conferences, director of Technics Publications, and recipient of the Data Administration Management Association (DAMA) International Professional Achievement Award. He can be reached at

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