Can eating cheese increase your chances of dying in bed tonight?

Cheese in bed graphic

Statistics show that more and more people are dying by being tangled in their sheets in bed as the number of people eating cheese rises. View the statistics here.

Is this the end for Wallace and Gromit?

Well, wait a minute. Does this mean that if you eat cheese you’re more likely to die tonight?

Not necessarily. Maybe if you eat a mountain load of cheese, or the cheese has gone off, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

This data comes from a website Spurious Correlations and is just an example of how statistics can be twisted to imply a cause and effect that is simply not there, or at least cannot be proved.

This sport of spurious correlation happens a lot in the media and the marketing industry.

And on the day of a budget or autumn statement … politicians too — I’m too politically neutral to make such a claim myself, though!

Beware of the media

The media will often publish the results of a survey and then pundits will list a whole range of instant solutions, but these solutions too often are about pushing their agenda, rather than demonstrating any clear correlation with the survey.

Note how I twisted the headline and first paragraph into implying that there was a clear cause and effect between eating cheese and dying in tangled sheets. But read it again, I didn’t actually say it.

Media sales people will often tell you you must be in their paper/magazine or on their website because they can prove greater circulation or readership or click-throughs.

But circulation and readership doesn’t prove that the reader saw and acted on your ad.

And click-throughs to your website don’t always translate to sales — click-throughs may have a positive benefit in raising awareness, but if your website isn’t very good or they don’t like what they see, the effect may actually be negative.

That doesn’t mean never advertise, it means take a more considered view, not a knee-jerk reaction.

Beware of social media

A major rant of mine these days is the number of people who say you must get more Likes, Friends or Page Views on social media if your business is to be a success.

I’ll be the first one to say you can’t ignore social media, and most businesses should probably be using social media, and should certainly be monitoring what others may be saying about them, and what their competitors are doing.

But social media activity, like any other marketing, needs objectives, a strategy and a plan. You need to ensure it will work as part of your whole marketing mix. Getting one element of your marketing mix right and the others wrong may also lead to failure.

Just scattering yourself all over social media with little idea what you are doing or why can consume vast amounts of time and may produce little or nothing.

You need to decide which platforms have the best demographics for your business, and what you hope to achieve.

Are you looking to create awareness, engage with prospects or convert prospects to actual sales?

Or are you on social media to use it as a market research tool, testing thoughts and ideas, identifying potential contacts, and listening to what your potential customers and competitors might be saying?

And do these platforms actually work in the way that you want them to?

Can you achieve your aims using social media for free, or do you need to pay for premium features or ads?

The answer is, I don’t know. You need to go back to your objectives and plan from there.

What works for one person won’t automatically work for you. Every business is unique.

Enjoy your cheese

Enjoy your cheese tonight. And have a look at this website Spurious Correlations and share this article with colleagues and see if you can work out if:

  • Generating nuclear power increases the number of people drowning in swimming pools
  • Motorcyle accidents increase by drinking sour cream
  • Increases in US crude oil imports result in more people eating chickens

Then next time someone says you should part with your money because they know it will boost your business, ask them to prove it — get some statistics that make sense, and see if they can prove cause and effect!

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