Welcome to Part 2 of a conversation with Drs. Foster and Smith’s (DFS) Gordon Magee. DFS is the largest catalog and online seller of pet supplies in North America, and Gordon oversees all aspects DFS’s e-commerce marketing and its three websites. Last week, Gordon shared with us some of his ideas about staying on top of trends in the marketplace. This week, he talks strategy and shares his thoughts on staying competitive.

Kelly Wrather: Kenshoo introduced this idea of “Infinite Optimization.” What does infinite optimization mean to you?

Gordon Magee: It means what the name implies: optimization opportunities and methods abound and are required in today’s marketplace to stay competitive. Optimization is about more than channels, tools, and methods.  It is also connected to time and space.  Optimizing in real time, in other words, in addition to optimization projects, for example.

It is also a mindset that answers the question, “When are we done optimizing?” Answer: Never.  There is a sense that the need to constantly optimize isn’t new at all. Businesses have done this for years.  What is different today is the speed of optimization, the tools for optimization, and the need to optimize in a very granular way, but without losing sight of the big picture.

KW: Fill in the blank: If I could have an infinite supply of anything, it would be….

GM: If we are talking about business, I would say insight.  Data can bury a person. What is needed are insights from the data.  Insights are different than sheer analysis.  Analysis will give you stats and charts and graphs and comparisons, some conclusions and may well lead to insights, but insights are different.  They are a step beyond even the idea of applying analysis.

Insights are the eureka “why moments” that come when you suddenly understand what the data means to your company or your marketing team.  Insights are the discovery of a truth about your market, your customers, your company, your products that makes you say, “Here’s what we need to do and here’s why.”

KW: Outside the office walls, where would we most likely find you?

GM: Good question.  Fishing for walleyes, working on a book for a publisher, singing in our worship group at church, writing a country music song, trying to get my screenplays made into movies, recording vocals and voice over stuff on my computer, playing golf, watching the Green Bay Packers on TV, or traveling overseas.  I’ll be in Canada for a week of fishing this summer and then heading for South Africa, Botswana and Zambia on a photo safari.  My “away from the office” stuff is a bit of a moving target.  I’m so glad the Lord made the world an interesting place — we should drink it in!