Have You Ever Climbed the Mountains of Kong?

The first evidence of the Mountains of Kong in Eastern Senegal is in 1798, when James Rennell an English explorer and Geographer charted them on a map. The mountain range was recorded as the source of the River Niger, and an impassable barrier hundreds of miles long between the coast and central regions of Africa.

Over the next 100 years the mountains of Kong were replicated on up to 40 different maps. Many renowned explorers during this time reported the "Hew of a jagged mountain range in the distance" on their travels in the region.

Then on an expedition to map the source of the Niger River, a French explorer discovered that he could walk from these central regions to the coast without crossing any mountains.

The Mountains of Kong did not exist.

Facts from assumptions

The story of the mountains of Kong highlights the importance of distinguishing facts from assumptions. All too often in business facts are distorted to make way for assumptions (or facts are completely ignored), and this is how many companies treat customer data.

Yes the use of data in marketing is an art as well as a science, but many marketing decisions are made without checking or referring to the facts at hand. Assumptions can be made resulting in marketing activity that at best is miss-directed and at worst plain wrong.

It is important to often go back to the fundamentals of who our customers are, and their trends to ensure that what we believe are facts are real and not our assumptions. It is just as important that everyone who is involved with customer understanding and communication is comfortable with the basics of the world of data and how to get value from it.

Cartographers were seen as beyond repute, and once a fact was established it was unquestioned and unchallenged. Don't let this be the case in your marketing department.


With almost a year to go till the General Data Protection Regulation comes into full force, it is important to be prepared. All forms of one to one marketing are affected by privacy legislation and the General Data Protection Regulation. New rules for processing personal data, profiling, consent, and individual rights will all need to be taken into account. The IDM offers a qualification in General Data Protection Regulation where you will learn all about the wonderful world of data and the laws protecting it.

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