Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The fine art of marketing

I work in marketing. But as with psychology, is it art or is it science?

Marketing is not about award-winning advertising or sophisticated value propositions or refinement of sales techniques. It is not about "the creation of something original and beautiful", although that should be a required by-product. It is the creation of something effective. And it is only effective if we can measure the results.

A few years I worked with a great character at a nearby client site. Although very creative and nominally a business marketing guru, he was extremely capable of delving into technical detail, for example to verify suspected anomalies in reports. However he was also perfectly aware of the time and effort required to get the precise answers, and the consequent practical necessity of making broad yet inaccurate estimates instead. And he would often justify his approximations with the same phrase: "this is an art not a science".

I completely understand his sentiment. I fight the same questions every single working day. But marketing is not art. It is just that we rarely have sufficient time, resource, skills or commitment to do the required scientific measurement and to properly evaluate its effectiveness. But marketing is science.


R N B said...

It was a very long article, and not something that fit properly into the post above, hence here in the comment. But an article by Jonah Lehrer in Seed magazine has suggested that "the future of science is art". However that does not change my conclusion.

v!sh said...

There’s still more poetry than science in business, but not everyone will agree (especially you). Business managers are not prone to take risks. Wall Street people don’t want risks; they want this quarter’s results. But the visionary has a higher respect for the brand and marketing

Ann said...

Of course one can know what will succeed or fail if one is trying something that has been tried before.

But what of originality?

R N B said...

Originality is great. In fact I try to be original here all the time :)

But it is easy to be original and useless, almost any random gobbledygook is original. The goal for a marketing business is to be both original and effective, and you can only determine that if you measure it. And that is getting towards a definition of science.