“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker, 1838 – 1922, Founder – Wanamaker Department Store
The debate over whether marketing is an art or a science has been raging for over a 100 years.
Marketing keeps evolving with the progress of technology, and it is safe to say that this debate will not go down anytime soon.
Marketing has certain principles which may not be clear-cut like pure sciences; however, these rules guide the use of marketing if one wants to achieve the best marketing result. Therefore, marketing can be both science and art.
Science works on an experiment, research, hypothesis, observation, data collection, and interpretation. Therefore, science being a systemic body of knowledge, is universally verifiable and applicable. Science comes with results that can be generally applied after thorough experiments. You may wonder if there is any strategy in marketing that is now universally accepted. Yes, there are – a fall in customer income will directly result in a fall in an organization’s sales. Also, prices increase when a product is scarce, and the demand is on the increase. In many media channels impressions are directly proportionate to spend. The examples above provide reasons why marketing can be science.
Art is the creativity that shows us the means to attain our goals and explain the manner in which we achieve those goals. Therefore, art tells us that the more we practice our marketing, the more scientific we get as we now have data to base our judgement on. In marketing, we have principles and rules of buying, financing, transport, selling, and storing products. These rules are in use, and the belief is that the more you practice and adhere to these rules, the more results you get. Therefore, we can say marketing is also an art.
What is art or science?
Before explaining further why marketing is an art or science, let us understand the two concepts. The definitions of the two concepts are debatable, but here is a widely accepted definition.
Science originates from the Latin word “Scientia,” which means knowledge. According to the Science Council, science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on the evidence.
Art, on the other hand, is not easily defined, and the usefulness of its definition has also been debated. However, Farlex in 2014 defined art as a skill obtained by study, practice, or observation, e.g., the art of baking, carpentry, and marketing. Also, Joyce Carol Oates defined art as a skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties, e.g., self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice.
Marketing as a science
Psychologists believe that the human brain is divided into two, in which each part controls different functions. The left brain is science-driven, logical, factual, and analytics. In contrast, right-brain humans are creative and artistic.
Creativity is the product of the right-brain, while marketers who are science-driven are left-brain thinkers. I.e., left-brain marketers are logical, factual, and analyze the market instead of relying on intuitions, emotions, or other artistic nature. Even 64% of marketers believe that data-driven marketing strategies are crucial to success in a very competitive market. Therefore, we can say that marketing is science.
The advantages that come with approaching marketing as a science include:
Marketing decisions are based on facts
Marketing involves constant and consistent analysis and adaptation to new trends. With marketing as a science in mind, marketers approach marketing with clear-cut objectives, analytics, and metrics, and they analyze data to see the more successful tactics. Therefore, landing page structure, time to engage on the social media and post, and every other marketing choice they make depend on data. With testing and research, left-brain marketers develop the best marketing strategy.
Prioritize accuracy while understanding the targeted audience
Although emotional connections with the targeted audience improve engagement, which artists are better with, however, these efforts amount to nothing if they target the wrong audience. Therefore, science-driven marketers analyze customer data and build a targeted audience by using the compelling trait and key characteristics of their best customers; this is safe to say they don’t rely on emotions in audience targeting.
Science-driven marketers create hyper-personalized and high-rewarding campaigns
Targeting everyone is an obsolete marketing tactic that would not work. Thus, a campaign that targets everyone will most likely fail. The following statistics show the benefit of the hyper-personalized campaign:
- 77% of customers have preferred, referred, and also paid more to a brand that provides a personalized campaign and services
- 87% of surveyed found that content that is personalized influenced what and how customers perceive a brand
- When an offer is personalized to the previous engagements with a brand, 78% of customers engage such an offer
Such thorough analysis of customer and prospect data enables marketers to personalize their campaigns. Purchase history, demographics, online behaviors, and other personalized data are left-brain marketers to create a campaign.
Marketing as an art
Right-brain marketers produce sophisticated marketing materials that capture the mind and emotions of marketers. This is not to say they don’t understand marketing data, but they are creative beyond analysis and spreadsheets. The advantages of being an artistic marketer include:
The artistic marketer creates exceptional content
47% of B2B buyers go through about five pieces of unique content before reaching a buying decision or engaging with a salesperson. As such, the demand for unique content keeps skyrocketing. Right-brain marketers can convert boring, technical, and complex content into engaging and easily understood content. For instance, a science-driven marketer can create a campaign showing analytics and graphs of how a product will help the customers. Still, artistic-driven marketers will structure the same campaign in a captivating and engaging story.
Right-brain marketers use intuition to decide
Human intuitions work wonders in marketing, just like decision-making through data analytics. Right-brain marketers believe that some metrics could be problematic that only creativity and intuition can solve. For instance, business leaders didn’t develop their ideas through metrics and analyzing data, but they sighted an opportunity and created something breathtaking. With their trust and instinct, they excel.
Artistic marketers engage and form long-lasting connections with prospects
Right-brain marketers understand human behavior better; they create artistic characters the audience will relate with and dialogues in novels that could make people cry. These right-brain marketers use their artistic prowess to understand the behavior of their target audience and create a campaign. 50% of B2B buyers reported that they are more likely to buy from brands that they are emotionally connected to.
How marketing can be science or art – finding common ground
If you read to this stage, you will understand that marketing can benefit from being science or art. Thus, a marketer needs to be creative to build emotional connections with clients and be analytic to target the right audience and measure campaign success. To create a marketing plan that fulfills the right-brain and left-brain approaches, here are tips to follow:
Build a marketing team of artistic and scientific personnel
To have a successful marketing campaign, the marketing team should consist of artists to create unique content that readers and viewers could engage. Also, the team should have scientists that will analyze data, carry out SEO, and develops winning strategies.
Create a more human buyer persona
Scientist marketers will create point-driven buyer personas and ideal for your products by analyzing data and metrics. Then artists will create the emotional parts, which will make the buyer persona more human.
As consumers, we exert free will and believe in our ability to make informed decisions. As marketers, we need to understand how advertising strategies and social marketing can influence consumer purchasing behaviors and decisions.
Invest in the appropriate tools
Your marketing tools and strategies should be a blend of tools that improve and balance the art and science of your marketing campaign. Tools that maintain data and metrics, generate and automate tasks and make your marketing more personalized are the tools you need.
Sunder Madakshira who now heads marketing for Adobe India was prophetic when in 2013 he debated whether marketers are the new CIOs! He also outlines the pitfalls of being overly analytical here.
The best marketing strategy combines analytics and creativity. Approaching marketing with the mindset of both science and art gives you results that science or art alone cannot. Your marketing campaign should target the direct audience and be hyper-personalized, while the content should be unique and engaging.