Center-Brain Marketing: Preparing For A Future Of Cognitive Technology

Marketing is usually portrayed as a right-brain creative activity: People huddled together, brainstorming copy, images and slogans.
But industry veterans know marketing has also been left-brained for years. Data applications have been integral to marketing for decades, starting with simple consumer surveys and crude analysis in the 1920s and evolving into direct marketing, RFM analysis and other science-based developments in the 1960s and 1970s.
Email marketing is fertile ground for left-brain people using machine learning and artificial intelligence for marketing decisions, targeting, creative and conversion optimization. Technologies like cognitive marketing tools will help marketers deliver more relevant content and offers at the right time than humans alone ever could.
But marketing will always need creativity — right-brained humans who provide input, make strategic decisions and recognize the emotional aspects of building brands and consumer connections.
Enter 'Center-Brain Marketing'
That's my term for the concept that brings together tools and technologies, plus the left-brain technical people and the right-brain creative people to achieve success in a future driven by machine learning.
Center-brain marketing transformation uses a framework of strategy, technology, people and process:
1. Strategy: The best cognitive technologies are meaningless if they aren't based on brilliant business and marketing strategy. Machines analyze huge amounts of data and produce incredible insights at blinding speeds — but humans own the input and output.
2. Technology: Which technologies are the best fit for your organization and increase success and efficiency for your team? Which might be shiny toys?
3. People: Right-brain creatives must let the data, not gut feelings, inform decisions and drive creative direction. In turn, left-brain data people must understand marketing strategy and how emotion factors into the creative process.
4. Process: Marketing team leaders ensure that creatives and data wonks work together, not against each other. This is essential in moving from manual, calendar and campaign-based marketing to automation, where a message created today might not reach its first customer for more than two years.
Center-brain marketing ensures your organization can take advantage of left-brain analytics and machine learning while still allowing right-brain creativity to produce the kind of breakthrough marketing that drives brand preference and customer success.
2 Challenges for Marketing Leaders
Managing the move to center-brain marketing won't come easily in a department that's wedded to one hemisphere over another. These are two of the most pressing challenges marketing leaders must face:
Finding the right roles for data and creativity. As we saw with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, sometimes the data is wrong or gets misinterpreted. Plus, people don't always do what the data predict they will.
Emotions rather than logic or practicality often drive purchases. Left-brain marketers are expected to understand the marketing process, but we must overlay the science and data with how humans relate to brands and buy.
Staffing a center-brain marketing team. A team that can think and design processes and creative for a marketing program run on data and automation needs people with more abilities and experiences than just batch-and-blast marketing.
Center-brain marketing teams require the right balance of data scientists and creative people. Just relying on data or technology can lead to formulaic campaigns – a constant stream of "20% off and free shipping" messages. These might drive some short-term sales, but can lead to subscriber burnout and train them to respond only to incentives.
However, teams that ignore their data can spend time and money on ineffective strategies, waste time and money and sacrifice customer interests. And it doesn't build up company revenues.  
The Payoff: Breakthrough Marketing
Center-brain marketing ensures your organization can take advantage of left-brain analytics and machine learning, while still allowing right-brain creativity to produce breakthrough marketing that drives brand preference and customer success.
Until next time, take it up a notch!



3 comments about "Center-Brain Marketing: Preparing For A Future Of Cognitive Technology".
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  1. George Bilbrey from, January 24, 2017 at 4:22 p.m.

    "Center Brain" marketing sounds a lot better than "Basal Ganglia" marketing.    

  2. George Bilbrey from, January 24, 2017 at 4:24 p.m.

    <hit submit too s'oon>

    Great article that summarizes a lot of the staffing issues that our clients are now facing.  

  3. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud replied, January 24, 2017 at 5:19 p.m.

    Thanks George. LOL on "Basal Ganglia" marketing. Ya, there is so much focus on technology, but we haven't spent much time training people and re-doing the marketing processes to take full advantage of the tools. That is a key contributor to why so many marketing orgs buy marketing automation platforms, but most send manual broadcast messages. We have some work to do.

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