Please, No More 'Art & Science' Of Marketing

If I have to hear another marketing person drone on and on about the “balance of art and science in marketing,” you might have to commit me to a psychiatric facility.  I love marketing, but as one of the proud in this profession, I have to say, “We need some new material.”

Every senior marketer and senior agency person use this cliché to describe their “unique” approach to strategy and the ways in which they should be evaluated.  

It’s time to abandon this trope and call it what it is.  Some of what you do has no true measurement, and that’s where the gamble in marketing resides.  

Marketing strategies are written every day, and most of them follow a semblance of the same structure.  They all try to push customers down a path of awareness to interest to desire to action.  Each step allows for a hypothesis (some call that “art”), followed by an action and measurement (some that call “science”).  



In 1919 there was mostly art, but in 2019 science is dominant.  Every great idea has a desired outcome, no matter how far removed.  

If you look at the recent Super Bowl, you see ads like the one from the Washington Post that is a pure awareness campaign, intended to generate renewed trust in the press.  You also see Bud Light with its “No Corn Syrup” campaign that addressed a health-related issue in a fun beer ad, with the ultimate goal of generating increased share of market for Bud Light.  One ad has a very intangible long-term, broad-reaching goal while the other is more immediately focused.  Is one more art than science, or vice versa?  

Marketers need to simply acknowledge that some of what they do is a gamble, with minimal measurement that can be attributed. Most marketers will agree you have to build a brand that creates trust in the minds of your target consumer, and they will come up with some proxy to measure that because the CFO wants them to, but trust is a hard thing to measure -- and it takes time and experience to build it.

I personally am very data-driven and think that every idea you come up with, and every story you want to tell, can be proven right or wrong based on the data — but I heartily acknowledge that sometimes proof comes much further down the line and can be impossible to measure in the short term.  

The greatest brands in the world know that marketing is an investment in time and story. 

Across both B2C and B2B brands, there are companies that have invested in telling a story and chose not to worry about measuring the impact of that story in the short term because they knew what they were doing was the right thing to do.  It’s a gamble to have a marketer at the helm who says this out loud, but it’s the truth.  

When you want to build a brand, you have to understand why your users love you and tell a story that aligns with it, and proceed to say it loudly and proudly and not worry about what others are saying about you.  Building a brand is not art or science — it is a conviction.

Cheers to the folks with conviction.

4 comments about "Please, No More 'Art & Science' Of Marketing".
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  1. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, February 20, 2019 at 3:26 p.m.

    Interesting...with complete humility and perhaps a different background than most "traditional" marketers...I have used the art+science reference more about many despite my strong work and background don't get it....for me the art is the creative and wild innovative thinking...we hope...and the realization that such sought after category "disruption" still must be rooted in the "data." For me, that stems from my roots as first merchant, before marketer, who was trained to understand consumers from all angles in order to develop product that would sell and match the brand of the company position. And yes by all means, INVESTING IN A STORY....paramount. Amazing to me I still find seasoned biz execs who don't at all get investment, consistency over time, for yes, it is indeed conviction. And fortunateyl i work with and for visionaries who get the gamble....
    Who I am is where art meets science based on approach I take with teams; that's what it means for me...and I was a disruptor because that's what people started referring to me as who knew nothing about the marketing world. So I guess gotta find some new ...words! But i love the engagement and sharing here for in my view with the digital prominence of how we live, EXCHANGE OF THOUGHT IRL is now a luxury as it seems is being human. absolutely in sync with wahat you share here.

  2. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, February 21, 2019 at 8:34 a.m.

    Alternative: Smoke and Mirrors?

  3. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, February 22, 2019 at 1:15 a.m.

    Cory, while I'm not in total agreement with your notions, I do share your data orientation and the view that risk-taking and a long-term investment mindset are necessary but not sufficient. Most of us have talked with a broad range of brands and clients.  Some of them "get it," many don't.  

    What’s unnerving is who in the organization controls the purse.  All too often that’s in finance and accounting.  Those folks are usually conditioned to say “no” and are unduly impacted by short term versus long term expectations and outcomes.  Investing in good “art” pays off in the long run.  Investing in good science also pays off in the long run.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, March 11, 2019 at 1:18 p.m.

    You are exactly what he is talking about: A bag of useless cliches.

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