Can We Reduce Marketing To A Science?

Management guru Peter Drucker is well known for this statement "you can't manage what you can't measure." Markers have been trying to apply that principle to marketing campaigns for decades. For many this principle lies at the foundation of marketing as a science. However, for others marketing is just as much an art as it is about about hard numbers and evidence - which is at the core of the scientific method.

But adherents of marketing science have stuck to their guns. In fact much of the marketing activity today is influenced by the concept a marketing science. In part this is because of the greater availability of powerful analytical tools that make analysis much easier.

The incredible rise of the social media is the prime driving force behind the need for analysis of marketing outreaches. When you are reaching out through what is in essence a anonymous medium there is a requirement that as much data is gathered regarding the actions of target audiences as possible.

What drives marketing science is the effort and absolute necessity of understanding human psychology and influencing behavior. Without data that task is simply impossible. That data allows the marketer to anticipate both individual and group behaviors, and to a certain extent plan for market developments.

Perhaps marketing science can be reduced to the quest to find answers to a series of simple questions. Why did this consumer (or consumer group / demographic) engage in this behavior? Will they repeat that behavior? How much did they spend? If they spent on the Internet which device were they using? What time of day did the behavior take place. These questions (and many, many more) can only be answered through a careful analysis of data. Modern marketing science relies as much on statistical analysis and trend analysis as it does on 'gut feel'.

Because the Internet has now become the primary marketing tool for many, if not most companies the stakes as far as correct analysis have never been higher. Advertising campaigns using social media and search are steadily becoming more expensive. A company can burn through literally millions of dollars before they find out that their targeting and messaging was not optimized.

For multinational conglomerates missteps are learning experiences. For entrepreneurs and smaller businesses they can be fatal.

For those types of businesses one of the most important questions that they will be faced with is a simple one - how much can the business afford to spend on marketing and where is that investment best used?

Without careful analysis and continual refinement of the marketing program that business will firstly not have the assurance that marketing spend is a logical investment and will never know if the spend is being optimized. In a nutshell this is why marketing science has now become big business.

The argument between marketing as science and marketing as art is one that shows no sign of abating. However, in the opinions of many marketing science practitioners the idea of marketing as art is proposed by those who simply do not know how to properly measure their marketing efforts. They would claim that marketing success is as random as the results of a coin toss.

This is simply untrue. Marketing is today a science. The data that will allow for the fine tuning of any marketing outreach is easily available to anyone who wishes to use the Internet as a marketing channel. The larger social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many, many others have extremely powerful analytical tools available to business owners. Search engine giant Google has a host of analytical tools that are available to those who use their Adwords adverting offering.

The fact that many of these analytical tools are available at no cost makes them even more attractive. These companies are not offering this sort of analytical capability to advertisers out of the goodness of their hearts. They have good reason to treat marketing as a science - and to expect their customers to also treat analysis and planning as essential. If marketing efforts are not treated as a science then they lose advertisers for the simple reason that those advertisers go out of business.

Of course the opposite is true. If those advertisers make good use of the analytical tools at their disposal then they will thrive. A growing business will prioritize marketing and ad spend and those who offer those channels will prosper. 

this is not to say that we should eliminate the intangibles of art and creativity from marketing. on the contrary a successful marketing and lead generation campaign relies heavily on creativity and the exploration of creative alternatives and how to fine tune those campaigns in ways that perhaps pure mathematics could not anticipate. However at the foundation of any success campaign will be marketing science - careful analysis. Without this approach most campaigns will simply fail.

Posted on June 4th, 2008 by <em></em>
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