Marketers: Are you scientists or artists?

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If you search for “marketing degree” in Google, you will find that there is a lot of confusion around whether the discipline is an art or a science. At some Universities like Essex, Portsmouth, and Worcester, the degree qualifies as a Batchelor of the Arts and yet, at other establishments such as Newcastle, Bournemouth and Lancaster, you can earn yourself a Batchelor of Science.

This divide in a marketer's beginnings are amplified once in the profession. Many would argue that marketers connect with the customer using their creative flair. But with the prevalence of technology and software that is devoted to marketing, others suggest that the profession is becoming more science than art.

The fact is, in order to keep up with tough competition, the growing expectations of an increasingly digital consumer, and ever tighter budgets; creativity alone is no longer enough.

Measuring Art

One of the biggest aspects of marketing is getting into the mind of the consumer and understanding their behaviour. The old perception of marketing being the team who worry about the colour of the logo is outdated – the art of marketing is to ensure that we deliver on the brand promise.

In a market that is noisy and saturated, marketing is fundamental to being noticed – and this is all about creative. Ultimately, it’s not science that connects emotionally with a consumer, but creativity and art. It’s clear that using this to develop a brand takes some creativity and artistic talent; however, determining the reach and impact of your campaigns requires science.

Aligning to the business

In addition, increasing demands on budget means that the art of marketing is having to align to the demands of the business. The core question from both the marketing department and indeed the rest of the business will always remain – is our marketing effective, and do the results justify the spend?

This is where science can support us. Marketing should be seen as the intersection between science and creativity in the pursuit of business goals. The latest marketing tools and measurement methods are allowing marketers to do this by making direct links between improving the brand and sales results.

Crunching the creative numbers

In the age of the networked economy, it is no secret that today’s consumer is getting more and more digitally savvy – everything in our personal and professional lives is connected and tracked. It’s been estimated that by 2020 there will be 2.5 billion connections between people on social networks, and 75 billion connections between smartphones, appliances, manufacturing equipment and wearable technology.

This explosion in connections is generating massive volumes of data, which is becoming more deeply embedded in our lives – on average doubling every 18 months. It is unavoidable; the networked economy - and big data - is the next revolution in marketing. A 2014 report found that 43% of marketers in the UK are already ‘mining’ petabytes of customer data to extract customer insights, and a further 40% plan to invest in Big Data over the next three years.

By using data in this manner, marketers can take advantage of science to understand the key topics of interest to their audience, and align their creative to this in order to create the maximum impact and, fundamentally, Return on Investment for the business.

One can drive the other

Marketing then, is both an art and a science. Lots of aspects of marketing can’t be measured – the creative, artistic and emotional connections that we so carefully craft with our audience. But using the growing volumes of consumer data to extract insight on those audiences, and predict what they will want - before they know it themselves - in order to drive that demand, that is science. The successful marketers will be those that bring the artistic and scientific strengths together in order to fuel innovation, get buy-in from the rest of the business, and are rewarded with tangible, measurable results.

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