“Marketing just makes things look pretty.”
Not very long ago, that was the sentiment that many had of marketing. Over the last decade, the advancement of technology has rapidly changed the marketing landscape. From marketing automation to revenue marketing to artificial intelligence (AI), marketing’s role and opportunity to lead within an organization has changed dramatically. But there is a balance in the marketing force that must be maintained or perish you shall.
As marketing has embraced technology to deliver revenue and improve customer experiences, the balance has shifted to such a reliance on technology that it has often tipped the scales and can actually hinder marketing’s effectiveness and overall performance. While the Science of Marketing (technology) is a necessary requirement to optimize customer engagement and deliver more contextual and relevant experiences, it must be balanced by the Art of Marketing, where strategy, creativity and messaging create human connections that improve experiences and outcomes.
This is quite similar to what occurred in the animated film industry in the 1990s. Rather than having to painstakingly draw and color every frame, technology enabled the creation of three-dimensional characters and films that could be produced more effectively and efficiently. While technology improved the process and capabilities, these films still required art and creativity to write stories that connected with the audience and to design imagery that captured the imagination.
It still takes the right balance to produce a hit instead of a flop. Just think about Toy Story compared to Space Chimps. (Yes, Space Chimps was an actual animated movie.) Like a Pixar masterpiece, marketing must balance technology and art to deliver experiences that create emotional connections with their target audiences.
At the end of marketing technology’s (MarTech) tentacles is a living, breathing person who has thoughts, feelings and expectations. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decisions take place in the emotional subconscious. Now, while you might think that only applies to B2C, purchasing decisions in B2B can carry emotional connections that are just as strong, as the customer’s purchase can be tied to their job performance and ultimate livelihood (real-life pressure to make the “right” decision). Add in the fact that the line between B2C and B2B has been erased by customers’ expectations, and the need to connect at an emotional level becomes even more imperative.
While the Science of Marketing can optimize delivery channels, crunch large amounts of data, automate engagement, and ensure the right message is delivered to the right person at precisely the right time, the Art of Marketing develops the strategy based on business objectives, crafts a message and design that evokes a conscious or subconscious emotional response, and implements that strategy in a way that maximizes the available MarTech. Specific skill sets and expertise are required for both the Art and Science sides of the marketing scale, but those who want to lead marketing teams now and in the future must have intimate knowledge of both.
In reality, marketing’s purpose of connecting businesses with customers has not changed, but the channels of connection have and will continue to evolve, adding complexity and opportunity. Organizations that can effectively balance the Art and Science of Marketing will quite simply have more success than those that don’t.
Marketing will continue “to make things look pretty” and tell the stories that connect and resonate with customers, while incorporating the right mix of technology will enable those connections to be more personal and meaningful. Pay attention to both sides of the scale and find the right balance to deliver meaningful customer experiences that enable your organization to achieve its business goals and objectives.