Joey Taravella

Marketing: Science versus art

November 25th, 2014

The discoveries of science can never fully bridge the mystery of the human mind. We need art to discern the difference. The effective marketer converts experiments and metrics into elegant forms of communication. For the marketing organization to be truly successful, it must respect both the science and the art. Indeed, marketing translates science into art.

-Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute


As the curator, I often come across profound observations like this one.

I try to have Flint elaborate on them, or at least jot down some notes of other lectures or observations that pertain to it. Flint sometimes says jokingly that he has been “accused of being a scientist,” the scientific approach to marketing being sometimes seen as a means to an end.

In a perfect world, we would instinctively know what our customers want, and the best way to communicate our message.


The science of marketing

The science behind online marketing today is a fairly new tool in which we can use to learn a great deal about our prospects.

This tool, the Internet, enables us to track how prospects react to our various offers or messaging. One of the reasons why this method of testing is superior is because it is a record of how your customers have already performed. It is far more powerful than a focus group – for example, where a person may believe they will act one way, but in reality, behave a in a completely different manner.

The art of marketing has been around for arguably much longer.

Since the dawn of man, we have been convincing each other to purchase or accept food, weapons, goods or even religious beliefs. The ability to connect with another human being, to innately know what the other person is seeking, becomes one of the sharpest weapons in the marketer’s arsenal.

Metrics and data analytics can begin to paint the picture of what your prospects are truly interested in.

Even when prospects do not accept an offer or click the desired button, the choices they do not make tell a great deal about what they want.

By interpreting these results, the marketer can glean discoveries about their customers’ behavior that can be implemented across various other channels.

When the marketer can be sure an offer is being communicated effectively online through testing, that same messaging is likely to be just as effective in other channels like direct mail, or in-person at a store.


We are all trying to understand one of the greatest mysteries known to man – the human mind

Once the blueprint of a marketing campaign have been identified using metrics, analytics and data, the marketer can begin to craft the most powerful messaging and creative based on those insights.

It is no longer just an artist creating messaging that he thinks the prospect will react positively to, it is messaging that he knows the prospect will react positively to. The art form takes the messaging to the next level, where science alone cannot go.

The “science” and “art” behind marketing campaigns are not mutually exclusive.

Science is used to give the art a direction. By using science, we can develop a basis of understanding about the customer. With art, we go a step further, taking what we know about our customers to what we should know.


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  1. November 28th, 2014 at 01:23 | #1

    I have had similar ideas too. Marketing relies heavily on messaging. And the best successes of marketing have simply been the ones that ‘worked’. But with the rise of big data, analytics and consumer neuroscience, I feel there is a lot of potential to study the science behind it, based on evidence. As close to foolproof methods as it can get.

  2. December 4th, 2014 at 13:04 | #2

    Agree wholeheartedly. While marketing might be an art, science must be used to measure it and help professionals learn from their successes and failures.

  3. April 29th, 2016 at 03:59 | #3

    This is a very well written article. Marketing is slowly becoming a science with more and more data being available for analysis. Science aspect of marketing is really helps one to learn from previous methods.

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