By, Josh Angus

The marketing science v art debate began in 1945’s Journal of Marketing, where Paul D. Converse (a scientist) first explored marketing as a scientific practice, going against popular belief at the time.

Since then, both sides of the argument keep coming up and opposing each other, with (usually) plausible reasoning to their claims. The classic marketing era would lean more to art, compared to the modern, digital era where marketing is more scientific.

It is evident to me though, marketing is a true combination of both.

Firstly, the formal definition of science and art.

Science

noun

  1. the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Art

noun

  1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

The very purpose of marketing is to influence the behaviours of other people or organisations favourably.

Understanding behaviours, specifically human psychology and how people respond to certain stimuli has become a particular focus of marketers. Certainly, since the introduction of digital marketing, marketing as a whole has become more scientific through testing and experimentation. If you can better understand those you’re trying to influence - their behaviours, their habits, their interests - the more successful your marketing will be.

Art is about being creative. Expressive. And no successful marketing campaign happens without a healthy dose of creativity. The creation of a website, a flyer, video or your business’ branding, is in itself an art form.

Contrary to perhaps how this blog post is going so far, I am not about to try to convince you that marketing is either science or art, but rather it is both. And a successful marketing campaign must have enough of both.

How to create a successful marketing campaign? 

To develop your marketing plan, you need to complete some ‘scientific’ research before you can get to the creative stuff. 

First, we need to start with goals. What do you want to achieve? Remember to keep S.M.A.R.T. goals in mind, particularly relevant and measurable. Write down the goals you have for this marketing campaign.

The next step is to have a well-defined and sufficiently detailed customer avatar. Who is the customer? What do they want? What is their pain point? What do you do for them? Where do they spend their time? What are their hobbies, their interests?

Then, consider your value proposition. What is the customer trying to achieve? What are the pains and gains they are trying to avoid or are seeking and how does your business alleviate those pains and create the gains?

This includes giving great consideration to your target customer’s needs, wants and demands.

Needs are basic human requirements – air, water, food, clothing and shelter. Humans also have strong needs for recreation, education and entertainment. These become wants when directed at specific objects to satisfy the need. An Australian consumer needs food but may want a pizza and craft beer. A person in a developing nation needs food but may want rice, chicken and carrots. Our wants are shaped by our society. Demands are specific wants backed by an ability to pay. Many people want a luxury car, but few have the ability to pay, and so demand is low. 

In marketing your business, you need to consider not only how many people want your products or services, but how many can pay for it and therefore what the demand for your product or service is.

That leads us to five types of needs consumers have and that you need to consider. Below I use the example of buying a car to illustrate the different needs. 

  1. Stated Needs (the customer tells you they want an inexpensive car)
  2. Real Needs (the customer wants a car that’s operating cost is low, not necessarily the purchase price)
  3. Unstated Needs (the customer expects good service)
  4. Delight Needs (the customer would like the salesperson to include free floor mats)
  5. Secret Needs (the customer wants friends to see him or her as a savvy customer)

Responding only to stated needs may short-change the customer. Consumers didn’t know about mobile phones, MP3 players or microwaves when they were first introduced. They couldn’t articulate a stated need for those products. Instead, companies worked hard to shape consumer perceptions through addressing all five types of needs, particularly real needs, delight needs and secret needs.

Does your product or service meet your customer’s needs, wants and demands? How so? Does your value proposition align with the customer? If so, let's move on. If not, you’ll need to either refine your value proposition or find a different customer segment.

A deep understanding of your customer, their behaviour and their needs will provide you with clarity on where to direct your marketing energies, and only now can we truly focus on the artistic and creative side of marketing, armed with data and information provided to us from the scientific endeavours. The 'science' in marketing, drives the language, the imagery, the colours, the placement and positioning of our eventual advertisement.  

Finally, remember marketing is not the same as selling. Harvard’s Theodore Levitt explains

“Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert products into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of consumers by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it”.

If you would like help defining your ideal customer, value proposition or developing your marketing strategy, we are here to help.

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