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The Science and Art of Marketing

Great marketing is memorable not just for convincing the customer to buy but for the way it makes the customer feel. 


Is Marketing a science or an art?  I would say that the science part is more obvious for several reasons.


First, marketing mainly deals with products, that involve formulations, ingredients, and in many cases technical support for any benefits that the product claims.  If it isn’t a product, it might be a service that’s enabled by technology.  Marketing people need to understand enough of the basic science so that they can effectively work with the research and innovation teams behind product development.  From my experience, a good marketeer must know the science behind what he is marketing.  


Second, marketing involves data — lots of it.  We use data from market research, customer surveys, online activity — all of which help marketing teams to better understand their consumers and arrive at insights to guide their decisions.  Data from business results like sales, market share, SKU splits and profitability are numbers which a marketing team need in order to know the health and performance of their brands.  Solid analysis of data is essential to effective marketing, which is why Acumen’s Business Insights Academy™  is usually the foundation and starting point of our Marketing Leadership programs. 


Third, marketing is guided by established processes and best practices.  We have the ‘4 P’s of Marketing’, sometimes extended by others to as much as 6 or even 7 P’s.  Our consumer insight work follows certain protocols, whether for qualitative or quantitative research, to ensure that the results are sound.  We refer to templates and norms for defining brand positioning and for pushing innovation through a funnel, and we use ratios for allocating resources to campaigns and media channels.  Like science, good marketing follows proven formulas.


But beyond the science,  there is the art of marketing because ultimately marketing involves humans —  people who are also influenced by emotions when choosing a brand. 


Great marketing is both science and art, the way a great Broadway musical is not just well scripted and organized but executed with passion such that it moves the audience to laughter and tears.  In the same way, great marketing is memorable not just for convincing the customer to buy but for the way it makes the customer feel.  For me, a perfect example of how art and science combine for great marketing is Apple.  Their devices have both technology and style and in the same way their campaigns are both informative and moving.


Great marketing is an art because it goes beyond formulas and taps into instinct and intuition to make judgment calls, especially when human behavior is concerned.  Sometimes a TV commercial will feel just right and this will be validated by data, while other times a slight tweak will be needed to make it perfect.  


Instinct and intuition are developed through experience.  It’s like how craftsmen learn their art by doing and by getting feedback on their work.  Over time, your gut feel becomes more accurate because of experience and feedback.  This is the unique characteristic of Acumen’s Marketing Leadership training programs — it goes beyond just reading, listening and watching because a big part of the program is the doing. 


Participants experience their lessons through live projects and get to practice in a guided environment; beyond learning the theory they are able to apply what they learn in real time.  This is Acumen’s way of building our clients’ capabilities, teaching the craft of marketing through both theory and practice, because marketing is both a science and an art.

   Written by: Tonton Mapa, Vice President - Capability Building Practice, Acumen Strategy Consultants


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