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Marketing Traditionalists and Marketing Scientists: A Collision or Collaboration?

Marketing Traditionalists and Marketing Scientists: A Collision or Collaboration?

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I would like to be crystal clear up front. When it comes to the characterizing types of marketers, most people don’t truly understand the definition of “traditional and scientist.” Many believe a traditionalist is all about “old school” media channels like TV, radio and print. Old guys like me grew up calling these “old school” channels “above the line” marketing. Often, the “scientist” is bucketed into newer channels like digital, social, mobile, or “below the line” marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To dramatize the point, I’ll develop two personas for each type of marketing leader. I’ll use Tanya Traditionalist, and the other, Scientist Steve.

Tanya believes heavily on the persuasion of brand story telling. She relies more on emotive techniques and methods. Tanya truly believes that the “heart has a mind of its own” and if a brand can tap into the consumer’s desires and wants – game over.

Scientist Steve, on the other hand, is intrigued about using technology applications and data management to enable the process of persuasion. For him, as long as the nirvana of engaging the consumer with the right time, offer, channel and person are perfectly measured, monitored and optimized – game over.

For Steve, it’s ok if not all consumers connect emotionally as long as he creates a behavioral model that can evolve in real-time, keeping pace with the constant jukes and jives of finicky and skeptical consumers. For Tanya, she relies on insight-based research, common sense, or perhaps even gut to develop brand assets that connect to the consumer.

Neither is right or wrong. It’s about perspective. (If it makes the marketers feel any better, this debate over neo versus traditional rages on within academia and the scientific research community.)

For both Tanya and Steve, each play an important role in the outcome and the common ground is quite simple. Marketing is a social science, not physical science. This is not a trivial point, although it sometimes gets overlooked. Throughout the entire equation, people are front and center. After all, people are social animals who make conscious decisions. Naturally, with people comes uncertainty, change, unexpected behavior, motives, probabilities, culture, and a whole slew of variables that can change the buying dynamic within seconds. The operative phrase is infinite variables. There are an infinite number of reasons why people elect to buy or elect not to buy. Combine that with the fire hose of communications pushed through marketing media channels, the consumers are more informed, capricious, and more in control of the purchasing process.

This leaves Tanya and Steve choices of how to leverage their individual strengths and combine forces where applicable.

This seems like a natural collaboration of both traditional and science to win the consumer engagement battle. With a blend of insight-based thinking, strategy, and creativity, combined with process, content, and technology – these philosophies can live in harmony under one function called marketing.

Let’s use an example how each may approach the same objective but leverage their experience in combination using both offline and digital media channels. It’s a frame of mind using various skill sets, experience and tools. Here is the objective: Get John, a 37 year old male homeowner, to buy a chain saw at his nearest hardware store. This is a considered purchase given the application of the product use. The marketer doesn’t know if John is already in the category but broadly assumes that this type of consumer needs to be experienced enough to wield a chainsaw, thus this strategy is to displace a current brand, or upsell a current customer for a more contemporary model. For this use case, we will assume it’s a displacement; John is displeased with his current tool because it doesn’t start well, requires too much money to service and is seeking a new product that meets his criteria of reliability, and price/performance.

Tanya would think about the buyer’s journey from the perspective of introducing the brand in a storytelling format across media that allows the story to come to life. She is deft at knowing what techniques work best to persuade demand. In collaboration with Steve, she leverages data and insight to adjust and tweak the format to increase the consumer’s motivation. With so many channels at their disposal, and each continuing to play an important role along the purchase journey, Tanya and Steve can integrate knowledge, experience, data, models, and content strategies across both the digital and traditional landscape.

Challenged to develop a combination of national YouTube 15 second spots, they also have the chance to leverage any local remarketing lists to help drive dealer/retail traffic. Steve informs Tanya that most consumers opt out around the 5 second mark. This arms Tanya to adjust the storytelling so that the right content is played up to that point with a strong transition to get consumers to watch the remaining 10 seconds. Steve also helped Tanya realize some learnings from the multi-variant testing model he set up; speed, sound and action drive greater viewable impressions. She further refines the pitch on the next causality test and the results are overwhelmingly improved for video completions. Tanya role plays John’s persona and envisions his desired next action to product research, consumer reviews and local shopping habits based on his geo-location. Steve knows that adding local dealer tags on the end of the video moves a great portion of the consumers to take action. Tanya knows this is an informed purchase and 3rd party attribution is critical for Steve to narrow down his brand preference. Steve’s analytics informs Tanya that adding a five-star consumer review on the local dealer’s web site provides John confidence and deeper engagement.

Steve continues to collaborate with Tanya by leveraging his integrated customer buyer’s dashboard providing click through streams, tracking the buyers behavior across various information, and captures information such as landing pages, “search for dealer” prompts, and interactive POS stations carefully placed near the in store planogram. After all, a consumer’s behavior is a by-product of their intent.

With the combined knowledge, Tanya has connected to the emotional aspects of John. He is intrigued about the chain saw and the values of the manufacturer, the “Made in America” theme is riveting and it reminds John about the quality of his Ford F150 truck. It’s long lasting, and can withstand even the toughest of jobs. And a job well done. Tanya banks on the lowest cost per viewable impression with a nice balance of reach and frequency during peak buying seasons such as Spring and the Fall. Both work on other various storytelling formats, such as Cable spots, supported with local radio spots, billboards, and even includes newspaper inserts. With each viewable impression, she recognizes the role of the content in context. Steve analyses the multi-media approach, reviews the CRM unstructured text from the sales people’s notes, monitor’s the social media communities, reviews lifts in product registration and distributor sell-in data to the dealers. Both are convinced that this various combination drives even more store traffic.

While the brand work has got the door to swing open, the selling process still needs to continue. They remain curious and continue to explore the retail experience to determine if the integration of the story can create the theatre of the mind at John’s local retailer. Using best practices for “counter-back” techniques they deploy in store POS posters, planograms, hangtags, and plenty of educational materials to help John make the right purchase. John checks out the interactive POS and really loves the 3D view of the product in the 360-degree application. He scans the QR code on the hangtag just to make sure there isn’t a better deal where can buy online. While he sees there are, and could easily go home to make the purchase and have it shipped, he really wants to play with it right away and makes the purchase.

So why did I use this use case? Because it represents the exact same scenario for my client STIHL. Their entire marketing program has evolved, just as John has, just has marketing tactics have, just as Tanya and Steve have over time; and the end result is a resounding lift greater together than separate. It takes a village of subject matter experts to know exactly when to “turn on, turn off, and turn up” the media stimuli, content plays, length of videos, types of offers, media buys, email marketing, SEM, promotions, digital tracking and integration with all of the 8,000 points of retail up and through executive level reporting on success, trends and predictable analytics.

If you believe it’s better to mix the benefits of both, here are some current challenges marketing faces today.

USE CAUTION: Landmines to Avoid in the Science of Marketing

Fatigue: If technology applications and data management can enable the process of persuasion, let’s be cautious about content management. The tar pit of content being pumped out in petabytes per minute drowns the consumer. We all know consumers have been conditioned to drown out the advertiser, no matter how well Tanya thinks her message is relevant. Nobody wins.

Confusion: No matter how much Scientist Steve wants to manage the infrastructure, dozens of fractured marketing tech deployments across an enterprise can cause conflicting and confusing messages. This only frustrates the consumer. A few cases to demonstrate the point: I have one client that is about $15B, and they have over 60 different marketing technology applications. I have another around $3B that has about 35 marketing applications. When Scott Brinker, the Chief Martec, discovered the number of ambient Marketing Technology applications, he wasn’t kidding.

Clarity: Tinkering with multi-variant test models, and building advanced predictive analytics are to be built on sound hypotheses that connect back to clear and measurable objectives. Absent of this direct line of sight, it can be construed as experiments for experiment sake.

With science and traditional philosophies combined, both Tanya and Steve can understand why and how to move the needle, improve the user experience, and accelerate the purchase process.

Jeff Winsper, President of Black Ink, offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups. His deep experience generated the insight that companies – in particular mid-sized enterprises – are lacking the foundation of proper big data analytics to measure marketing’s performance. Prior to launching Black Ink, Jeff founded marketing agency Winsper, part of Worldwide Partners, with 137 offices in 54 countries.