I may hesitate to admit it, but I went into marketing because I was told there would be no math. Being in marketing appealed to my creative side and when I first entered the field it was recognized more as an art. I guess the best way to describe it is that it followed the model you see on the AMC series Mad Men.
Creative vs. Analytics
Back in the day marketers worked the creative side of their brains. The analytical side was somewhat foreign to us. We focused on a great idea, creative ruled the day, and success was a campaign that got noticed (or one that my boss liked). We had tools that allowed us to measure the effectiveness of some things we were doing, but they were mostly limited to research studies that took place a couple of times a year. This worked when we launched products once every 18 months, but now in a SAS business model, we are pushing products out weekly. And we need to be able to measure and adjust our communications just as quickly. We need to know what works, what doesn’t, and we need to know this immediately. At Adobe this meant going digital, and embracing the data that comes with it.
Today we are working in real time. We quickly toss out what doesn’t work and enhance what does. This ability has given us a unique advantage in how we interact with our customers and ensure that our messages resonate with them.
Don’t get me wrong. Creative still matters. Establishing an emotional connection and breaking through is critical. But great creative alone is not enough. To be truly successful we need to know that the things we are putting out there actually work. We need to constantly measure, refine, and adjust. It is the only way to ensure that our campaigns are effective.
Embracing the Brave New World of Digital Marketing
In a recent Adobe survey, 76 percent of marketers said that our profession has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50. Digital is driving this change. As marketers, we should not fear digital, but embrace it. With digital we can clearly tie our efforts to business results. This gives us power and a seat at the table, just like finance or engineering.
As a result, I have gone through a personal transformation. Now I am engaging both sides of my brain—the right or creative side and the left or analytic side. In short, I have finally learned to love math, not fear it because I have discovered how it helps me leverage my creativity.
I am not saying that it is all about data either. Data by itself is not a panacea, and too much data can quickly overwhelm. It is about knowing what to measure and how to set the proper goals, and leveraging the data to achieve those goals. If you don’t set precise key performance indicators (KPIs), you will quickly find yourself swimming in the sea of endless data. Real success comes when you learn how to measure things you can put into action and will have impact.
John Wanamaker, a marketing pioneer considered by many as the father of modern advertising, said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” As digital marketers we now know which half and we can do something about it. The days of Mad Men marketing are over.