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.