Marketing has long been a haven for creative personalities. The reason is obvious. Working on marketing campaigns means coming up with new ideas continually then using artistic abilities to bring them together.
Whether it’s taking photographs, writing copy, editing together videos or creating animations. The creative possibilities of marketing are endless. We use every art form possible to create our campaigns.
So is marketing an art?
On the other hand, all of this creativity is for a purpose. More sales, an increase in numbers.
Sometimes the end product isn’t even that creative. We look at our goal, figure out the perfect customer, do research, view analytics. All of which is used to inform on what we create.
Photographs aren’t taken with creativity at the forefront of our minds. Before we even think about the photograph, about a billion other factors have been analyzed to whittle that photo down to a subject.
So is marketing a science?
I feel like marketing (and digital marketing in particular) is becoming more of a science than ever these days. Much of our time is taken up with looking over data, testing, and hypothesis. Almost every decision we make could be determined by analysis if we wanted to.
Consider this example:
A lot of Facebook advertisers figured out that men and women were more likely to click a Facebook Ad if it featured an image of a young, attractive woman. (I’ll leave it up to your imagination why that would be.)
With that knowledge in mind, a lot of advertisers decided to use it to their advantage. No matter what their product was, they would use an attractive woman in their ads. To do otherwise would be almost the same as asking for fewer clicks than they could get.
Already we can see how marketing could be less of an art form. In this case, there was no creativity to the process. The creative aspects were instead dictated by data.
As it happens pretty much every creative decision (give enough time) can be dictated by testing and data. Sales copy, font, color palette, and the subject of the photograph.
This is nothing new, since the 60s advertisers have been targeting their ads to specific audiences and using market research to guide their campaigns. Even the idea of using an attractive woman in ads isn’t a new one!
The difference is, these days the amount of statistical data produced by advertising is staggering. Digital marketing lets us track so many metrics that marketing is becoming less and less about instinct and more about how to read previous campaigns and market research.
It seems like I’m completely in the camp of marketing being a science, but I think there’s an exception.
You see, I think marketing is a science, but great marketing is more of an art.
Some marketing campaigns connect so well that you remember them even twenty years later. They’re memorable because of creative that taps right into the audience and speaks to them.
You can look at billions of pages of statistics, but that can’t teach you how to make an ad that touches someone or changes their point of view. That takes a deep understanding of people and how to connect with them. It’s done through instinct and most importantly creativity.
An ad featuring an attractive woman may make you stop and look, but it will never touch you. You’ll have forgotten about it within an hour.
But the best marketing is like the best art: unforgettable.