Bridging marketing art & science

I’m the first to say evidence and measurement are important when it comes to communications and marketing, and I think more than a few colleagues will agree that I’ve continually raised this point in meetings and whiteboard discussions. However, it was actually refreshing to read an article during the week about a senior Qantas marketer suggesting that maybe measurement shouldn’t get the majority of the focus. Stephanie Tully, executive manager of Qantas group brand and marketing, says “We’re a bit too math men, and we need a bit more mad men”. She also reminds marketers that there are many ways to reach customers and that there is perhaps “a little bit too much talk about how we reach, and not about the creative ideas. So I encourage you to make sure the basics are right”. While we surely we need both mad and maths men/women, this is the quote that was key for me: “I see people spending too much time thinking about the math, the date, the reach and not enough thinking about why they’re even having that conversation [with a consumer] in the first place.” Back to those meetings I mentioned at the start — too often I sit in them where as discussion is taking place about communications or marketing, and people aren’t even stoping to ask ‘why’ the business is planning to do something. Why do they need to promote or talk about x, y or z? What is the problem  they are they trying to solve? Many enjoy quoting website hits, reach, views, impressions, but never try to give meaning as to what that means, how it helps/hinders the business, and what the business response should be. And this is backed by Stephanie: “Tully also said that data is being thought of as an output, and not often enough as an input that can help share creative thinking”. So many it isn’t a case of needing more or less mad or maths men/women after all — maybe we actually need more people who can build a bridge between the two?

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