Mixing Art and Science

It’s one of the most common functions used within business, yet most of the people talking about it don’t understand it… ‘Marketing’.

As a business that provides ‘marketing services’ we often have to start right from the beginning and ask what the client’s definition of marketing is. Without an agreed understanding then how can we even begin to talk about their current marketing situation?

Generally, their answers only refer to one tiny aspect of the wider marketing function such as ‘advertising’ or a ‘website’. It is not until we help them define marketing and understand it in relation to achieving their business goals that we see the heads nodding.

So let’s define it then…

“Marketing is the art and science of creating and communicating value to target audiences in order to facilitate growth.”

There it is, easy right? No, not exactly. That sentence must be applied across a number of different areas from customers & competitors, product/service development, distribution, branding, advertising etc.

Just like with our client’s let’s break that down into little buckets so we can better understand it…

Art and Science

These two words are very important. Marketing truly is a mixture of art (the emotional & creative stuff) and science (the statistical and technical stuff). If it were just science, then everyone would be successful as there would be a proven method. However, the human factor brings certain emotions & uniqueness into customer decisions, which requires a particular art to understand and capitalise on. When done well together you will be closer to success.

In the increasingly digital world the science part is becoming a lot more accessible, efficient and easier to utilise, but just because anyone can advertise on Facebook now doesn’t mean they are doing it well. Like any good scientist, you must continue to hypothesise, test and alter your strategies and tactics to understand what the winning formula is. That’s why coming back to a plan is crucial as you must know what it is you are trying to achieve and how you plan on achieving it.

The art is very much in the understanding of the customer and the messaging you communicate to them. The science may help you cost effectively reach them but the art is in knowing what makes them tick, capturing their attention and engaging with them on a personal level to build a relationship with your brand, product or service. ‘Advertising’ is becoming less and less effective as the art of conversation and building relationships is winning consumers over.

Creating and communicating value

Value is the most important word in this definition. A product or service will only be successful if it is perceived as valuable to the customer. It is up to the marketer to create the value around a product/service and then effectively communicate that value to their target audience.

For example, Mike may value a $20 pair of fake Nike shoes off Aliexpress.com. He values the cost savings and is willing to sacrifice quality and delivery time for that. Everything done with production, packaging, distribution and advertising (or lack of) would be in an effort to create those cost savings.

However, Dave may value buying the real deal for $200 in store. He values the in-store experience of trying them before buying them, the customer service, the nice packaging, quality assurance and because his favourite celebrity is wearing them on a billboard.

The main point I am trying to get across is that you need to play to your strengths and don’t try and be something you are not. If you want to be a premium service provider then make sure anything you create and communicate to your audience projects that feeling of premium quality! All your marketing decisions need to be guided by your brand promise (one promise of value). If you don’t have one of these then you need to… and quickly!

Target Audiences

This is often an area that many small business owners fail to give enough attention to. Defining your audience and specific segments of that audience is so crucial to the success and growth of your business. Why? Because how can you possibly create and communicate value to an audience if you don’t know who they are and what they perceive as valuable. This comes back to the planning part of Marketing. Researching the market and constantly learning from current and potential customers will help shape your product or service offering. The more you know about your audience the easier it will be to reach them and offer a more personalised experience.

Growth

Every business’ aim is to grow in some way or another. This could be growth in employees, sales, revenue, yield per customer, profits and so on. Again this is why a plan is a must so that you can set specific marketing objectives that you want to achieve and then have the correct techniques and tools to measure the success.

Not having a plan is like walking through the forest with no map. You may be moving but you have no idea in what direction. Occasionally you will get lucky and find the highway but most of the time you will be wasting time, energy and resources lost in the bushes.

Let’s look back at that definition one more time and hopefully those buzz words (marketing jargon) will actually mean something.

“Marketing is the art and science of creating and communicating value to target audiences in order to facilitate growth.”

If that doesn’t work for you then you can always use “anything that touches the customer”…

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of Marketing and will look to grow your business to the next level.

At VOLOM we work with business of all shapes and sizes and in all sorts of ways to help them grow. As masters of both the art and science of marketing, we not only provide the thinking but also roll up our sleeves for the doing. We work with you to provide cost effective and measurable results.

By Luke Sinclair

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