There are some top brands successfully feeding their creative marketing with quantitative science. We are witnessing the true merger of art & science and it's proving to be a way to set your brand apart.
Marketing has long been heralded an art form. Sure quantitative approaches have been trying to take hold in marketing, but have largely been regulated to the areas of direct response. At most the subjective nature of a brand is penetrated by some fashion of market research around the perception and awareness of a brand. It seems that the quantitative folks and the artistic folks have been unable to really come together to drive the results that are possible, leaving brands with gaps in their story, and wasted efforts.
This has to stop being the case.
Scientific study of behavior informs marketing principles
Behavioral and social scientists have been making great in roads into social psychological analysis – and have made it accessible. Pick up a copy of Cialdini’s books starting with Influence all the way to Pre-suasion, look at BJ Fogg’s work on behavioral models, and Roger Dooley’s coverage of persuasion, just to scratch the surface. Behavioral science is documenting how humans make up their mind – they are measuring the process.
Creative marketers can’t ignore the quantitative aspects of behavioral science – art grew drastically from accepting the use of proportions to perspective (ratios and angles) and even has gone as far as tessellations (you can’t deny the beauty of Escher’s work and the math behind it). It is from understanding and embracing the quantitative measures that you can ensure the result is on target, but also empowers you to intentionally bend the rules. Think of Salvador Dali’s surrealism as an extreme example – he understood symmetry and perspective, then intentionally bent the rules to create dramatic result.
Leading brands leverage knowledge of behavioral science to differentiate
Sephora is a great example to consider – they have heavily invested in their online community which is a continual stream of social proof, allowing customers to drive product recommendations for other customers. In addition to the steady stream of social proof they also derive ongoing engagement keeping awareness high. Measuring this for Sephora can be about the engagement level but we can also consider how many product recommendations are being made, positive emotional language used (sentiment and emotional values), and how many organic brand mentions are occurring.
Also consider companies leveraging reciprocity at their core – centering on Obligation to social good, Tom’s Shoes and Sudara jump to mind where there is a definitive focus on giving back to the world through their success. They can measure this in terms of good done (how many lives they impact), but also can measure the success of campaigns that spend more focus on it that those campaigns with less.
Science feeds creativity
Notice in these examples are hugely benefiting from things we have learned from social or behavioral science, but don’t limit the creativity for the brand. We could go further with them and look at specific emotional language tones, color and image attributes in conjunction to determine how to be more effective in the message. Creativity isn’t limited by knowing that the piece needs to convey the obligation to social good, with warm colors, images of people working, and a balance of emotional tones between joy and sadness.
We must do the same thing with your brand – we need to measure what the behavioral reaction is to your content and imagery so that we can optimize it, but also intentionally bend the rules to expand results.
You can leverage science to feed your marketing creativity
Just pause for a moment and think about every campaign you are doing – can you answer the question of what are you doing to persuade the customer that yours is the right solution for them? Is it intentional? Is it overt? Are you comparing the results to other campaigns?
Many marketers seem to stop at AB testing subject lines and text ads, maybe going so far as to test hero images. But what are they learning on those tests? We want to learn not which words, offers, and images are increasing results, but rather why they are increasing results. The answers are out there to achieve this.