The Marketing Scientist Versus The Marketing Artist

Which side of the fence are you on? Are you the calculated data driven left-brain mathematician? Or are you the loose creative right-brain artist?

Some of sport’s most fascinating rivalries are the very spotlight of this humanitarian conundrum. The last decade has witnessed some incredible on court battles between Rafael Nadal’s electric and penetrating ferocity versus the artistry of Federer’s effortless interpretation of Swan Lake on a tennis court.

Messi vs Ronaldo is another example of these alternative styles with Messi defying all odds at 5ft 6in, gliding past helpless defenders as if they’re not even there, versus the defined articulation of power and precision in Cristiano Ronaldo.

In 2016, we face a similar confrontation between the ever-changing roles of a marketer. With the rate of new digital solutions increasing at a rate of over 100% year on year, many would describe the day to day output of a successful marketer to consist of number-crunching analysis rather than the translucent energy of a creative mastermind. In my opinion for all it’s worth, the power of numbers wins the battle.

So has the life of a marketer changed forever? Does creative vision and the gift of intuitive foresight lie in the shadows of numerical and statistical proofing?

The honest answer to these questions is that a marketer’s role has changed and changed forever.

You may now be reading this with a sense of melancholy and begrudge the impact of technology in the marketing world, but sadly numbers and facts don’t lie. Instead the world’s best marketers and businesses are those that embrace these changes and subsequently have been able to elevate their efforts into a new paradigm of sophistication. Data and statistics have enabled us to become much more intuitive to the demands of our customers which in turn are driving the way brands engage with their customers both locally and globally. Long gone are the days and ad campaign would feature in a magazine followed by a hopeful pause, waiting for the phone to ring. And so in the here and now, it is both honest and right for us to acknowledge the truth of this change.

In reviewing this debate, we should look back and understand the why behind this change. In my opinion, digitalisation is not the sole cause for the changing life of a marketer. The impact of the 2008 global recession has played a huge role in fuelling the demand for new technologies. The reason for this is that when us marketers part with our money, we all experience a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity. Unlike the procurement of a commodity, budget spend on marketing solutions fails to guarantee any truthful and quantifiable returns. Since 2008, marketers have experienced a reduction in budgets and senior management requiring higher levels of ROI, thus changing the way we spend our budgets on marketing solutions. Human nature dictates us to become more cautious and risk averse. The more a marketer can take responsibility for the outcome of their investment, the more secure we feel about parting with our budgets. Products such as Marketo and Hubspot automation tools, provide us with numbers and stats that empower us with thepossibility to improve. All of a sudden we find ourselves being armed with products that we can go away and correct should the results be below our initial pre-spending expectations.

It is this very factor which has been a huge factor in the swaying of advertising spend to digital solutions and ultimately a dramatic rise in the number of solutions to choose from. (Please note that the below quantities represent different types of marketing products).

So what do these changes mean? Should we all go away and re-write job descriptions for marketing vacancy positions?

On the main, yes. We are obliged to ensure that our modern day marketers are data-driven, hungry and ready to analyse the analytics which are most definitely the ignition in the vehicle of development.

So to settle the debate, no more creative marketers?

Well not exactly. To obtain such data and analysis, the modern day marketer still needs the initial creative to be able to analyse and contrast. Without the creative, the cool new tools won’t give you anything. And without the initial ideas and designs being executed to a high standard, the performance now fully proven by new analytics insight tools, will only give you the truthful results of under-achievement. So now more than ever, it is vital to invest and nurture the talents of your creative Roger Federer marketers. However instead, you are now in a position to feed them with hard evidence to help shape, refine and focus their efforts in developing a level of excellence that has never be seen before.

It is now the responsibility of the manager or the team/project leader to build a team that holds a balanced skillset of scientists and artists. In understanding the landscape we are now surrounded by, it is essential to meticulously create teams that possess the flare and magic that makes marketing work, with the guile and measure of analytical craftsmen.

By building your teams in such a way, the products and execution of your marketing output, will start to shape up in the same way; Research and analytical facts in what products to work with, what best practices should/shouldn’t be incorporated, and which suppliers are best suited to work with, will be fed to the creative personnel to execute with speed and accuracy that has never been experienced before. With this approach, I also ask you to consider a similar balanced approach with what is now being branded as “old media” such as events, print and radio. It is now essential that you demand the same data driven analysis from the channels you may have previously invested in, where your honest mindset was to simply “hope for the best”.

On the contrary, if you’re not working in project teams but merely tackling marketing challenges alone, the same solution applies. If you’re caught in the web of questioning, what shall I spend my budget on creating visually impactive marketing, or shall I spend my time building and integrating digital technologies into my existing efforts; the answer remains the same. The choices that you’re faced with unsurprisingly require you to adopt both a scientist and artist solution, if you wish to be successful in today’s climate.

Whether operating in a team capacity or as a sole marketing resource, the final question on the back of this piece centres upon the actual execution of making the decision between Marketing Scientist versus Marketing Artist. I have explained the theory and the reasons why a balanced approach is the right one. But what if budget doesn’t allow it at this moment in time? What if time doesn’t permit this joint approach? It’s at this point that I would like to introduce you to SMARK. SMARK is an exciting new tech start up based in London which is designed to help marketers search for new products, best practices and supplier information. Think Pinterest for the world of marketing. SMARK is an open source search engine database that enables its users (marketers), to search for all types of marketing, whether it be; automation solutions, event marketing, programmatic advertising, TV or anything else. SMARK is a tool that enables different solutions to be sourced and contrasted based on the quality of services using information such as Campaign Results, Customer Feedback and Best Practice Content. SMARK facilities the research process of where your marketing budget is best placed and what is best suited to your organisation based on your sector, budget, location and marketing objectives.

We are currently developing SMARK and will be releasing the early testing version of it in the coming weeks. If you would like to find out more and be a part of the early testing, please register your email address here at

On behalf of the SMARK team, I would like to thank you for reading this article. If you have any thoughts, feedback or conflicting opinion, I’d love to hear from you at

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