I just had a very interesting discussion with a former associate of mine this morning about marketing. My initial statement was that marketing is an art. Immediately, he disagreed with my statement. He contended that marketing is a science. So, is marketing an art or a science?
Having been educated in a science discipline, I had for a long time held the classical view of a science having the characteristics of having immutable laws :
If I held a ball and released it from my hands, it would fall towards the ground with an acceleration equivalent to some 9.81 N/kg (Earth's gravitational acceleration).
Of course, given this worldview of mine, I would expect that in marketing, if you could feed data into a 'machine' and it would spew out the answers to your business marketing problems, then it means it behaves predictably just like the gravitational acceleration.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are so many variables in the real world that business marketing problems are not so easily solved in this manner - what works in some cases may not work in others - even when the variables appear to be the same.
On the other hand, marketing is not some voodoo stuff either. There are certainly some clear ideas, principles and methodologies which hold true (mainly) within the discipline. Furthermore, the term 'marketing' is so broad that it would be interpreted differently by the practitioners of the various niche areas which fall within the umbrella of 'marketing'.
For example, for those in the advertising industry, they would necessarily, narrowly interpret marketing within the context of the advertising campaigns, plans and advertising material such as banners, brochures, videos, soundbites etc. On the other hand, those who are in creative arts would argue that the crafting of visual imagery and good copy-writing is really fundamental to marketing.
So, is marketing an Art or a Science? It would be up to you to interpret. But I would like end this with a thought - whether it is an art or a science, what marketing seeks to do is to ultimately create in the mind of the consumer the desire for a product or a service which he will then be in a way enticed to purchase. Therein lies the market economy.
This blog was first published in Linked In on 4 November 2014. To read the original article, please click here.
Poh S. Lim