I was recently at a marketing association fund raising event where a speaker proclaimed that marketers are true artists, as if being artists validates our work. I thought, hmmm...Maybe that's part of the reason why CEOs and other departments think of marketers as lacking process and accountability, because we can excuse those shortcomings as "art" -- just as branding has been far too often used as a black box to explain away campaigns and programs that lack accountability or perform poorly.
Consider an example that can appear more art then science. The marketing of Apple's iPod. It features beautiful design, beautiful packaging, a slick user experience. Hold an iPod in your hand. The product certainly delivers on some very slick, artsy, advertising that promises cool.
But should Apple manage its very artsy advertising as if it were art with little or no regard to brand and sales metrics? Of course not.
Should Apple forsake slick branding in favor of a series of hard sell, direct response commercials? Of course not.
Apple, like any marketer, needs to manage its marketing to deliver value to the brand and while the creative needs to be creative, the process determining what goes out the door and what does not needs to be more science than art, more left brain manages right brain than a battle.
We marketers aren't artists, we need to be highly creative thinkers who apply scientific principles to managing the art. Designers and copywriters (creatives) are the artists and marketers need to manage their artistic output to ensure it delivers on business objectives. We need to ensure effectiveness and accountability -- that we are meeting these objectives; that is our master, not art.
Too many marketers look at ads and websites as if they were bright shiny objects and throw logic and science out the window. Considering marketing's credibility battle and a short life span of CMOs (less than two years), I think a new model is in order. Brand marketers can learn a lot from direct marketers. Brand marketers often look at accountability as forsaking the brand, but done well, it's just the opposite.
Marketing should be scientifically managed art. At a handful of companies it is this, but it's certainly not the norm. Check every study on marketing accountability published in the last five years. We need to be raising the bar on marketing to earn organizational credibility and move the bar on marketing ethics. In an age where customers are no longer so dependent on marketers for information (they can now communicate with peers with ease), marketing must evolve, and part of that is becoming more scientific.