In 1960, Volkswagen introduced America to the tiny Beetle, with the iconic Think Small campaign. At a time when Americans were fixated on everything big, Volkswagen boldly accepted and even celebrated its tiny proportions in what was surely a stroke of creative genius. Marketing back then was indeed a creative process. Has marketing really retained its creative flavour or have facts and data superseded everything else?
Marketing hasn’t ever been entirely based on the creative whirring of the right brain. In the 80s, Nike didn’t just come up with “Just do it” over a creative brainstorming session. It was based on the fact that while its products had been used by serious athletes, there was an emerging fitness craze in American society, in which everyone was a potential Nike user. Modern data-driven marketing is all about the logical left brain. Reports indicate there are approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily. This data, when analysed with emerging cognitive computing technology, can provide invaluable insights into human behaviour, preferences, rationale. This can help create focussed campaigns that appeal to people’s specific requirements and needs.
Data-driven left brain marketing works very well in the B2B space, where buyers need precise information and a clear validation of their decision to buy. The emergence of digital marketing is also aligned with data analytics which helps marketers determine the sentiments and mood of customers and track the reaction on the communications sent to them. This is just the sort of scenario that left brain marketing was built for. But the proposition becomes unclear when we consider that all buyers — B2B or B2C — are human beings who are not entirely run by facts and logic. It is increasingly becoming obvious that the decision to buy is not a sum total of data. Impulse, emotion, humour, nostalgia, all have a role to play. For this impulsive emotion-driven part of the brain, creative marketing campaigns often trump over more data-driven scientific ones.
In this era of cognitive technology, this very human tendency poses a bit of a conundrum. Do brands have to abandon the data-centric approach and go back to the Mad Men-like era of creative marketing? The answer lies somewhere in the middle, in the form of centre brain marketing. Research indicates there are deep rooted “pleasure centres” in the human brain, that make people act a certain way just because it feels good.
Neuromarketing, or a field of marketing that uses brain tracking tools to capture data from the human mind and understand why consumers prefer one product over the other, is rapidly gaining traction. Data is combined with creativity to deliver campaigns that are focused, fact-driven and yet zany and emotionally connected. The modern marketer must cater to the centre brain through a judicious mix of overarching strategy, cognitive computing technology, processes, and people who must use the data as a foundation for creative expression. For marketers to focus on their goals for accretion marketing, it is imperative that organisations stop viewing their audiences as segments, rather as unique individuals.
Consumers expect a seamless and hyper-personalised experience to be delivered by brands. Hence, simply listening to what consumers are saying, using that data to build intelligent customer profiles, and tailoring each email communication to reflect the interests and preferences of specific consumer segments is critical to realising a hyper-personalised marketing strategy.
The modern customer is complex and the marketing process must take into consideration the different factors that combine for the decision to buy. The modern marketer must utilise available technology and give it a creative expression to win over customers. Centre brain marketing is indeed the way forward.
Kalpit Jain, CEO of Netcore Solutions