How to explain to your boss why marketing isn’t an exact science

Blog Post created by ginasmith on Oct 27, 2014

There’s a common mistake upper management tends to make when it comes to marketing analysis. They expect that a certain amount of investment leads to a certain increase in revenue. An increase in marketing investment should see a corresponding increase in overall revenue, right? Two plus two equals four. So when the numbers don’t add up, those upper managers tend to get angry with the marketing directors who have been trying all along that in the advertising world, math doesn’t work like that.


The human equation


It’s a problem Scott MacFarland has run into time and time again in his job as a digital marketer and brand strategist. Despite certain popular beliefs, he said, “The exact outcome of marketing is not as formulaic as people think it is. In every marketing instance with every prospective customer, different results occur.” Human interactions make marketing less of a math problem and more of a societal conversation.


The analytics fallacy


True, certain content and automation companies have tried to translate marketing into a science that can be learned and applied to various situations. They build tables and graphs and bar charts, and throw percentages around trying to prove that with their methods, you can be assured of the same result every time. But MacFarland argues, “It’s not exact data that yields an exact result; it’s more information to help guide a more informed process.” Marketers who rely too heavily on numbers churned out by a machine will miss out on the most important factor of all: the human one.


The unknown marketing quantities


A lot can be said for marketers who stay on top of what’s newest in the industry, what is “trending” on social media, and how customer behavior is being affected by technological advances. They have a good chance of pinpointing and communicating with the right people at the right time. However, they will still be flummoxed when certain content doesn’t go viral or certain emails go unread.


The thing is, there are far too many unknown quantities to count. The way someone responds to your advertising will change from day to day, as their life experience changes. The overall perception of your brand or company might be tweaked from a single post on Facebook. The very design and layout of your insignia or banner ad might be construed differently depending on the political and economical climate of the country.


There’s no way to plan for everything, so you have to keep on chugging, and some months you will put in the same amount of perspiration with differing amounts of success. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles, so tell your boss to put that in his pipe and smoke it (clichés intended).


Marketing News brought to you by