Creativity is Still at the Core of Marketing…So the Numbers Tell Me

by David Munn, President & CEO, ITSMA (

I am pleased to have Dave Munn, ITSMA’s president and CEO, as a guest on my blog. Enjoy! –Julie

Before anyone ever heard of marketing intelligence, workflow, or automation, marketing was where the creatives lived. They managed the agencies, created gorgeous visuals, wowed clients and prospects with exciting events, and packed the company’s value proposition into pithy, memorable phrases.

Today’s abundance of customer data is exciting. But we need to be careful that it doesn’t lead us to forget marketing’s creative roots. But make no mistake: creativity is still at the core of marketing. Just as YouTube became the means of taking creativity viral, technology and analytics can help to guide, deliver, and test the creative marketing that helps you differentiate your company and offerings from others.  Both are necessary, and each supports the other.

The Art and Science of Marketing

  Art Science
Characteristics Emotional Logical
  Imaginative Analytical
  Art and literature Math and science
  Left hemisphere of brain Right hemisphere of brain
  Storytelling Nonfiction
  Human experience Technical specifications
  Empathetic Avoidant
Marketing roles Writing/editing Market /competitive intelligence
  Community management Data/analytics
  Customer engagement Segmentation and targeting
  Graphic design Marketing operations
  Social media participation Marketing technology
  Sales and business development Project management


Marketing is messaging that matters. To matter, it has to resonate with your target audience. That means punching the audience’s buttons and feeling the audience’s pain. It doesn’t sound like a job for science, does it? But it is.

The old way to know your audience was to meet them in person—and that’s still desirable. But personal meetings don’t scale. Today, there are oceans of data, in both words and numbers, available on your customers and the challenges they’re facing. That data must inform your message. Marketers need to aggregate, analyze, and extract meaning from this new world of science that is available.

When it comes time to craft the message for maximum impact, that’s when you need to bridge the chasm and feel what your customer feels. Bridge his experience and your solutions with a story. To be, in a word, creative.

And then you’re back to the science: testing the message and later measuring the responses. Google runs thousands of A-B tests every day. As a B2B company with a relatively small number of customers, you can’t run massive tests, but you can still try out different messages. The point is that you don’t have to rely solely on the creative impulse. Once again, the analytical informs the creative.

In short, marketing tasks have two sides: the science of customer analysis, targeting, and message testing combined with the more visceral art of offer creation.  Each draws power from the other.

Can you find both creativity and analytical or technology skills in the same person?

Can you find both creativity and analytical or technology skills in the same person? It’s possible, but not likely.  “I have yet to find someone who can do creative thinking in the morning and number crunching in the afternoon,” said Matt Preschern, VP North America Marketing, IBM Global Business Services, at ITSMA’s 2012 Marketing Conference in December.

The good news is that you don’t need both sets of qualities in the same person. The marketing organization is a portfolio of skills, some on staff and some contracted from outside. Many IT companies have decided that creative, as traditionally defined, is not a core competency. That should be a matter of sourcing and staffing, not a judgment of its importance. Human connections always require empathy, imagination, and the art of the story. Make sure you’ve got both pieces of the puzzle.

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