From the Trenches

Man of Faith, Man of Science – Are You Lost in Your Marketing?

Will Davis | June 3, 2010

As Seth Godin often reminds us, marketing at its core is storytelling. And like in any good story, a healthy bit of tension, conflict, and resolution is what really makes for a dynamic story. While my 4 year-old daughter likes bedtime stories that start with everyone happy, everyone remains happy throughout the story, and they all live happily ever after, soon enough we’ll be talking about stories with invading dragons, conquering knights and princesses, and all sorts of tension and conflict along the way.

If marketing is in fact storytelling, then one key area that makes it dynamic is the healthy tension between Faith (creative, a gut feeling on something and maybe even a blind shot in the dark concept) and Science (analytics, data, research, testing and – gasp – focus groups).

I borrowed the title of this post from the TV show Lost, which just wrapped its run about a week ago. Whether you loved the show, hated the show, or didn’t care about it at all, one central theme was the concept of faith vs. science.  As an embodiment of each, we saw a character who heavily relied on faith (coincidentally named Locke) with a character who heavily relied on science (a doctor and leader coincidentally named Shepherd).

The show was rife with subtleties like this, as well as moments that tested each character’s belief in faith or science.  Anyhow, the point of this post isn’t to try to recap the show – After watching it for 6 years I’m still pretty darned confused about a whole lot of it.

The takeaway, as it relates to marketing, is that to succeed, each side needs to appreciate and understand the other.  You need a blend of Faith/Art and Science/Data — It can’t be one or the other. As much as we love our Google Analytics, sometimes it’s a random video of a guy in a chicken suit that takes off.  And though we’ll always zero in on the open rates and click rates of an email campaign, the initial creative – design and content – are going to be the biggest drivers of that.

The most successful marketers blend Faith and Science to achieve optimum results.

Now if somebody could just tell me more about those magnets, polar bears and time travel on the island…

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