3 Hurdles to Overcome in Making the Art vs. Science Argument Irrelevant

6754671_m Much has been made of the duality and struggle of Art vs. Science in marketing. The conclusion in most respectable camps is that you must have both. If this is the case, then why are people still arguing the point? It is because as an industry, we have yet to create the capabilities that blur the line between the two. In order to do so, we as marketers must tackle a few hurdles before we can make the argument between Art vs. Science irrelevant.

1. Long-term is as important as short-term

Embedded in our choice of messages and marketing vehicles (e.g. TV, digital) is a decision between short and long-term benefit horizon. Current analytics and tools only measure short-term benefit. At best, this benefit is measured for 12 months and at worst, a couple of days. With a number of clients, we have seen them make the explicit choice to move to short-term benefits (i.e. messages and vehicles that achieve a quick ROI). In most cases this move has destroyed long-term value and made it harder to hit the following year’s revenue goals. Using specific methods to understand the short and long-term trade-offs is vital to maintaining shareholder value. Furthermore, it is important that you continue to build your brand, as well as customer assets that will offer a growing baseline of revenue on which to build future sales and marketing efforts.

2. Understand that risk and uncertainty are paramount

Very few recommendations that lead to a decision include an understanding of the risk that is involved in achieving the expected outcome. Take for example new product forecasts that most consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies use: the forecasts, based on well-known and widely accepted research methods, have a 50% built-in risk. That means that you could flip a coin and have the same odds of achieving the revenue forecast. Despite this overwhelming uncertainty, it is still essential to understand the risk in order to make a good decision. More importantly, a manager must know his or her company’s probability of achieving future financial results. Only once a comprehensive understanding of risk and uncertainty has been achieved, can the manager make informed trade-offs. Doing so in the context of the business also allows for adjusted outcome measures that have a more palatable risk profile.

3. Explicitly blend data and human judgment

There are as many natural biases in data analysis as  in human judgment.  By blending the two explicitly you can mitigate the risk of both while improving your expected outcome through good decision-making. Data analytics is great at pattern recognition but falls short in other areas. People, meanwhile, possess great logical reasoning but have instinctual bias. Blending the two allows you to achieve transparency and explicit inputs, which in turn leads to better answers. The result? Solutions that an entire organization can align around.

By overcoming these hurdles, the argument of Art vs. Science is no longer a duality of opinions and facts, but rather a symbiotic decision framework that uses the best of both. The net result is a way to make decisions that weigh the short and long-term trade-offs by using the best of data and judgment while ensuring you can also understand the inherent risk and uncertainty that you are signing up for. Keen has developed an approach that blends the art and the science.

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