Whole-Brained Marketing

Take a moment to picture Albert Einstein working on his relativity theory.

Chances are you imagined the great scientist at a blackboard full of complex equations, with the end result: E= MC2. Such mathematical genius and logic is commonly called “left brain” thinking.

Of course, Einstein was a math whiz, but just as important for developing his theory, which now underlies modern technology such as GPS navigation, was his creativity. It took powerful “right brain” (artistic) thinking for him to question a fundamental assumption that people had always held – namely, that space and time are fixed. Only by contemplating the possibility of bendable time and space, did Einstein achieve his “eureka!” moment that made relativity work. If he hadn’t made that creative breakthrough, the GPS you rely on every day would be off by miles, having you regularly driving into rivers and lakes.

Just as with Einstein, effective marketing relies on both logical and artistic thinking – in other words, “whole-brained marketing.”

Read nearly any marketing blog or magazine today and you’ll likely see how left-brain “big data” is touted to be the key to business success. Yes, analytics are helpful for understanding human wants, and for marketing products and services effectively. But, we humans are a messy (and wonderful!) collection of hopes and fears that can never be reduced to numbers in a database. Convincing customers that your product or service will help them have a better life, also requires humanity – the realm of right brain creativity and emotion.

Think of it this way – using big data and technology, advertisers now are able to precision target their ads to people online. But, even if Joe Smith of Duluth is in the market for your product, a poorly developed ad will likely annoy him rather than inspire a purchase. Brandner blogged in February about the rise of ad blockers, which are just the latest tool people use to avoid ads (a tradition that goes back to changing the TV channel when a blaring ad comes on).

But, people aren’t striving to avoid ads because they universally hate advertising, they use ad blockers and fast forward through TV commercials because they despise annoying ads. Need proof? Each year the U.S. has a big football game in January/February, in which millions of people look forward to watching the ads as much as they do to the action on the field.

The whole-brained marketing approach boils down to two integrated strategies:

  1. Use your left brain to figure out who to reach, and when and where, and
  2. Rely on your right brain to surprise and delight customers with creative marketing.

This holds for advertising, promotions, social media marketing, customer events, and all other actions you take to help drive brand awareness, loyalty and sales.