Once in a while, a point of view is so viscerally resonant that it literally drives you to distraction. That was my experience this morning as I stumbled upon a post (courtesy of my colleague Laura McLellan, a curator of inspiring content) that caused me to spill my coffee. I’ve written about the changing expectation of marketers—from brand-centric shills (shrill shills?) shouting from the rooftops to instigators of authentic dialogues who have the discipline (and courage) to hold fire on the hard sell.
The upshot is that marketing, while always a form of persuasion driven by a commercial agenda, is evolving from overt blunt-instrument manipulation to a more subtle form of influence that seeks true emotional involvement through artful content and experiences.
The former is marketing as science and the latter is marketing as art.
In the age of Big Data, we’re tempted to predict the rise of the machines that replace human instinct with empirical insight (see In Data We Trust? for my rant on this particular topic). But, as I say in that rant, the best marketing is a blend of both head and heart—marketing as science + marketing as art.
The social web has taught us that audiences seek out authentic, artistic expression and summarily reject hackneyed, brand-centric pulp that serves to remind you that you’re on the receiving end of a sales pitch. It’s this changing expectation that has ushered in the age of marketing as art.
What does this mean for marketing leaders? It means that your digital marketing strategy depends on the creative expression, passion and soul of true artists every bit as much as the analytic skills of MBAs. Perhaps, in this sense, art school is the new b-school.