The Tao of Marketing

Most of us are familiar with the ancient Taoist figure of Yin-Yang.  It symbolizes the idea that polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent.  Our world is filled with these dualities:  dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot, water and fire.   Yin-Yang insists that these are not opposing forces, but complementary forces that interact to form a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.

I know this is not a Chinese philosophy blog, but I got to thinking about Yin-Yang the other day when I happened upon the diagram below from Jason Miller at Marketo.


While the diagram does a good job of showing some of the differences between a left brain and a right brain marketer, in my view, there are two ways to look at this chart.  The first way forces you to declare your alignment with one side or the other, to proudly state on which side of the marketing divide you fall.  But in the context of Yin-Yang it also presents a big opportunity to discuss not only how important the left or right brain components are individually to any marketing program, but also how critically important the use and interaction of both sides of the marketing brain are to success.   The challenge comes in balancing the two.

Now when I use balance here, it doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split.  With the increasing domination of the Internet in today’s marketing environment, the analytical side definitely has taken the upper hand.  The success of processes like A/B testing and statistical procedures such as multivariate analysis point toward a growing analytical movement that is unlikely to stop or even slow down in the foreseeable future.  Add all that to the challenges of today’s economic environment and it becomes even more important to use analytics to better understand what is really generating sales and alternately, what is squandering resources.  The well-known marketing joke, “Half of my marketing budget is a waste; I just don’t know which half” is no longer acceptable or funny.

But no matter how scientific the underpinnings of marketing, the practice will always need creative thinkers who understand how to develop emotionally rich content that resonates with buyers.  People are emotional beings and most of us tend to make our decisions based more on our gut than our heads.

So what side of the brain do you favor?  In addition to the infographic above, you could use the spinning girl illusion to help sort that out.  Go ahead, take a look.  I can wait.

For a while the spinning girl exercise was a popular way to sort out what side of your brain you used, although many experts don’t really think it tells you whether you are right or left brained.  In fact, most people, if they really try long enough, can see her turning both ways. Of course, it may simply be that almost all of us have some ability to work both sides of our brains if we focus our efforts.  That’s where my belief falls – that most of us are really semi-geeks, leaning one way or the other towards analytics or creativity but with some capability to do both.

So keeping that fact in mind, here are some interesting articles and resourceful blogs for those striving to find that perfect balance between science and art.

  • Websites like Creativity Games can help get your creative juices flowing
  • Blogs like this one on growth hacking point to new ways of looking at the science of marketing
  • Here are some more edgy ideas on boosting creativity
  • This article provides more info on the power of A/B testing

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