Honoring Your Captain Kirks: Balancing “Right Brain” and “Left Brain” Marketing Strategies

Are marketing executives orbiting the new “big data galaxy” out of necessity, or curiosity?


Lisa Nirell

Are marketing executives orbiting the new “big data galaxy” out of necessity, or curiosity?

Twelve years ago, my flight home from Cleveland to San Diego was cancelled due to blizzard conditions. Continental Airlines gave me a hotel and meal voucher. As I crawled to the Holiday Inn front desk at 1 a.m., I spotted a group of Trekkies walking in my direction. For a brief moment, I felt as if I had been transported to an alternate universe that resembled the Starship Enterprise. You can’t make this stuff up.

This is how many of my clients feel these days. Although their business cards say “VP of Marketing” or “CEO,” they often feel as if they were transported to a technology meetup.
Many of my peers wholeheartedly believe that IT and marketing are rapidly converging, and data-driven decisions are necessary to keep us relevant. I think this belief is fraught with danger for three reasons:

  1. Marketing is expected to play a bigger role in the buying cycle–yet buyers don’t buy based on Facebook “likes.” We are seeing buyer/seller dynamics shift from sales push to demand pull. Demand pull relies largely on building trusting relationships, something that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can only SOMETIMES facilitate. A strong content marketing strategy may get buyers in your funnel, but they cannot keep them there without savvy professionals helping to move things forward.
  2. Online content marketing is still in the experimental phase. It was only two years ago that social media “experts” insisted that in order to gain a thought leadership market position, you needed to blog a minimum of three times per week. Now things are different. Today, savvy marketers and executives now measure outcomes, not output. While content marketing is considered the number one priority and method for generating demand, few executives that I have encountered have implemented a successful content strategy.
  3. Offline engagement still drives your brand. Under Armour, a prominent athletic wear company launched a “What’s Beautiful” Facebook campaign. They targeted a brand new market: female athletes in the 25-35 age group. Their marketing team discovered that online videos drove curiosity, but the real campaign traction surfaced when women organized large, live workout events across the U.S. Under Armour garnered over 300,000 Facebook likes and strong product demand within nine weeks.

Captain Kirk, the legendary Starship Enterprise commander, was revered for balancing his intuitive and logical qualities. Organizations need to honor their Captain Kirks. We will always need intuition to help us resolve moral dilemmas and complex social situations. Allowing data to drive all of our decisions is akin to relying exclusively on Vulcans to ward off the Klingons.

copyright  2013, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved

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