Marketing is Applied Economics and Applied Psychology

Marketing is Applied Economics and Applied Psychology

A crash course in proving marketing with math—starting with the addition of ‘moments.’

I know what you’re thinking—“Who’s this asterisk and how did he get a column in Twin Cities Business?” The skeptical little voice in your head is right to question. That’s your survival instinct saying, “Should I waste precious time in my day on this and regret it like I did Avengers: Infinity War?” Give this five minutes—you’ll stimulate at least 10 brain cells and perhaps even have something to add at this week’s sales and marketing meeting.

No, you can’t trademark the word “column” for a column—but of course, that’s often what people do when naming a brand. This column is designed to be a place of sharing, ideas, concepts, movements, and advice along the way. The thinking is it will give you new questions to ask, ideas to consider, and routes to take as you solve complex problems.

Here’s something to get started: Marketing is applied economics and applied psychology. This is one of the best nuggets I took away from a Carlson School MBA and specifically Prof. Mark Bergen, marketing chair.

Applied economics brings you the harder sciences and a “prove it with math” view of marketing. If you’re coming up through the sales side, you know the best metric of success in marketing or sales is revenue; if your cobblestone path in life has been through the marketing department, perhaps you’d argue it’s margin, not revenue. But no matter where you were mentored, you should know there are millions of metrics to measure early economic indicators in any business—for example, when we’re shaking fewer hands, we’re doing less business. Deeper understanding of the economics of marketing offers ways to compare, contrast, and perhaps point out the counterintuitive.

Applied psychology covers the softer sciences of theories, belief systems, and culture. Simply put, this is where we study the human brain and resulting cultural behaviors to identify patterns, biases, or nuances to prove a theory. The challenge in marketing: The theories we believed in the 1950s didn’t work as well in 1980, worked even less well from 2000 to 2010, and by now hardly work at all. We work with old theories, believing they’re facts, and push on, wondering why they’re not effective today. We need the data (applied economics) to start to form new theories for modern marketing efforts.

We tend to put too much stock in impressions, thinking that if you buy an impression, you’ve made a memory (false). If you’re buying impressions in a digital environment, it is measurable (false). If you achieve 100 percent awareness through impressions, you can tattoo your upper thigh with your logo and proclaim success (false). Take a look at Chiquita bananas: 100 percent unaided awareness didn’t keep them out of bankruptcy court. So you might want to reconsider the tattoo. Unless you’re getting the Chiquita banana girl—then tattoo away.

We, as a marketing community, use impressions as an economic metric indicating success, when, in fact, they’re more likely to be far less valuable than a peso (and that’s an insult to the Mexican currency).

Ok, smart asterisk, what replaces impressions? Emotional memories, moments of engagement, and movements going your direction, to name a few. Memories are important, because you have nothing without them. And when you listen to the words people use to describe a memory, seek the emotional words. If digital was the future two decades ago, moments are the future for brands today. What are the most valuable moments of intersection between your brand and customers (physical, digital, or the modern hybrid of the two: phygital)?

Movements are cultural waves, sweeping across our society in the form of words, images, and belief systems. Picking your movements and riding the wave is where the future of advertising has the greatest potential.

Back to the Column™ and the humor baked into what you’ll read here. I’ve just presented some complex ideas, but delivered in the form of light appetizers, easily consumed, so you’ll rarely feel too full.

If you fall asleep while reading, please email me when you wake up and tell me where the nap took place. If you find a nugget and pass it along in the next sales and marketing meeting, email me those thoughts as well.

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