Mad Men Meet Math Men in Smart Brands
John Wanamaker is famously quoted for: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This conundrum is as true for brands today as it was in the early part of the last century when Mr. Wanamaker struggled with the right formula for marketing success. Don Draper had the creativity formula for success; Larry Page has the mathematical formula for success. I intend to argue that Mr. Draper and Mr. Page together would make a mighty awesome match for a successful brand formation and growth.
We live in a world of extremes today. Either you are right or wrong. Our “pure state of mind” does not welcome shades of grey. Some brands continue to embrace the Mad Men logic of unfettered and unbound creative endeavors. Others are hell-bent on 100% measurable direct response methodology. The funny part is that both types continue to thrive, grow, and succeed.
Perhaps it’s time that we realized that the world of brand marketing does not have to be so divisive. Brand awareness and value communication are as important as measured conversions and other direct calls to action. TV, Radio, Facebook, and CNN can continue to be powerful mediums for spreading the awareness of a product or service to mass audiences. These same brands can also utilize Google, Email, and DRTV to elicit defined calls of action from their customers. I don’t understand why one is mutually exclusive with another. It’s not a zero-sum game!
I face this situation daily in our executive talent recruitment business. Our candidates are real flesh and blood individuals whose identities are not shaped by mathematical attributes noted on their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. We need to assess them through behavioral testing tools for the right cultural fit with our client organizations. We will fail miserably in our 100% retention record with our placed executives if we neglect to marry the Art and Science of candidate evaluation. Do you wonder why the “smartest” (as measured by quantifiable metrics) people are not necessarily captains of industries? It’s the optimal combination of “Street Smart” and “Book Smart” that produces the world’s greatest leaders in any arena (politics, commerce, or art).
We are very fortunate today to have incredible techniques to bridge the gap between the wasted and the productive halves of marketing dollars. Digital (Search, Social, Email, Mobile) ecosystems have given us great ways to spend our marketing dollars measurably. But the digital media does not eliminate the need for traditional awareness campaigns. Smart brands know how to tangle well with the ideal combination of Mad Men and Math Men. They learn to optimize the mix, not debate incessantly about the power of one over another.
I am not arguing that we don’t hold every marketing dollar accountable through an obsessive mindset around Return on Investment. Quite contrarily I think the mindset away from thinking in extremes and towards a holistic marketing paradigm will provide the highest Return on Investment for brands. It’s high time that we accepted the Yin and the Yang of Marketing (Mad Men and Math Men) as co-existing peacefully and powerfully in our world!
Raj Das is a Partner and Head of the Digital Practice in our New York City office. He focuses on senior level executive and board talent placements in digital, marketing, and technology roles. In his role, Raj brings over 27 years of experience and relationships advising organizations at corporate, investment banking, and entrepreneurial levels.