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Marketing Insights Q&A: Left Brain or Right Brain

Should marketers focus on developing left brain or right brain skills? Should they focus on analytics or creativity? 

Neither are focus areas. Typically, you can’t be one or the other exclusively. Most people are a combination of both. These are the attributes and characteristics of the person rather than the skills they have developed. Some people have a natural aptitude towards quantitative –  they love data, they love charts, they love all the slicing and dicing, they’re very analytical thinkers. Other people are very creative thinkers. With artificial intelligence machine learning becoming more common in everyday practices, you really need to be both.

The idea of left brain and right brain still is a false dichotomy. You need to be both left and right brain to do your job effectively. The greater challenge is if marketers have to put a focus somewhere. The focus is not on trying to change themselves but to be something that they’re not. You should always strive to have a lifetime of learning and development, experimenting with creative tools, and experimenting with quantitative tools. However, if there is a focus that you have to choose from, it should be whether you are business focused or customer focused.

As your skill set develops, you start to have a path where you are on more on the operation side or on the experience side. That’s where you have to make a choice as a marketer to what you want to be known for, what you want to be good at, and what tools and systems and technologies you will specialize in. Marketing operations tend more towards things like automation, CRM, and infrastructure –  tools that make sure marketing happens. You are working towards furthering the goals of the business and you’re working towards making marketing operate as efficiently and as effectively as possible. On the experience side, your focused on the voice of the customer, you focused on the customer journey, attribution analysis, and understanding customer behavior. You dig into the psychology, understanding neurology, understanding how humans make decisions, and then optimizing your marketing to those decision pathways. There’s a lot of data mining and a lot of exploration. You’re trying to answer questions such as – What are people saying about a product? What are people saying about our competitors?

There are a lot of the same tools in needed for both sides, including tools for data analysis, activity analysis, and path analysis. Operations will look at the data from one perspective and Customer Experience from another – both being important.  If you are managing a team of marketers, you need to split your operations about 50/50 – who’s going to be on the operations side making the marketing run, and who’s going to be on the experience side making the customer happy. If you default towards only one of those disciplines, the other suffers. Instead of choosing quantitative or quantitative, learn the tools that make your marketing more effective. You must be a jack-of-all-trades, but choose one of those two disciplines to add focus to and become better. 

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