A scientific approach to marketing

By Andrew Neitlich

Ivan made such a terrific reply on the last blog entry that it’s worth a separate post. He expressed disappointment in my lack of a scientific methodology about sales and marketing.

Here’s how to turn your business into a scientific approach:

1. Everyone knows that there are certain tried and true marketing tactics: cold calling, direct mail, networking, referrals, etc. These work for some people, and not for others.

2. Your job as a marketer is to test, test, test. Try a tactic, test it, and then compare your results to the results of a new test. Keep testing, keep improving, and soon you will have a scientific system no one else can match. Ford Harding notes in his books that every professional finds a system that works for them (and his books are based on research!).

3. Never forget that there is no formulaic approach to marketing that is guaranteed to work every time. If there were, everyone would do it and it would no longer work. However, see #4 to get points from experts….

4. Here are some books that take a scientific approach: SPIN selling ($1 mm investment in what works in sales); First Break all the Rules (Gallup Poll results of what separates good managers); Good to Great and Built to Last (how to build a leading company); and Ford Harding’s books on rainmaking (great research on how professionals generate revenues). Read those.

5. Business is still a certain percentage art. Personality comes into it. So does making decisions with incomplete, non-scientific information. You will never reduce the whole thing to a scientific methodology — and if that’s something you need, you may be in the wrong field.

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  • 3moose

    I find it amazing that you are discussing sales & marketing and not once did you mention the word CUSTOMER.

    As a professional marketer, I would really like to clarify that YOUR JOB AS A MARKETER is to get to know your CUSTOMER:
    – Their needs, wants, desires, concerns. Even their LATENT needs which they themselves cannot express (if you have done any Usability Studies, you will understand the concept of latent needs).
    – Their profile, size, competitive position.
    – Their market, defined by how THEY see their market, not how you see it.

    All the points inthe above blog are tactical – which may be the emphasis of this blog – but tactics are expensive and wasteful if they are not based on a very clear view of the Customer who, using your competencies, you are best positioned to target with the tactics outlined above.

    Marketing IS A SCIENCE. Put the effort into good, well thought out market research to understand your Customers at the beginning of the planning process and implementation of your strategy, using the tactics outlined above, will reap greater rewards in shorter time frames.

    The marketing science:
    1) Get to know your Customer through research.
    2) Group them and build strategies to Win, Keep and Grow them. Set clear targets for each Customer Group (Revenue, Customer numbers, CUstomer Satisfaction etc.)
    3) Execute and commit to the strategy. Use the Marketing tools at your disposal to deliver the targets you set yourself – Sales, PR, DM, Newsletters, SP etc. and measure the results to identify if you are hitting the spot.
    4) Refine & Repeat.

  • aneitlich


    There are two reasons why I didn’t mention customer:

    1. This is a blog, and I can’t cover every issue every post. It would be an interesting exercise to try to mention every critical marketing issue in every blog: customer, pricing, promotion, marketing messages, etc.

    2. I come from a direct marketing background. It is taken for granted in direct marketing that the best way to learn about the customer is to put up an offer and see what happens. In other words, the best (and most scientific) measure of customer behavior is how they respond, real-time, to real offers. Then adjust and keep getting better. Yes, you have to have a solid sense of the customer’s problems, how you solve them, why you are unique…..But ultimately a scientific approach to marketing depends upon real data in real situations.

    I think we are both right here, but like the blind men and the elephant, touching on slightly different pieces of the marketing animal.

  • http://www.rswarren.com Robert Warren

    I think there’s something to be said for both approaches, but I think it mainly comes down to what services you provide, how you provide them and who your audience is.

    In my case, I’ve long ago determined (and subsequently relearned several times) that the marketing-by-demographic routine doesn’t work for my business. Mine is a *very* referral-based field (as are most creative services), meaning that I need to make efforts to establish a relationship before there’s even a possibility of a sale. It also means that I have to do my research before approaching a prospect, because time wasted can otherwise become a LOT of time wasted.

    One factor to keep in mind (in my opinion) is how easily prospects can “throw a fence” around what you’re selling. If you take a look at Andrew’s site, much of what he sells is packaged and defined and are basically single purchases. He packages much of what he sells in a way that’s conducive to the tactical DM approach, because it’s all up front.

    However, if you go to a dentist, rarely if ever will you get a menu of one-time package purchases.. because no one knows what *needs* to be done until the doc gets in there. That’s where the trust and relationship building and referral aspects come into play – as a client, you’re putting your trust in this person to be the best judge and to write their own bill for services rendered. Few reputable dentists in their right minds would rely on DM approaches to build their private practice; they’d destroy more relationships than they’d build.

  • http://www.dvd-software.info hurricane_sh

    I found the most difficult thing was trying again and again, till get the best result, especially for Internet business.

    By the way, great post as usual, thanks!

  • http://www.realityedge.com.au mrsmiley

    Nice stuff. Might go and check out some of those books.

  • Olila

    Many IT-professionals are closely related to dentists in the way they should do business.

    A well defined package that dentists have in Denmark is a check-up every 6 months.

    Try to define what

  • Shell Smith

    You mentioned some books on marketing – thanks for the recommendations. I recently invested in this book which has helped my company a lot. Keep up the great information.

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