Sales strategy is a science, but PR & marketing strategy is an art.


Sales strategy is a science, but PR & marketing strategy is an art.

Written by Yusuke Kamimura. Translated by Marc Wilkinson

Have you ever heard of “artistic thinking”? 

The coronavirus has brought about a recession that surpasses the 2008 “Lehman Shock” Housing Financial Crisis. In these unstable and turbulent times, there is a lot of attention being paid to “artistic thinking” in management, public relations, and marketing. Artistic thinking is a new concept that explains how it is necessary to continue to conduct product marketing under any circumstances, and it is the basis of strategies to create products and services that will continue to be needed by society.

In this article, I would like to explain how this artistic thinking can be applied to PR and marketing strategies.

What is the “artistic thinking” needed for PR and marketing strategies?

Sales strategy is a science, but PR & marketing strategy is an art.

When most people think of art, they think of paintings, literature, music, etc. Art expressively asks questions to our emotions and instincts, conveys various messages to people, and moves our hearts. It is quite natural for each person to feel differently when viewing the same work of art.

For example, looking at the famous painting “Mona Lisa” (Leonardo da Vinci), even experts have different opinions on whether the woman is “sad” or “smiling”. Based on various historical backgrounds and the background of the artist, we can only speculate what is the true case. But of course, we can’t interview Da Vinci, and so it is ultimately left up to the viewer’s interpretation.

There are no incorrect answers with art. Each person interprets different messages when they come into contact with artistic stimuli, and even the same person can feel differently at different times. Facing this interpretative question and trying to get as close to the artist’s vision as possible is what artistic thinking is all about, and what is needed in today’s PR and marketing activities.

By analyzing art from a scientific point of view, various scientific laws have been discovered. For example, the “golden ratio” in painting, and the “chord progression” in music. Records created based on analyzing patterns of previous hit songs will be more easily recognized and popularized to a certain extent, but it will never become a masterpiece that will remain in people’s hearts and be passed on to the next generation. This is often the case of major pop music bands that focus more on commercialization than artistic innovation. 

By analyzing patterns from various angles, the results of PR and marketing activities can be improved. However, sometimes an unexpected barrier comes that makes past patterns ineffective, such as how the coronavirus damaged many businesses that rely on event and group sales. In this situation, a marketing team has a harder time predicting future sales based on past patterns, so prior experience and scientific approach may not work.

Marketing is the job of creating leads, while PR is the job of harmonizing with the client and society. In order to cope with the rapid changes in the environment and the accompanying changes in the state of mind, it is important to use artistic thinking to develop intuition.

The Critical Role of Science in Sales

Sales is an important job as it is the communication that leads to sales, from the first contact with the customer to the sale (purchase). The goal is to maximize profit by reducing the cost of resources and people/time. For this reason, inside sales and field sales also create “talk scripts” and set KPIs (goals) for each customer contact. In order to achieve these KPIs, each sales step (interview, explanation, persuasion, closing, etc.) is optimized.

The setting of these sales steps and the improvement activities to close the gap between the sales plan and the target are exactly what is done in “science”. It is about deriving a method of optimization (low risk/high return, low cost/high return) by setting expected results and changing parameters to get closer to the results. In this optimization, frameworks such as the PDCA cycle exist and are managed efficiently and effectively.

What is the difference between art strategy and science strategy?

Sales strategy is a science, but PR & marketing strategy is an art.

Science strategy is about getting the same results no matter who does it under the same conditions. In sales, a key tool is an ironclad sales script that can help sell a product no matter who reads it, or an extensive FAQ that answers the customer’s questions, are the results of “science strategy”. To achieve the same results, we need to be able to measure numerically and analyze cause-and-effect relationships. So, data from the “past” is essential to science.

Art is a message of empathy. It is ambiguous and fluid. In marketing and PR, it is an important concept for building systems, new challenges, and creating followers. Art, as mentioned earlier, has different messages depending on each person’s way of thinking and upbringing, as well as different processes, contents and methods of expression to reach the same goal. Art requires output based on intuition for an undetermined future.

Neither art nor science is better than the other. Art strategy is important when it comes to creating new things or influencing people’s emotions. On the other hand, science strategy is important when it comes to efficiency and leveling the playing field.

Building PR and Marketing Strategies with “Art Strategy”

Finally, I would like to talk about artistic thinking that PR and marketing professionals should adopt.

The key to the future of PR and marketing strategies is empathy. There are many companies that are failing because they are too focused on efficiency and profitability. In other words, they fail because they are too biased toward science strategy.

In public relations, PR, and marketing, there are many cases where the focus is too much on measuring effectiveness and KPIs, where the focus is on immediate lead acquisition and conversion, and where the original marketing function of nurturing new customers and creating loyal and intrigued followers is not functioning.

There are many marketing activities that are difficult to measure with KPIs, such as market formation, customer development, and follower creation. This is the era of “narrative marketing” where PR and marketing and management work together to come up with messages and “stories” that resonate with the public, and this can be called PR and marketing activities with artistic thinking.

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