With Sarah Glover, Flying Geese Consultant

In this series of articles we take a look at particular chemistry concepts and their marketing equivalent, starting with 5 key lessons every marketer can learn from chemistry!

For those that know me in real life, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth I’m doing with my slightly overblown postgraduate education in chemistry! Now that I’m working in marketing, especially in the arts and culture scene, you’d also be forgiven for observing that chemistry and marketing seem like two completely different fields!

But surprisingly, these two disparate fields actually rely on common skills and understanding, particularly in a world which increasingly relies on data analysis skills to help drive decision-making. 

In this series of articles I am intending to take a look at particular chemistry concepts and their marketing equivalent, but I thought I’d start more generally with 5 key lessons every marketer can learn from chemistry – and whether you wear a white coat and safety specs or office wear (or a woolly hat and 6 blankets #wfhlife) while reading this, that’s entirely up to you!

In chemistry, even the smallest details can make a big difference. Whether it’s measuring the precise amount of a reagent, or controlling the temperature of a reaction, accuracy and precision are fundamental to achieve meaningful and replicable (we’ll get to that later) results. The same can be true in marketing. Every detail can have an impact, from the choice of colours and fonts, to the placement of calls to action. If audience development is your main aim, knowing details about who the people are that you are trying to reach, where they hang out and what they are interested in outside of your venue can be key to the success or otherwise of your campaigns. By paying attention to the details and constantly refining and optimising our approach, marketers can create more effective campaigns that resonate with our target audiences.

Chemists are no strangers to experimentation. We often conduct dozens or even hundreds of experiments in order to identify patterns and relationships between different variables. Similarly, marketers can benefit from adopting an experimental mindset. By testing different approaches and measuring their impact, we can gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, and use that knowledge to inform future campaigns. A/B testing, for example, is a popular technique that involves testing two different versions of a post, email or landing page to see which one performs better. The challenge of course is to be strategic with the data you choose to collect and then what you do with it afterwards – which leads me to my next lesson…

    Data plays a critical role in both chemistry and marketing. Chemists use data to identify patterns and trends, and to develop new theories and hypotheses. In marketing, data about people is used to inform how we communicate with them, and data from previous campaigns can help us finesse our ongoing approach. Data from the census and other industry related data sets such as Audience Agency’s Audience Finder can help us find out who our target audiences are as well as illuminating market trends, and allow us to intelligently measure and contextualise the effectiveness of different approaches. By applying sophisticated analysis techniques, and leveraging the data-related insights gained, marketers can gain valuable perspective and make informed decisions that drive sustainable audience development and financial success.

    Chemists often encounter unexpected results in their experiments, and must be adaptable and responsive in order to adjust their approach. (Some would say, bloody-minded!). Similarly, marketers must be able to adapt to changing circumstances and respond to emerging trends and opportunities. This might involve pivoting a campaign in response to new market research, or adjusting a strategy in response to changes in consumer behaviour. A huge example of this in the arts and culture scene is how organisations had to pivot to deal with Covid and all the restrictions on social mixing. In fact our client, the Gloucester History Trust won a Pandemic Pivot award for the City Voices project, Gloucester Looking Up, in the 2021 Museums and Heritage awards as a result of our responsive work with them in the lockdown year. By being flexible and open to change, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and create more dynamic campaigns and responsive strategies

    Repeatability is a fundamental principle in chemistry, which refers to the ability to reproduce the same results by the same team under the same conditions. Replicability is the similar but slightly nuanced concept of being able to reproduce the same results using the same conditions and setup but with different people. In marketing, repeatability can also play an important role, particularly in terms of measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of different campaigns and strategies. By using consistent metrics and evaluation methods, marketers can ensure that they are accurately measuring the impact of their campaigns and can make data-driven decisions about what works and what doesn’t. Repeatability can also be important for creating consistent brand messaging and experiences. Replicability in marketing would involve setting up processes and documentation that will enable someone else to use the same setup as you with the same results. As consultants this is where our expertise lies – helping organisations to set up measurement dashboards and data collection processes that enable them to do what we do on an ongoing basis.

    In conclusion, while chemistry and marketing might seem like vastly different fields, these common skills that both rely on – careful observation, experimentation, and analysis to understand complex systems and create effective solutions – can be applied to create more successful and strategic marketing campaigns and audience development plans. As a scientist, now working in the arts and culture arena, I love that my skills and expertise can have an impact in a field that entertains people, improves their quality of life and makes a meaningful contribution to a more joyful world where people can flourish and communities thrive.