TED Talk: What Physics Can Teach You About Marketing

September 1st, 2010 No Comments

Google’s UK, Ireland, and Benelux Marketing Director Dan Cobley lectures at TED about the intersection between physics and marketing. Didn’t know they had something in common? Think again.

Here are Dan’s principles:

a) Newton’s Law: The more massive a brand, the more baggage it has and the more force it takes to change its position. The bigger a brand, the more difficult it is to reposition it.

b) Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: Observing consumers changes their behavior. For example, people aren’t honest in focus groups and surveys. However, with digital marketing, it’s much easier – we can measure what consumers actually do rather than what they say they do. This is why user testing is so important — we can measure actual behavior with digital marketing.

c) The Scientific Method – We cannot prove a hypothesis, we can only disprove it. One contrary data point can blow a theory out of the water. In marketing, you can invest in a brand but a single contrary observation or positioning can disprove a consumer’s belief. For example, BP spent millions positioning itself as environmentally friendly – but then the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened. Toyota was seen as reliable, until millions of cars needed recalls. This is why marketing requires constant 24/7 attention. Even when things are going along, you still need a marketing team or a marketing agency and long-term commitments.

d) Entropy — Entropy will always increase. If we go back 20 years, one message controlled by one marketing messenger could control a brand. But today, with digital media, there is more chaos and it’s easier to lose control of your message. With digital comment creation and distribution tools, it is impossible to control your message. This is why digital marketing is more complex, digital marketing management may even be more costly, because it has higher risks – and more rewards. You can’t fight it, so embrace it!

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