Recently, I took my three young children to the Barnum Museum, tucked away in an old rundown building in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My expectations were small, yet my patience for three children under the age of three, inside, on a rainy Saturday... was even smaller.

Not surprisingly, we were the only ones in the place (other than the security guard, who seconded as the cashier), yet soon the place would come alive with the magic that only a revolutionary marketer like P.T. Barnum could create. As my children roamed free, I read, looked, listened, touched, and began to taste and smell that P.T. Barnum marketing magic of a century gone by.

Over the last 50 years, marketers have been working overtime to legitimize our craft, and without question we have made important strides. Demming, Drucker, Aker, etc., have each trained us in ways to quantify marketing best practices. We have all learned to dutifully target, segment, and measure inputs, outputs, and performance. ACNielsen has built a multibillion-dollar business of gathering and distributing sales data for each of us to analyze and report with perceived expertise.

And our consumers and management eat it up. We have even gone so far as to refer to it as a science.

Case in point: Before joining BrandLogic, I worked with several colleagues to develop an approach to marketing analysis and execution we termed Six Sigma Marketing. We strove to mathematically analyze and design flawless marketing strategies for our clients.

Did it work? If you asked the majority of our clients, the answer would be "absolutely"; if you asked us, the answer would be "yes—to a point." Many times we lost the magic, and a little magic can make a good marketing plan quantifiably better, and in many cases great!

What was it that made P.T. Barnum so great, so famous, so revolutionary, and so rich in his day? He promised everyone the world, and he delivered it to everyone by packaging it in international opera stars, the world's shortest man, wild animals from every corner of the earth, food, atmosphere, tears and laughter, and the list goes on. He gave us the circus, the "Greatest Show on Earth," and so much more.

Did he ignore all of what we call today the traditional roles of marketing: segmentation, research, pricing, PR, promotion, advertising, etc.? Of course not. The reality is he went much farther to create Marketing Magic:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William A. Engler is senior vice-president of strategy for BrandLogic (www.brandlogic.com).