Vulcan Marketing

Star Trek TOS - Spock

Why, why, why create yet another type of marketing?

Well, I’m not. It’s just a metaphor for emotionless marketing without personality, a danger we face in the age of marketing automation.

Vulcan marketing refers tongue in cheek to an over-focus on big data driven algorithms, automated paths, statistical decision making and content decisions.

For those of you not familiar with Star Trek lore, Vulcans do not experience human emotions. The beauty of Spock’s character — half Vulcan and half human — were his struggles to embrace humanity, much like today’s marketers.

Understanding Human Motivation


Harvard Business Review recently published a great blog on the failure brought by over-focusing on data, specifically neglecting to embrace human emotion in marketing:

“Desire and motivation are influenced by psychological, social, and cultural factors that require context and conversation in order to decode,” said authors Lara Lee and Daniel Sobol.

Consider how trust is built and the increasing necessity of peer influence in customer decisions. We need a human element to appeal to stakeholders, even if it’s not our own.

Continuing a human experience was the great breakthrough of conversational social media marketing. Personality infused marketing made brands more accessible, bringing a focus on customers and turning marketers away from stiff over-messaged corporate speak.

Over-focusing on data dehumanizes practitioners, causing them to lose the lessons learned from the social era.

Classic Tension Between Creativity and Data

On creativity

Image by Bohman

It’s not that marketing automation is bad. Automation helps savvy marketers, providing them incredibly powerful tools to deploy campaigns and measure stakeholder behavior.

What it brings to bear is the classic tension between the art and science of marketing, embodied in creativity vs. data. Creatives decry measurement and data, while analysts fail to understand the importance of appealing to the human spirit.

The great misnomer that measurement and automation aren’t necessary cannot be allowed to return to the profession.

Rather, we should embrace balance, allowing strategists to deploy both great marketing automation tools to expand the power of strong creative to engage customers online, and appeal to segmented stakeholders as they move through the sales funnel.

The ability to balance creativity and data within a strategy represents the great opportunity for a marketing strategist in the age of automation.

What do you think?