People are often considered right-brain or left-brain dominant. This influences how easy (or difficult) they find certain skills and how they view the world. Right-brain dominant people find creative, intuitive, random, subjective activities easier, while left-brain dominant people find logical, sequential, rational, analytical activities easier. Artists are obviously a good example of an extreme right-brain dominance, while a data-analyst is a good example of an extreme left-brain dominance. Most people will find themselves somewhere on the sliding scale between the two extremes but will have a preference or dominance to one or the other. There are tests to find out which you are.
All teams will need a mixture of both left-brain and right-brain dominant members. Marketing has traditionally been thought of as a field dominated by right-brain dominant players, perhaps because of the dominance of advertising and other ‘push’ strategies. It is important to maintain a balance though. For those interested in the neuroscience, there is an excellent TED talk with an amazing insight into the loss of the left hemisphere from Jill Bolte-Taylor, a neuroscientist who had a stroke.
In marketing, both left-brain and right-brain dominant people bring different expertise and skills to the table. Left-brain activities lead to more data driven intelligent marketing; right-brain activities lead to more imaginative marketing. With the last few years of economic woes, the increase in the need to justify ROI has, in some people’s eyes, switched the priority to left-brain skills. Being data driven helps by creating a more targeted approach by using market penetration analysis and defining clear customer segments with demographic and geographic analysis. The right (i.e. relevant) message can then be sent to the right person in the right place and at the right time. Measurement is also an important part of left-brain marketing skills – setting targets, monitoring activity and adapting.
What is less obvious is how right-brain marketing can help drive ROI. A brand strategy that emphasises your difference to the customer and a product development strategy that taps into innovative ideas within your company will also help increase turnover. An effective brand strategy is one based on your organization’s personality, which shares aspirational values with your customers, uses engaging messages, and creates experiences that your customers want. Creativity can also be brought into product development by using techniques to explore new possibilities and challenge accepted norms e.g. Emptying the box and Reversal, and making the leap beyond the obvious to reach visionary, innovative ideas and connecting the best ideas. Right-brain skills also help build relationships with communities and encourage advocacy behaviour.