If You Want to Improve Your Marketing, Turn to Physics

Anyone who has studied physics and marketing can observe some very interesting similarities between the concepts of these two seemingly different disciplines. Unlike physics, however, marketing is not often taught according to scientific principles.

This is unfortunate. It perhaps explains why so many people, whether they are trained in marketing or not, have strong opinions on marketing issues. It also explains why virtually everyone thinks his, or her, "guess" is as good as anyone else's when marketing decisions need to be made.

The same people who would never dream of giving advice to a brain surgeon before an operation or to a computer scientist before constructing a complex program are stridently insistent about their views on marketing goods, services, and ideas.

Unfortunately for them (and those whom they are advising), their confident "certainty" is based on ignorance rather than understanding. Interestingly enough, this ignorance also has parallels with the evolution of our understanding of the universe.

Disagreement about the sky

Biblical authors were insistent that the sky was a fixed semi-circular metallic sphere, known as the firmament, with a fixed width and the Earth at its center. Greek philosophers extended the size of this firmament to thousands of miles. Galileo believed it to cover millions of miles, and talked in terms of a sun-centered solar system, but he was imprisoned and blinded for his "blasphemous" thoughts by the Church. Kepler thought of the universe in terms of billions of miles. Halley extended it to trillions of kilometers in diameter and began talking in terms of light years as a yardstick to measure stellar distances.

Better understanding from better knowledge

Over the centuries, as measuring systems and knowledge grew more sophisticated, successive scientists have extended our notion of the universe and have found that there is no firmament, or solid sphere, but that the Earth is surrounded only by space, makes one rotation every 24 hours, and revolves around the Sun. The Sun, in turn, circles a Galactic center, which is 30,000 light years away, and makes one complete revolution every 230 million years. Our Milky Way galaxy is not alone but part of huge galactic cluster that contain untold numbers of galaxies, and these clusters are themselves parts of larger structures.

Degree of certainty seems inversely proportional to knowledge

Over the history of civilization, those with the least knowledge seemed to be the most certain that they had "all the answers" about our universe. It is not surprising that their views have been proven wrong time and again. The same is true of self-righteous marketers whose belief that they are right seems to be directly proportional to their lack of knowledge of the subject. Oddly enough, those with deeper marketing knowledge are the ones that do more research to determine what customers want and to double-check their marketing strategies before implementing them.

Marketing follows the rules of the universe

Al Ries and Jack Trout point out in their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, that marketing is not a "black art" where knowledgeable practitioners are guessing. They rightly state that "Marketing has a set of laws as constant as the speed of light. Follow those laws and do well in the marketplace. Violate them at your own risk."

While Ries and Trout formulate those marketing laws that they believe are important, it is useful for marketers to find parallels to the universal laws of physics, mathematics, and other related scientific disciplines to marketing. The underlying idea is that universal laws and concepts govern the behavior of everything in the universe from the tiniest sub-atomic particles to the largest known galactic clusters. Marketing is no exception.

Perception versus Reality

Subsequent posts will explore some of the rules of the universe and draw parallels with the fundamentals that govern marketing. Since perception and reality are often confused in marketing and business, a good starting point will be to explore the "boundary" between the two. This confusion is often cited as the culprit that undermines marketing's credibility as a rigorous discipline. Please stay tuned.