What genetics taught me about marketing?

[idea]There are a lot of things that living organisms teach us in our day to day life. Right from the golden section of Sunflower that follows Fibonacci sequence to the tight hexagonal packing in a beehive. Marketing is no different and with a Genetics background I could see a lot of similarities between the two. Below are three similarities that stand out.[/idea]


A marketing campaign is like a living organism that constantly needs to mutate and evolve for it to be successful (survival of the fittest)

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Remember the Punnett square that Mendel used to sort out traits in Peas? Just like those traits, there are several variables that are associated with a marketing campaign: right from target audience to the proposition, creatives used, medium of advertising etc. A Punnett square can help you tabulate these variables and quantify as to which variable is having substantial effect on your campaign. So you can start combining individual traits (variables) that have huge impact to create a hybrid (of your campaign)!



In Genetics, Genotype + Environment = Phenotype. In Marketing, Marketing plan + Market feedback = Successful campaign

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Genes (Nature) are a blueprint of an individual and a number of these genes get activated/deactivated based upon different environmental (nurture) parameters. For example, I might be bestowed upon genetically with a fast twitch muscle gene, but if I am not aware of this and I don’t train accordingly, then I won’t be able to fully utilize my muscles for a marathon.

Marketing campaigns work in a similar fashion. You might have a great plan but if the market is not conducive to it, your plan is most likely going to fail. On the other hand, there is the Harlem shake (Seriously!). You never know what marketing parameters propel something to be viral even if the original plan to begin with was weak.

One suggestion to overcome this is to do a small test campaign with real people. These days it is quite easy to put up an ad on Facebook, a landing page on Unbounce and get feedback through Google Analytics.

Regulation of gene expression ~ Metrics to measure and enhance success – Genes have a feedback loop to control regulation and some of these are highly accurate.

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Along similar lines, every campaign needs to have a goal and alongside metrics so its performance can be measured. We recently ran an online campaign for one of our products (Come Alive) which was specifically targeted to women. After 3 months of evaluation, we could measure precisely how many leads we could generate if we spent X amount in that particular month. Of course it doesn’t stop there. Every campaign should not just end with generating leads but converting leads into customers.(And keeping them!) So we could arrive at a cost of customer acquisition for a specific channel. Again, some of these can be so precise much like the feedback mechanism that genes have in an organism.

In retrospect, some of these principles seem obvious. When I started Xcode, as a Scientist I had no clue of these parameters in marketing. Over the past few years having hung out with stalwarts like Naru, I realized there is so much in common between genes and marketing that I had to share it with my fellow scientists. If you are a scientist and thinking of marketing as a career, jump right in!