Physics is an amazingly useful field of study, but not everyone realizes just how applicable it can be to any field. Marketing director Dan Cobley understands the value of physics and so applies basic physics principles to the world of marketing on a daily basis. And in his TED Talk, he helps others learn to do the same.
Newton’s Second Law of Motion
Newton’s three laws of motion were initially formed to describe basic mechanics. However, the second law can easily be used to describe the marketing world. This law states that the force of an object is equal to its mass multiplied by its acceleration, or, in simpler language, F=ma. A quick rearrangement of the equation shows that acceleration is equal to force divided by mass. Applied to branding this equation retains its basic meaning. The larger and more established a brand, the more force will be needed to change that brand’s position in the market. This concept explains why a larger company might want to keep its smaller brands separate, rather than blending them all together.
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
An essential piece of quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle implies that a person cannot simultaneously measure a particle’s current and future positioning, because the act of measuring the positioning would ultimately change it. The uncertainty principle accurately reflects the process of market testing, in which the mere act of observing customers changes the way they act. When people know they are being watched, they tend to behave in a way that they deem acceptable to society. For example, if a person knows that somebody is studying his or her eating habits, McDonald’s will probably lose a customer for the day, while the local vegetable stand just might gain one. With this knowledge, marketers can utilize the technology necessary to track what customers actually do, not just what they say they’ll do.
In studying for a physics degree, students are required follow the scientific method when completing their labs. This is not some sort of ancient devised by physics professors; it is a great way to capture any potential problems surrounding a given theory. According to the scientific method, a hypothesis cannot be proven through observation. It only can be disproved. A massive amount of data supporting a hypothesis can be gathered, but if one tiny piece of data contradicts the rest, the hypothesis has been disproved. This may seem frustrating, but it is actually a good thing, whether it’s used in scientific study or out in the world of marketing. No matter the amount of research invested in a brand, a consumer’s belief about that brand can be completely blown out of the water by a single piece of contradictory evidence.
Second Law of Thermodynamics
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the amount of entropy, or disorder within a system, is always going to increase over time. This law certainly applies to marketing, where a company can easily put out an advertisement, but cannot control how customers will respond to it. The blossoming world of the internet meme provides plenty of credence for that theory.
Marketing and physics are both complicated areas of study, but they also are both well worth understanding. Marketers with a firm grasp of physics principles will be ready for whatever the industry throws at them.