The New New Thing: The Art and Science of Marketing with Kim Saxton
Dr. Kim Saxton knows marketing. As Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing at IU’s Kelley School of Business, she teaches students about market segmentation, data analysis and more.
But this marketing expert began her education in computer science at MIT, falling in love with business and switching majors. That decision has led Kim on a long and varied career path that delivered her to consulting firms, marketing for Lilly, and living in Australia for six months.
In this installment of The New New Thing podcast, Kim and RJ get into the art and science of marketing, why she left corporate America for a classroom, and how so many companies get marketing segmentation wrong.
Finding a Calling
Kim attended MIT to earn a degree in computer science. “I coded,” she said, “but I haven’t done that for 25 years.” Once she discovered her attraction to business, she switched majors and graduated from MIT with an undergraduate degree in marketing.
“I was an oddball in the world of marketing, because I came at it from a very data- and quantitative-oriented approach,” Kim said. After graduating, she went to work for a boutique DC-area consulting firm and became a “Beltway Bandit.” That’s also where Kim met her husband, IU Kelley School of Business professor Todd Saxton.
People Power in Marketing
Despite her focus on data and quantitative information, Kim still believes there’s room in marketing for creativity. That requires a knowledge of both technology and the people who use it. “It’s not just automating everything,” she said. “You need the depth. I think that’s the biggest challenge of marketing: it’s both an art and a science.”
Kim’s research in segmentation is a good example of how she approaches marketing. While some marketing teams aspire to break audiences into tiny segments, those segments can do more harm than good.
“It starts by trying to understand not 100 segments, but three or four or five,” Kim said. “Pick four, and just be really great with the four of them. If you know, I have these four groups I’m talking to, you can’t just look at the data–you actually have to bring these people in and talk to them.”
All the data in the world can’t replace the human touch–and that is what has set Kim apart in her field. It’s also what’s kept her passionate about marketing personalization–whether it’s used for good or ill.
“If all you do is pinpoint people who might be interested in your product, and then you talk to [a hundred] different groups the same way, you’ve missed the whole point! I’ve given you all my behavior! Could you please give me something back that’s personalized to what you know [about me]?”