Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we only use between 10 and 20% of our brains and, with hot debate surrounding the convergence of so many digital channels and disciplines, it’s important to make sure we know how best to use it.

While some integrated marketers simply get on with it, others argue and engage in constant conflict.

What channel to use, which is the best, where does this channel fit, how do we structure and adapt to change?

I viewed a fantastic infographic last week from Marketo on Right Brain Vs Left Brain Marketers. It talked about the personality traits associated with each side of the brain.

What’s more, it gave a neat overview as to how these personality traits influence our approaches to TV, magazine and Billboard ads, as well as online marketing. 

Whole brain marketing in digital

Whole brain (balancing the left and right) marketing is essential in today’s digital environment as the integration of methodology and technology across multiple digital channels is almost changing in real-time, it's that fast.

In order to make the most out of the talent in an every changing digital environment you really need to:

  1. Match traits associated with left and right brain marketers according to what digital discipline they operate in (SEO, Content, Social, Display, Product, IT).
  2. Foster collaboration between these left and right brained marketers.
  3. Utilise the convergence of left and right brain thinking to structure, deliver, and grow integrated marketing campaigns and departments.

How many times do you hear people debate, fight, and feel the need to justify their department, channel, and existence? The Black Hat v White Hat SEO, the social media consultant and the search department, the search department and the display department - the list is growing each day!

How many times do you also read articles on the resistance to new marketing concepts, experience inter departmental conflict between CEO’s and marketing, marketing and sales and online and offline departments?

Whole Brain Marketing is now essential if you want to plan, run, and optimize digital campaigns in line with change and the convergence of so many media channels.

With that comes a close need for collaboration between left and right thinkers and organizational structuring based upon these personality traits.

Below are just a few examples of the left and right brain conflicts:

Biddable media

The growth of the DSP and the convergence of search, display and social media is a great example of how left and right brain marketers need to meet and/or adapt to a whole brain strategy.

Optimising people is just as important as optimising performance media. Search marketers can help display and exchange specialists with auction-based media. Display people can help search specialists with dynamic creative and understanding of networks and exchanges.

The same strategy can be applied to SEO, content marketing, and social media.

Inbound Media

As debate continues on the convergence of SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media roles we see left and right brain conflicts as technology meets creativity and content

Inbound media can take the form of many thinks from SEO and PPC through to content, webinars, video, retargeting, link building, emailing.  Indeed, all the way through to the whole spectrum of social media delivery and channels.

In many ways inbound media ties new and traditional marketing techniques together under one umbrella. Now that’s lots of people, lots of skill sets, lots of left and right brained marketers meeting together.

You can see why this is a topic of such hot debate and why many organisations still struggle to manage talent and structure their marketing department accordingly. The left is resisting the right.

Social Media

Social media has been around forever. It’s not new. What is new is the technology that has enabled people to interact in a number of different ways.

That in itself has spurned new and innovative ways of thinking about social media so that we can build strategies around this technology. Once again, huge debate rages in this area on ROI versus influence, and accountability versus experimentation. 

Why? Because technology and marketing creativity meet head on as left and right brain marketers collide.


The key to integrated marketing success, from campaigns to agency structuring, lies with whole brain thinking. Not everyone can be a whole brain thinker. It’s only natural that some people are too far left or too far right. In fact, it can be viewed as a sign of genius!

Forget the technology, changes, and economy for just a second and think about how you organise talent and make the most out of whole brained, left brained, or right brained marketers and talent. 

It’s all about balance and at the moment many individuals, organisations, agencies, and brands are struggling to make the most out their left and right brain marketers and cope with change. The ones that do clearly lead.


Published 15 February, 2012 by Andy Betts

Andy Betts is a digital marketing strategist working with agencies and direct advertisers. He blogs here, and can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Comments (11)

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Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Good stuff Andy, and some more links below for people interested in this topic which we are sure to hear more about.

There was a great article by Adam Cahill on Ad Age towards the end of last year about the need for 'math and magic'in digital advertising.

This is referenced in a great piece by Neil Perkin on his blog:

There is also a section I wrote for the 2nd Econsultancy / Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing about the need for companies to have left and right brains.

over 6 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

Thanks Linus

Dan Barker made a good point on the 10% theory (I blame Einstein)


over 6 years ago


Alexandra Coutts, Head of Digital at THOUGHTSHIFT LTD

Thanks Andy, this is a great post. I think you have highlighted some fundamental issues which I imagine as a strategic consultant you encounter quite regularly. Unfortunately too many people do not think beyond their own remit and therefore do not work together for a better overall result, but focus on getting more budget and resources for their projects.

over 6 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

could not agree more Alexandra :)

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning Andy,

Thanks for the post, really interesting mindmaps. I think you're bang on the money that the biggest challenge for senior e-commerce peeps is knowing how to get the right blend of skills working effectively together.

I was talking about this yesterday with someone who is looking at their skills dev path and I raised the questions about specialisation vs. generalisation. You need specialists to give the detailed thinking and planning for individual e-commerce components such as SEO but you also need generalists who have the strategic vision and energy to bring the disciplines together to make them work.

As you point out, there is a convergence of many digital marketing disciplines, as well as digital + offline. It can often be daunting for e-commerce managers to know how to knit it all together and who does what/when.

Add to this the in-house vs. external conundrum, knowing which projects you should put in the hands of agencies, consultants, freelancers etc and you've got a lot of factors to balance.

It all boils down to people and some people are wonderful to work with, others a nightmare. I think senior managers need to spend more time understanding and defining the culture of the business/team and ensuring that their recruitment process is robust enough to find the right talent. If you get the wrong people together, doesn't matter which sides of the brain you've got covered, it doesn't work.

And that means knowing how recruitment has changed as well - yep recruitment specialists can add their worth but you also need to use networking (online and offline) and social media tools to connect with the best people.


over 6 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

thanks James

Great point on the inhouse v external conundrum btw :)

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Andy,

Yep it's one I still find difficult when advising Clients. It can often pay to employ a specialist agency initially to help up-skill internal teams but that then raises the question of division of responsibility and collaboration.

And it comes back to the people thing. Get the right people who are compatible and you can get through the issues. Get the wrong people and you've got emotional/political/attitudinal barriers and a strong desire to go sit in the pub and contemplate life.


over 6 years ago


Ciarán Mc Mahon

You can throw out that '10-20% of the brain' stuff, as well as the 'left-right split material too - there's not much neurological evidence for either.

In fact, they pretty much contradict each other.

over 6 years ago


Andy betts

The 10 - 20 % of your brain debate is not really the point of the post. It's more how you use (whatever %) of your brain

over 6 years ago

Joanna Pieters

Joanna Pieters, Director at Time WIzard

I think there's often a tension between the need to be seen as 'whole brain' and recognising strengths and weaknesses. This means that people who could be exceptional if encouraged to work in their most natural style are instead using their energies trying to demonstrate all-round competence.

In addition, there's plenty of solid research on how teams function best with a balance of approaches and personality types, but my impression is that staff outside L&D are seldom trained in how to apply this, particularly in a fast-moving, high-pressure area (ironically, these are probably the circumstances where it would be most useful). People generally feel comfortable working with people like them, whereas training on identifying and facilitating different working styles can be enormously productive. Some of my most successful hires have been where I deliberately appointed someone with a different approach to the rest of the team, but that happened only because an enlightened owner-manager decided to invest in training on team development for me.

over 6 years ago



Muy buen articulo, seguiré su blog

almost 6 years ago

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