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What Marketers Can Learn from Doc Emmett Brown

Let’s agree on one thing first: Doc Emmett Brown was a little nuts, yea? The wide-eyed expressions…the hair, and “Great Scott?” – these are clearly the devices of a madman. But if these quirky behaviors helped Marty defeat Biff and save the universe from ending itself, we’ll let slide.


When he wasn’t zipping through the continuum of years that end in 5 (what was wrong with 1986?) Doc Brown exhibited a couple behaviors that marketers would be wise to emulate.

Experimenting and testing hypotheses

The infamous 25-minute experiment >> Brown tests his time-bending capabilities with a few clocks and a box of plutonium (don’t try this at home, kids). So before he loads up his full “campaign” consisting of the DeLorean and outrunning some pissed off Libyan terrorists, he tests some of the components.

Now be honest – if you’d been asked to run some time travel experiments with plutonium, how likely would you have been to just load it up in the DeLorean and pray that it worked? As marketers, how often do we just “wing it” or “trust our gut?”

Too often.


total-audience-thumbThe flip side is empirically proving campaigns through hypothesis and results – taking a scientific approach. Taulbee and I just wrote an entire white paper on the subject, so you should go check that out.

Automating Repeatable Tasks

Doc Brown was an inventor as well as a scientist – check out his Rube Goldberg machine designed to make him breakfast each morning.

Automated bacon and eggs – what more could you want?

Marketers sometimes work too hard to achieve the results they need. The solution? Automate tasks that repeat themselves (just make sure the result isn’t entirely robotic). Ask yourself this question – how many manual touches do your sales and marketing teams send out that could be automated? Do customers exhibit buying behaviors before a purchase? Maybe you want to give them a little nudge.

Brown may have overcomplicated a few of his processes, but his role as a scientist is one that we could learn something from.

The crazy eyes, though? We’ll let you be the judge.


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