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Marketing Edge

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Overstock.com VP of marketing blends science with art

Kamie Twomey, senior vice president of marketing for Overstock.com, brings a unique background of neuroscience to the world of online marketing. Twomey’s scientific approach to behavior is perfect for her “by the numbers” marketing practices for the online retail giant of Overstock.com.

The company has seen 100 percent growth each year for the past five years. Twomey attributes part of the growth to a disciplined business marketing approach that is rooted in science and sprinkled with art when appealing to customers’ interests.

“I was a neuroscience major in college. Marketing in general and online marketing specifically has become a science of finding and repeating what works,” Twomey said. “We try to remove all subjectivity from marketing. By testing the creative, the numbers then determine which is the most creative approach to selling, not the layout that gets the most ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in a meeting. There is still a creative aspect: We have to come up with ideas, try new things and make assumptions. However, we test all of those assumptions.”

In this Marketing Focus installment of the Marketing Edge podcast, Twomey stresses the importance of having a scientific approach to marketing while still maintaining a creative side. Art and creativity are important, she says, as long as their effectiveness can be tested and measured.

“I may look at a product and say, ‘I don’t like this product. It’s not attractive. No one is into this anymore. We shouldn’t market this.’ But when I test it and look at the numbers, it may tell me something very different,” Twomey said. “If you rely on everybody’s opinions, you’ll never make a decision because consensus is not what we are after; effectiveness is what we are after. Customer satisfaction is the result of effective marketing. We encourage people to be creative, but then we test everybody’s ideas and let the numbers tell us which of the pieces of art are really the most effective.”


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