Quantitative analysis plays an important role in marketing.

With all the engagement metrics and laser-like focusing on desired marketplace demographics possible via Internet marketing, opportunities for crunching numbers to maximize time, effort and money spent reaching potential purchasers are better than ever.

While working the numbers may form the heart of marketing, creativity undoubtedly remains its soul.

One marketer who grasps this is Washington State Potato Commission executive director Chris Voigt.

Aiming to bring attention to the health benefits of eating potatoes and to the fact that the Women, Infants and Children federal feeding program continues to exclude white potatoes, Voigt launched a 60-day diet of nothing but spuds garnished with a minimal amount of seasonings.

Maybe after the conclusion of Voigt’s two-month tuber plan we can look forward to the commission offering a cookbook (available online and also as a downloadable/printable PDF) of recipes he enjoyed during his diet.

Voigt is sharing the daily ins and outs of his spudtacular journey online at www.20potatoesaday.com.

Besides his blog postings, the site has video updates (also viewable on YouTube of course).

In the let-it-all-hang-out spirit of the Web, Voigt’s videocast on the fiber content of potatoes was recorded with him doing a voiceover from inside a bathroom stall.

As Voigt told Packer reporter Don Schrack, “There is nothing polished or fancy about this. Just a guy with a video camera and a cheap website, a guy who’s got a story to tell.”

It may only be one small — uh, step — for the man, but it’s evident of the giant leap in marketing.

Marketing messages — those aimed at consumers in particular but also those focused on the trade — have become increasingly creative over the years, and the Web marketing has pushed the envelope not only for accessibility but for what is acceptable creatively too.

Voigt’s efforts on behalf of Washington spuds underscore the great leveling effect made possible by reaching an audience via the Web.

The cost of an Internet connection is a financial hurdle surmountable by almost anyone.

An individual’s or small organization’s creative urge and desire to share it can be leveraged to potentially a worldwide audience without the need for intermediaries such as third-party public relations or advertising firms.

Spreading a message online (whether for personal or professional goals) is all about making a connection.

People increasingly don’t want to be marketed to in the traditional way. They want to be part of a conversation or experience.

It’s not a completely new phenomenon really.

The concept of the soft sell (selling the experience) versus hard sell (pushing the product) has been a part of marketing and advertising for a long time.

What’s really changed is that consumers have more media options than ever and a level of control and involvement in its content greater than ever before.

Marketers must not only get but also hold their attention.

Online marketing holds an opportunity and a challenge. It’s easier to get in the game, but there’s more competition for attention.

E-mail fwilkinson@thepacker.com.