There’s a strange imbalance in the world of marketing. Most organizations weigh their marketing efforts in one of two directions: data-focused or creative-focused. It’s either about the numbers or the appeal. For whatever reason, these two key marketing aspects (data and creative) are typically kept at a distance – with one being favored over the other. But what would happen if data and creative were given equal weight? What if they could work together and even enhance one another?
Data and Creative: A History of Division
The great marketing divide between data and creative is a result of American culture itself. There’s this false notion that numbers and creativity don’t mix. We’re told you’re either left brain or right brain. You can’t be both. We picture the stereotypical creative as someone who doesn’t believe in rules or parameters; while our stereotypical number crunchers can think only in logical terms. Much like the unicorn, these stereotypes are fictional creations. In reality, most people don’t fall into one extreme or the other. We may lean slightly in one direction, but the two worlds are much more closely intertwined.
But not in marketing. In marketing, a towering wall separates data from creative. As a result, marketing efforts suffer. Or at least they don’t reach their maximum potential. But imagine if data and creative were let loose and allowed to interact. Imagine if that wall was broken down, unleashing them into the same room, so creativity and numbers could swirl around each other and combine to form something more innovative and effective. What would happen then?
Data analysis becomes increasingly creative
Remember the end of the movie The Matrix, when Keanu Reeves was finally able to see the truth of the world around him? Everything – building, objects, people – was made of flowing green digits. It’s actually not that far off from our current reality. These days, our world is made up of data. Numbers can tell us so much. They can tell us what people do, what their hobbies are, how much they make, the products they buy, where they buy them, what causes they give to, how often they give, and on and on and on.
Analyzing marketing data today is not just men in visors, smoking cigars, tapping away on typing machines in back rooms. It’s a whole different ball game. It involves thinking about data differently. Finding new ways to look at the numbers to get more out of them. Using numbers to determine actions and tendencies and probabilities. It’s looking at a data set and identifying the aspects that tell a story; the insights that can truly make a difference. Data analysis has become an increasingly creative, innovative and outside-the-box endeavor.
Effective creative requires strategic limitations
These days, marketing creative isn’t just about eye-grabbing images and compelling copy. It’s about strategy. Like a math problem, you’re working with a specific set of integers that lead to a specific solution. Creative services aren’t about splashing paint cans onto white canvases until something looks appealing. It’s about collecting information and using that information to strategically develop elements like design, copy and programming. There’s a specific goal, and the creative has to provide a specific solution. It has to be highly focused and targeted, and thematically relevant.
The key to effective marketing creative is reaching the intended audience. And that doesn’t make things infinite. It actually makes creative choices quite finite because you’re working with specific parameters – your target audience, your medium, your scope, budget and reach. All the criteria defined by your data. When implemented effectively with all those thoughts in mind, creative acts as the closer, sealing the deal. It speaks to people. It taps into all the flowing green numbers that make up individuals. It appeals to the heart, the mind and creates a logical appeal to take action.
Data and creative need to work side by side
Think of the relationship between data and creative like a coloring book. Data is the lines. Before data, all you have is a blank page. Data creates the picture and determines the makeup of the image. Creative is how you decide to color inside those lines. You have to choose the right colors based on what the picture is to bring it to life. Go outside the lines or select the wrong colors, and the picture will not be appealing to people.
When data and creative come together and work together, your marketing becomes more effective. It reaches the right people and speaks to their sensibilities. And that’s the ultimate goal of all marketing – no matter what channel, product or industry. Tying your data and creative closely together will streamline and strengthen your marketing, enabling you to achieve the best possible response and results.