Three cheers for Raconteur! They’ve highlighted the importance of creativity. And not just in marketing, but across business too. If you’ve not read their article “The creativity behind marketing success” it’s worth a read. It got us talking at the whiteboard and sticking Post-its on walls.
How can creativity not play a major role in marketing? How has it reached this point where shortism and a determination to get a quick result sidelines the one thing that is likely to get it?
Marketing automation, AI and the like are all wonderous things; we use many of these technologies and data sets in our campaigns and programs. They’re great tools in the marketers work-bag, but it seems a little disingenuous to suggest that they alone can make a success of a campaign. To do so would suggest that the target audiences are ambivalent to the kind of messages they’re receiving; as long as they’re in the right ball-park and at the right time, it’s a win.
These performance driven campaigns can offer short-term success, but they’re shallow victories in the long-run. Engagement and click throughs may be high, but is that all we’re measuring success by? The data and technology stacks that help contribute to great results aren’t responsible for all of it. They’re part of the story, but they’re not all the story.
More meaningful and more powerful relationships with the customer is the deeper and longer term outcome that most c-suite strive for. And, yes, let’s be honest, the vast majority of ‘creative’ messaging that’s created is lost in the homogeneity of consumed marketing. The one or two that stand-out, do so for a reason (they’re differentiated), but not everyone does that.
From the cloud-level offices of c-suite, it’s understandable that they may see this incremental increase across the beige as being less impactful as the immediate campaign. After-all, their targets are set quarterly and, with data so easily available through all the tech, quite possibly measured daily. Under that pressure, only a little empathy makes the pursuit of the performance driven campaigns ‘sort of’ understandable.
In defence of creativity. Why beige? Automation and technology needs volume. Creating volume of magical different creative is a huge challenge. Few can do it. Very few are prepared to pay to get it right and invest in it. The short-termism doesn’t make investment make sense. It’ll be consumed today and lost tomorrow. The value of creativity is diminished in a churn. The outcome is a short-deadline ‘that’ll do’ to satisfy the voracious appetite. And if, through the data, one idea finds traction then replication follows and so sets the spiral.
Creatives need to fight the beige. Every creative wants to. In many ways creatives are limited by marketing, sales and brand management fear, however, those constraints and limitations should be the catalyst to greater and better ideas. Given time, they can be.
One other means of differentiation for creativity would be using the data and insight gleaned from technology to inform the creativity. Just as guidelines can help take the edges off an idea, insight and information can sharpen the creative further still. No longer does the creative fear the ominous blank canvas, but rather creativity is given a specific inspirational space to play in; a narrow band of references that work under universal rules.
I agree with Alicia Tillman (Global Chief Marketing Officer, SAP) when she said, “In an experience driven economy consumers expect personal, differentiated, meaningful, purposeful communications. That aligns with values…it’s a big thing.” Long term value in creative, based on these, is possible through data-led, insight driven and informed creative. The differentiation that sets creativity apart from the beige is possible. It needs time and investment to make the most impact. How will this happen?
The apparent prevailing view of creativity needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Creativity isn’t, just as Nils Leonard (Co-founder, Uncommon) said, a noodly insular craft. It’s a powerhouse of transformation and change. It’s even more powerful and capable of greater differentiation when inspired by data and insight.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash