Where Killer Creative Meets Cold, Hard Data

So many people – even those who work in marketing and advertising and should know better – make the mistake of thinking that good creative is about pretty pictures, edgy copy, “quirkiness”, cool typefaces, humor, etc. etc.

But it’s just not true. If it was, then a Dolce & Gabanna-styled execution would work well for a Dollar General campaign, or an Old Spice “Be A Man” type of campaign would work for a hospice provider.

Good creative is creative that works. Creative that motivates people to click on an ad, like your Facebook post, and open your direct mail piece. And yes, “works” sometimes coincides with quirk, pretty pictures, edgy copy, and so on.

However, that’s all secondary. If you really want good creative, you need to hire great creative directors, writers, and designers. But first, you need to begin with data. Why? Because only then will you have the road map you need to execute killer creative that resonated with your audiences. Here are a few tips that can help you begin that data-driven process:

Understand your customer segments first.

This part’s huge. If you don’t know who your best customers are and what motivates them, you’ll be forever trapped in a mode where your creative strategy is based on what you think people should know about your business, or what types of messages, graphics, etc. you think resonate with them.

An understanding of your best customers, on the other hand, gives you the clarity that’s necessary to come up with creative that works as well as looks good.

Here’s another benefit of best customer profiling: It stops arguments in their tracks. If you find there is dissent about direction as you go through the creative process, you will always have the ability to go back to your customer profiles and say “Look. The data clearly shows that proposed strategy A is more likely to resonate than proposed creative strategy B.” (For more along this topic, see “How to Save Your Creative From Death By Committee.”)

Use your analytics.

Website, social media, and digital advertising analytics can also yield insight regarding what creative tactics work and what doesn’t. If an analysis across all three channels reveals clear patterns of higher engagement (or consistently lower engagement) about certain types of messaging, copy, and graphics, you can carry over that wisdom into your overall creative strategy for better results throughout your entire marketing program.

Borrow data from other brands or agencies.

Let’s say you own a small chain of organic grocery stores, or you work for an agency that represents such a client. It may be very enlightening to look at the last five years’ worth of creative campaigns for big-box grocery stores with customers you suspect are not unlike their own, to see if you spot any trends worth noting.

We’re pretty sure that Whole Foods’ agency isn’t going to hand over their numbers to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t nonetheless study their playbook and see what’s worked and what hasn’t. Marketing intelligence sources (like Adweek, Advertising Age, Business Insider, and so forth) have thousands of free or easily-affordable articles that analyze the historical effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns all over the world. Though the conclusions you may draw from studying the campaigns of other brands is not as scientifically-based as conclusions drawn from something like a best customer profile, you can still glean insight that’s meaningful enough to inform your own strategy.

We’re data scientists, and we’re crazy about creative, too. If you’ve got a new campaign on the horizon we’d love to know more about it.