Big Data and the Creative Dividend

We know that per­son­al­i­sa­tion is plant­ed firm­ly in the cross­roads of data and cre­ativ­i­ty. But how often do we con­sid­er which our busi­ness­es are favour­ing? What we lead with? And, most crit­i­cal­ly, if a sud­den shift in focus onto the for­mer has any impact on our sup­port for the lat­ter, and what that might mean for our companies.

Maybe it sounds odd to hear the con­ver­sa­tion framed in this man­ner. Most of the time we wouldn’t expect these two con­cepts to be at odds. Big Data for mar­keters is just a tool to help us man­age our cre­ative mar­ket­ing endeav­ours, a tech­ni­cal improve­ment to a pre-exist­ing sys­tem: Our mar­ket­ing doesn’t have to be fun­da­men­tal­ly chal­lenged by Big Data; it can serve in either a trans­for­ma­tive or com­ple­men­tary role as we so choose.

But mar­ket­ing has been dis­rupt­ed in a big way by Big Data, and the raw pow­er of the data at our fin­ger­tips can be hard to grasp. And in try­ing to make use of these new capa­bil­i­ties, we run the risk of devel­op­ing tun­nel vision, of seek­ing clar­i­ty for clarity’s sake, and often, the first casu­al­ty of this pur­suit is cre­ativ­i­ty: the sort of intu­itive mar­ket­ing that works because it’s fine­ly attuned to the way we think and per­ceive, not nec­es­sar­i­ly because it’s laser-tar­get­ed at our key audience.

If it even needs to be said, none of this is to dis­pute the new regime of ana­lyt­ics-dri­ven mar­ket­ing. The present gen­er­a­tion of mar­keters, includ­ing myself, cut our teeth on the oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sent­ed by all of this data. Num­bers-dri­ven mar­ket­ing is infi­nite­ly more accu­rate and respon­sive than any­thing we’ve had at our fin­ger­tips in the past.

But what we have to keep in mind—what’s crit­i­cal to under­stand­ing the role of cre­ativ­i­ty in con­tem­po­rary marketing—is that although good mar­ket­ing is accu­rate, great mar­ket­ing is mag­net­ic. For all of our ana­lyt­i­cal capac­i­ty to iden­ti­fy our tar­gets, to under­stand our cus­tomers, and to make trans­par­ent our mar­ket­ing fun­nel, tru­ly sub­lime mar­ket­ing gen­er­ates desire, rather than mere­ly unveil­ing it. This is the real goal of our trade, and it always has been. Ana­lyt­ics can’t sup­plant that. But it can assist it.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion pro­vides us with a per­fect exam­ple of this process. We know from expe­ri­ence (and instinct) that mere­ly hold­ing a mir­ror up to the consumer’s activ­i­ty is no way to endear them to our brand. Rather, this tends to repel them—no one wants to be watched unnec­es­sar­i­ly. Intel­li­gent, intu­itive appli­ca­tion of per­son­al­i­sa­tion is about find­ing the places where con­sumers want it—where they need a guide­post, where they’d like social inte­gra­tion, where they want a space to be cus­tomised. Find­ing these points of con­tact is more art than sci­ence, and that’s why cre­ative­ly mind­ed com­pa­nies and brands con­tin­ue to be mar­ket lead­ers in the high infor­ma­tion age.

And as dif­fi­cult as it may be to quan­ti­fy cre­ativ­i­ty in the work­place, we can cer­tain­ly quan­ti­fy its foot­print. To that end, Adobe recent­ly com­mis­sioned a study to explore the cre­ative div­i­dend: how cre­ativ­i­ty impacts busi­ness cul­ture, mar­ket share, and growth. And the take­away could not be clear­er. Although almost all senior man­age­ment con­sid­ers cre­ativ­i­ty to be a busi­ness virtue, almost two in three believe that their busi­ness is not cre­ative. The prac­tices defined as fos­ter­ing cre­ativ­i­ty cen­tre around com­pa­ny lead­er­ship set­ting pri­ma­ry cre­ative goals, in func­tion­al project man­age­ment and more gen­er­al­ly in com­pa­ny cul­ture, as well as cus­tomer inter­ac­tion and collaboration.

These cre­ative com­pa­nies out­num­ber and out­per­form their com­peti­tors, com­mand­ing a greater mar­ket share and, con­sis­tent­ly, a high­er rate of growth. What we learn from this study, then, is that ana­lyt­ics and data have only giv­en com­pa­nies more avenues down which to focus their cre­ative ener­gies. Those that take these oppor­tu­ni­ties reap the rewards in deeply tan­gi­ble ways. And those that don’t miss out.

Should you be inter­est­ed in find­ing out more about the Cre­ative Div­i­dend and what this means for Mar­keters you are wel­come to join my col­league Alex Ama­do, Senior Director, Creative & Media at Adobe and Lau­ra Ramos, Vice Pres­i­dent and Prin­ci­pal Ana­lyst at For­rester Research, Inc, to run through the research via a cre­ative div­i­dend webi­nar. It is sched­uled for the 29th of Jan­u­ary, at 3pm here in the UK (4pm for west­ern Europe).