Like it or not, we are entering the age where every piece of a marketing expression will be influenced and fed by data. Big data. Huge data. Enormous, suffocating, heaps of data — sometimes misleading, many times relevant, and occasionally, shockingly accurate.
Data is wonderful. We love it, we need it, we crave it. We feed off its ability to unearth new opportunities, point us in the right direction, read customers’ minds, and dazzle them with our brilliance. As marketers, we are giddy with anticipation of what can be achieved with all the information about what customers are clicking, buying, saying, and not saying. We salivate when it is distilled and ready for us to act upon, buoyantly anticipating that it will solve all of our problems.
The question is: are the people you are entrusting with the creation of your marketing moments data-inspired or data-unimaginative? Do they hold a passion for unearthing the unspoken, untagged, unobvious customer truths that lie hidden within data? Do they look to data for enlightenment or cower from its enormity?
In truth, most creative teams are an assemblage of people with a real instinct for the beautiful. They are able to sniff out the disjointed and dull. They live for smoothing out rough edges, rethreading contextual frays, and adjusting careless pixels. Regrettably what comes with being born with a rich aesthetic ability is the side effect of avoiding any seemingly tiresome information that could validate, expand, even inspire their creative thinking.
We are often stifled and demotivated by what we don't understand. And let's face it, spending time with reams of data or even its distilled reports — no matter how kindly-crafted by our friendly analysts — takes a certain kind of mind to appreciate and a brave one to extract its juicy insights. It takes even more courage to serve up those nuggets in a way that the rest of the team will drink up the knowledge — enough of it to inspire their next big idea.
Conversely, the strength of your creative team's ability to embrace data can only be as vigorous as their ability to let go of the absolute and allow themselves to follow instinct. Somewhere amid the volumes of collected and measured information, we can lose sight of the soul of an experience. At that point, creative intuition is critical for forging a path to the human element of our marketing connections.
It seems a tightrope walking ability of sorts is required these days. Our creative folks must possess both the capacity for human touch and the patience for the mundane. A persistent investigator, a committed artisan, an intuitive behaviorist, and a seasoned marketer is the new emerging breed of creative.
Is this too much to expect from our creative people? Possibly, but with the speed of consumer tech adoption, a culture of distraction alive and kicking, and more customer information available to us than ever before, no one is going to wait for people to get comfortable. So grab the data by the horns — creative friend — and jump on. You may get thrown a few times, but find a way back on, because this bull isn't going away.