Data-Driven Creativity: A Match Made in Numbers

The best creative minds in our industry can use what they know about their consumers to come up with business-boosting ideas. Today, these creative minds have more data and detailed insights at their fingertips than ever before.

Despite this unprecedented availability of data, our industry insists in sustaining a barrier between “data experts” (100% left-brain-side data geeks) and “creative types” (100% right-brain-side-idea creators). If we want to create profound and long-lasting relationships between brands and customers, we need to think of data and creativity as one. A match made in numbers.

Data Means Caring

The first step towards using data to drive creativity is to stop pretending that we can understand our audience as a series of clusters. We did that when we didn’t have a choice. At M8, we continue to use Personas as a starting point for many of our initiatives, but we are now challenging that notion. Persona development needs to be much more specific and used only as a starting point, not the destination.

Data should help us show individual consumers that our brands care about each of them and their unique preferences and history. And yes, when we speak about “individual consumers,” we are talking about single people. One person. Your brand will build relationships tailored to them alone.

That one-to-one relationship sounds like marketing utopia, but many of us are quick to say that we can’t do it. However, we’ve never been closer to it. We can use people-based marketing platforms to learn about people and their journeys. In other words, as marketers, we are now more equipped than ever to maintain long-term relationships with individuals.

Creatives as Relationship Scientists

Once you stop thinking of your consumers as a set of fixed demographics and psychographics, you have no choice but to change your creative process. Some roles and responsibilities start to blend: Analysts help drive creative brainstorms; creative directors understand daily reports and learn to predict trends. To build relationships and create action, we need “relationship scientists”; experts that can understand the infinite differences of our consumers.

To make this change, we need more brainpower. The classic “creative pair” of copywriter + art director will evolve into a “creative trio”: copywriter + art director + strategic analyst. The people-based model implies much more effort in concentrated doses. This model means more micro-targeted, day-to-day bits of communication and less all-purpose, larger than life ads. After all, you don’t build unique relationships based on a single, one-sided scream.

Jonatan Zinger, SVP, Media Insights — M8