The marketing landscape has changed. Technology has given marketers new ways of working and more visibility of their effectiveness than ever before. And that’s a very good thing.
However, over the last few years, as people have got excited about technology, such as marketing automation, I’ve seen a particular view emerge. Some marketers now see creative as almost a ‘hygiene factor’. They’re more focused on an agency’s ability to demonstrate ROMI through new technologies.
For me, the view that creativity is a hygiene factor simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. So, here’s my common-sense case for commercially driven creativity. A little reminder, if you like, about why marketers should see it as an essential ingredient of their marketing, rather than a hygiene factor.
What do I mean by commercially driven creative? Well, it’s the difference between art and design.
Art can be beautiful. It can have meaning. It can be without meaning. It can serve a purpose. And it can serve no purpose. When you try to define art, you always run into problems because it’s so subjective.
Design is different. When you design something, you have a clear purpose in mind; you’re trying to solve a problem. And, in essence, that’s what defines commercially driven creative – its ability to solve a commercial problem. That’s not to say design doesn’t have some of the attributes of art. It should still be visually stimulating, emotionally engaging and something people end up talking about and sharing.
On a human level, art, design and creativity connect us with something that goes beyond marketing technology and tactics. Technology and tactics ensure we get our message to the right person at the right time in the right place. You can then track, nurture and lead them to the point where they’re ready to buy. If you’ve got that right, then proving marketing effectiveness should be straightforward. But, hang on a second; haven’t we missed the most important bit?
It’s all very well getting our message to the right person at the right time in the right place. But, if they don’t connect with that message, if they’re not moved, excited, or interested, then their journey stops right there. And that’s all because we didn’t capture their attention. That’s why creativity really matters. That’s why it’s a genuine driver for commercial interest and, ultimately, success.
I like to think of a creative idea as the tip of a spear. The tactics and technology are the shaft. The tip cuts through the chatter and hits the audience with a lasting impact. Then, the shaft follows through with the tactics and technology that keep the engagement going. And that’s the unique balance between the art and the science of marketing that, at DirectionGroup, we call ‘Inspired Thinking’.
Inspired Thinking is our brand essence and the lifeblood of the agency. It’s the one thing that connects our people, our processes and our product. It delivers great results for our clients. And it can come from anywhere.
Sir John Hegarty of BBH summed it up best when he said:
“I think the industry has lost faith in the big, bold idea. I think it has lost its courage and I’m deeply upset by that. Too many people leading our industry are accountants, and I think for a creative industry that’s a tragedy. We’ve lost the power and courage of creativity to drive our business forward.”
Sir John also cautioned businesses not to become obsessed with technological change and remember the creative product is where the focus should remain. And I agree with his words of wisdom. Our focus should remain at the tip of the spear and not on the shaft.
There are agencies that think they’re creative and then there are agencies that are really creative. The really creative agencies come up with ideas that capture attention, connect with audiences and help solve commercial problems. They help to increase marketing effectiveness. That’s commercially driven creativity, and
that’s what we do at DirectionGroup.
It’s why we believe – inspired thinking: leads to revenue.