Who Has The Last Word On Creative?

The Magic Combination of Data and Creative

Creative is available to lead and inspire. Data is available to inform and guide. They both serve a purpose and working together they are unstoppable. Getting a creative person to work with a data person early, and to work with them often, is your key to success.  

All too often a data person sees a creative as one who is sensitive, one who makes brash decisions, and one who wings it. Data people don’t like to wing it and are not ones to make brash decisions. The creative sees a data person as one who gets in the way of expression; one who takes too long to get to an answer, and when they do, it’s buried in the wreckage of how they got there. Creatives often don’t like to get belabored by details that are not part of the creative expression. 

Now, I've met many creative people with varying comfort levels with data. Some are hesitant and get protective, while some creatives can’t get enough data. Neither extreme is ideal. Those who get protective stand a chance of being seen as staid and hard to work with. Those who can’t get enough data may fail to take the necessary risks a creative needs to take for something brilliant to happen. 

The same goes with data people. To most, data is seen as empirical. While this is true, it doesn’t always allow for a quick decision. But, data people who are too loose with their data can throw a strategy off course very quickly because it wasn't on solid ground. 

Marketing is tough business. You can get close to your target, but people are irrational and you’ll never know the true motives behind why people convert and why they don’t. For example you can get two of the same type of people to your site through media targeting and one converts but the other doesn't. Heck, 97% of them won't convert, and 30% will immediately leave without doing anything at all. The problem with data and data people is that they want -they need- to find the optimal reason why something happened. When in fact, a good data person knows they can spend a fraction of the time looking through less data and get within 5-10% of the same answer had they spent more time searching through reams of data. Also, they hide. They hide because the data isn't good enough, or there isn't enough data, or they can't isolate things they need to make it exactly right. I call BS. While data people are hyper-optimizing the lower end of the funnel to get 2-5% more people to convert, or waiting for the correct significance, the creative is onto the next big thing. And you know who gets the glory? The creative person does because they are making moves. Data people need to make an educated guess. If you're in marketing, you're likely someone who is not aesthetically-challenged. Go for it. Work with your creatives to hone your skills. 

That said, the onus is on the creative to be open to slogging through the wreckage of analysis, and to help teach the data person how to make creative recommendations. The data person is responsible for refining and distilling their analysis, and getting to the point as fast as possible. The data person also needs to let go of their desire for a 'fit', if even just for the sake of making something happen. 

If both are willing to work together and are open to making concessions, then magic can happen. If you get your data person ramped up early to provide a concise recommendation to the creative person, then the creative can do something stellar right out of the gate. Keep them talking about the results and they'll start to earn each other's respect. The creative person can be held on a pedestal and told their design is working and might win awards, and the data person can get satisfaction that their recommendation led to more conversions and that they found another insight along the way. 

So who gets the last word in creative? You do. Find the right people. Find the ones that have a left brain and a right brain. These people aren't unicorns. You just have to look, you have to ask questions, and you have to get opinions from existing creative and data people who understand both sides of the fence. Also, setting the right expectations with each person is important. Everyone needs to play together in the sandbox with a solid understanding that what they are doing is for the betterment of the work.

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