Facilitate your creative processes
Summary A high-performing company is the result of the balance between rigor and creativity: two aspects that are strongly correlated….
A high-performing company is the result of the balance between rigor and creativity: two aspects that are strongly correlated. When we talk about creativity, we must be careful not to fall into the myth of “pure inspiration” based only on intuition. Today, more than ever, creatives have the possibility to draw from a huge mass of data, to understand the sentiment of public opinion, but also – and above all – to segment the audience of customers, up to personalization.
Two different drives
The health and success of a company are the result of the balance between two drives: rigor, on the one hand; creativity, on the other.
This is true for all types of businesses, from multinationals with the largest market shares to start-ups just entering the market.
Be careful, though: these two drives are not opposing. They are – or, rather, they should be – complementary. There can be no creativity without rigor. What’s more, the two drives are strengthened, in a virtuous circle, especially thanks to the new digital tools.
So, let’s start by immediately dispelling a myth: creativity is not a matter of pure inspiration or magic, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.
Sure, ideas can come to us in many scenarios… in a brainstorming session, or even just when we’re walking around or meditating. But this can’t be enough to generate creativity on an ongoing basis. You need a method to consolidate, but keep it flexible. You need widespread awareness within the company, and a fluid, broad, and orderly sharing of ideas.
Above all, we need to start from some precise inputs, from some fixed points. To put it another way: we need to start from data. And thanks to digital tools, today data is a resource that can arrive in enormous quantities, wider and deeper than ever.
So, let’s start from here.
Research comes first
The first step in any creative process is research. And research begins with the collection of data. Otherwise, we move into the realm of abstraction, of impressions, of approximation… and all of this could easily turn into a waste of time and money.
That’s why, today, creativity must be data-driven. Let’s start from the basics: what is “Big Data,” one of the most used buzzwords of our time?
First, here is a technical definition (source: Gartner):
“Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.“
Today, thanks to digital technology, we have the possibility of collecting a truly immense amount of data that is always recorded and accessible online.
This allows us to have a more accurate understanding of what’s happening in the world where the people you want to transform into customers live, those people that you want to transform into loyal customers, into partners, into the first allies of your company.
Going even further into the concrete: it is always advisable to start with market research, at the same time, it is essential to focus on surveys related to sentiment.
Sentiment analysis is a method of analysis that allows you to evaluate the reactions and opinions of a more or less large segment of the public in relation to any type of event, news, or trend. But also in relation to any specific brand or product.
In this sense, social networks provide an important source of information, where we all continuously express our preferences, interact by sharing our opinions, provide feedback, comment, and form bonds and relationships.
Sentiment analysis, in short, provides a snapshot of what’s happening in the public opinion, in large numbers. And the first task for creative processes and marketing departments is to intercept these movements.
But this is just the beginning, the first step. Then you have to go even deeper, into data-driven dynamics: let’s see how in the next section.
Measure, segment, personalize
Let’s pick up with some statistics:
– For 64% of marketing leaders, data-driven strategies are vital to today’s business (invespcro.com).
– For two-thirds of marketers, decisions made based on data are far more effective than those made based on intuition (thinkwithgoogle.com).
– 76% of marketers base their creative decisions on data analytics processes (gartner.com).
Again, here we emphasize the importance of data in making any decisions about creative processes. But, beware, not all data is equal. And you can’t limit yourself to big numbers.
If creativity that is effective must start from knowledge about the recipient, it’s a good idea to really focus the magnifying glass on your audience. In fact, it’s no longer a question of an indistinct mass, but of a group of people with very different characteristics.
Pushing data analysis further means segmenting the target audience into clusters of people who share homogeneous characteristics with each other. This is what’s known as segmentation. And it’s all about finding the right mix of metrics based on your goals.
In fact, the same creative campaign can hardly be as effective for a purely female audience and for a purely male one, or for an older audience and a younger one, or a European audience and an Asian one…and so on.
As you can guess, there are always enormous differences in how a campaign might be received based on age, geography, and social differences. In short, creativity can never be monolithic and it can’t be one-size-fits-all. It must be increasingly tailored to the recipient.
And what’s the ultimate goal? Personalization.
No longer segments, but individuals. This is the turning point of user-oriented creativity, which can be found – for example – in the personalized videos offered by specialized platforms such as Babelee.
These are videos that adapt to the characteristics of the viewer and also to their navigation choices, in real time and in an interactive manner.
This type of creativity and communication leads to better results in terms of effectiveness, and in capturing attention, engagement, and loyalty.
Creative campaigns that leverage data-driven personalization, in fact, show a higher ROI by an average of 5 to 8 times the initial spend (invespcro.com).
Data is a company’s most valuable asset in the digital age. We’ve seen its fundamental role in providing solid direction to creative processes…indeed, multiple directions, related to the target audience of different campaigns.
All of this is fundamental and decisive. But there’s more.
Another great opportunity offered by data-driven dynamics is that of being able to monitor the results and feedback of any creative campaign, and to be able to do so, again, in a surgical, segmented, and personalized way (a campaign, in fact, may have given very different results depending on clusters and individual recipients).
Learning to collect this data allows you to understand what worked and what didn’t; and therefore to continually modify, correct, test, and re-calibrate. The real goal is continuous improvement.
Something that digital makes possible and automatable. Again, the key word is elasticity. Those who remain rigid in the world of digital transformation will be condemned to soon become obsolete; and eventually to become extinct.
A final anecdote
IKEA is a multinational company that today records revenue of over €35 billion, with locations in 42 countries around the world. It’s one of the most well-known and emblematic brands and also one of the most quoted and imitated symbols of creativity.
Let’s go back, for a moment, to the company’s beginnings.
IKEA was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, a 17-year-old boy born on a farm in Agunnayrd, a Swedish village that today has fewer than 300 inhabitants. The initial capital in the company consisted of a small financial reward that Ingvar had received from his father at the end of his studies.
Initially it was a tiny mail-order business selling everyday items. Furniture was not added until seven years later, in 1950.
But the real turning point of IKEA’s success came thanks to an employee who, unable to bring home a wooden bookcase with his car, thought there was a very simple solution: to disassemble it in several pieces, load it into the car, and then reassemble it in his home.
The solution was something very simple, almost trivial. But it was the real keystone, the trademark, of what has now become a multinational company.
This origin story has become almost legendary. But what does it have to teach us, even today, on the subject of creativity?
It’s this: first and foremost, creativity is something that must be triggered within the company. Of course, it requires rigor and organization, and it must be divided between departments. But it is fundamental that ideas must be able to circulate within the company in a rapid, fluid, and useful way, without putting up too many obstacles.
It’s about making all stakeholders feel involved in the company’s mission and vision. It’s about making them feel responsible: no longer numbers, pure “workforce”, but men and women who can do their part and make a difference; ambassadors of their brand and possible inspirers and collectors of innovative ideas.
Again, it’s about personalization and internal communication. And again, it’s a challenge that can be won thanks to digital tools.
In conclusion: there is no universal recipe for creativity. But it is clear that it’s a matter of starting again from people within the company, which becomes a breeding ground for exchanging information and ideas. And also from outside, with the customers, who are no longer just the final target, but who become the real center of the business.
Copywriter for television and online, she has been creating and managing editorial content for more than 15 years for multiple formats, including marketing and television.