What do analytics and creative have in common? If you rely on the textbook definition alone, virtually nothing. Analytics is the “…systematic computational analysis of data or statistics,” while creative involves “…imagination or original ideas.” But for me, the two terms are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are totally interdependent.
My job is predicated upon the ability to successfully glean insights from data that are used to take the guesswork out of decision making. I partner regularly with a variety of key decision makers–marketers, advertisers, statisticians, big data heads–who look to me to provide insights that will inform their important and oftentimes costly decisions.
When working with our creative team, who is often tasked with providing physical marketing materials to consumers in order to communicate information about a product or service, it is extremely important for them to understand the customer and what they need; to understand what motivates them and their rationales. The only way we can really learn about customer needs is to interact with the customer, the person who is at the very end of whatever we want to create or communicate. And many times we use market research to facilitate this customer interaction.
Using creative to design better analysis
When I first begin work with a client — whether internal or external — my job is to clearly understand what the problem or opportunity is that needs to be acted on and what the questions are that need answers. This understanding needs to be contextual. As I navigate this discovery phase I find myself following a highly creative design thinking process whose objective, according to Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, is “matching people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and viable as a business strategy.” This process allows me to creatively approach an issue and realize a unique solution for obtaining the desired information. The outcome of this exercise is to have clearly defined and agreed upon goals and objectives for the research. And from my perspective, this is the most important phase of the research process as it keeps the research focused and effective and everyone on the same page.
While creativity is present at every stage of research design in order to afford better analysis, from aligning the correct mix for research methodology and identifying the most appropriate vehicle for data capture, I again find I tap into my creative brain more deeply to provide better analysis and insight. When working on the analysis of the research data I not only look to uncover the obvious insights but I look at the data from a variety of perspectives and often find that each view provides a different insight. Finally, empathic of the consumer, I rationally synthesize the analysis and insights to communicate to the client the implications to their business, the problem and/or the opportunity.
Now I simply need to convince our creative group to invest a little of their creative savvy back on the analysis and help paint a picture that tells the data story so that our creative analysis can be both effective and inspiring. Because, like it or not, infographics, journey mapping and storytelling are the way of our future!
How do you use analysis to inform creative and creative to inform analysis?