How to balance performance and creativity in marketing

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Innovative marketing campaigns must strike a balance between being performance driven and pushing boundaries. Sarah Clarke tells us more.

How to balance performance and creativity in marketing

Performance marketing can often feel mixed.

Individuals outside of the marketing world often think it is a super creative industry and, whenever we do any level of graduate recruitment, the applicants often focus on the creative skills they have developed and how these can be applied back, more often than anything else.

However, the idea of marketing people outside the industry have fits mainly with brand marketing, with performance marketing staying relatively out of view (unless you’re in the know!). The nature of performance marketing is more data-driven, with the definition referring to brands only paying when their specific business objectives have been met, be that a click, conversion, sale, or lead.

This often leads to two very different views of performance marketing, one being creative, and one being data-driven. However, there is an argument that performance marketing, and driving creativity in marketing, need both to succeed, and the right balance can super-charge your digital marketing campaigns.

The importance of creativity in advertising strategy

Often, when brands or agencies have success with a campaign, innovation or idea, they often use this as a blueprint and assume this means they have the silver bullet; the correct formula for producing a successful and efficient marketing campaign. The reality is that, more often than not, the process doesn’t run in this way and to effectively deliver creative digital marketing campaigns is much less linear than expected.

This has been supported by research from Paul Feldwick who worked on the Barclaycard campaign featuring Rowan Atkinson. This went on to be hugely successful, later winning an IPA effectiveness award, which may lead you to believe that the agency had figured it out – they’d created the recipe for a successful advertising campaign. However, the truth was far from this - the process was messy, with more starts than just one, and nearly six months passed before anything was sent over for approval. Understanding the importance of creativity in advertising is understanding that false starts happen, and an effective campaign comes following a non-linear creative process, as opposed to letting the data direct the strategy.

Fundamentally, this research demonstrates the importance of building a diverse team to generate creative digital marketing campaigns. Because there isn’t a blueprint for generating a successful and creative campaign and, sometimes, it takes a variety of people who are essentially ‘stabbing around in the dark’ until they hit a good idea that sticks.

Sometimes, it takes spending some time on finding the solution to come up with powerful, innovative marketing campaigns, but it can also take spending some time challenging the solution by redefining the problem to get to where you need to be.

How Sainsbury’s tried something different

There is a good example of redefining the problem from a case study based on Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s had challenged their agency to drive an additional £2.5 billion revenue which, in isolation, looks like a huge amount which isn’t easily achievable. However, one of the planners on the account reframed the problem:

“If we divide the market growth by the number of store visits that we project, what the £2.5 billion equates to is an increase in spend of £1.14 for every single visit. So, we will meet the new financial targets so long as everyone spends £1.14 more”.

Data has shown that shoppers were ‘sleep-shopping’, so combined with needing to generate more revenue per visit and shake people out of a rut, the ‘Try Something New’ campaign was born. This campaign focussed on encouraging people to shop from simple meal ideas, trying something new which meant spending more on shopping. This campaign achieved the required success and helped Sainsbury’s to meet their business goals.

In reality, it isn’t as simple as everyone spending an additional £1.14. Some people will spend only 75p more and others will spend £3.50 more, but it’s a good example of using a little bit of creativity and reframing of the challenge to find a new and creative solution, which was successful.

This research demonstrates the importance of bringing different people around the table when working through a marketing brief. By using the data available, from trends and market insights and layering these with a solution (which has been challenged itself, rather than being accepted), it can lead to a more valuable and well-rounded solution, which effectively meets business goals.

If you’d like to speak to our experts about how to accelerate your performance with a creative digital marketing campaign, get in touch here.

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Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

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