Has this ever happened to you? Those crazy creative people you’ve hired have come up with a killer idea for your business that wasn’t based on customer insight, but on good old fashioned creative thinking. Like the good business person you are, you hire a firm to conduct some consumer testing. The results come in, and guess what, it didn’t test well. Now what? Your gut says it’s a great idea and could be the answer you’re looking for to differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace. Sound familiar?
This is not a new problem. Many of the great business leaders of our time have been quoted in saying that some the greatest new products and ideas would have never seen the light of day if they had listened to the customer instead of their intuition (think Henry Ford or Steve Jobs). This may be true, however, with today’s hyper-connected and empowered customer, the need to keep your ears open and listen carefully has never been more important to maintain customer loyalty.
Due to the proliferation of digital technology, many reports are citing that 90 per cent of the data in the world today was created within the past two years. With the rise of analytics tools and dashboards, the need for analytical thinkers to sift through all this information has never been more important. On the flip side, with all the ‘noise’ surrounding customers today, brands need to find new, innovative and creative ways to differentiate themselves—ideas that are born from pure imagination.
It’s not all or nothing.
Throughout my career I have had the privilege to work with some of the best and brightest left and right brain thinkers. On the one side, there are the creative types who somehow, almost like magic, come up with the most amazing, mind-blowing ideas. And on the other side the analytical, number crunching types that say, “Numbers don’t lie,” and have the ability to see through data tables and find real people and insight. Now don’t get me wrong, I have met and worked with lots of people who can think in very creative ways and know how to use the power of data. However, those people are rare.
More often than not, organizations place these two groups of people at different ends of the office. They only meet on projects or special assignments and a marketer or business manager acts as the go-between. My view is that in a digital age where everyone and everything is quickly becoming connected we need these two groups working side by side like tag-team partners in a good old fashioned WWE wrestling match. Yes, I said wrestling match. I often feel that way after trying the get these too different thinkers to see eye to eye.
Finding the right balance
In our office, one of the most creatively minded people I have ever worked with sits right across from one of the smartest researchers I know. It’s interesting to observe the ideas and solutions they toss back and forth as they try to work through tough problems with no middle man or translator standing between them.
The other interesting observation is that the creative folks in our office are often digging into web and social analytics looking for key nuggets of insight. This helps them generate fresh ideas that produce real results.
Thinking creatively with an eye on the analytics should be part of everyone’s job description. We often hear from our clients that we need more staff to manage our analytics and data. This may be true but I also believe we need to train everyone to read and understand the most basic analytics. The number of people I come across that are managing huge website properties but have no idea what a bounce rate is blows my mind. I also believe that gut feel, intuition and creative thinking is still a huge part of business.
It’s about finding the right balance of generating fresh ideas and then vetting and evaluating them against real evidence. Even Steve Jobs would sift through data to spot key insights or market trends and then he would balance those insights with his experience, creativity and intuition to make the final call.