Why do marketing creatives and data scientists often seem to be at odds, even though their objectives are ostensibly the same?
As a market researcher with a marketing background, I’m always excited to share the results of our latest studies with creatives. But my excitement is often quashed once a data point doesn’t mesh well with the creative’s point of view or hypothesis.
This doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, it’s important to address any apparent discord between the two roles, as both are vital to brand marketing. Because how can you market effectively to a group of people you know nothing about?Conversely, all the data in the world about a segment of consumers is useless if you’re unable to apply that knowledge and create content they can relate to.
So, why does a chasm between these two roles even exist? Or is it merely a perceived gap? Is the disparity only in our minds? Perhaps most of the issues could be resolved by clearing up a couple of common misconceptions of both parties.
Myth No. 1: Data stifles creativity.
Data and analysis thereof seem to be anathema to many creatives. Imagine you’re going to paint a picture — a creative endeavor, to be sure — and you have a 3-by-5-foot canvas to work with. Would you feel that your creativity is being constrained by the canvas? Without that canvas, you would just be splashing paint into the air.
Now, suppose your canvas is only 11-by-14 inches. Is your creativity stifled because you’re working within a smaller area? Canvas dimensions didn’t seem to cause DaVinci any problems.
Or maybe someone has commissioned you to create a painting using a limited selection of colors. Some artists would welcome the challenge, viewing it as an opportunity to refine and expand their skills.
In the same way, you might find that you need to be even more creative when working with marketing data and the insights that come from it. Rather than being a constraint, it’s important to understand that data science can help creative teams to produce exactly the message that is needed.
An easy way to put this into practice is to look at data as a jumping point to ideate from. Many creatives often view data as a constraint to their creativity when, in reality, data can provide inspiration to construct creative that truly resonates with your target consumer.
Myth No. 2: Data scientists don’t think creatively.
This misconception might cause a marketing creative team to be reluctant to work with the data analysts in the department, thinking that these “numbers people” only deal with facts and can, therefore, contribute little to the creative process. Operating under this myth will not serve your marketing objectives.
Never underestimate the right-brain capabilities of the data scientists on your team; it takes a measure of creative thinking to analyze data and draw insights from it.
Such insights are more likely to spark creative ideas than to hinder them. Brainstorming together with data scientists can produce content of much greater relevance than what creatives, working from intuition alone, could turn out.
For example, consider the following scenario. Data analysts have discovered an interesting fact about the particular segment with whom you want to create a buzz about a new online game that is designed to appeal to those who describe themselves as “casual gamers.”
The creative team sets out with gleaming eyes to develop content they’re certain will entice these casual gamers to try out the new game and share it with their friends. Now, if the creatives forge ahead without collaborating with the data scientists, they could easily miss another connection: that many of these casual gamers fall into the category of “passive gamers” whose involvement in gaming is limited to watching others play.
This additional bit of information could easily spark ideas on ways to incite the watchers to become players themselves. Working together, both teams can dig even deeper into the data to discover societal and cultural influences and then use these to inform a more innovative and effective campaign.
The first step for creatives and data analysts to work effectively together is to realize that you are on the same team. You may have different roles and look at the objectives much differently, but you both want your client to win. Having a team mindset goes a long way in strengthening the relationship between creatives and data scientists.
Of course, this is just a small, rather simplistic example. But being the disruptive marketer that you are, you get the picture.
In short, remember: Data isn’t a constraint to creativity but rather a starting point for inspiration. Data scientists and creatives are on the same team, working toward the same goal. Working together not only feels good — it gets results for your clients.
This blog post was originally published on Forbes