Creativity and Performance. Marketing's estranged lovers.

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Creativity and Performance. Marketing's estranged lovers.

I’ve just had one of those calls that left me scratching my head. I, on one wavelength, was pitching the values of good strategic and creative thinking being the determinator of the success of a company’s marketing activity. My listener, on another, was interested in what automation techniques they could capitalise on within DCO tech stacks currently available within the market. They no doubt wanted me to wow them with the latest technological gizmo. I could’ve tried that, but I felt we would be distracting ourselves from what I felt truly mattered.

I am, what some may describe as, a hybrid. On one hand, I have the characteristics of what you may expect in a Creative Director. I’m passionate, sensitive, (overly) empathic and obsessed about things that look even vaguely interesting. But on the other hand, I can be described as someone who is analytical, scientific, target oriented and rigorous. This juxtaposition tends to baffle people, as the latter traits don’t automatically fit with the slightly dramatic, ‘head in the clouds’  stereotype normally associated with the typical Marketing Creative.

Why this is relevant is that I feel that my apparently contrasting traits are the embodiment of a prevalent marketing conundrum. That being we find it hard to grasp the concept of creativity and performance working in harmony. It has to be one or the other. Never both.

If I was to pick one winner right now in today’s landscape, it would be performance. And I can understand why. We want to know where our money goes. We want to get the very best value. We want to ensure a healthy ROI. Absolutely. Of course we do. Why would we not?

This performance focus means that the value of creative has undoubtedly fallen by the wayside. I’ve seen it for myself. Creative budgets are getting cut, and being repurposed as media spend. Many in-house marketing teams currently have isolated ‘Digital’ and ‘Brand’ capabilities, that often don’t talk to each other. 

This single minded obsession on performance means that the quality of creative for digital channels tends to be bad. It’s almost to be expected now. No surprise and delight for users. No enriching experiences. Just creative to help hit business targets.

And here lies the biggest irony of all. Creativity is performance. It’s likely to be the most significant lever you can pull in your media campaigns. So why on earth wouldn’t you want to focus a good portion of your marketing efforts on making it work as well as possible?

We have built a Creative team at RocketMill that is also a hybrid. We have recruited some remarkable talent who have worked at some of the most esteemed Creative agencies in the world. We have digital and technical expertise that I believe is up there with the very best in the business. This, for me, is what modern marketing needs. Idea generators that will make your brand famous, executed efficiently in all channels in a scientific and measurable way. That’s Creativity and Performance. A match made in heaven.

Our recent Total Performance campaign for DryNites®

Some of our best performing campaigns at RocketMill are the ones where we put strategic and creative thinking at the very heart. The campaigns where our clients have shown bravery in investing in the intangible thinking at the beginning, are the ones that have genuinely reaped the most reward at the end. Our joined up Total Performance campaigns (that’s what we call them internally) are the ones that really do make a difference. And we have the stats that prove it.

Chris Shambrook, an ex 5-time Olympic performance coach who provides us regular training here at RocketMill, promotes the following. Performance absolutely isn’t the process of hitting targets. That’s measurement. Performance merely relates to the inputs required to get there.

With this in mind, it’s not the technology used to distribute and measure your activity that will ultimately determine your performance. It’s the strategic and creative inputs you put into it. Make them your focus.