Creativity Doesn’t Matter if it Doesn’t Work
Recently working with a client-who-shall-not-be-named, I was running into a wall trying to get him to explain how his agency’s work benefited one of its clients.
“No, you’re missing the big idea we executed,” the client said. “I want it to reflect that intellect, wit … it won awards, everyone loved it …”
“That’s great,” I replied. “But what did it do for your client?”
One of the most important lessons I learned from my time at SmarterTravel was the power of testing. A/B tests, user testing — it was amazing to me to see fantastic creative in action.
Especially when that fantastic creative completely bombed.
Sure, there’s the urge to dismiss it as “these people are ridiculous, they don’t even know how to use the Internet,” but when you split a list of hundreds of thousands of users 50/50 and the boring, straightforward creative comes out on top by a landslide? That’s hard to dismiss.
Because guess what: some times big ideas are awesome. But they’re not effective.
The answer I was looking for from my client was something like, “Once we applied the new branding our client saw a 88% uptick in sales,” or “One month after launch and conversions on the client’s website were up 115%.” Something. Anything to show that the work was not just beautiful, but effective.
Plus, aesthetics are subjective — people can see work and judge it for themselves. They can’t see the metrics. And it’s harder to have an opinion about cold hard stats that it is to have an opinion on an overused cyan color.
Not every company is as quick to respond as a company like SmarterTravel, which has the backing of TripAdvisor and an in-house super team of people who are really good at what they do. And not every company can apply the “done is better than perfect” mantra.
Agencies who chase “the big idea” on a single campaign for a client have a harder time adapting the campaign on the fly, when millions have been spent on media buys. (Of course, smart agencies will have their strategy team work with their creative team to make sure big ideas do succeed.)
But in-house team, agency team, or remote team, one thing holds true at the end of the day: results are what matters.