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The Creativity-Productivity Conundrum in Marketing

Over the years, I’ve found the focus of marketing leaders and teams increasingly stretched, struggling to find the balance between creativity and productivity. It’s a classic case of being unable to force creativity in the face of a looming deadline. Equally, it’s only fair to have a deadline to ensure effective and consistent output from marketing departments. 

The Art and Science of Marketing

Marketing has long been symbolized as the epitome of creative expression and agencies across the world have thrived on this. Sure, it was always dependent on customer data, focus groups, and the like but never to the extent of volume, insight, and granularity that marketers are used to today. The rapid evolution of digital marketing in the last two decades has compelled marketers to reconstruct the narrative around what marketing entails. With the amount of data available, it’s all but inevitable that we lean on this (and rightfully so) to plan, spot trends, and drive decision-making. Consequently, its side-effect has led us to a rather complacent place, where we now lean too much into the data which, in turn, is stifling creativity.

Creativity in marketing today looks different from what it once did. Engineers and product teams aren’t unfamiliar with this version of creativity. It’s the version that requires creativity with problem-solving for creative problems.

The Art of Marketing

This is the version of marketing that is all about grand ideas, splashy brands, and ad films, and making everything seem larger than life. It’s the version that the right-brained folks thrive in. There’s no limit to what this approach to marketing can produce. 

It has evolved, however, to match the growing need for optimization. Creatives are being forced to work in tandem with tools and techniques that they have never had to be equipped with – think digital advertising, think UI, think A/B Testing, and so on.

It’s an uncomfortable place and creates friction.

The Science of Marketing

This version of marketing is what’s prevalent today. It revolves around digital tools, data-backed decision-making, and a steady eye on clicks, time spent, and conversion rates– and a workforce all championing this as the future of marketing. No doubt, it’s the right direction. But in the absence of creativity, marketing will be relegated to the position of just execution without any creative application, rendering it effectively homogeneous. 

This is ultimately unscientific in its effectiveness!

Finding The Balance

Finding the balance between creativity and productivity can sometimes feel like the quest for El Dorado. But there is no silver bullet that solves it. Solutions can be subjective, definitely hard to establish, and even harder to sustain. Beyond your product/service, industry, and geography you operate in, a large part of finding this balance depends on individual team members, team dynamics, adoption of technology, risk appetite, and company culture. As you have probably guessed by now, no two companies will ever be identical in that regard or have a one-size-fits-all approach.

At Awama, we’re engaged with multiple customers, helping them tackle this exact conundrum while building a sustainable, ethical, and effective marketing program. It’s not a responsibility we take lightly and we are grateful for the trust placed in us. I’ll attempt to break this down over a series of upcoming posts that will delve deeper into how we tackle these challenges on a tactical basis across marketing operations, marketing tool stack, KPIs, and performance measurement.

I’d love to hear from you about how you have dealt with this challenge.

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