There are over 25,000 agencies in the UK alone, meaning that our creative sector is massively saturated. With the barriers to entry dropping, more creative studios, branding companies and similar are setting up each and every day. But, there’s only so much work to go around – so how can you give your creative agency the edge?
Clients now want creative outputs that deliver real impact, and they want to be confident that the work you do will hit their goals.
Previously, agencies could live off their case studies and experience. These are still massively important factors in the success of your creative agency, but just because you’ve succeeded before with a campaign or re-brand doesn’t mean that the next concept you devise will resonate with the audience in the same way.
So how can you, as a creative agency, get a step ahead of your competitors and have the edge in terms of delivering real impact with your work? The answer is by using data & insight to truly understand the target audience, validate your campaigns, test your concepts, and justify your efforts.
We’re not saying that data should completely take over the creative process. However, having data as part of your process can help you create better ideas, justify which angle resonate best with the target audience, and present a fuller picture to your client.
I’ve been on the end of creative pitches and concept presentations a number of times, and generally agencies tend to offer up 3-4 creative options and leave the client to decide what they like best. Generally speaking the client isn’t the ideal target audience for it’s own product/service, and therefore isn’t really in a position to make that call. Some agencies will recommend which they prefer, but very few agencies take that next step and go in armed with the data to say something powerful like :
“We’ve tested these concepts with your target market and the audience overwhelmingly prefers option 2, and the propensity to purchase from a brand with that concept is 3x higher than with the others on the old branding”.
It’s statements like this that take you out of just being a creative agency, and make you a strategic partner for your clients. You’re more valuable, more likely to be on point with your recommendations, and your client is much more likely to see success from the campaign.
Unfortunately clients often have their own ideas on creative concepts. As mentioned, they’re often not part of the target audience, however they combine ideas, water concepts down, and change things in their decision making process which leads to a loss of the integrity of your work. If you’re able to go in with a data-backed concept, then it’s much easier for the client to accept your original proposal and justify it to their superiors if needed.
Before you start any creative work, consider benchmarking the brand in question. What do users really think of this brand, how does it stack up against the competition in terms of brand awareness, perception of quality, sentiment, and propensity to purchase? What campaigns have they been running recently, and what do the competition do in terms of their marketing?
Answering these questions does two things. Firstly it gives you a starting point for your creative output (or potentially gives you a list of things to avoid), and secondly, it allows you to measure the impact of your work – by tracking where they are now on key metrics, and then re-running the study after your creative campaign or new branding has been launched, you can see the difference you’ve truly made.
Check out our benchmarking services for help in this area if you want us to put a brand to our panel and collect this data efficiently for you.
Understanding the success of your campaigns is still surprisingly hard. Despite all of the advances in technology, agencies and brands still struggle to confidently measure ROI, particularly when it comes to offline channels like print or outdoor advertising.
However, we conduct campaign analysis to help creative agencies truly understand the impact they’ve having – both on softer metrics like brand awareness, sentiment, and recall, and on harder metrics like sales, return on investment, and profit growth.
It’s also important to forecast this performance to the best of your ability so that you can inform clients of what you expect to happen with your campaign, as well as reporting accurately afterwards.
As you can see, there’s a number of areas where creative agencies can start to get the edge using data. Too many agencies are purely focusing on their creative output and not thinking outside of the box when it comes to implementing a data and insight process. This process can cause a step-change in your business as you’ll be able to win bigger projects, provide more value, and have a better success rate.