Why Creative Directors Should Care About Data
Why Creative Directors Should Care About Data

Creativity and data don’t have to be enemies. We all do business in an insights-centric marketplace where data can’t be ignored — including its impact on creativity and customer experience.

Host Adam Morgan is the Executive Creative Director at Adobe, as well as an author and speaker on the topic of creative leadership. His latest book Sorry Spock, Emotions Drive Business guides creative leaders to discover how to use data as inspiration for their best creative ideas.

In this episode you’ll …

  • Learn how to give your creative ideas a backbone that will stand up to boring, tight-fisted executives.

  • Understand the process for turning data into valuable insights — and those insights into brilliant ideas.

  • Learn why a balance of logic and creativity is the future of the most impactful content.

mentioned in this show:
Adam Morgan
Executive Creative Director Adobe
The Stoke Group
Digital Marketing and Full-Service Content Agency


Adam W. Morgan:

Real creative leadership intro description:
Welcome to this new webinar series and podcast called Real Creative Leadership. I'm going to give you a little bit of background on why we're doing this and what it's all about.

If you look around the web today, there are a ton of different websites and options of learning and whatever it may be, all on design. And there's a ton of inspiration out there just on the craft of design, the craft of writing, the craft of doing the actual work.

But there really isn't a lot out there on creative leadership, especially for creative directors who are moving up in their career, and they're getting to a point where they need to work with upper management and the c-suite. Or, they need to build a team. All these issues and questions and problems — and there's really not a lot out there.

So, the intent of this series is to provide that, for those who are aspiring to become creative directors, or creative leaders, or those who already have a team and are looking to expand and grow and understand more about the job.

That's the intent of this new webinar and podcast.

The ideas I'm going to just pull from my 23 years of experience, both on the agency side and in-house at a tech company, and I’ll just give you more insight into the day to day of being a creative leader.

And the truth is, being a creative leader moves well beyond the craft. I think early on in our careers it's all about, how do I get better at each of those different disciplines, whether it's UX or writing or design, all of those things.

So, I'm not going to cover tips on Illustrator. I'm not going to talk about new brush strokes or new writing structure for your book or whatever it may be. I'm really going to focus on the topic of leadership, but with the lens of creativity — creative leadership. And I'm going to talk about what matters to you and your business and how you can build that creative machine and build your team and all of those other things to create amazing work.

Another thing about this is, for the last few years I've been giving sessions at Adobe Max and other conferences, and I've had a huge response from a lot of people saying, "Where's your podcast? Where's your webinar?" or whatever it may be.

And so, this is also an attempt to provide more content throughout the year. We're going to try and do this once a month, and do one episode once a month. That way you don't have to wait all the way until the fall when Max comes or some other conference that I happen to be at.

But I now want to talk about the why. Because there's more than just like, "Oh, there's a missing opportunity here, I want to fill it." I want to talk about more of why it matters to me creating this whole episode, and here's the truth: I believe in creativity. I really believe in big ideas. I believe in great experiences, and I think a lot of you do as well as far as making those things, those emotional connections with other people that matter in your life. I really believe in that.

But it's not enough to just believe in the craft. In business, it takes so much more to give creativity a chance to live. For those who are in creative leadership roles, I think that you have to understand that it takes more than just believing in the craft, you have to create that right environment.

Within your company, do you have the right setting where creativity can thrive? Do you have the right approvals or the right decision making powers in place in order to give ideas a chance? That's really what we're looking at.

It's all about the structure, and process, and politics, and experience, and all those things that creative leaders need to bring together in order to foster good ideas.

So, my intent with this is to create a new wave of creative leaders who don't just get the value of creative ideas, but they also have business sense. They have leadership. They have practical knowledge of all of those things to give enough power to creativity to enable 10 X thinking.

I'm looking for leaders who can build the right infrastructure for creativity to thrive. Leaders who can tell the right emotional stories, leaders who can inspire, leaders who understand that there's just so much more to really giving ideas a chance.

And then we want to motivate everyone, and we want to look deeply at the why. We want to understand our just cause and the purpose for creativity. Because it's not just about making new ideas, or finding the new hack that will improve this and that. It's not about just creating one big campaign that's awesome and successful.

It's really establishing a discipline and principles that allow you to give creativity a chance all the time. It's that right environment so that all of us together can become a force for creativity.

A little more context too is if you think about how it has been in companies, at least in the past. A lot of times, creative directors or creative teams, for years, at least early on in my career, they were really just a set of hands. And it still happens in some companies where the creative department is just back there, a set of monkeys that everyone just puts in a request, and then we just pump out a whole bunch of work.

I want to move beyond that. It's not a matter of just taking in orders and designing a bunch of stuff and sending it back out. We really want to give a chance for creativity. If you think about, an agency's creativity thrives for a long time, but in an agency you don't have the power to control the brand and where it's going.

And there really is a new trend in many, many new creative directors and creative leaders who are moving in-house, and who are getting a seat at the table, and having more of an opportunity to direct and own the brand.

And that's what I want to work with. We have this momentum, we finally have a seat at the table, but what are we doing with it?

In talking through with a lot of other creative directors, they struggle with a lot of these day to day things with creative leadership. How do I do this, or how do I do that? or how do I improve X, Y, Z? How do I scale? How do I build my team? How do I do all of that?

And that's what we want to talk about in this webinar and this series.

Now, the truth is, I'm not saying I have all the answers. No way. I have my experience, and I'm going to tell you a little bit more about that in a minute. I've not done everything, but I have seen some progress. And I have seen success and seeing where we can go. And really this is going to be a journey. I mean, I believe in this cause. I believe that we need more creative leadership in this world.

But, I'm going to travel along this journey with you, and we're going to bring in special guests sometimes to talk with us about different topics. We're going to research topics, pull from my experience, other's experiences, answer all your questions, and do whatever we can, at least together, to go down this path of learning about creative leadership and how we can improve it.

Because if you really think about it, today there are some companies that are out there innovating and doing crazy new things, and they're really creating this environment where creativity is King. And imagine if we could do that for many, many, many companies. Maybe some of you are out there struggling saying, "Oh, my leadership will never give creativity a chance,” and we're going to talk through how you can get there or if your company is even the right type to do that.

So, that's the idea. Get us all together. Learn about what creative leadership is all about. Create a movement. And it all starts with us.

All right, so here's some of the topics that we're going to be talking about.

Creative careers, that's a big one. We get a lot of questions on, not only how do I improve my career, but how do I help my team and grow that? How do I manage up to people, across to different peers and down with my entire team? How do I build that creative machine? There are so many great topics, and these are some of the building blocks that we're going to be talking about in this series.

But why me? Who is this guy? Who's your host? Let me give you a little bit of background, so it's not like, "Yes, nice, joker who's deciding just to talk about this stuff."

My creative journey started in the mid -nineties. I remember, it was like 1995. I was in the library in college, and I happened to pick up my first Communication Arts magazine. And for any of you who have the full collection, you'll understand.

But when I got my first Communication Arts, I was really thinking about what I wanted to do in life. Actually, I wanted to invent something. I thought I was going to be an engineer, and then, I realized, “I hate labs. I'm not going to do that.”

So, when I saw that Communication Arts, I just read through it and saw the ads and all the creativity, and I was blown away. And then I kept coming back to the library and just going through the whole series of everything that I could get.

And that's when I knew that, coming up with creative ideas in marketing, that was my place, that's where I was at.

From there, I joined my first agency in 1996, and I've worked for almost 19 years at different ad agencies.

I learned a lot, just learning the craft of coming up with ideas, brainstorming, especially any of you who have lived through what I call the dark days of the great recession of 2009 and 2010. It was rough. You had to work your guts out.

And then after all of that, I was looking into new ideas and new places to go. And that's where I ended up coming over to Adobe. I've been here for five and a half years, and it has been phenomenal. I love it. And just seeing the difference of all the strengths of agency and all the strengths of in-house, and bringing those together, that's really my intent.

The other thing that I've noticed in my journey, and where I'll share a lot, is I kind of consider myself a middle brainer. And I know that's not real. There's not a brain in the middle. There's only two sides: left and right. But I really think of things like, creatively, I look at that emotional side, but I also look at the logical side. I really try and balance both of those things. And I think that's a critical part of being a leader, because there's the craft and then there's the leadership part.

You have to bring both of those together in order to be successful. I'm going to talk a little bit more about some of these. If you're too focused on just the Zen of creativity, and you're in a meeting and they start talking numbers, and your eyes roll back, that's a bad sign. We really need to get past that and be able to balance all of it, especially if you're going to be the champion of creativity. You have to be able to balance both sides. So, my middle brain quest, we're going to talk about that sometimes.

And I also want to just give a shout out real quick to Stoke. Stoke is the one that's helping produce this whole series, which is awesome. They are a digital marketing, full service agency in Silicon Slopes, and they have a great model where they have the ability to scale really fast, and bring in a lot of different resources, and it's been phenomenal. We've used them a lot here at Adobe to scale our internal creative team. But they're great with planning, publishing, measuring content. They've got a separate analytic system that they use. Anyhow, it's great. If you need help creating stuff, Stoke's your team.

All right, now let's get into today's episode. That was just a rough rant, but I wanted to give you context of what this whole thing's about as we get going with this whole series.

Why creative directors should care about data:

So today we're going to talk about why do creative directors need to care about data? As I was talking a little bit earlier of when your eyes roll back, I'm going to start with a story first that describes at least some context of this.

Years ago I was at a marketing conference, and there was a presentation. The person who was presenting was a very prominent leader or president of an agency. It was a big creative agency, and I'm not going to name names because I don't want to bring any attention to him, but he was up there presenting. And it was great. and he was sharing, “Here's all the cool, creative and TV spots and campaigns that we've created in the last year.”

And then he got to this Q&A session, and there was a guy at the back who is an agency owner who just raised his hand, and asked the question, "All right, so data's exploding. We have to measure everything. Tell us how you use data to help improve your ideas. We're curious about how we can blend those two things." Which is funny because that's the topic of today, but the way that the guy who was presenting responded was so interesting.

He went into the whole thing and was like, "What are you talking about data? It's all about creativity. It's all about the idea. It's all about researching and thinking about the idea and really connecting with people. And all you people in the metrics crap, you just need to go sit back down and not worry about that."

And of course, that was a shocking answer, everyone in the audience was like, "What? What gives? It kind of works together. Like how do you do it?" And they got in this argument. It was so funny to see the guy at the back of the room and then this agency owner at the front, going back and forth. And finally the guy up front was just like, "You just don't get it. You're just the wrong audience. You guys are all like the data heads, this is just the wrong audience. You don't get real creativity."

And afterwards I spoke with them, and even the agency owner, and he was like, "I wasn't trying to push his hot buttons. I was just really trying to get at, how do you connect the two?" Because again, we're going to talk about how they're totally connected.

But what that illustrates is, it's an old school mentality. I know growing up, at least for me in the agency world in the nineties, data and metrics, it was focus groups, and I agreed to a certain extent.

Whenever we try and test creative and put a number on it, it's really hard to fight the idea that it has to be authentic and it needs to be organic. But at the same time, there's just this... it's this old school mentality that data is going to ruin our creativity. That data is going to hurt our blue sky chance of coming up with ideas. And I don't think that's true.

And we're going to talk about that a little bit more. But I wanted to set the stage with it, because here's the truth, they don't have to be enemies. Like I said, many creative directors respond with anti-data, anti this or even not even that, maybe they're just oblivious to it. Maybe a lot of creative directors are like "Whatever. That's what the account people do, or that's what the strategists do. They just tell me, and then when it's time, I'm just going to create a thing."

But, it's really to your disservice if you don't understand, especially as a creative leader. We've got to move beyond that. You really have to understand what data, and there's a lot of different types. We're going to talk about it in a minute of the different types of data, but find the right data and use the right data to improve and help your creative.

The truth is, some of you know, but I wrote a whole book called, Sorry Spock, Emotions Drive Business. It was all about my research for five years of trying to find out, how do I prove the value of creativity. And a big part of that is that balance of art and science. You can't live with just one. We can't just go all in on creativity, and you can't just go all in with data and logic. It really is the balance of both of those things. And I'm not going to talk about that part of, or the book today, but just know they are not mutually exclusive. And I could give you a lot of proof to show why they're so integrating.

This next thing I want to talk about is constraints. We've often talked about it in creative pursuits that blue sky, no constraints, no limits is actually really hard. There's an awesome story from Frank Gehry, where he was talking about his greatest challenge of his whole life and he's a famous architect. But he said, and I'm going to read this quote, when he had a house that he had to design with zero constraints, he said, "I had a horrible time with it. I had to look into the mirror a lot. Who am I? Why am I doing this? What is this all about? It's better to have some problem to work on. I think we turn those constraints into action."

So really that's it, we have to put a box, like any creative brief that you've ever had. I know for me, I've had a few creative briefs where there are no constraints. It's like, "Do whatever you want." And it's worse because if you really think about the structure of creativity and coming up with new ideas, it's really saying, what am I working with? And then how do I overlay some new idea or cross tabulate some new thought or brainstorm some other little thing where I'm connecting to things. I think concepting and idea generation is all about new connections. That's really what it comes down to. And you can't make connections if it's only coming from one side. You really need both sides.

So the answer is we need to embrace data and insights. We need to create those boxes. I'm going to talk about what type of data helps us put good limits on there and insights that help create good ideas and better ideas rather than looking at data as just a constraint and a problem and something that's frustrating you.

So anyhow, I want to start with another study that was really interesting. And this was done by a professor of neurology. His name is Paul J. Zak. He's known as the father of neuro economics. And what I mean by that is he studied a lot of when we have experiences, why do we actually pay money? Why do we actually take action? And you can see here, he did a lot of study and this was his formula that he came up with which is, the way to get people to spend money, the way to take action in your campaigns, your ideas, is first you have to get their attention. Then, you have to wrap it with emotion, and that's when you're going to get an action. And he did crazy studies where you could hook someone up to some machine and they could test within, I think it was an 86% accuracy if an ad was going to work or if a campaign was actually going to produce results.

And the truth is, when we're measuring stuff, we can't take every campaign and go out into a lab and hook a bunch of humans up to some wires and say, "Is this idea going to work? Is this idea going to be great?" And it'll never work because it's just too expensive. And certainly if we get into the geekiness of it, he was measuring endocrine glands and heart rate and the real trick was he was trying to see how we could figure out oxytocin increased levels and the vagus nerve and there's all the science, but I don't think we need all that stuff.

What we need to understand from this is we need to get attention, and attention really is creative ideas. Creative ideas are all about breaking out of the mold, getting away from the crowd, something new and original and then emotion. A big part of creative ideas is an emotional connection.

I think one of my favorite quotes from Brian Solis is, "What is an experience? It's an emotional connection to a moment." And that's what we create. We take attention and emotion and use this creative blanket to serve it up to customers and then that's when we get action. So just keep that in mind as we're going through why data matters.

All right, so how do they work together? How do we get them to connect? Because here's the truth, this is the basic principle. If you think of data not as a constraint, but if you think of data as inspiration, data inspires creativity. And creativity is actually based on rational thought. Creativity isn't just this Zen and maybe some of you, it feels like it, but I promise what's really happening in your brain, what's really going on behind the scenes is those new connections. We’re really trying to make new connections that we share with our audience so that they feel it.

And that starts with a foundation of rational thought. So it's not about, oh, we just go to the creative zen stuff and we ignore data and we ignore rational thought. No. It's the foundation, and that's what we need to have in order to have that perfect balance of logic and emotion. But I'm going to go through three steps that you need to take, just basic steps in how you can use data to improve your creativity.

So the first one is really to know your customer. And certainly I come from Adobe. It's a company that has a product that's all about analytics and insights and really digging deep into data. But there are so many different ways to find data, it's not just through your web analytics or your AI analytics or all that kind of stuff.

But the real basic thing is this: know your customer. And if you change your mindset from thinking of data as constraints, but thinking it more as a way to discover emotion rather than measure it, so think about that. Use data to discover ideas rather than use data to measure it. Let's start with that. That's the first step. And if you have that mindset, then it's like this is awesome. You go out and find all those emotional triggers. What does your audience really care about? What are they clicking on? What are they responding to? What are they doing and taking action on? What matters to them? That's what's important for data. Today we measure so many different things and 90% of it doesn't matter. So really I would say it's the constraint of finding the data that matters, finding the data that really helps the audience, helps you dig in with them, helps you understand their emotional triggers, helps you understand what they're all about or what they're wanting. It's not just transactional data.

Think about human data. What are the things that they care about? And then once you know them, then number two, use those insights to create action. So that's where, if you go back to the Paul Zak thing, it's not just about coming up with ideas, but it's finding out what they care about and wrapping that with emotion. That's where you're going to serve up and get great results. There's so many cool things out there. We're going to talk a lot more, so I'm going to pause on that one and hold that for later. But what is an insight? What really is an insight? We're going to talk about that. But once you know them, you find the insights, create the content, and then the last step is measuring and adjusting.

The other type of data is the type of data that is just going to help you make marginal improvements on your creative ideas, and it's not measuring the value of creativity. So, let's be very clear on that. There's going to be a whole separate session that we're going to have on how do you measure creative ideas, rather than focus groups or surveys, whatever it may be. We're going to talk about that and there's a new model I think for that. But at this point it's just really understanding, there certainly are going to be things like this like AB testing or this is like once you've put your stuff out into the world, how do I make it a little bit better? Do I change the button? Do I change this and that? Your UX or maybe some of the ideas aren't resonating.

That's this step. So in the past we've gotten really lucky where we just send something out in the world and it either works or it doesn't. Today we have a lot more help from different sources of tracking and measurement that actually help us get back on track, but again, I want you to remember separate those two different chunks of data. There's data that helps us come up with the ideas and insights and then there's data that just helps with marginal improvement and the twain shall meet. Just make sure they're separate.

All right, so let's talk about some of these different data types because there are so many out there. And one of the things is when I talk with different creative directors, since they're not a data scientist, which is understandable, there's always the question of, what data are you talking about?I don't even understand the specifics of what type of data you're going to talk about.

I want to talk about some of those. So, let's start with a few of them. First, and this is by the way, overly simplistic, some of you may be like, nice try admiral, I already know all this stuff and that's totally fine. I'm just going to go through some of the things that help organize it in my brain as far as what types of data are important to look at, because there's so much more out there, whatever. We'll get into a lot of that.

So the first category is demographic data, and this is really just basic information about the person. What's their age? What's their salary? Where do they live? A lot of this basic stuff that you'll probably get from if you're buying lists from third party vendors, that's what you're going to get. You're mostly going to get demographic data. And I want to be very clear, these are not insights. This is just the basics about the audience. And this is the stuff that in the early 1990s that's all we had, just the basic demographic data. Helpful, but not really that great.

The next category is psychographic, and psychographic is a lot more important. This is where it gives a little more color of the person, talks about their values, their attitudes, their interests, what are they into, their personality. And how do we get this data? A lot of this may come from surveys where they've said, "Here's some of the things that I think about." It may come from CRM data. If you're using a sales team, they may have a conversation with a customer, and they'll go plop in some demographic or some psychographic information about a customer. There's also second party data on this as well. But it's like this is really important data to help build that profile and really understand broad strokes about your customer. But again, it's not the Holy grail. It's again, just helping paint the picture.

This last category for me is the stuff that's really critical in today's environment, and it's behavioral data. And what I mean by that is it's like, think about all the intent data that we have today, whether it's social data or it's analytics on your website, or it's even predictive data. You're using AI to try and predict from your audiences what matters to them. So think about it in terms of behavioral data is the stuff that they're clicking on right now, the stuff they're responding to right now. And that's really important because it's good to know their demographics, their psychographics, what they care about and those broad strokes, but then, what about right now? What are they caring about? Because they could care about shoes, but they already bought a pair. Then you would target them with an ad, and it's too late.

So it's really understanding them in the moment — right now. And when you're coming up with ideas, especially if we're feeding personalized messages to people and we're trying to make sure we're building these profiles that we can act on in real time, behavioral data is where it's at. So look for a lot of that intent data, realtime data, all of that good stuff. And I want to talk a little bit on now what we do with that data.

What's the difference between data and insight? And you see the image here because it's really hard, and I want to point that out because I have had conversations on this topic with all my strategic partners, account planners, account people for years and years and years and it's really tricky because a lot of times they'll just go do a survey or they'll go out and get some data and come in and say, "There. There's some data. Make some cool creative crap."

The way I put it is, you can't just take a bunch of data and then come up with your ideas. You have to distill it down to human truths. I like to call it the Seinfeldian truth because if you ever watched Seinfeld, the show was all about him going and saying, “oh, here's just one little human truth.” And then just poking at it and poking at it for, 30 minutes and making comedy out of it. So it's really finding that human insight because there's a whole spectrum here of when you go from data all the way up to knowledge and wisdom.

And the truth is this, most times you're going to get a creative brief, and it's just going to have some data information. It'll just say 74% of respondents like X, or we'll just get a data point that just says here's how many people clicked on this thing. And that's data or information. And that's where briefs fail. If you just collect that data and stop there, you're done. You have to make that transition from data to insight. And it's all about what's the human truth. So, when you get to knowledge and wisdom, that's where the insight lives. So I'm going to give you a few examples to describe what I'm even talking about here.

This first one was Keystone Beer. They did this research and they found that, here's the data point, young men like to go hunting with their buddies on average 4.6 times a year. So if you just had that information and just be like, okay, if I went out and started creating ideas and campaigns around that, I would just be showing a bunch of buds out there in the woods having a good time, because they like to go drinking and hunting, which is not a bad combination, or it's a bad combination by the way. And I don't think it's even about the hunting, it's just being out and hanging out, but that's where the insight came in. The insight was, it's not just going out 4.6 times a year, but it's they like to get a break from their family or whatever, their work and just go out and be guys and not have all the constraints around them that they have to act properly. They can just be gross and jerks and just be dudes, so that was the insight. They want to be dudes rather than, they go hunting 4.6 times per year.

When you find that human insight, now think of how the ads are going to change. What kind of ads am I going to create around these rituals and the interaction between dudes that are out there camping? That's the human insight.

Here's another example, Dove. So the data was, mothers of small children have hectic lives and they have little time for themselves. Again, if you stop with just the data, you would say, all right, all those campaigns are going to be about time-savings. How do we save time because there's so much going on. I need to find time for myself and just it's about time management.But if you did an ad about that, you would totally miss the mark.

The insight really is saying that being a mom is so absorbing that most women lose sight of who they are as a person. It's like they forget who they are and they put all the focus on their kids. So, when you understand that human insight from the data, imagine how that changes the ad. Now it's all about ads saying, you matter as a woman and you need to take care of yourself and there's self care. And it's not about time. It's about self care, and that changes the whole story of what your communication is going to be.

I know when we've used things like these in my personal experience, I'll give you one more example. Email marketers, there was a lot of data that says, "Okay, we have all these new channels from social to whatever new platform there is." An email is kind of like, it's still good, and it's solid. We have to do it, but it's not the cool channel. But the human insight for all the email marketers was, man, we are still the gold standard. We are still awesome. It's not that we're the leftovers. We're the workhorse. Like we're the foundation, the basis of all of this. When we make ads to that audience and say, "We understand you're still important, like it matters. You're doing all the right things. You're the one moving the needle." Rather than just saying, "Oh yeah, you got to do that, but focus on the shiny new platform."

Those types of messages really resonate, so it's really really important. Not just data but insight.

Just some parting final words here. Finding insights, that's really hard. It's not easy. And getting your team to understand the difference between data and insight is a huge undertaking. Step one as a creative leader, embrace data, understand the different types of data, understand when do you use those types of data? You look for insights in the beginning, data that inspires your creative ideas. And then at the end, then you can look at data that measures your creativity so you can do incremental fixes.

But the hardest part is that beginning part of turning insights into data, and it's really about sitting down and thinking through and understanding your audience. And I think intuitively a lot of creative people do this anyhow. They don't know what it is, but they're like putting themselves in their audiences' shoes and then just come up with ideas that resonate and that they can feel because it's an emotional connection. Sometimes we don't just have all the insights personally. You need help from the right data, so work with your partners. Push your team. Push them. Help them whether they're analysts or they're strategists, whatever it may be, just work with them to understand the difference between the two. And then when you get creative briefs, it's like push to get that insight, that human insight in your creative brief.

There's a great example, there's one agency in London, they changed their creative briefs from this huge long thing down to a one word creative brief. One word. And all it was, was what's the emotion? That's pretty awesome. Even if you have to do that, like if you don't have insights about your audience, but you know what you want them to feel, that's it. And then you can start concepting ideas around that.

Anyhow, hopefully that's a good enough takeaway. I know I spent half the time describing what this thing is all about and then finally got into some of the data stuff, but we're going to see if we can maybe take some questions here in a minute and dig a little deeper. But that's our first episode of Real Creative Leadership. Again, the topic of Real Creative Leadership, not just creative leadership, but we want to get into the day to day working environment, what you're building, what you're doing, some of the upcoming topics over the next few months, we're going to talk about how to scale your team and deal with content velocity. We're going to talk about how to teach other teams and stakeholders to give good feedback, feedback that actually helps the creative ideas get better. Maybe we'll talk about process of finding new ideas and how to use data to get data-driven creativity at the beginning of the process without focus groups or surveys or some random decisions by a company leader

I really want to get into the things that matter to you and help all of us expand the world of creative leadership so that we can become a force for good. Also, if you want to reach out with any topics, I'm going to tell you how to get ahold of us in a second here and you can reach out with other topics or questions, and we'll try and address as many as we can get.

Let me just first tell you how to connect. Number one, if you want more information about me, you can go to my website, AdamWMorgan.com, and I have a newsletter you can sign up for. Mostly if you want updates on new webinars that are coming up, you want updates on articles that I'm writing, or even information about the book or just in general. My whole goal is really just to share the wealth and help us kind of build this whole platform of Real Creative Leadership, so feel free to reach out to me. I think my email's there too, you can ping me or Real Creative Leadership, you can come back and check on upcoming webinars. We're going to post this first one there so you can come back and watch it. But just look to that website for all things about this series.

And then finally The Stoke Group. If you need creative help, if you need to expand your team, if you need strategy, whatever it is, I'm just grateful for them to help produce this whole series, so I definitely want to give a shout out to them. And as we're talking here for a minute just a little bit of their work. But absolutely, if you're looking to expand or grow or do whatever, they're great partners, so I highly recommend them. And then finally, they're awesome. If you contact them and you need help or if you just want to get connected and see what they can do for you, they'll give you a free copy of my book, which is a win-win for all of us, so if you're interested in that, just let them know and thank you. Thanks for listening.

We're going to start with questions now. Here we go. The first question is, what metrics and software do you rely on the most when trying to quantify the success and value of creative projects and their departments? All right, so that's a big question because there are two parts to that. What kind of software are we using? Remember I talked about there's different types of data and then you were also talking about how do we measure creativity. That's a third type that we didn't talk about on the show today. The first one, how do we measure projects? How do you get that incremental info on if things are doing better? And there are so many things out there. I mean obviously I would pimp Adobe Analytics is awesome, but it's for big enterprises if you're there. If you're a small company or individual, you're probably going to be looking at something like a Google Analytics, but that's where you can get some intent data of if your stuff is working and are people clicking on stuff.

The next part is how do we measure creative ideas? How do we measure the value? The model today is all about focus groups or surveys because everyone's afraid of just putting it out into the world. I'm not going to completely answer that because I want to save that for another session, but there is a new model that we're using that starts at the very beginning that actually gets good data on whether an idea's valuable or not to your audience, and then you can go all in on it rather than just relying on whatever your VP or your CMO or whatever is just from their gut deciding on something. We're going to save that one a little bit till later.

And then the last one was, let me look at the question here again. They quantify the success. There's also, how do you use data to prove that you're doing well? Again, there's a combination of some of like the analytics, but we're doing a new pilot with Workfront and stitching analytics and Workfront and everything together, so it's our process along with the outcome of how things are doing. And for us, that's been really, really awesome. There's also another question I think here. Let's see, we're thinking of building testing tools for creative teams, what do we need to know? Again, this kind of covers that question as well. We're doing this cool pilot because it's all about, I have a whole rant on timesheets. So often the way that the teams prove the value of their creative team as being successful, it's just time.

We're just going to go out and say, "All right, pumping a bunch of time," and then we'll go and show, "Oh look, we did all these projects and it only took this much time, and if we equate time to money, it only costs X amount, we're either saving or losing money." And that's an antiquated model. It really is. It's really more about how do I measure the projects and the success of the projects, not the person. I'm not going to go on the whole tirade about timesheets.

There's an article I have, you can look on my Medium Magazine and read all about it. But really if we put the focus more on the projects, like I'm saying, what we're doing with Workfront and with Analytics and really seeing how it's doing and measuring against responses, and that's the whole B2B model of MQL all the way through sale. There's a lot of complexity there, and I'm not going to spend five minutes to give you the answer to it, but just know there are a lot of great tools, and I'm not going to pimp them all because I'm biased obviously here. But anyhow, there's a lot out there that you can look out for that.

I want to go to the next question. Okay, what's the best way to ensure both design and data are presented in the final product? I don't want one side to bully the other, so the other side loses energy or concedes the other for the sake of completing the project, so the difference between design and data. That's a good one. How do you balance all that stuff? And the truth is, again, what I was trying to get at with this thing in the beginning is use data for the right moments. Don't use data as a slave. Like the last five years, there's been so much push on metrics and measurement and data that we're almost like squashing our creative juices and pushing it out of the way. And it's like we can quantify exactly what ads are going to work and we're going to use programmatic ads to deliver them perfectly to every audience, and it's going to be perfect.

The truth is, without that creative juice, without that creative emotional blanket around it, it's not going to work. It's just going to be a transaction. I'd say the way to balance all that is use data in the beginning to inspire and then only find the right data to inspire and ignore all the rest. Then, only use data in the end to measure success, but keep it to a few limited KPIs. What are the two or three things that really matter? And you could overdo it with a million measurements and trying to optimize the whole program and then you'll just end up with a dog's breakfast instead of a great ad.

Find the right data at the beginning and find the right data at the end, and that's how you can balance it, and then give space. I mean, that's your job as a creative leader, right? To create the environment where ideas can thrive, where you can go and talk to the analytics team and say, "Great, here's what we need. Let's partner. Let's get these things in line," but then understand the value of emotion and understand the value of creativity. We're going to bring that part to the party, and don't squash that, so it's giving space for both of it. That's really the job of a creative leader is understanding that.

All right, I want to do one last question here. What should we do when data metrics compromise actual design quality. For example, a metric may say that customers approve of the design quality, however the work will look below design standards. That is tough. That is a big question and that's usually, like for me it's been when we've been doing UX testing where it's saying, "A big yellow button is going to be the best thing," and then that totally destroys your design. And for me this is where it comes down to you and your political capital and how you can balance as a creative leader, because there are times that yeah, we may do a test and the test may say, "Pictures of cats and emails are going to produce 10 times the results of the art that you want to put in there," and yet you don't believe it.

And that's where I'd say it comes down to the brand because we may get some metrics and there may be metrics that to the extreme push a certain UX style or a certain design style and for me it's always been about look holistically. If I look at Adobe, should I be doing cat images in the emails? No, I should have really cool art. That's where you got to build the relationship with the test and say, "What are the things that we're going to test and change and what are the things that are sacred?" There are some parts of the design that can't be monkeyed with, right? We have to keep certain aspects of the design and then there are marginal improvements that we can do.

You could also just have an open mind and say, "This is a new brand. Maybe cats are the way to go. Let's go all in on cat photos." I don't know. And you go all in on it and maybe you'll have a really successful experience. The truth is we as humans, even though we can feel what is right, we may not have all the answers. And so to me it's really a matter of sometimes I'll have someone on the team bring an idea and it makes me scared, so I'm a little nervous. But sometimes we have to just try things, right? I would say try it in a very safe environment on some social channel or something and just see what happens. If that audience really does resonate with it, then your job is to go back and say, "How do I make good design wrap around that? If it's a big yellow button, what do I do with that?"

And I only joke about it because here we've been arguing about big yellow buttons because of course, yellow stands out more and people want to click on it. It's like, it's a balance of what are the things that I'm going to use and we're going to agree that's going to improve the creativity and what are the things that destroy the brand? What are the things that ruin the whole experience and the whole emotional connection. That's where you're going to be battling it out with all of your stakeholders. And I would say what you need to do is find a little give and take. Have them give a little bit, say, "Let me just try this and not monkey with this," and then I'll try a test here where I'll use the cat photo, but I'm going to use my type of cat photo that feels like it fits within the brand.

There's going to be a little give and take in that moment. But really establishing like for me, what are the ground rules? What are the sacrosanct things we don't mess with? That's where you need to stick to your guns and say, "This is what the brand's system is." And I don't care how many times you test X, Y, Z, we're just not going to do it. And then you can say, "Okay, now where are the ways we're going to improve upon that?" Because maybe if you're a startup, maybe you don't know what the brand should be and that's a great way of discovery, but if it's an established brand and you know what you're delivering and you've had good success with your audience and there's an affinity to it, then there are some things you don't want to break.That's my answers. I would do a little bit of give and take, but set the ground rules for sure.

All right, well thank you. I think that's it for questions today. Again, I'm going to go back up here so you can see where you can connect with us if you want. Send emails. If there's something I didn't talk about and I missed, happy to cover it in another session. Again, this is Real Creative Leadership, so it's raw. I don't have a big system or plan in place. We're just going with experience and sharing what we've got and hope that all of you enjoy it and let's take this journey together. Thank you.