Don't throw the creative baby out with the metrics bathwater!

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Trust your instincts when presented with a good idea
Trust your instincts when presented with a good idea

Learning to trust your instincts when you come upon a good idea may allow you to establish industry metrics instead of waiting to be guided by them.

When the wagon trains left for the West, there were no roads to lead the way. The pioneers of old were risk-takers, explorers, adventurers. I feel the same about great creative. Sometimes there is just not a precedent—creatively or financially—for a truly great idea.

I get it.

Times are tough and marketers need to spend smartly. Which in many cases means they need to depend on metrics to be sure their brand decisions are wise investments. Their job depends on strategic and tactical successes.

But what happens when you see an idea, a really good idea, and there's just no ROI data for it. How do you know when it's right to just “go for it” versus making the decision to “kill it” because there are no data points that justify moving forward.

Or in the words of T.S. Eliot:

And indeed there will be time to wonder, "Do I dare? and, "Do I dare?"

Follow your gut

Strong brands are built on emotion. You cannot quantify creativity or the emotional ties that a raw idea can create in your customer. I firmly believe, that in the depths of your soul, you know an incredible idea when you see it.

It's a gut feeling, that “wow” you immediately experience upon seeing it.

“That's it,” you silently say, before the rationale side kicks in to start “worry-beading” over all the negative possibilities: What if it doesn't work? What if sales don't increase or leads aren't generated? How do I support the fact that I made a decision without good numbers to back it up?

What if it does work? What if it's one of the greatest ideas ever introduced to the healthcare world?

A few years back, I judged an awards show and there was one entry that utterly blew us all away.

It was an unbranded video about living with psoriasis. But the brilliance was in putting the dermatologist in the patient's skin. Wearing fake psoriasis skin on legs, backs and arms, three derms went out in public with the ugly, flaming red, scaly condition so many of their patients suffered from.

These derms experienced just what their patients did—looks of disgust, pity, and at times outright discrimination.

The video enabled physicians to understand that the emotional scars of patients with psoriasis were often far more damaging than the actual condition. They felt the impact of the disease, and therefore changed the way they treated their patients.

It was ground-breaking.

It was original.

Compassionate. Compelling. And effective. It was praised at the judging for being “truly authentic.” It resulted in exceptional metrics that I'm sure support other similar efforts today.

And it hadn't been done before.

There were no handy metrics to ensure its success.

It took vision and guts.

And I'll bet that the brand manager who first saw it immediately recognized how great it would be.

I know you have to choose your battles, and most of the time you need the metrics to justify the spend. But the next time you see a truly great idea that makes your pulse race a bit—one that actually reaches in and hits you in the gut—take a deep breath.

It's what you do next that can make all the difference.

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