Unlike business units that deal in numbers, facts, and black-and-white right or wrong answers, like accounting or engineering, the leadership of departments that work in more creative or conceptual roles, such as marketing or communications, are forced to make evaluations in a more gray area. How do you measure the value of an idea?
Analyzing if a creative concept is something to run with is no small task. It requires understanding the brand, company goals, project goals, intended (and unintended) audiences, tenets of communication, best practices, and much more. Often, we’re unable to measure true results until a lot of time and money have been committed to the concept (see: unexpected viral hits and disastrous flops).
Creative ideas need to be measured against two potentially contradicting goals: practicality – does it fit within a budget, is it executable, can it be reproduced (if needed) and does it meet project requirements, and creativity – is it a new idea or have we seen it before? Is it “too far out there”? Will the audience respond to it? How does it fit in to/stand out from the market?
So, how do you navigate this? When analyzing a creative idea or concept:
- Balance the science (past results, market analysis, available technology) with the art (seeing the “vision”, a gut feeling)
- Consider rational factors (budget, timelines, resources) against emotional ones (excitement, personal interest, “viral” possibility)
- Weigh outside factors including the personal tastes of stakeholders and decision makers
Conflict is often inevitable, because there is no one “right” solution. Since emotions are involved and outside factors are almost always in play, complete agreement on a creative concept is rare.
Here are some guidelines as you work your way through this process:
Trust your gut
There is something to be said for intuition. With today’s fast-paced and saturated market, there isn’t a lot of time to grab your audience’s attention. Before you’ve given yourself too much time to digest or analyze, try to capture your thoughts at first impression. Identifying that gut feeling can provide a little bit of insight into how your audience may perceive the concept.
Ask yourself the objective questions
No matter how subjective the idea, there are always some fundamental boxes that need to be checked. The tough, bottom-line questions like, does it meet the requirements? Does it align with our goals? Can we implement this within budget?
Discussing creative ideas with others helps bring out your feelings and the reasoning behind them. Ask each other open-ended questions and elaborate on your thoughts. Other points of view will force you to defend or argue the areas you think are working or not working. Be sure to take the opinions of stakeholders into account, but be careful not to add too many cooks to the kitchen.
Learn from past experiences
Experience may be the best teacher. Be sure to take the time at the end of a marketing campaign, ad campaign, website launch, or other project to review: what went well, what could be improved upon next time, what have we learned? Listen to customer feedback, have the proper metrics in place to measure success, and take what you learned into the next endeavor.