High Performance Creativity

High Performance Creativity

One of the most rewarding, and also the most challenging, aspects of my job as a digital marketing professional is working with creatives and quants on the same team.

It’s rewarding because we get different insights and ideas from different kinds of thinking. it’s challenging because sometimes communication between people who think differently can get messy.

We work in a results driven world

Another challenging aspect for me is that we work in a results driven world, and sometimes the necessity to achieve results and hit KPIs can result in our most creative members feeling constrained and undervalued because the impact of their contribution is not always clear.

In a high performance team, when one member is constrained, the whole team is constrained. My challenge, then, is to find a way to ensure that every member of the team can contribute optimally, and feels that their contribution is an essential part of the project.

One of the most effective solutions I have found to address this challenge is to integrate A/B testing focused on the creative elements, specifically the images and video, as a key part of the content creation process.

All of us suffer from cognitive bias. Experience and intuition lead us to believe that we just “know” what works. But the dynamic, extremely competitive, and fast-moving online environment demands an agile team that can work fast and quickly test new and especially, different ideas, sometimes outside our realm of experience.

Implement a clear, systematic process to test new ideas!

What I have found that works with my teams is to implement a clear, systematic process to test new ideas at the start of the process. What this means is that A/B testing becomes an integral part of the content production process, not just as a process, but as a concept. So for every piece of content produced, an additional “alternate or different” piece of content is produced, with a clear conceptual change in one key area!

The difference between this solution and the traditional A/B testing and CRO process is that the parameters for the test come from the person creating the content as a part of the creative process, and is not implemented “top down” and imposed on the creative externally to the process.

What tends to happen now is that a dialog is set up between the creatives (copywriters, graphic designers, editors, etc) and the quants (data gurus and CRO specialists mostly) about new creative ideas and the results they are producing. I’ve found, for the most part, that my job is to encourage that discussion, and provide the tools to facilitate communication.

Team members start to experiment with ideas

The result is that team members start to experiment with ideas because they are able to test them with confidence. It also eliminates guesswork and enables experienced content producers and designers to make data-backed decisions. “Crazy” or “out-there” ideas are encouraged, not because they are “crazy”, but because they might provide an insight that radically changes a concept or a campaign.

Creatives are often under enormous stress and may feel like they are “shooting blind”. The success of a campaign may rest on the skills of the person writing the copy, or the design choices of a graphic designer. Team members are under enormous pressure to get it “right”!

Integrating A/B testing into the start of the creative process removes this pressure. Team members can take risks and make mistakes without feeling that they alone are responsible for the success or failure of a campaign.

Results improve quickly

My experience has shown that results improve quickly. We can quickly identify what is working, and what isn’t, and we can adjust our campaigns or create new campaigns based on what we have learned. Even better, we generate historical data that we can use to build new campaigns, which means faster implementation, higher conversion rates and better ROAS for our PPC campaigns.


  • Alastair Thompson

    I’ve led teams on 5 continents and worked with large companies and individual entrepreneurs to launch their products, their businesses, and their dreams. I have twenty years of deep, practical experience in data-based digital marketing. I have an undergraduate degree in process engineering, a master's degree in education, and a project management certification from HarvardX. I am a mentor to other leaders and an advisor for technology startups. I have founded two successful businesses. I coach groups and individuals.

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