A Perfect Storm of Science and Art

For the past decade, I’ve been an entrepreneur running creative agencies who never planned to work at corporate again, until last fall when it seemed the perfect time to work at corporate again.

We are at a unique place in time right now with regards to marketing and advertising. The world of big data is prevalent in every industry including marketing. Maritz has the expertise and resources in decision and behavioral sciences and a long history in creative and consumer communications. It is the perfect storm to bring all these disciplines together while servicing our Fortune 100 clients. Plus, the opportunity to work closely with Drew Carter (Maritz Motivation Solutions president and a business colleague of mine for almost 5 years) to help implement his vision, really sealed the deal for me. Our leadership team is one of the strongest I have ever worked with and changed my mindset of big corporations.

I’ve been selling creative campaigns for more than 20 years, but clients are not responding to pure creative ideation like they have in the past. They expect the ideas to be rooted in data before we even discuss creative. The data is now driving the ideas. Clients want their creative campaigns to be as bullet proof as possible to maximize ROI. The data and the digital landscape allows us to track the customer journey all the way through to the sales conversion both online and at retail. Traditional data has shown us where we’ve been and science shows us where we are going and why.

We’re now seeing some of the largest loyalty companies acquire agencies and vice versa with the ability to mine the data, segment the audiences, find the trends, and then develop the communication strategies that enhance the engagement experience with the goal of retaining their consumers. This is very positive for our industry as we are now breaking the myths that marketing is hard to measure ROI and only the “creative people” know if an idea will work or not. Marketing teams on the client side are being equipped with an arsenal of tools to optimize their campaigns in real-time.

About a decade ago, I started witnessing this shift and over the last five years, I kept reading articles about these acquisitions and knew it was more than a few isolated cases. Agencies specialize in acquiring and engaging consumers and the loyalty companies know how to retain them, so it truly is the perfect marriage where science and art come together. Many of our clients are coming out of MBA programs where the ability to pick winning and losing creative campaigns is hard to teach. Creative assessment often comes from the DNA of the person and whether they think more right brain vs. left brain. However, these same MBA graduates absolutely understand how to think analytically, making them more equipped to evaluate data, analytics, and ROI.

At Maritz, we like to say we are in the “people business” and our culture is to have fun in everything we do for ourselves, our clients, and their customers. That is definitely a core principle and differentiator within ad agencies and just another reason it’s exciting to see these industries come together. Cartwheel, our new digital agency,  is working side-by-side with our data scientists and PhD’s on the behavioral teams. The data is coming over the fence to the Cartwheel strategists and writers to build the most effective creative campaigns targeting specific audiences at the right time, with the right message, and with the most appropriate medium. We are channel agnostic which means every program will be analyzed and measured to find the most dynamic avenue to deliver a campaign grounded in data.

Seems like a good time to give corporate another shot.


2 replies
  1. Johnson Jackson
    Johnson Jackson says:

    I read this article and I’m really impressed with the creative energy you’ve poured into this. Big Data and Big Ideas drive my business since I’m in the content management arena. Our agency relies heavily on existing clientele for repeat business and we keep up good relations with our customers thanks to the loyalty videos we’ve tailored for each one of them. Initially we didn’t think it was possible to draw on the individual buying behaviors of our clients, but thanks to the loyalty management creative talents at TREEPODIA, our job is so much easier. These loyalty videos drive conversions and make us effective at what we do.


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